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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Hoffa ally, then enemy, and soon president of the Teamsters

Sean O’Brien was a rising star of the Teamsters’ International Brotherhood in 2017 when longtime union president James P. Hoffa effectively rejected him.

But the move appears to have put Mr. O’Brien, a fourth-generation truck driver and head of local Boston, on a course to replace Mr. Hoff as union president and one of the most powerful union leaders in the country.

Vice President of Teamsters, who has called for a stronger stance against employers like United Parcel Service and an aggressive drive to organize workers at Amazon, Mr. O’Brien announced victory in his quest to lead a union of nearly 1 , 4 million members. …

He won about two-thirds of the vote in a race against Hoffa’s endorsed candidate, Steve Wyrma, another vice president, according to a tally posted late Thursday on an election observer’s website. He will take office in March.

The result appears to reflect disappointment over the latest UPS contract and growing discontent with Mr Hoffa, who headed the union for over two decades, and whose father was from 1957 to 1971. The younger Mr. Hoffa did not seek another five-year sentence.

In an interview, Mr. O’Brien said that in order to succeed in organizing Amazon workers – the Teamsters’ stated goal – the union must demonstrate the fruits of its efforts elsewhere.

“We have to negotiate the most reliable contracts so we can pass them on to Amazon workers, point them out and say that this is the benefit you get from union membership,” he said.

David Whitver, a driver expert at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, said that it was very rare for drivers to elect a president who was not an incumbent president or backed by an incumbent president, and who sharply criticized his predecessor as Mr. O. – Brian was from Mr. Hoffa.

Since the union was formally founded in 1903, as Dr. Witwer said in an email, “there have been only two national union choices in which an outside reformist candidate has won the presidency.”

During the campaign, Mr. O’Brien, 49, opposed a union contract with UPS to allow the company to create a category of employees who work on weekends and receive lower wages, among other perceived shortcomings.

“If we are negotiating concession contracts and concluding low-quality agreements, why would any member, why would anyone join a drivers’ union?” Mr. O’Brien said at a candidates forum in September, where he often tied his opponent to Mr. Hoffa.

Mr. O’Brien also criticized his predecessor’s approach to Amazon, which many in the labor movement see as a real threat. Although the union at its recent convention approved a resolution pledging to “provide all the necessary resources” to unionize Amazon workers and ultimately create a unit that oversees the organization, Mr. O’Brien said the effort was too late.

“This plan should have existed under our warehouse director 10 years ago,” he said in an interview, referring to the position of warehouse director that his opponent, Mr. Weirma, has held since 2012.

In an interview, Mr. Hoffa said that the union fell apart and split when he took power, and that he is leaving it “financially strong and strong in every way.”

He said he was proud of his recent contract with UPS, calling it “the richest contract ever awarded,” and pointing out that it allows many full-time drivers to earn nearly $ 40 an hour.

He said Mr O’Brien’s criticism of the union’s efforts against Amazon was unfair. “Nobody did that ten years ago,” said Mr Hoffa. “It’s more difficult than just going and organizing 20 people at the grocery store. It looks like it’s that simple. “

Mr. O’Brien did not elaborate on his plans to organize Amazon, saying that he would like more information from local Teamsters, but suggested that this would include political and economic pressure on the company in cities and towns. countrywide. … The union took part in attempts to deny Amazon tax breaks in Indiana and to deny a delivery station in Colorado.

Mr. O’Brien, who once worked as a rigger delivering heavy equipment to construction sites, was elected president of a major Boston local in 2006. After a few years, he appears to have settled in a trade union wing.

During an incident in 2013 that resulted in a 14-day unpaid suspension, Mr. O’Brien threatened members of Drivers for the Democratic Union, a reform group who had clashed with his ally in Rhode Island. “They will never be our friends,” he said of the applicants. “They need to be punished.”

Mr. O’Brien has apologized for the comments and points out that the reform supporter who took the lead in Rhode Island, Matt Tybee, is now a supporter who ran on his list in the recent election.

The breakup with Mr. Hoffa happened in 2017. Earlier that year, longtime president of Teamsters appointed Mr. O’Brien to oversee union negotiations with UPS, where more than 300,000 Teamsters now work.

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But the union dismissed Mr. O’Brien from office a few months after he tried to include Mr. Hoff’s critics on the negotiating team, including the head of a prominent Louisville local who nearly ceded the Teamsters presidency to Mr. Hoffa in previous elections, despite being considered out of control.

“I got a tremendous rebuff,” Mr. O’Brien said in an interview. “I wouldn’t give up on my goal of getting the right people around the table.”

Mr Hoffa said he did not think the Louisville leader would be productive on the team. “I didn’t want to get rid of Sean O’Brien,” he said. “Sean O’Brien was persistent.”

Two years later, Mr. O’Brien appeared at the Democratic Union Drivers’ Convention and discussed his support for many of the group’s long-backed initiatives, such as repealing a rule that required a two-thirds vote to reject a contract when less than half of eligible members voted.

The union approved its 2018 contract with UPS under the two-thirds rule, although a majority of members voted against it.

Mr Hoffa said his hands were tied by the rule, but it also served a purpose: “We’re going to see how they can ratify contracts without the two-thirds rule,” he said. “It won’t be easy for him.”

Ken Puff, longtime leader of Drivers for the Democratic Union, said Mr. O’Brien won the group’s trust by pushing for these reforms at this year’s drivers’ convention, where many of them were adopted, including the removal of two-thirds. rule.

“TDU could never have won alone,” said Mr. Puff. “We used to push them forward and they were pissed off, but O’Brien’s team supported them.” This team included Fred Zuckerman, a Teamsters leader from Louisville, Kentucky, who opposed Mr. Hoffa in 2016 and will now become the second union official, his secretary-treasurer.

Mr. Wyrma, a Hoffa-backed presidential candidate, has also supported some reform measures, including the abolition of the two-thirds rule, and appears to have occasionally grasped at the reformist mantle himself during the campaign.

He portrayed voting for his board as voting for union diversification; his nominee for secretary-treasurer, Ron Herrera, vice president, is one of the few Latin American officials to have served in the upper ranks of the union. He also tried to involve Mr. O’Brien in the union’s slow approach to Amazon. “Sean, you were on the executive board and I have not seen you do anything in the past nine years trying to develop a proactive program with Amazon,” Mr. Wyrma said during one of the discussions.

The two candidates agreed on several issues: unmanned trucks pose a potential danger to the public and their members; that the union must combat attempts by employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors; and that Covid-19 vaccination regulations should not be imposed by employers without prior trade union approval.

But the differences became apparent during the sparring contract with UPS, which Mr. Wyrma accused of “demonizing” Mr. O’Brien, and their common stance towards employers.

Mr Wyrma warned that Mr O’Brien was reckless while Mr O’Brien criticized his opponent for being overly timid. “Steve, you’ve already admitted that you’ve only hit six hits in your 25-year career, so UPS knows you’re not going to hit,” he said.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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