Sandy Pope, a leader in the Teamster reform movement who rose through the ranks from Cleveland truck driver to president of a Teamster local in New York, is challenging 12-year incumbent James Hoffa for General President of the 1.3 million-member Teamsters Union.

Pope, who is associated with a dissident group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, ran unsuccessfully for secretary-treasurer, the No. 2 position, in 2006. She was the leading vote-getter running against Hoffa's slate that year. TDU has endorsed Sandy Pope and will support her candidacy.

Hoffa, the son of legendary Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, promised to "Restore the Power" when he successfully rode his father's name to office 12 years ago. Instead, Pope contends, he has delivered the biggest contract concessions and pension cuts in Teamster history.

"Except for his last name, I don't think anyone would confuse James Hoffa with his father," said Pope. "We need a Teamster General President who will put the power of our union to work for the members.

"The Teamsters Union is the most powerful union in the world and we should start acting like it, instead of abandoning members and local unions to deal with the economic crisis on their own," Pope said.

Pope is the president of New York Local 805 and is a former truck driver, warehouse worker and steelhauler.

"Tough economic times require tough leadership," said Pope. "Wall Street drove our economy over the cliff, but working people are the ones paying the price -- and, too often, unions are the ones getting the blame. We need to stand up to that, not cave in.

"I've mobilized members to protect their health benefits and pensions while Hoffa has been giving away the store," Pope said.

Fred Gegare, a Teamsters leader in Green Bay, Wis., and a member of the parent union's executive board, announced earlier this year that he will challenge Hoffa.