Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teamsters 2016: The two legged stool and the distant ripple

Incumbent James P. Hoffa is perched on a wobbly two-legged stool in the opening days of the 2016 campaign for the presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. His ostensible opponent, Teamsters United candidate Tim Sylvester, currently is just a ripple on the horizon of sea of 1.3 million potential Teamster voters.
Hoffa’s two legs are his name (the son of Jimmy Hoffa) and his incumbency (Teamsters president since March, 1999.) Incumbents are always hard to beat. A third leg, some great achievement--fulfilling his promise to resurrect Teamsters Power-- during his 16 years in office, would have all but assured his reelection.
Unfortunately for the union, I am unaware of any notable accomplishment by Hoffa during his reign. A point of comparison would be Teamsters President Ron Carey’s great victory in the 1997 national strike against the United Parcel Service.
The yet to be shaped third leg for the Hoffa stool will be the extent of support he wins from the potential pool of 1.3-million Teamsters eligible to vote in the 2016 election. In 2011, Hoffa only managed to tally 137,164 votes—which were more than enough for him to win reelection. The insignificant turnout is a indicator of the disinterest of the vast majority of the members in the union. 
Of course contesting Hoffa for those 1.3 million voters is Tim Sylvester, president of New York Teamsters Local 804, the local that was Ron Carey’s base of support.
Whether the Sylvester and his United Teamsters coalition ripple turns into a wave that crests and breaks without significant impact or becomes a tsunami to sweep away the Hoffa regime will be revealed after the votes are cast in October, 2016.
In the interim, Sylvester, who is already campaigning hard (his next stop will be in Providence, RI, on Saturday, May 16, 2015) has set out to gather at least 200,000 Teamsters to his banner.
Sylvester announced that that 800 Teamsters listened in to his national conference call in a pitch for campaign volunteers on a recent Sunday. Signposts of how well Teamsters United is doing will be first, the Accreditation Petition Drive this summer to collect the signatures of at least 50,000 members and then the number of delegates to the 2016 convention Teamsters United can win in local elections in the fall of 2015 and the winter of 2016.

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A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Tim Sylvester's bid to become General President of the Teamsters picked up momentum last week in Milwaukee when Fred Gegare came forward to endorse him.
Gegare, now retired, is the former International Vice President, who became so disenchanted with James P. Hoffa that he ran against him in 2011. Hoffa was reelected soundly defeating Gegare and New York Teamsters leader Sandy Pope.
Sylvester drew the obvious lesson of the 2011 election that if Hoffa is to be ousted, it will take a coalition to defeat him in 2016.
Teamsters United is the name of Sylvester's umbrella campaign organization that so far includes Fred Zuckerman, president of Louisville Local 89, and Tony Jones, president of Columbus Local 413.
Teamsters United will stage a national conference call on Sunday, April 26, 2015, to brief Teamsters on the coalition’s strategy and to provide the opportunity for those interested to get involved in the campaign.
Details on how to sign up for the conference call are available on the Teamsters United website (
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A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Tim Sylvester has started on the long climb to winning the presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2016 by setting out to build a coalition called Teamsters United!
The coalition will combine those who supported the late Ron Carey, those disenchanted with the leadership of incumbent James P. Hoffa, and an untold number of the million plus Teamsters who didn't vote in the union’s 2011 election.
Sylvester is the president of New York Teamsters Local 804, the same militant local of mostly UPS workers that Carey headed and was his base in his successful run in 1991 to become the first IBT president elected by the rank and file.
Among those aligning themselves with Sylvester in Teamsters United are Fred Zuckerman, president of Louisville Local 89, and Tony Jones, president of Columbus Local 413. Zuckerman and Jones were vice presidential candidates on the anti-Hoffa ‘Fighting for the Members Slate’ in the 2011 election.
With less than 20 per cent of the membership voting in the 2011 election, Hoffa tallied an unimpressive 137,164 votes, although that was more than enough to defeat his two opponents: Fred Gegare (54,117) and Sandy Pope (39,251).
Sylvester’s challenge will be to somehow draw between 150,000 and 200,000 votes from that pool of more than a million Teamsters who either didn’t vote or who voted against Hoffa in 2011.
What has Sylvester got going for him:
--Experience in defeating an incumbent. In 2009, Sylvester ousted the Hoffa-allied president of Local 804. That was a feat equivalent to beating an incumbent Senator; it can be done, but not easily.
--The big, burly, bearded Sylvester not only looks like the movie version of a Teamster, he comes from the rank and file. Hoffa, who was a lawyer with Teamsters locals among his clients, ran for his first union office in 1996. In that election he failed to defeat the incumbent IBT president, Ron Carey. For the few who don’t know, the reason Hoffa was selected by the neo-old guard as their candidate was because he happened to be born the son of the legendary Jimmy Hoffa.
--Sylvester has developed a national reputation for his accomplishments as the head of Local 804, which reputedly has the best contract covering UPS workers among the nation's many Teamsters locals. In an age of givebacks, Sylvester won a $400 a month increase in pension benefits in the last round of negotiations, enabling a Local 804 member to retire after 25 years with a pension of $4,000 a month.
--Sylvester formally announced his candidacy on March 14, 2015—and has been holding meetings across the country to add local officers and rank and file adherents to Teamsters United coalition.  He already has been to Worcester, Mass., Los Angeles, Cleveland, Louisville, and Columbus. He will be in Chicago on Saturday, April 11.
--Sylvester presumably will have the backing of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the rank and file reform party, with its national network of rank and file activists and local union officials.
                                              *  *  *
A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.