9/20/08

Hoffa: Rank and file Teamsters resist Barack

Related story: "Barack, Hoffa march hand in hand"
More Teamsters stories: hereBarack Obama stories: here

'Reagan Democrats' prove hard to convince

National Teamsters President James "Jim" P. Hoffa will urge union voters in Great Falls and Butte on Saturday to support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama because of his commitment to change for America's workers and middle class.

Hoffa, the son of the powerful and controversial late Teamsters President James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa, has been president of the Teamsters union since 1999. He will lead a group of union members knocking on doors from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Great Falls. Following the canvassing, the public is invited to a campaign rally and chili feed from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Labor Temple, 1112 7th St. S.

In a Friday interview, Hoffa said the Teamsters have signed up 50,000 new members in the past year, raising their numbers to 1.4 million members, but added that it wasn't easy in an economy that has had plant closures, layoffs and jobs shipped overseas.

The Teamsters were one of the first unions to back Obama in February, he said.

"We think the country is really in trouble economically, and believe Obama is the candidate who can change things around," he said. "He can rebuild the economy for the middle class."

Hoffa said Obama will oppose trade treaties that are bad for workers, initiate efforts to put people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges, and create more wind, solar and other renewable energy facilities.

"We've had eight years of George Bush's failed policies and don't need another four years under John McCain, who has voted to support Bush 95 percent of the time," Hoffa said.

Montana has a strong union membership of 40,000 people and Obama has a good chance to carry the state because of his support for workers and green energy development, Hoffa said.

When asked about his late father's legacy, he said Jimmy Hoffa is still revered in union circles for his organizing. He believes his father's imprisonment on jury tampering, fraud and conspiracy charges were pushed by a vindictive attorney general, Bobby Kennedy.

(greatfallstribune.com)

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