What we learned from the IBT Election

I wrote a longer article about what happened in the big Teamster election last year (linked below). Its a lot of looking at the vote counts and explaining what they mean. The long and short of it is that from what happened and the list of people running, it looks more like the old Hoffa administration had a split in two, and O’Brien’s section linked up with Teamsters United.

Teamsters United in 2016 was a scrappy slate for the International Union’s offices – most local officers were against them. They only got 8% of the Teamster Convention delegates (delegates are typically officers and staff), but they got half the rank and file vote. With O’Brien leading Teamsters United, they suddenly had more than half of local officers pledged to them for the convention. That’s what happened in our union (Local 695).

Wayne Schultz, who ran the union as Secretary-Treasurer until he retired in 2021, had historically allied the union to Hoffa. Last election, Schultz and the local leadership supported the Hoffa-Hall ticket against Teamsters United. When Hoffa said he wouldn’t run again and O’Brien joined Teamsters United, Schultz and the local suddenly switched to Teamsters United in 2021. Nothing about their politics or vision for the union changed, they just went with one side of the old team versus the other.

In 2016, 695 members voted for Teamsters United over Hoffa-Hall: 268 to 207. Members went against the endorsements of the local leadership to say they wanted something different. At that time, a vote for Teamsters United was a vote to buck the leadership, both locally and at the IBT.

This election, the local vote dropped from 475 ballots cast to 328. O’Brien-Teamsters United got 212 votes to Vairma’s 116. So 150 fewer votes, which is a 30% drop. Seems like less enthusiasm when the lines are blurry.