Hoffa's decision follows a recommendation made by a panel after 11 days of court-ordered hearings.
"This decision finally will begin the process of returning this local to the members," said Ed Keyser, Local 115 Trustee and Local 500 Secretary-Treasurer.
Hoffa put Local 115 into emergency trusteeship November 15 and removed 73-year-old John Morris from office as secretary-treasurer. The union accused Morris of a number of abuses, including buying and stockpiling weapons.
Morris filed suit, claiming his removal from office was political because he opposed Hoffa's election. The suit also said the union's constitution only allows for appointment of a temporary trustee without a hearing in an emergency, and that no such emergency existed in this case. The courts ruled that a hearing was required, but did not reinstate Morris pending the results of the hearings, which started in January and were completed in early March.
The hearings were the longest trusteeship hearing ever conducted by the union. According to the union, "a pattern of abuse of power and membership rights was revealed," including:
* the routine refusal to provide members with copies of their collective bargaining agreements;
* violence against and intimidation of members;
* the purchase of weapons, stun guns and military gear with members' dues;
* evidence that Morris worked with employers to terminate and suspend members who disagreed with him;
* the use of union funds to pay premiums on Morris' personal life insurance policy.
After Hoffa announced his decision, Morris issued a statement saying Hoffa did a "terrible disservice" to union members, repeated his contention that Hoffa forced him out for political reasons, and accused others of forging his name on documents and lying.
Hoffa said the panel, made up of three out-of-state union officials he appointed, had been impartial.