The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 has brought about significant changes for U.S. labor unions. It is important to know what led to the creation of the act and how the act changed labor unions entirely. The paper will examine the history of labor crime on one of labor unions largest unions, the Teamsters. The paper will also discuss the creation of the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 and will examine the Landrum-Griffin Act in its entirety.
Labor Organized Crime
A labor union is an organization of workers who join together to influence the nature of their employment. They seek to improve wages and benefits or protection against arbitrary treatment and discharge from their employers. The Philadelphia shoemakers formed the first permanent union back in 1794 along with the start of local craft unions. Throughout history labor unions fought for what they believed in and some even got involved in illegal criminal battles and conspiracies. During the 1950s labor unions had reached its toll. A few of the unions had strayed away from the original purpose of a union and got involved in organized crime. It was evident when a journalist from New York appeared on national television with dark glasses and bandaged hands outraged from labor movement corruption. This journalist was blind from an acid attack linked to New York gangster Johnny Dio. For this purpose, the senate created a committee to investigate labor corruption. This committee, the Select Committee, also known as the McClellan Committee, was named after Arkansas Senator John McClellan who was appointed chairman and lawyer Robert Kennedy appointed as chief counsel.
One of the largest unions, formulated in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), also known as Teamsters, became involved in illegal schemes and was investigated for union corruption. The Teamsters is a union representing the trucking and construction industries. For years the Teamsters had been involved with bribes, embezzlement, and extensive extortion, along with, beatings, vandalism, and bombings all to take control of the trucking and construction industries (Teamsters, p. 5).
The president at the time was Dave Beck, the head of 1.4 million Teamster union members. Mr. Beck was seen as a powerful, well connected and a greedy man. During his time as president, Beck had stolen $200,000 from the union, which was said to be used to build a palatial home in Seattle, Washington. Beck also went as far as selling bow ties for $3.50, all when Teamsters average salary was $5,000. Upon investigation, Beck got caught and was convicted on tax evasion and grand larceny charges (American Decades, 2001). Jimmy Hoffa, Vice President of Teamsters, was eager to have Beck step down as president, so he could be president with the votes of the union members. Hoffa’s scheme to unseat Beck caused a major national scandal. In an attempt to receive additional votes to take over as president, Hoffa engaged in connection with mobster Johnny Dio and both conspired to create 15 paper locals to up his delegate totals. Political foes of Hoffa became outraged after finding that the paper locals applied for charters from the international union. A dispute broke out within the Teamster on whether to charter the paper locals. This caused media attention by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations (Teamsters, p. 5). The union was investigated by the McClellan Committee who was able to expose widespread corruption in the Teamsters Union. According to the history of the Teamsters (p. 5), Beck fled the country to avoid subpoenas, four of the paper locals were dissolved, and wiretaps of Hoffa and Dio were uncovered discussing creating more paper locals.
Hoffa was arrested in March 1957 for bribing a Senate aide and...