January 19, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—One day after the Teamsters Union and the attorney for the Southern District of New York filed an application with a chief judge in the district requesting an end of decades of government oversight of the union, their president traveled to New York to swear in the winning slate of Local 237, the biggest Teamsters union in the country.
James P. Hoffa traveled to New York from Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning on Amtrak’s Acela high-speed train to congratulate and swear in Local 237’s president, Greg Floyd, for another five-year term.
In the accompanying video interview, we asked Mr. Hoffa the significance of the agreement between Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District, and the Teamsters.
“It’s a tremendous milestone. When I first became president in 1999 I vowed and told the members that I would get rid of government [oversight]. This union is clean of corruption. It’s hardworking, and it’s addressing the issue of income inequality, the very issue that America has to address,” said Hoffa.
Numerous elected officials attended the swearing-in ceremony, including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who said that income inequality is getting worse in the country and that the only way to reverse it is an expansion of organized labor.
Mr. Hoffa concurred with Senator Schumer.
“The President of the United States raised it in his inaugural address; he will raise it again in his State of the Union. But the question is how do we solve it, and the answer is organized labor. Here in New York where you have such [union] density—people here are successful, you don’t have as much income inequality here. But across the country the right wing is discouraging unions, but we need to have stronger unions because they will address income inequality,” Hoffa said.
Now that Republicans have taken over both the House and Senate, we asked Mr. Hoffa if there’s any hope for organized labor this year.
“I hope that the President talks about income inequality, but most of all I want the President to say the word ‘union.’ Because how do you get there? We can all say we’re worried about income inequality but what do we do about it? What do we do that basically says, ‘We’re going to do something, we’re going to empower labor unions, we’re going to empower people to join together to have a better life.’ If we don’t do that, just saying it is not enough, we got to find a way to do that, and unions, organized labor and collective bargaining are all ways to do that,” said Hoffa.