In a move that threatens to delay the end of federal control of the largest American union, 20 investigators and lawyers assigned to fight corruption in the Teamsters followed the example of their leader, Edwin H. Stier, and walked off the job. The New York Times reports that union president James Hoffa, Jr frustrated investigators who got too close to high-ranking members of the union:
The former prosecutor, Edwin H. Stier, sent a sharply worded letter that accused James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters president, of blocking a broad investigation into possible union corruption in Chicago and of dragging his feet in a case of alleged embezzlement by a Teamsters leader in Houston.
“In spite of our efforts to convince General President Jim Hoffa to remain committed to fighting corruption,” Mr. Stier wrote, “I have concluded that he has backed away from the Teamsters’ anticorruption plan in the face of pressure from self-interested individuals.”
In the 1980s, the government finally took over the International Brotherhood of Teamsters after decades of organized crime and petty corruptions had turned the union into a sewer of crime. Ever since, the union has chafed under the scrutiny of the feds and came up with its own, supposedly independent task force as a means of demonstrating their ability to police themselves and eliminate the federal mandate for control. No one took them terribly seriously, and these resignations only underscore the superficial nature of the Teamsters’ efforts to eliminate corruption within their ranks:
Mr. Stier accused Mr. Hoffa of delays in moving against Chuck Crawley, the former president of a Houston Teamsters local, who has been accused by the review board of receiving more than $20,000 in kickbacks. Mr. Crawley, who denies any wrongdoing and has not been formally charged, is accused of telling a vendor to inflate the price of a phone system for a new union building and then to kick back the money to him.
Mr. Stier also asserted that Mr. Hoffa and several people around him were trying to shut down a wide-ranging investigation into charges that various Teamster members and officials in Chicago were associates of organized crime, and that some Teamster officials had participated in a deal in which a mob-run company was allowed to use nonunion workers to replace union workers in construction and convention jobs.
“These people didn’t want to be investigated, and it eventually got to a point where the situation got to be intolerable,” Mr. Stier said. “Hoffa’s office was responding to these guys in Chicago, and interfering with our ability to investigate.”
It sounds like Stier’s next stop should be the FBI to determine why Hoffa and his senior leadership were so determined to keep Stier’s team from investigating the Chicago officers.