UNLOCKED Overtime – Unions and The Mob: Reputation vs Reality Pt 1

We’re very excited to be launching a new, wide ranging series on the history of allegations levied against unions of corruption and relations with organized crime. Ever since the formation of the first labor unions, the capitalists and their media have been denouncing organized labor as corrupt, violent, led by racketeers, and in bed with the mob. This allegation remains common today, and what better way to help fight these ideological attacks on unions than by confronting these allegations head on and examining the historical record. And of course, there’s no other place we could start than with the case of Jimmy Hoffa, whose reputation looms large as one of the most notorious figures in US labor history. To rigorously examine his case, we will have to go all the way back to the founding of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and follow allegations of corruption from the early days of the union up through today.

In this episode, we discuss how the ruling class attacked unions for supposedly being corrupt from the very beginning, and used the media to minimize violence by bosses and amplify stories of violence by workers. In future episodes we will go through a century of Teamster history, the rise of Jimmy Hoffa, his presidency of the union and his fight with the Kennedys, his imprisonment, his disappearance, and ultimately his legacy. Along the way we will do our best to separate real instances of corruption from the mountain of insinuations and rumor, and discuss what lessons we can learn for our organizing today.

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