Jimmy Hoffa and Unionism

Topics: Trade union, Collective bargaining, Employment Pages: 6 (2002 words) Published: December 22, 2012
Hoffa and Unionism
As an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Jimmy Hoffa made significant progress toward improved working conditions for truckers and was fore mostly responsible for the rapid progression and development of the union. With over 1.5 million members during Hoffa’s tenure as president, IBT eventually became the largest single union in the United States (International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 2012). Through interpretive reactive analysis, topical course comparison, and personal professional experience, this paper will summarize the movie Hoffa and discuss the variance of organizational necessity of the IBT and Hoffa within the context of historical and present day working conditions and the implications thereof. Motivation for Organization

As depicted in the film, the catalyst which stirred truckers and warehousemen to unionize was due to increased frustration concerning deplorable working conditions such as long hours, minuscule compensation, and absence of properly functioning vehicles to sufficiently complete the responsibilities of the job. Another contributing factor was that workers initially lacked the ability to choose otherwise in the absence of a platform to address concerns associated with unfair labor practices. Although completely disgruntled, workers seemed somewhat enslaved to their circumstance and stuck in the vicious cycle of working extensive hours in attempts to support their families. The level of employee frustration and job discontentment is positively correlated to the probability of unionization as written by Fossum (2012) who reports that “employees are more likely to vote for unions due to dissatisfaction with employment conditions rather than job task characteristics” (p. 9). Unhappy workers are interested in positive change which results in the possibility of improved circumstances. When approached by a sympathizing organizer such as Jimmy Hoffa offering assistance and a means toward significant advancement, workers were desperate to heed and take a chance. The Goals of Organization

As such is the case with the IBT and Hoffa, advocates of labor unions endeavored to organize as a means to address the unrest and obtain safe working conditions, better wages, and shorter working hours in the day. Specifically, the goal for organizers was to create a united front in order to collectively negotiate toward the established objectives to benefit the working man. LeRoy (1992) reported that the most important factors concerning this movement are associated with collective bargaining rights, union leadership, and union solidarity. Through guidance and union cohesion, Hoffa and IBT gave workers a voice, as written by Fossum (2012), in “how the employment relationship is implemented” (p. 5) in the workplace. Union cohesiveness is an essential requirement of effective organization and successful contract negotiation. Hoffa and the IBT engaged in questionable activities in attempts to increase membership and strengthen the power of the organization, which ranged from political influence to organized crime. Although the initial motives of organization were honorable, Hoffa and members of the IBT were engaged in widespread corruption, which included bribery, embezzlement, extortion, physical violence, and bombings in order to gain support of the organization. With ties to the mob, the initial labor goals spread to include lucrative pensions, protection of political and civil rights of workers, and the right to hold collective bargaining elections. Due to persistent involvement with the mob and organized crime, Hoffa was eventually convicted of jury tampering, bribery, and fraud in 1964 and sentenced to 13 years in prison, which led to his resignation of IBT office in 1971. Management Reaction to Organization

Employers did not provide a welcoming response to Hoffa and his organizational efforts. Often times, intimidation tactics such as threats of...
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