Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Barack Obama Makes Promises to Teamster's Union

As I kid, I admired the late Jimmy Hoffa. He was tough, magnetic, powerful and routinely disobeyed authority of any sort....

Back in the day, everyone knew that the Teamster’s Union was controlled by the Central Region where Chicago Teamster Boss Jimmy Hoffa had his headquarters. Where is Hoffa these days? He hasn’t been seen around town for quite some time.

No matter, he’s been replaced by his son, Jimmy Hoffa, the second. Today’s teamster’s union may be a shadow of its former self, as some say, but there is a part of it that still lives in the shadow of organized crime. A Teamster official was kicked out of the union in 2006 for associating with a known mob personage.

I once worked on a Teamster’s loading dock where there was a particularly animated dock foreman, appropriately nicknamed “Stony”, who worked back-to-back twelve hour shifts with a thirty-eight tucked into his jacket. Stony was both likable and dangerous and he had lots of enemies. I once took a phone call intended for him. There had been much talk of a strike at the time and the usual menace of violence hung in the air.

“If you continue to harass my workers, I can no longer guarantee your safety,” the voice on the phone said.

That was the jist of it. Though I was in Pennsylvania, the call came from Ohio. The talk among the workers on the dock, rumor or not, was that the Teamsters were now under the sway of mobster Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, who lived in Florida.

“Hey, wait a minute! I’m not ‘Stony’,” I cried.

For a long time now, the Teamster’s Union has had special government oversight to make sure elections were fair and to eliminate mob connections. Where is Jimmy Hoffa Sr. anyway?
But the Teamster’s haven’t enjoyed the increased scrutiny and they’ve lobbied many presidents and politicians to have it lifted, all without successful, until the union made a deal with “New Politics” practitioner Barack Obama.

As president, Obama couldn’t lift the oversight committee that lifts the Teamster monitoring process, but he did promise to see what he could do to put judges into place who could. That Teamster support was too tempting for Obama, just as the political support offered by Reverend Wright’s church was also tempting. Antoin Rezko’s offers of support were similarly accepted by the “new politics” practitioner, Barack Obama, who refuses to say “no,” or to abstain from relationships which call his judgment into question as they advance his “career.”

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