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Teamsters Want Federal Oversight Ended

June 27, 2001
Filed at 6:00 p.m. ET

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Teamsters Union wants an end to 12 years of federal oversight, insisting it's free of organized crime influences and able to govern itself.

James P. Hoffa, expected nominee for a second term as Teamsters president, said the federal government should end oversight begun under a 1989 consent decree with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Hoffa, son of long-missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, cited overwhelming approval at the union's convention for direct election of Teamsters leaders starting this fall.

``We have come full circle and have cleaned up our union,'' Hoffa said in a statement released after the ``one-member, one-vote'' measure won voice vote approval Tuesday from convention delegates.

Union spokesman Bret Caldwell said Wednesday that the vote showed ``extraordinarily obvious'' support from about 1,600 of the convention's 1,722 delegates.

The 1989 consent decree settled a racketeering lawsuit filed by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani alleging Teamsters leadership was linked to organized crime. Giuliani is now mayor of New York.

Herbert Hadad, spokesman for current U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in Manhattan, said Wednesday that the government was continuing to work with the Teamsters ``to ensure that the goals of the consent decree are achieved.''

Hadad declined to say whether the Teamsters and White's office discussed dissolving the government's Independent Review Board before Hoffa called Tuesday for the government to get out.

The decree established the oversight panel that has, over the years, led to the removal of about 100 union officials and cost the union almost $100 million, union officials say.

``There is no organized crime influence at the top of our union,'' Caldwell said Wednesday, the third day of at the union's 26th international convention in Las Vegas.

``Certainly, we have pockets of challenges and we address those issues head-on,'' he said.

Hoffa won the Teamsters presidency in 1999 after promising to root out corruption and end the federal oversight.

He is expected to be nominated Thursday for another five-year term heading the Teamsters. The union represents 1.4 million members in the United States and Canada. Hoffa supporters say they control more than 90 percent of the convention delegates.

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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