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Teamsters Say Cheney Part of 'Lawless' Company

Oakland Press September 27, 2000

Teamsters' Hoffa says Cheney is part of a lawless company

Hoffa holds up Union Pacific as "one of the worst labor law violators in the history of America"

By Joe Szczesny

LANSING - Dick Cheney's role as a director of Union Pacific Corp. has come under attack from Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.

Hoffa blasted the Republican vice presidential candidate Tuesday for his role as director of a "lawless company" and said it indicated Cheney's lack of concern for the welfare of ordinary Americans.

"It's amazing that he (Cheney) would be part of a lawless company like Overnight, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Union Pacific," Hoffa told reporters after a rally on the steps of the state Capitol. "He's part of an outlaw company that is one of the worst labor law violators in the history of America.

"I think he should be more sensitive. They're not thinking straight," said Hoffa, who added the Teamsters union was preparing to go all out to help elect Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

Hoffa said the union would be devoting both money and manpower this fall to electing Gore and Lieberman.

"The alternative is disaster," said Hoffa of the Republicans. "The alternative is turning back the clock to (the) 1920s and start cutting benefits and wages."

Cheney had served as director of Union Pacific Railroad Corp., the parent company of Overnight Transportation.

The Teamsters have been trying to organize Overnight's drivers for more than four years and the dispute has spawned charges on both sides. But the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Overnight has violated federal labor law on several occasions.

Calls to the Bush-Cheney campaign brought no immediate response to Hoffa's charges.

During the rally at the state Capitol, which was organized by the Teamsters and Michigan AFL-CIO, Hoffa urged the crowd of about 500 to campaign hard for Democratic candidates.

"We've got a chance in November to remember what they've done to us," said Hoffa, who charged Michigan Republicans with tilting state policy and practices in favor of business.

"They've gutted everything that protects workers. It's all for business. The question couldn't be clearer. What are we going to do in November? We're going to sit down and vote Democratic all the way."

Hoffa singled out a Republican legislator, state Rep. Joanne Voorhees of Grand Rapids, as an example of what working people can expect from Republicans.

"These are all the cronies of the governor who want to take away good jobs. We've worked so hard to get good jobs, wage, health care and pension," added Hoffa.

The Teamsters represent more than 600 workers at Spartan Stores, which recently formed a partnership with Serv-U-Sweet. Serv-U-Sweet is owned by the Voorhees family and the distribution of snack foods by nonunion workers now threatens the jobs of workers at the Spartan warehouse in Grand Rapids.

Voorhees said Serv-U-Sweet distributes snack foods to several grocery chains in Michigan and Ohio. The company has grown from 40 to 400 employees in recent years, she said. "It's a family owned company that provides for its employees. It's the American dream."

Hoffa also said he's been encouraged by the positive response of union members to Gore, Lieberman and other Democrats.

"We're for the Democrats because they stand up for union labor," said Matt McPhee, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who was wearing one of the hardhats that dotted the crowd.

Hoffa also brushed aside suggestions Gore would hobble the auto industry.

"I think he's a realist and he knows we're going to be driving cars for a long time. I think he's realistic about what we've got to do to keep jobs in America and to keep the unemployment rate low," said Hoffa, who noted Gore had pledged to keep the U.S. manufacturing base strong when he accepted the Teamsters' presidential endorsement last week.

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