The Teamster Union Has Had a Long History of Corruption

Topics: Trade union, Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa Pages: 13 (4908 words) Published: November 15, 2012

The Teamster Union has had a long history of corruption, as well as with organized crime. In some cases, the two terms have been known to be synomious. The Teamster Union began in or around 1887, and was one of the first local organizations that ultimately became part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union. In the early years of the Teamsters Union, American Federation of Labor (AFL) assisted in establishing new local unions of teamsters in the United States. During this time, teamsters drove teams of horses and wagons for commercial purposes. Then in1902, a group of horse and buggy drivers created the Teamsters Union, in that the Teamsters were employed to transport goods. This occupation played an important part in the economic development of the United States. Although they worked under difficult circumstances at the turn of the twentieth century, they began to unionize on an extensive scale. There was no established national organization until 1912, because of this the teamsters felt more secure. In the past, certain crafts and professions were considered as public-interest endeavors, which were licensed and regulated by the town authorities. Included in the teamsters which started with cart-men were; doorkeepers, butchers, and bakers. With the public being so reliant on these crafts, they showed a monopoly and the members would join in strikes, to change supply and demand so they could increase prices for their products. In addition, the strikes served the purpose in securing higher wages and fees for services, and to keep outsiders from operating in the same craft. The strikes came about as early as the seventeenth century, although there were not any conflicts between labor and management. Instead, the strikes represented demonstrations against local laws and directives and were aimed in influencing the actions of town councils. There were numerous grievances due to the charges and rates established by localities for teamsters and in the seventeenth century, for example cart-men did not work for earnings but owned the horses and wagons. Back in 1677 New York held the first tribunal for a strike in which, “Twelve trackmen were dismissed by the common council for not carrying out the duties prescribed for them by the city. The prosecution charged that the men were in contempt; it did not base its case upon conspiracy. Conditions prevailing in New York City were typical of those under which cart-men labored prior to 1850.” (Witwer) The New York teamsters were categorized as an individual labor group and each of them had to be licensed by the mayor. This allowed the city to have control over the cost of transporting or delivering goods through its streets and as business endeavors in the metropolitan area increased, a variety of regulations were passed. This included specifications on cart sizes, speed zones, and preventive measures to deter noise and accidents. After the Revolutionary War, the New York City council maintained stringent control over the work of cart-men doorkeepers, butchers, and bakers. During this time, cart-men made request to the council that would limit that could enter into their craft in 1785, which kept transient residents in the city during the summer out of their businesses. It was not until 1790, which licenses as teamsters were sought after by the old, frail, and unskilled workers. According to Brill, “In 1792, the Cart-men's Society was founded for the relief of distressed members. In 1797, as a result of flagrant abuses by teamsters in New York City operating without a license and charging extortionate fees--all licenses were revoked. The cart-men were reorganized in groups of forty-nine, each headed by a foreman. In 1800, there were twenty such companies. Stiff penalties were imposed for violations of ordinances.” The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) labor union has been more embroiled in jurisdictional cases and doppelganger...
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