Hoffa, With 57% Of Vote, Set To Win Re-Election As Teamsters President.
Washington — James P. Hoffa is expected to easily win re-election to another five-year term as president of the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, officials said Thursday.
According to a tally posted on a union website, Hoffa — who has been president since 1999 — has 57 percent of the vote, with two challengers splitting the remainder of the votes.
Hoffa has 97,046 votes, while challenger Fred Gegare has 42,480 votes and Sandy Pope 30,279 votes.
To date, the vote has been counted in the southern, central and eastern regions, with the western region and Canada still to count. The remaining regions will include about 65,000 votes to count, officials said.
In an interview Thursday, Hoffa said he expected to win with more than 60 percent of the vote.
“This is a vindication for everything we’ve worked for,” Hoffa said. “We’ve worked to keep the union strong during the worst economy in 80 years.”
Hoffa said the union was talking to airline pilots as part of its current organizing efforts.
“It’s hard to organize right now, and people are looking to the Teamsters,” he said.
The union has voiced support for Occupy Wall Street movements and has said the economic climate is encouraging more people to join unions.
“People need a union more than ever today,” Hoffa said.
The defeat in Ohio of efforts to restrict collective bargaining was a sign of overreaching by Republicans, Hoffa said. People, including even some Teamsters, have expressed regret to him for voting for Republicans in 2010 elections, he said.
“They are seeing that Republicans want right-to-work, they want to take away collective bargaining for public employees,” Hoffa said. “They are for tax cuts for the rich and passing on expenses to the poor.”
Pope is a former truck driver, warehouse worker and steel-hauler, and is president of Teamsters Local 805 in New York City.
Gegare is a Wisconsin Teamster who joined Local 75 in 1972 and has served in a number of positions. He’s also a trustee on one of the nation’s largest pension funds and Teamsters international vice president.
Hoffa plans to be active in the 2012 elections, stumping for President Barack Obama and union-friendly candidates. Hoffa was one of the first labor leaders to endorse Obama in February 2008 for president.
Earlier this year, Hoffa gave a fiery speech in Detroit on Labor Day ahead of Obama’s appearance.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on the battle that we face — a war on workers. And you see it everywhere. It is the tea party,” he said. “And there’s only one way to beat and win that war — the one thing about working people is, we like a good fight.”
He added: “President Obama, this is your army; we are ready to march.”
The Teamsters have made organizing new members a top priority. On Thursday, the union announced that a majority of the nearly 20,000 correctional, probation and parole officers with the Florida Department of Corrections voted to join the Teamsters. “FDOC officers have shown that in tough times, they want a tough union to represent them,” Hoffa said.
The union also faces contract talks with UPS in 2013. The Teamsters represent 240,000 workers at the shipping giant — the single largest bargaining unit at any company in the nation.
By contrast, the United Auto Workers represents about 117,000 workers at Detroit’s Big Three.
Michigan is home to about 50,000 Teamsters and 35,000 Teamster retirees.
Hoffa is set in the coming months to surpass his father’s 13 years of service as head of the Teamsters.
Hoffa was a lawyer for the Teamsters from 1968 to 1993 and lost an election for Teamsters president in 1996, before winning a new election in December 1998.
Born in Detroit in 1941, Hoffa graduated from Cooley High School and played football. He holds a degree in economics from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Hoffa, who is a big Detroit Lions and Michigan State sports fan, splits his time between Washington, where the Teamsters are headquartered, and Oakland County, where he has a home. Source: David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau.