The 2011 Teamsters election summarized: The dame (Sandy), the name (James), the disenchanted (Fred).
The dame, of course, is Sandy Pope, president of New York Teamsters Local 805. Dame can be use as a term for a woman, but I am using it in the expansive concept of a woman of accomplishment. In the United Kingdom, they bestow the title on female high achievers—and that’s what Sandy is. Sandy is a real Teamster having worked her way up from the hard jobs of selector and truck driver.
The name, obviously, James P. Hoffa, the son of Jimmy Hoffa, an earlier Teamster president of some repute. James P. rode his father’s name into the Teamsters presidency in 1999. His claim to being a Teamster comes from summer jobs in his college years and then becoming a lawyer for various IBT entities a couple of years after graduating from law school.
The disenchanted candidate is Fred Gegare, another real Teamster up from the rank and file from Green Bay Wisconsin, who was a vice president on Hoffa’s team until he stunned Teamsters through North America last summer when he announced he could no longer endure Hoffa’s pitiful performance as general president. He says on his campaign website: “"Over the last twelve years, James Phillip Hoffa has proven that running a union of 1.4 million members like a family fiefdom is disastrous. He has shown that the Teamsters Union will not be successful as long as it is run from Washington, D.C. by unelected lawyers, consultants and personal assistants. Just like Hoffa, they have never done the work of real Teamsters. Just like Hoffa, they are more concerned with taking care of themselves than about fighting for the members."
Another shock to Hoffa came last July when Tom Keegel, secretary-treasurer of the IBT, announced he would retire instead of running again on the Hoffa slate. Keegel warned that the Teamsters were being led in the wrong direction and said “"I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do know that continuing down the same road as the IBT has traveled for the last few years will not lead us out of our present difficulties or help us avoid the problems yet to come."
In my latest novel, THE TRUCKERS, there are two characters who seem to be very much like two of the real life characters in this year’s IBT election. The rank and file candidate, Carolyn Gordon, a tough, fearless woman who heads a small Truckers local in Colorado, is running against Steve Staski, a minor television and film actor. Steve is the choice of the Old Guard because he can run on the name of his famous father, Steamer Staski, The Truckers who was murdered on a picket line.
The rank and file leader Helmut Knall says to a doubting aide who thinks Carolyn doesn’t have much of a chance against the Staski name: “We’re going to get a million dollars worth of free publicity because she’s so young and she’s a woman.”
“Like Little Stevie gets because he’s a Staski and an actor,” the aide says.
Knall replies: “The difference is he acts tough. Gordon is tough. And don’t forget she made a name for herself, while he inherited his.”
A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or Apple.