Corruption and Reform in the Teamsters Union

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University of Illinois Press, 2008 - History - 298 pages
Almost since its creation at the close of the nineteenth century, the Teamsters Union has had recurring problems with corruption. This book is the first in-depth historical study of the forces that have contributed to the Teamsters' troubled past, as well as the various mechanisms the union has employed--from top-down directives to grass-roots measures--to combat the spread of corruption.

Arguing that the Teamsters Union was by its very nature especially vulnerable to certain forms of corruption, David Witwer charts the process by which organized crime came to play a significant role in sectors of the union, from low-level involvements of the 1930s to suspicions of mob ties among the union's upper echelons beginning in the 1950s. Witwer includes a detailed account of the links forged between the mafia and union head Jimmy Hoffa as well as the highly revealing McLellan Committee investigation that first brought these links to light.

David Witwer is a former employee of the New York County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office. Drawing on hundreds of hours of tapes of activities and conversations in the offices of corrupt union officials, he brings his experience and insight to bear on the union's history, considering the subject from a range of perspectives that include the rank and file, the Teamster leadership, and the criminal element. He also examines the persistent efforts of labor opponents to capitalize on the union's unsavory reputation, fanning the flames of "crises of corruption" in order to influence popular and legislative opinion.

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About the author (2008)

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David Witwer is an associate professor of history at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania.

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