Teamsters President James P. Hoffa testified before the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee. The hearing was called to examine the union's efforts to fight corruption and improve its finances.
Committee chairman Pete Hoekstra, R-MI, opened the hearing with a summary of the 17-month investigation into the Teamsters than ended more than a year ago. The 2,000-page report "documented troubling misconduct that raised issues central to whether rank-and-file union members were being properly served by their leadership," he said.
Hoffa testified that the union has addressed several of the recommendations made by the committee in its February 1999 report, including a balanced budget, an internal audit procedure, an internal anti-corruption program and others.
Hoekstra agreed that the union has come a long way since it came under government supervision in 1989 as part of the settlement of a civil suit alleging racketeering. "I believe that significant reforms have taken place within the IBT since 1989," he said, "and we are finally at a point where the federal government can step aside and the union can reclaim its ability to manage itself."
The committee was not so kind, however, on the issue of violence related to the 22-week-old unfair labor practices strike against less-than-truckload carrier Overnite Transportation. Overnite says that there have been 45 shootings at more than a dozen of its locations, about half of them near the Memphis, TN, terminal, where the strike began. The most serious occurred Dec. 1, when an Overnite driver was shot in the stomach.
"What's going on down there is not helping any of us," said Rep. Charles Norwood, R-GA.
Hoffa denied that the Teamsters were responsible for the violence, calling the campaign "one of the most peaceful strikes in our history."
Rep. Van Hilleary, R-TN, didn't agree. Forty-five shootings "sounds pretty violent to me," he said, according to published reports.
Hoffa claimed the union was the victim of a "malicious smear campaign" by Overnite.