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Hoffa Retains Teamsters Union Presidency — Fewer Concessions Ahead?

James P. Hoffa has received a majority of valid votes cast in the election for General President of the Teamsters Union, according to, the official website for the Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The counting of ballots was completed on November 18, 2016, but the results will not be official until certified by the Election Supervisor, Richard W. Mark. If certified, this will be Hoffa’s fourth reelection win. The last election was held in 2011.

The number of challenged ballots (12,280) initially exceeded the winning margin for all offices except that of regional vice presidents. However, after reviewing the challenges, the Office of the Election Supervisor determined that 2,908 of those ballots, less than the winning margin for all offices, should be counted.

Hoffa received almost 6,000 more votes – a surprisingly small margin, according to Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report – than his opponent, Fred Zuckerman, the head of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, Kentucky, who ran on the Teamsters United slate. Teamsters United criticized Hoffa for granting pension and other concessions during collective bargaining. Teamsters members in the United States cast more ballots in favor of Zuckerman, but Canadian Teamsters members favored Hoffa in large enough numbers to secure the apparent victory for him.

In 1989, the Teamsters entered into a consent decree to settle a suit brought by the federal government under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The decree required the direct election of International officers by the membership to replace the indirect election by delegates at the union’s convention. This election was held pursuant to the 78-page “Rules for the 2015-2016 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election,” created, in part, because of the consent decree.

Six regional vice presidential candidates who ran with Zuckerman on the Teamsters United slate won election. According to Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report, quoting  Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a group of dissident Teamsters dedicated to reforming the Teamsters Union, “Nothing like that’s happened in 18 years.”

The campaign was marked by the filing of a number of “protests” pursuant to the protest procedure set forth in the election rules. Hoffa, for example, filed a pre-election protest alleging a member violated the rules by burning Hoffa 2016 campaign material in a video posted on Facebook. Zuckerman filed a pre-election protest alleging that a Hoffa 2016 campaign flyer was impermissibly posted on a union bulletin board at a company’s facility. Both protests were denied by the Election Appeals Master appointed to rule on it.

Some observers believe that the closeness of the vote could mean less willingness on the part of the Teamsters to grant concessions in collective bargaining. A final result should be announced soon.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 327


About this Author

Howard Bloom, Jackson Lewis, labor union attorney, unfair practice investigations lawyer, employment legal counsel, bargaining law

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification...

Philip B. Rosen Jackson Lewis  Preventive Practices Lawyer & Collective Bargaining Attorney

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.

Mr. Rosen has extensive experience advising clients developing integrated corporate-wide labor relations strategies - whether the organization is union-free, partially unionized or entirely unionized. He has led teams conducting multi-facility labor-related legal assessments where clients are seeking to develop creative, strategic legal approaches which anticipate major issues and achieve a company’s labor relations goals. Mr. Rosen also has advised clients being confronted with corporate campaigns and requests for neutrality agreements. He has represented organizations seeking to maximize management rights through their development of pro-active employee relations approaches to remain union-free. He also has advised unionized organizations on lawful negotiating strategies – in situations ranging from “hard bargaining” to recapture management rights to more “cooperative” negotiations – in all cases, providing legal advice designed to assist clients in achieving their primary goals.