Elected Twin Cities Leaders Sue Hoffa over Removal from Office

Elected leaders of Teamsters Local 2000 sued Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa in a Detroit fed. court July 25, contending Hoffa illegally removed them from office.

On July 1, Hoffa ousted the officers of the Local that represents more than 11,500 Northwest flight attendants after they refused to fight an organizing effort by some attendants trying to form an independent union. The suit calls for reinstatement of the elected leaders and withdrawal of the trusteeship that Hoffa also imposed on the 1st.

Ousted president Danny Campbell said that he and other officers filed suit because they believe Hoffa violated the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, and violated Campbell’s free-speech rights with the removal. “Essentially that law was designed to provide a more democratic infrastructure in local unions,” Campbell said. He argued that top Teamsters officials “removed us from office for political reasons, rather than what they cited we were unwilling to do.”

In mid-June, some Northwest employees began asking attendants to sign cards authorizing a representational election to choose between the Teamsters and a new union, the Professional Flight Attendants Assn (PFAA). Hoffa called on Local 2000 leaders to take eight specific actions against the campaign. Campbell, Vice President Anne Meyer and Secretary-Treasurer Bob Krabbe sought a meeting with Hoffa to discuss what they called an alternative strategy. In the 28-page complaint, the plaintiffs said, “Hoffa never engaged in two-way communication, face-to-face or in any other way.”

Teamsters spokesman Brian Rainville said Local 2000 officials were removed from office because of “their absolute refusal to do anything about the raid” by the PFAA. Rainville said the elected leaders tried to “use the raid to gain further advantage for their political aspirations.” He said the behavior of the Local 2000 leaders has given “aid and comfort to the PFAA.”

The PFAA needs at least half of the flight attendants to sign cards before the National Mediation Board will call an election. [Star-Tribune,  7/26/02]