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Teamsters United rallies members against Hoffa Jr.'s concessions

By Daniel Ginsberg

Chicago, IL – Workers fighting back against economic inequality have something to be hopeful about. One of the largest and most powerful unions in the country, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, will begin mailing ballots early October for members to decide the next general president. Those fighting against concessions to employers and looking for a stronger worker movement are uniting behind Fred Zuckerman and the Teamsters United slate, hoping to unseat long-standing General President James P. Hoffa, Jr.

“I'm supporting Teamsters United because I want our leadership to fight for our members and not the company's interests,” said Lena Molina, a nine-year UPS worker from Teamsters Local 63 in California.

The Teamsters have been under the leadership of General President James P. Hoffa, Jr. for 17 years. The son of Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. who ran the Teamsters from 1958 to 1971, Hoffa Jr. has overseen a rise in concessions to employers, the weakening of pensions and a decline in union democracy.

“Teamsters are uniting because of Hoffa’s 17 years of failed leadership. Teamsters are fed up with the corruption and betrayal,” Fred Zuckerman told Fight Back!. “This has resulted in contract concessions, losing our standard of living and for hundreds of thousands of Teamsters losing their pensions. Teamsters are looking for leadership that will stand with them, not with the employers.”

Fred Zuckerman, Hoffa Jr.'s challenger, is the president of Teamsters Local 89, one of the largest Teamster locals. Zuckerman has served the union at every level and rose to national prominence by opposing Hoffa's concessionary contract to UPS and by speaking out against Hoffa's lack of response to such things as the pension crisis and subcontracting.

UPS feeder drivers are in a real struggle to stop the company from undermining their work by using cheaper, nonunion subcontractors.

Andrew May, a feeder driver out of Teamsters Local 344 explained why he favors Zuckerman.

“I am supporting Zuckerman because we need a leader who has fought subcontracting and is willing to fight for stronger language in our contract. Zuckerman fought subcontracting at Holland and was in process of fighting it in UPS before Hoffa forced the contract onto the members.”

While some of the latest news in the Teamsters has been the dramatic cuts to 400,000 Teamsters in the Central States Pension Fund, fresh on the minds of UPS workers has been the concessionary contract Hoffa handed UPS at a time when UPS was making record profits.

Mark Timlin, a UPS package driver and leader of the Vote No movement at UPS, decided to get involved with the Teamsters United campaign. He pointed out that Hoffa Jr. was never a worker and doesn't understand worker issues.

“Hoffa Jr. was once a corporate lawyer while Fred Zuckerman came up from the rank and file and listens and understands Teamsters. Zuckerman and his Teamsters United slate will put an end to contracts being negotiated on corporate terms,” Timlin commented.

Part-time Teamsters are also campaigning for the Teamsters United slate hoping for more full-time jobs and better working conditions in the warehouses.

“I want to know that when I organize on the shop floor that my union will listen to us. But instead we have this culture brought by Hoffa to accept the conditions we work under and discourage change,” said Gabriella Killpack, a part-time UPS worker in Utah.

The campaign is heating up as Teamsters from around the country are organizing to stop Hoffa's concessions. In a time of growing economic uncertainty and disparity, Fred Zuckerman and the Teamsters United slate will bring a new era that Teamsters can be proud of and will also bring a significant contribution to the entire working class in their fight against corporate greed.

“Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. has been running this union since 1999, the entire time I've been working at UPS,” said Benjamin Cline, a ten-year Teamster volunteering for the Teamsters United campaign. “I continue to watch companies like UPS reach record profits year after year while our contracts have gotten worse. We want is a leadership with as much fight as the members. This should be inspiring for all workers, not just Teamsters.”

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