Teamsters president James P. Hoffa claims the union, which has been under federal supervision for a decade, can police itself now. Hoffa appeared Jan. 11 before representatives of IBT and left with their unanimous approval to establish a code of conduct for union members. The representatives also supported creation of an ethics board and a study of the union’s efforts to sever ties with organized crime.
“We want to move ahead and do this study and verify the fact we are corruption free, we are free of influence of organized crime and we are ready to talk to the federal government,” Hoffa said after the meeting. Hoffa won the Teamsters’ presidency on pledges to root out corruption and work to end the federal oversight, which the union agreed to in 1989 to avoid racketeering charges brought by the Dep’t of Justice. IBT has spent $ 83 million to support the federal monitoring, Hoffa said. He added that more than 100 officers and members have been kicked out for associating with alleged organized crime figures.
DOJ said government officials have met with Teamsters, but gave no indication the department is willing to drop its oversight. “We hope that the IBT’s efforts to develop and implement an effective anti-corruption program are successful,” Shirah Neiman, Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with the union under the consent decree to ensure that progress in ridding the IBT of corruption and organized crime continues.”
Hoffa said a task force of some 20 Teamsters will oversee the code of conduct. A first draft is expected by April 15, and the final draft is expected to be approved by Aug. 15, said union spokesman Chip Roth. Hoffa said implementing the entire plan would be completed in a year. Roth said the union has informed several federal agencies about its plan. He said the union will ask federal agencies for input on the code of ethics. Heading the anti-corruption effort is Edwin H. Stier, a former federal prosecutor hired by Hoffa last year. Stier said he doesn’t believe organized crime controls the union. [AP 1/11/00]