Monday, August 24, 2015


Incumbent James P. Hoffa and challenger Tim Sylvester have joyfully reported the impressive results of their petition drives to be accredited as candidates for the Teamsters presidency in 2016.
Hoffa reported 135,000 signatures--more than twice Sylvester’s 63,000.
However, we need to delve into the numbers. Hoffa’s incumbency gives him access to hundreds of local officials--many hungry to please him with hopes of being added to the international union’s payroll and being viewed favorably in conflicts with other locals, other unions and employers.
In the 2011 presidential election, Hoffa won a dismal 137,172 votes, just 2,172 more than the list of signatures he recently submitted on his petitions.
There is a political adage that to win an election, you have to run either unopposed or scared and hard.
In the 2011 election, Hoffa’s opposition was so divided and ineffective that he was just about unopposed.
So, the 135,000 signatures he collected either means that is about the max of his support or he is really running hard this time around planning to pressure his Teamster underlings to turn out the vote--or else face the prospect of being stripped of their extra salaries and perks.
Tim Sylvester, who heads New York Teamsters Local 804, promises to be a formidable candidate. His supporters in Teamsters United and Teamsters for a Democratic Union managed to tally 63,000 signatures on his petitions--or more than twice as many as needed for certification.
Sylvester has been on the campaign trail--mostly on weekends--since January and will pick up the pace as the election approaches. He is running hard to find enough votes among the 90 per cent of the 1,400,000 Teamsters rank and file who didn’t vote for Hoffa in 2011.
Accreditation gives a candidate the opportunity to promote himself in the Teamsters magazine as well as the names and address of all Teamsters members. Formal nomination still needs to be won at next year's Teamsters Convention.
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