WASHINGTON (AP) — The Teamsters Union and the Justice Department announced Wednesday they have reached an agreement to end the government's 25-year anti-corruption oversight of the 1.4-million member union.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, joined with the Teamsters in asking a federal judge to terminate the consent order that had been in place since March 1989.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa called it "a historic day" for the union. He said the union could "finally say that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters" and that government oversight could come to an end.
Bharara said in a statement from New York City that the proposed agreement recognizes "the significant progress that has been made in ridding the International Brotherhood of Teamsters of the influence of organized crime and corruption."
At the same time, the statement said, the proposed settlement helps provide "an avenue for the union to demonstrate its ability to preserve these gains through its own independent disciplinary and electoral systems."
The proposed settlement was presented to U.S. District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska.
"We anticipate that she will approve the agreement," Hoffa, president of the union since 1999, said in a statement. "We will begin the transition to end government oversight."
The court case brought against the Teamsters by the government was settled by a consent decree in which the labor union agreed to the federal oversight.
The 1989 consent decree established direct elections of international officers of the union and established an independent disciplinary process for rooting out corrupt elements.
Hoffa is the son of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, who has been missing since 1975.
In 1975, former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in suburban Detroit; although presumed dead, his remains have never been found.
The elder Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, when he was to meet with reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone and alleged New Jersey mob figure Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, north of Detroit. The 62-year-old Hoffa never was seen or heard from again.
Jimmy Hoffa's rise in the Teamsters, his 1964 conviction for jury tampering and his presumed murder are a link to a time when organized crime, public corruption and mob hits held the nation's attention.
"When I took office in 1999, I pledged that we would run a clean union, that organized crime would never have a place in the Teamsters Union," the younger Hoffa said Wednesday.
Until recently, the Teamsters suffered from a long history of widespread corruption from its formation in 1903 into the 1960s. Both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate held extensive hearings into the matter.
The Senate created a special select committee with broad subpoena and investigative powers, with Sen. John L. McClellan, D-Ark., as chairman and Robert F. Kennedy as chief investigator.
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