Media success is crucial to foster name recognition. Hoffa has had his thanks to his dad. No doubt that Sandy Pope’s appeal to journalists is the fact that a woman with a black belt in karate is running for the presidency of a union with a reputation of burly, big-bellied men who drive trucks.
Hoffa, unlike Sandy Pope, has never driven a truck as a real rank and file Teamster. He does have the belly that goes with the old out-of-date image.
Before last month’s Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas, Sandy Pope scored with a major piece about her in The Nation and on public radio stations across the nation via an interview on The Story with Dick Gordon.
During the convention, the New York Times, CNN, and ABC featured her. After the convention, she managed to wind up in a big story in The Sunday Times of London.
The assumption is that the combination of support by a large bloc of Teamsters local leaders and his incumbency makes Hoffa an almost sure bet to win another five years in the presidency.
But there are factors at play that could cause that sure bet to stumble. Sandy Pope is getting the needed name recognition, she has the support of the potent reform group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, she has a substantial record as a local union leader in New York City as well as a background as a working Teamster and organizer, and in addition, the issue that made her attractive to journalists could very well bring in votes from the women who make up 20 to 25 percent of the union.
And, the decision of Midwestern Teamster leader and International Vice President Fred Gegare to run for the presidency against Hoffa could change the outcome of the 2011 election. There is the possibility Gegare could win and the probability he will take a substantial number of votes away from Hoffa.
In his acceptance speech on July 1 as a presidential candidate at the convention, Gegare contended that Hoffa betrayed the members by allowing United Parcel Service to withdraw its employees from the Central States Pension in 2007 in exchange for making it easier for the IBT to organize the 12,000 workers in UPS-owned Overnite Trucking.
Without UPS, which has created its own plan, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars every year into Central States to fund its workers’ retirement, the storied pension fund is in serious trouble, according to Gegare, who is a fund trustee.
Gegare said that he told Hoffa at the time: “Don’t let it happen. You’re going to destroy everything your father built. You are going to ruin the foundation of this great organization...You ain’t going to see the tsunami coming if you let them take 45,000 participants out of Central
State Pension Fund.” Gegare told the convention, “They gave the farm away to UPS...That’s criminal. I’m telling you,
we cannot afford it. I got four retired for every
Gegare sounded a warning to the union as a whole: “
Let me tell you something. If Central States goes down, there’s going to be a domino effect from the New England pension fund, Central PA, Central States, and the Western pension fund, because we all got the same top employers. If they did it to me, I keep telling the members, they’re going to do it to you. You got to get involved.”
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