National Boss Steps Aside in Face of Scandal; Will Repay Funds

blet-logoThe Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  Membership has its disadvantages as well as advantages, most of all, subjection to the jurisdiction of the Teamsters’ federal receiver, the Independent Review Board (IRB).  Don Hahs, the Locomotive Engineers’ president, more than anyone else, knows the downside.  He’d been facing charges that he embezzled nearly $60,000 from the Cleveland-based union, mainly to secure NBA basketball tickets.   Under pressure from the IRB, the Teamsters announced a month ago it had reached a settlement.  Though Hahs will be allowed to remain a union member, he will step aside from his post for six months and repay all funds. 

The three-person IRB had conducted a lengthy investigation of Hahs’ spending patterns, and this past September sent its findings and recommendations to Teamster General President James P. Hoffa.  The board made clear it wanted a decision from Hoffa within 90 days.  Hoffa’s initial response was to send the case back to the board, maintaining, as did Hahs’ attorney, that Hahs could not get a fair trial.  But the IRB responded that the ball was in Hoffa’s court, that as a rule the board considers only cases involving top Teamster leaders and/or organized crime figures.  Hoffa, wanting to avoid a December 3 hearing, signed off on the proposed settlement on November 28.  The agreement is subject to the approval by the IRB, established in the wake of the 1989 civil RICO settlement between the Teamsters and the Justice Department.  (Traffic World, 12/10/07).