DC Influencer: James Hoffa Jr., general president, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

James Hoffa Jr, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, speaks to Jaimy Lee about the recession's impact on his union.

What are the primary issues your members want representation on in Washington?

JH: Job security is a big issue. The members are concerned right now that the economy is down. They see other people losing their jobs. Fortunately, we have been able to keep the numbers up in our union, but these are tough times.

What are the main messages when you talk to policymakers in Washington?

JH: We must have jobs, jobs, jobs. President Obama said we could create 5 million new jobs through green projects and these are the kinds of things we're backing. We're also working on pension reform to make sure we can protect our pensions. We want to make certain we have legislation, under the FAA Reauthorization Act, to ensure both UPS and FedEx are under the same law.

As spokesperson, what are the most effective ways for you to communicate on behalf of the union?

JH: I'm one of the most visible, available presidents we've ever had at the Teamsters union. We've got a very active website. I'm blogging with the Huffington Post. I have my own Facebook page. We're doing what is traditional and new age to get our message out to the media.

What have been some of the bigger challenges in attracting new members for the Teamsters?

JH: Because of the economic downturn, we've had a number of companies go out of business and that, certainly, is very hard on us.

In addition, because of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement), and the WTO (World Trade Organization), we have seen a number of major Teamsters companies close just to take advantage of these laws and move to Mexico, China, and India. We want to change these laws so that employers are not encouraged to leave America and lay off American workers.

Do you find that you have been more active in Washington over the past two years?

JH: It's been much more active, partly because we have the Obama Administration here. We currently have a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, so we're working on legislation that helps the Teamsters.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in