Hoffa junior ready to follow father as Teamsters' boss to follow father as Teamsters' boss

Not long ago, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was supposed to have been purged of its corrupt and infamous past. But in only 10 days' time, to widespread apprehension within the United States labour movement, a man named Hoffa could be back at the helm of the country's most famous and, many would say, still most powerful trade union.

For almost a month now, postal balloting has been under way in a government- supervised election of a new leader for the 1.4 million-strong Teamsters. And with just three days to go before the voting closes, the incumbent president, Ron Carey, the man most credited with cleaning up the union - is in peril of losing his job.

Mr Carey's opponent is James P Hoffa Jr, son of the former Teamster president, Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished outside a suburban Detroit restaurant in July 1975, presumed kidnapped and murdered by the Mafia. By deftly exploiting his father's name and the deep resentment among the union old guard of Mr Carey's high-handed methods, Hoffa Junior has given himself more than an outside chance of victory.

Results will be declared next weekend. But the Carey forces, once confident of winning, can now bank on only two of five Teamster regions. The biggest, covering the industrial Midwest, is considered solid Hoffa territory while the remaining two, in the West and the South, are toss-ups.

James Hoffa, a Detroit labour lawyer, insists he has no links with organised crime - "Let's Clear the Air," proclaims his campaign poster, "The Mob Killed My Father ... There will be no place for the Mob or its Agents, THEY WILL BE RUN OUT OF THIS UNION." Unabashedly, however, he vows to bring back the old decentralised structure of the Teamsters' glory days under his father, when local officials wielded immense power and could paralyse truck deliveries for a targeted company, coast-to-coast.

Since then the labour universe has been turned on its head. Deregulation, new information technology and the virtual demise of the closed shop have vastly weakened unions. Their membership has plunged, sapping their ability to stand up to a new breed of national and multinational companies able to call on non-union labour at will.

The Teamsters themselves have, moreover, changed, with less than a third of the membership accounted for by truckers and freight workers. All these problems Mr Carey has sought to tackle, but at a price. A generation of local bosses has not forgiven him for wresting authority back to the centre, and for closing down more than 60 locals, or branches, suspected of links with organised crime. Neither have Mr Carey's decisions to trim perks for senior officials and raise dues done anything for his popularity.

But despite a vigorous effort by his foes to tar him with the brush of corruption, Mr Carey has undoubtedly cleansed the Teamsters' reputation. All this, leaders of several unions now fear, could be jeopardised by a Hoffa victory, at the very moment a revitalised AFL-CIO, the central labour organisation, is beginning to improve its image and attract new membership. Some even advocate expulsion of the Teamsters from the AFL- CIO should Mr Hoffa win.

Much will depend on turnout, already certain to eclipse the 424,000, or 28 per cent, who voted when Mr Carey was elected in 1991. Normally a higher turnout would favour the incumbent. This time the magnetism of the Hoffa name makes any such calculation impossible.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world