Teamsters Sean O’Brien and Fred Zuckerman announced this afternoon that they had joined together to run for the top two leadership positions of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. O’Brien will top the ticket running as General President and Zuckerman will run as General Secretary-Treasurer.
“We can no longer wait as Hoffa’s inaction and inability destroys the Teamsters,” O’Brien said. “Fred and I are dedicated to bringing together Teamster officers and members to stand up to the employers and save our union. That’s why I’m joining the Teamsters United coalition, and I’m proud to be leading the ticket in 2021.”
“Sean is the right person for the job. He has the energy and the talent and guts to stand up for what is right,” Zuckerman said. “He has shown through his leadership in New England that he knows how to unite Teamsters in action to stand up to the employers. Working together, we can put the Teamsters on the right track across North America.”
O’Brien leads Teamsters Local 25 in Boston and Zuckerman leads Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville Kentucky. O’Brien and Zuckerman pledged to build on the momentum that Teamsters United created in 2016. During that election cycle, Teamsters United nearly unseated Hoffa. Hoffa lost the U.S. vote and squeaked out a 6,024-vote win among the 1.2 million Teamsters. More than 70 percent of the 240,000 Teamsters at UPS voted against Hoffa.
UPS is the biggest contract in the union and the largest private sector contract in the United States. O’Brien who ran on the Hoffa slate in 2016 was initially appointed Hoffa’s UPS Division Director. But O’Brien was fired as Division Director in September 2017 after he pushed to build a united UPS negotiating team that included Fred Zuckerman and other Teamsters United leaders.
“I learned the hard way that Hoffa’s commitment to unity was simply words. As UPS Director, I pushed hard to include Fred and other Teamsters United leaders in contract negotiations. Hoffa refused. When I tried to hold him to his word about unifying the union, I was fired. That’s Hoffa’s way of dealing with differing opinions. You can’t build a strong union that way.”
Outside of choreographed meetings like Unity, Hoffa rarely shows up on strike lines, Teamster worksites or at local union halls. When he does it is staged, and he is always accompanied by a personal photographer. Annually, Hoffa pours millions of dollars into social media and publications that prop up his cult of personality -- proving Hoffa is more concerned about his personal image and legacy than he is about strengthening Teamster contracts and addressing member needs.
“Hoffa’s political machine works 365 days a year. And while he preaches a gospel of unity and solidarity, he does nothing to heal the divisions in our union. Fred and I are dedicated to holding his feet to the fire until we can reclaim the union for the membership,” O’Brien said.
After spending a week at the Teamsters “Unity Conference” – an annual Hoffa pep rally with little substance -- O’Brien and Zuckerman decided to show what real Teamsters Unity looked like.
“Sean and I were on opposite sides of the fence in 2016, but through our work together on the UPS contract, we recognized we share the same goal: a stronger and active Teamsters union,” Zuckerman said. “We can’t make that happen unless we come together.”
“Teamsters United is about ending the politics of division in our union. We’re about uniting local officers and the rank-and-file, old-school Teamsters and union reformers,” O’Brien said. “We want everyone to have a seat at the table, because united we win.”
[Reprinted from O'Brien-Zuckerman Teamsters United]