The Hoffa reign at Teamsters comes to an end: James Hoffa, 80, quits, after more than 20 years at helm of union that his father Jimmy ran from 1957 to 1971
- James Hoffa is standing down as general president at Teamsters after 22 years
- His father Jimmy was synonymous with the union amid links to organized crime
- He disappeared in 1975 in a suspected mafia killing by his former allies
The reign of the Hoffa family at the Teamsters union is coming to an end as James Hoffa is finally stepping down aged 80, 46 years after his father Jimmy’s mysterious disappearance.
Jimmy, who was involved in organized crime and convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud, is believed to have been murdered by the mafia in a notorious unsolved crime.
James took the reins at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters which represents 1.4million blue collar and professional workers in the US and Canada, including factory workers, truck drivers and airline staff, in 1999.
The current membership includes around 350,000 UPS workers as well as staff from United Airlines, DHL and US Foods.
This month, the union will elect their first new general president in 22 years for the role still defined by Jimmy who led it from 1957.
The Teamsters, founded in 1903, remains one of the biggest and most powerful unions in the US and owes its fearsome reputation to Jimmy’s criminal links.
The reign of the Hoffa family at the Teamsters union is coming to an end as James Hoffa (pictured) is finally stepping down aged 80
Teamsters former boss James R. Hoffa vanished in 1975 after arriving at a meeting with mafia bosses a Detroit restaurant
James (pictured in 2015) took the reins at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1999, representing 1.4million blue collar and professional workers
It resulted in federal corruption investigations as the Teamsters’ influence grew and grew after the Second World War.
When John F Kennedy was elected president in 1960, he appointed his brother Robert as his attorney general and tasked him with cracking down on organized crime and the mafia with a dedicated ‘Get Hoffa’ unit of prosecutors.
Hoffa was jailed in 1964 for various charges linked to the attempted bribery of a grand juror in a previous Nashville trial for conspiracy.
While on bail, he was convicted in a second trial for for conspiracy and three counts of mail and wire fraud after improper use of the Teamsters’ pension fund.
His two sentences landed him with a 13-year jail term but only five years in, he was released after an intervention by then President Richard Nixon.
The intrigue about his life and death inspired Martin Scorsese’s hit gangster film The Irishman, with Al Pacino starring as Hoffa (pictured alongside Robert de Niro as Frank Sheeran and Ray Romano s Bill Bufalino
Hoffa was last seen alive on July 30, 1975, eating at a restaurant in suburban Detroit where he’s believed to have met a group of Mafiosos whom he’d known for decades, in an effort to secure their support for his bid to return as the Teamster’s president
Hoffa left his home in his green Pontiac Grand Ville (above) and drove to the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township. After he left, he disappeared
A deal was struck that Hoffa would step down from the Teamsters leadership upon release in return for the union’s support in 1972.
The Teamsters had traditionally backed Democrat candidates.
Nixon’s commutation stated that Hoffa could not ‘engage in the direct or indirect management of any labor organization’ until 1980 but the ex-con claimed he never agreed to that condition.
Just a year after his release, he plotted to seize the Teamsters leadership again and sued to invalidate the commutation restrictions.
Hoffa lost the court battle but his leadership plans did not go unnoticed by the mafia who were trying to block his path to power.
Several mafia figures had become prominent in Teamsters by this point, including Anthony Provenzano.
Hoffa asked him for support but Provenzano responded by threatening to cut out his guts and kidnap his grandchildren.
Hoffa eventually disappeared on July 30, 1975, after agreeing to meet up with Provenzano and Anthony Giacalone, an alleged kingpin in the Detroit mafia.
His body was never found and he was declared legally dead in 1982.
The mystery surrounding his disappearance persists with numerous conspiracy theories, and the intrigue about his life and death inspired Martin Scorsese’s hit gangster film The Irishman, with Al Pacino starring as Hoffa.
It was recently claimed he may be buried in a steel drum beneath other metal barrels at a New Jersey landfill site, by Frank Cappola, the son of the late mobster Paul Cappola Sr.
The site beneath the Pulaski Skyway used to belong to Cappola’s father but is now owned by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and is used by a local waste management company to store unused dumpsters.
According to Cappola, Hoffa was murdered in Detroit after showing up to a mafia meeting. His body was then taken back to New Jersey, where Cappola told Fox Nation his father put him in a barrel, head first, then buried him.
The site where Jimmy Hoffa is said to be buried at a landfill in New Jersey
Frank Cappola (left) claimed in November 2019 that Hoffa’s body was buried at the landfill site and that it was his father Paul (right) who put him there. Cappola died in February 2020
James Hoffa’s successor as the Teamsters president will have to contend with staff shortages caused by the pandemic which have led to strikes across the US, rising inflation and port backlogs.
A recent poll shows that union support is at its highest in the US since 1965.
The Teamsters have also set their sights on Amazon, attempting to organize workers despite resistance from the tech giant’s bosses.
James Hoffa, the second longest-serving president in the union’s history said Amazon is an ‘existential threat to every Teamster out there’.
Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, told the Wall Street Journal the Hoffa name is synonymous with the Teamsters, adding: ‘A long era’s coming to an end.’
The current Hoffa has had to lead under a 1989 consent decree to eliminate corruption and Mafia influence through strict federal oversight.
He said: ‘In the Teamsters union, my father is a great hero, and I have been very, very proud to carry that name and to carry on the work that he started years ago and we’ve done that.’
Martin Scorsese’s Netflix smash-hit, The Irishman, is the latest film to offer a fictionalized version of Hoffa’s story (pictured: Al Pacino playing the role of Hoffa)
This week’s election will decide whether Steve Vairma or Sean O’Brien will take over as general president.
Vairma is currently secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 455 in Denver and director of the Teamsters’ warehouse division.
Meanwhile O’Brien is president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston and former head of the packages division.
The winner of the election will commence a five-year term which will involve negotiating national agreements for DHL workers and car haulers in the first half of next year.
Both have stated they intend to organize Amazon but they face an uphill battle.
An Amazon spokeswoman said they don’t believe unions are suitable for their employees, saying: ‘Everyday we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do that we want to make those changes—quickly.
‘That type of continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with unions in the middle.’
WHAT HAPPENED TO JIMMY HOFFA?
The FBI has long suspected that Hoffa fell victim to a mob hit, with his death having been orchestrated by the ‘highest echelons of organised crime’.
Though Hoffa was officially declared dead in 1982 – seven years after his disappearance – no remains have ever been found, leading to speculation about his final resting place, as well as a swell of conspiracy theories as to who carried out – and who ordered – the apparent whacking.
Hoffa became the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the world’s largest labor unions, in 1957.
The FBI long suspected that Hoffa fell victim to a mob hit. His body was never found
Shortly after his appointment, his ties to organized crime began to surface, drawing the ire of the federal government, most namely Bobby Kennedy, who served as the Attorney General under his brother President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s.
Relations between the two became so fraught that Kennedy created a 20-prosecutor team in the Justice Department dedicated to ‘get Hoffa’ on corruption charges.
He was ultimately convicted of illegally funneling several large pension fund loans to leading organized crime figures in 1964. He later received an additional conviction for attempting to bribe a grand juror.
He only served four years of his 13-year sentence before then-President Richard Nixon commuted his prison term to time served. Though he was granted his freedom, Hoffa was banned from engaging in any union activities until 1980.
After his released from prison, Hoffa’s once tight-knit relationship with the mafia began to spectacularly fall apart.
A clip from The Irishman film in a break in the trial of Jimmy Hoffa, from left, Chuckie O’Brien (Jesse Plemons), Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano), Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and Hoffa (Al Pacino) appear shocked at the news of JFK’s assassination
On that fateful July day, Hoffa left his home in his green Pontiac Grand Ville in the early afternoon and drove to the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township.
There, he had allegedly scheduled a lunch with Anthony Provenzano, a caporegime of the Genovese crime family and the acting president of the Teamsters Union, and Tony ‘Jocks’ Giacalone, a kingpin in Detroit’s organized crime scene.
The meeting had been scheduled to take place at 2pm, but fifteen minutes later, an incensed Hoffa called his wife from a payphone to tell her he’d been ‘stood up’, asking her ‘Where the hell is Tony Giacalone?’
Then at 3:27pm, with no apparent sign of Giacalone or Provenzano, Hoffa called his former rival-turned-close friend Louis Linteau, who also once headed up Teamsters, telling him: ‘That dirty son of a b***h Tony Jocks set this meeting up, and he’s an hour and a half late.’
Linteau told Hoffa to calm down and asked him to stop by his office on the way home. Hoffa agreed and then hung up – ending what would prove to be his final ever communication.
When Hoffa’s family reported that he’d failed to return home the next morning, Linteau retraced his friend’s steps to the Machus Red Fox, finding his unlocked Pontiac in the parking lot, with no sign of Hoffa or what direction he may have headed in.
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