Dec. 8 – Although the votes were not completely counted, James P. Hoffa declared victory Sunday in the election for Teamsters president. His opponent, Tom Leedham, conceded defeat Saturday afternoon.
Hoffa’s win was clouded by allegations against a vice-presidential running mate from Long Island, reported the New York Newsday. Even as the votes were being counted, the court-appointed Independent Review Board charged Thomas O’Donnell with filing false financial reports with the court-appointed elections officer. The charges are based on previous accusations that he sought to cover up the hiring of a convicted felon working for Hoffa’s campaign.
Hoffa is taking the reins of a union far less powerful than the one headed by his infamous father. The 1.4-million-member union has seen its membership decline, its coffers drained, and its leaders in legal trouble. Hoffa has promised to bring a new militancy to the union.
As of Sunday evening, Hoffa had 55% of the votes to Leedham’s 39%. A third candidate, John Metz, had 6% of the vote. Although Hoffa won by a healthy margin, it was not the runaway victory he had predicted. Teamsters for a Democratic Union pointed out that in the 83 local unions in the East and South, which includes significant numbers of freight and UPS Teamsters, Tom Leedham actually won more votes than Hoffa.
“This election shows that rank-and-file power is here to stay,” said TDU National Organizer Ken Paff. “If old-guard officials like Hoffa are ready to change their stripes and mobilize members to take on corporate greed, we certainly will support them. But if they go back to corruption and backroom deals with employers, then rank-and-file Teamsters will be there to fight back at every turn.”
For related web sites, see Hoffa’s campaign at http://www.hoffa96.com; Leedham’s site at http://www.leedham.org; and the Teamsters for a Democratic Union at http://www.igc.org/tdu.