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Jimmy Hoffa

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Title: Jimmy Hoffa  
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Subject: James P. Hoffa, MythBusters (2004 season), Orion Township, Michigan, Lake Orion, Michigan, Dave Beck
Collection: 1913 Births, 1970S Missing Person Cases, 1975 Deaths, 20Th-Century Criminals, Abuse of the Legal System, American Labor Leaders, American Labor Union Officials Convicted of Crimes, American People Convicted of Bribery, American People Convicted of Fraud, Missing Person Cases in the United States, Pennsylvania Dutch People, People Declared Dead in Absentia, People from Brazil, Indiana, People from Detroit, Michigan, Presidents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Recipients of American Presidential Pardons, Unsolved Deaths
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Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa
Born James Jimmy Hoffa
(1913-02-14)February 14, 1913
Brazil, Indiana, United States
Disappeared July 30, 1975 (aged 62)
Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, Michigan, United States
Status Declared dead in absentia
July 30, 1982(1982-07-30)
Occupation Labor union leader, author
Spouse(s) Josephine Hoffa, nee Poszywak (1936–1980)
Children James P. Hoffa
Barbara Ann Crancer

James Jimmy "Jimmy" Hoffa (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975) was an American labor union leader and author who served as the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union from 1958 until 1971. He vanished in late July 1975 at age 62.

Hoffa was a union activist from a young age, and was an important regional figure with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union by his mid-twenties. By 1952, Hoffa had risen to national vice-president of the IBT, and served as the union's general president between 1958 and 1971. He secured the first national agreement for teamsters' rates in 1964. Hoffa played a major role in the growth and development of the union which eventually became the largest (by membership) in the United States with over 1.5 million members at its peak, during his terms as its leader. He was a civil rights supporter and expressed this in many statements.

Hoffa became involved with jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964, in two separate trials. He was imprisoned in 1967 and sentenced to 13 years, after exhausting the appeal process. In mid-1971 he resigned as president of the union, an action that was part of a pardon agreement with President Richard Nixon, to facilitate his release later that year. Nixon blocked Hoffa from union activities until 1980 (which would have been the end of his prison term, had he served the full sentence). Hoffa, hoping to regain support and to return to IBT leadership, unsuccessfully attempted to overturn this order.

Hoffa vanished in late July 1975, having last been seen outside the Machus Red Fox, a suburban Detroit restaurant.[1] His disappearance gave rise to many theories as to what happened to him. He was declared legally dead in 1982.

A collection of papers related to Hoffa is cared for by the Special Collections Research Center of The [2]

Early life and family

Jimmy Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana, on February 13, 1913, to Indiana natives John and Viola (née Riddle) Hoffa. His father was of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.[3] His father died in 1920 when Hoffa was seven years old,[4] and the family moved to Detroit in 1924, where Hoffa was raised and lived the rest of his life. Hoffa left school at age 14 and began full-time manual labor to help support his family.

Hoffa married Josephine Poszywak, an 18-year-old Detroit laundry worker of Polish heritage, at Bowling Green, Ohio on September 24, 1936; the couple had met during a non-unionized laundry workers' strike action six months earlier.[5] The couple had two children: a daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, and a son, James. The Hoffas paid $6,800 in 1939 for a modest home in northwest Detroit.[6] The Hoffa family later owned a simple summer lakefront cottage in Orion Township, north of Detroit.[7]

Early union activity

Hoffa began union organizational work at the grassroots level through his employment as a teenager with a grocery chain, a job which paid substandard wages and offered poor working conditions with minimal job security. The workers were displeased with this situation and tried to organize a

Preceded by
Dave Beck
President of Teamsters Union (IBT)
Succeeded by
Frank Fitzsimmons
  • Guide to James R. Hoffa Documentation Collection, 1954-1976, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University

External links

  • Jimmy Hoffa's Hot, by John Bartlow Martin, 1959, Fawcett Publications, Greenwich, Conn.
  • Hoffa and the Underworld, by Paul Jacobs, Dissent, vol. 6, no. 4 (Autumn 1959), pp. 435–445.
  • The Enemy Within: The McClellan Committee's Crusade Against Jimmy Hoffa and Corrupt Labor Unions, by Robert F. Kennedy, 1960, Harper and Brothers, New York.
  • The State of the Unions, by Paul Jacobs, 1963, Atheneum, New York.
  • Tentacles of Power, by Clark Mollenhoff, 1965, World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York.
  • Hoffa! Ten Angels Swearing, by Jim Clay, 1965, Beaverdam Books, Beaverdam, Va.
  • Hoffa and the Teamsters: A Study of Union Power, by Ralph James and Estelle James, 1965, Van Nostrand, New York.
  • The Ominous Ear, by Bernard Spindel, 1968, Award House, New York.
  • The Trials of Jimmy Hoffa, by James R. Hoffa as told to Donald I. Rogers, 1970, Henry Regnery, Chicago.
  • Kennedy Justice, by Victor Navasky, 1971, Atheneum, New York.
  • The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa, by Walter Sheridan, 1972, Saturday Review Press, New York.
  • Hoffa: The Real Story, by James R. Hoffa as told to Oscar Fraley, 1975, Stein and Day, New York.
  • The Strange Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, by Charles Ashman and Rebecca Sobel, 1976, Manor Books, New York.
  • The Teamsters, by Steven Brill, 1978, Simon & Schuster, New York, ISBN 0-671-22771-8.
  • Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by John H. Davis (author), 1989, McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Hoffa, by Arthur A. Sloane, 1991, MIT Press, Boston, ISBN 0-262-19309-4.
  • Hoffa, by Ken Englade, 1992, Harper Paperbacks, New York, ISBN 0-06-100613-0 (Novelization based on David Mamet's screenplay of the 1992 film by 20th Century Fox).
  • The Hoffa Wars: Teamsters, Rebels, Politicians and the Mob, 1978, first edition, by Dan Moldea, Paddington Press, New York and London, ISBN 0-448-22684-7.
  • The Hoffa Wars: Teamsters, Rebels, Politicians and the Mob, 1993, second edition, by Dan Moldea, SPI, New York.
  • Mob Lawyer, by Frank Ragano and Selwyn Raab, 1994, Charles Scribner's Sons, ISBN 0-684-19568-2.
  • All-American Mobster, by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker, [about John Roselli] Barricade Books, 1995, ISBN 1-56980-027-8.
  • Out of the Jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the Remaking of the American Working Class, by Thaddeus Russell, 2001, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 0-375-41157-7.
  • Watergate: The Hidden History, by Lamar Waldron, 2012, Counterpoint, Berkeley, California.
  • I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa [Paperback], by Charles Brandt

Further reading

  1. ^ "Jimmy Hoffa: FBI Won't Confirm Dig is Search for Body". ABC News. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  2. ^ a b Guide to James R. Hoffa Documentation Collection, 1954-1976, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
  3. ^ Sloane, Arthur A. (1991). Hoffa.  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Sloane, pp. 25-26
  6. ^ Moldea, first edition, p. 25; Sloane, p. 54
  7. ^ Sloane, p. 54
  8. ^ Hoffa, James R, (1975). Hoffa. The Real Story as told to Oscar Fraley.  
  9. ^ Ralph James and Estelle James (1965). Hoffa and the Teamsters: A Study of Union Power. Van Nostrand. pp. 13–15. 
  10. ^ a b c Arthur A. Sloane (1991). Hoffa.  
  11. ^ Moldea, first edition, 1978
  12. ^ Moldea, first edition, p. 44.
  13. ^ Sloane, ; Moldea, first edition, 1978, pp. 48-9.
  14. ^ Beck entry says 117 times
  15. ^ Moldea, first edition, pp. 70-1.
  16. ^ Moldea, first edition, 1978, pp. 83-4.
  17. ^ [The IBT was readmitted to the AFL-CIO in 1985 but was disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO in 2005]
  18. ^ Moldea, first edition, pp. 171-2.
  19. ^ The Enemy Within, by Robert F. Kennedy, 1960
  20. ^ Sloane, ; Moldea, first edition, .
  21. ^ a b c Hoffa, by Arthur A. Sloane, MIT Press, 1991.
  22. ^ a b Moldea, first edition, .
  23. ^ Dray, Philip (2010). There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America. Anchor.  
  24. ^ Moldea, first edition, pp. 293-4, 321-2, 342-4.
  25. ^ Blind Ambition: The White House Years, by John Dean, New York 1976, Simon & Schuster, p. 352.
  26. ^ "'"INVESTIGATIONS: Hoffa Search: 'Looks Bad Right Now. Time. August 18, 1975. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  27. ^ "FBI: Tip on Jimmy Hoffa prompts search". 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  28. ^ Yockel, Michael (2001-02-13). "Harris O. Machus, owner of the Red Fox restaurant, Jimmy Hoffa’s vanishing point". New York Press. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  29. ^ a b c "Detroit home searched for Hoffa's DNA". CNN. May 28, 2004. 
  30. ^ a b c "Detroit House Searched for Clues in Hoffa Case". Fox News. 1975-07-30. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  31. ^ "Hoffex Conference" (PDF). Federal Bureau of Investigation. 1976-01-28. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  32. ^ The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, by Philip Carlo, Chapter 32, pages 189-190
  33. ^ Williams, Corey. "POLICE CHECKING OUT HOFFA TIP IN DETROIT SUBURB". Associated Press. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  34. ^ "Police: No human remains found in latest Jimmy Hoffa search | Detroit Free Press". 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  35. ^ Santia, Mark (2013-01-13). "Reputed Mobster Says He Knows Where Hoffa Is Buried". NBC. 
  36. ^ Land claimed to be Jimmy Hoffa burial site owned by Jack Tocco in 1970s | Detroit Free Press |
  37. ^ "Latest search for Jimmy Hoffa called off with no remains found". NBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  38. ^ "The Honorable Barbara Ann Crancer Associate Circuit Judge, Division 31". St Louis County. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 


See also

In Ace Ventura Pet Detective it is said "They'll find Jimmy Hoffa before they find any humpback whales."

  • Hoffa was portrayed by Robert Blake in the 1983 TV-film Blood Feud, Trey Wilson in the 1985 television miniseries Robert Kennedy & His Times, and by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 biographical film Hoffa. In the 1978 film F.I.S.T., Sylvester Stallone portrays Johnny Kovak, a character based on Hoffa.
  • In the 1980 comedy feature Nine to Five, complications and misunderstandings lead Lily Tomlin's character, Violet Newstead, to believe that she murdered her boss. Being accompanied by her two friends and co-workers, Doralee Rhodes and Judy Bernly (played respectively by Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda), she decides to get rid of a corpse that she thinks is her boss's body. When she tells the two ladies her plan, Doralee tells her that anyone will find the body, to which Violet responds, "Oh-hoh, crazy am I? They never found Jimmy Hoffa!"
  • Homer makes several allusions to Hoffa's association with gangsters and Hoffa's mysterious disappearance in The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield."
  • In the sitcom Frasier, Frasier makes a passing reference to Hoffa in the third-season episode, "A Word to the Wiseguy."
  • In many cultural media it's said that it's easier to find something, than for the FBI to find Jimmy Hoffa.
  • The Aimee Mann B-side "Jimmy Hoffa Jokes" (1993, from Say Anything single) refers to her relationship with an unnamed partner as no longer being funny, much like the eponymous Jimmy Hoffa jokes.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Skid Marks", one of the lines at the DMV is labeled "Jimmy Hoffa".
  • In the TV series, "House of Cards", the protagonist Frank Underwood makes a reference to Hoffa saying, "You wanna play 6 degrees of separation, you could throw in Jimmy Hoffa and the pope".

In popular culture

Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, is the current president of the Teamsters' Union, having served in that position since 1999. Jimmy Hoffa's daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, retired as an Associate Circuit Judge in St. Louis County, Missouri, in March 2008. One year later, she agreed to serve as an Associate Attorney General to the Attorney General for the State of Missouri, Chris Koster, as Chief Counsel of the Division of Civil Disability and Workers Rights. She retired from that post in March 2011.[38]

Hoffa's family

In January 2013, reputed gangster Tony Zerilli offered that Hoffa was originally buried in a shallow grave, with the plan that Hoffa's remains would later be moved to a second location. Zerilli contends, however, that these plans were abandoned, and Hoffa's remains lay in a field in northern Oakland County, not far from the restaurant at which he was last seen. Zerilli, however, denied any responsibility for or association with Hoffa's disappearance.[35] On June 17, 2013, the Zerilli information led to a property in Oakland Township in northern Oakland county owned by Detroit mob boss Jack Tocco.[36] After three days the FBI called off the dig. No human remains were found and the case remains open.[37]

On September 26, 2012, Roseville, Michigan police announced that they would take soil samples from the ground under a suburban Detroit driveway after a person called and told police he believed he witnessed the burial of a body around the same time as Hoffa's 1975 disappearance.[33] No evidence of a body was found in samples taken September 28, 2012 and tests for decomposition of human remains were analyzed by Michigan State University's forensic anthropologists who determined that there were no signs of human remains.[34]

In the 2009 book The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, Richard Kuklinski claims to have been responsible for Hoffa's murder. By his account, Kuklinski killed him with a hunting knife, burned the body for "a half hour or so" in a 55-gallon drum, then welded it shut and buried it in a junkyard. He goes on to describe how, when an accomplice began to talk to the authorities, the drum was dug up and placed in the trunk of a car, which was then compacted and sold along with hundreds of other compacted cars, and subsequently shipped to Japan as scrap metal for manufacturing new vehicles.[32]

The FBI has called the report the definitive account of what agents believe happened to Hoffa. [31] On June 16, 2006, the

In the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Closing of the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, author Charles Brandt claims that Sheeran, a professional killer for the mob and longtime "friend" of Hoffa's, confessed that he assassinated him. According to Sheeran, Chuckie O'Brien drove Hoffa, Sheeran and another mobster Sal Briguglio to a house in Detroit. Hoffa and Sheeran went into the house and the other two men drove off. Sheeran says he shot Hoffa twice behind the right ear. After the murder, Sheeran says he left the house and was told Hoffa was cremated. Sheeran would also confess to killing Hoffa to Fox News reporters.[30] While investigators did find traces of blood in the Detroit house where Sheeran confessed he killed Hoffa,[30] they also determined it may have been too old for conclusive testing.[30]

In 2001, the FBI matched DNA from Hoffa's hair—taken from a brush—with a strand of hair found in a 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham driven by longtime friend Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien on July 30, 1975.[29] Police and Hoffa's family had long believed O'Brien played a role in Hoffa's disappearance.[29] O'Brien, however, had previously denied ever being involved in Hoffa's disappearance or that Hoffa had ever been a passenger in his car.[29]

In 1989 Kenneth Walton, the head of the FBI's Detroit office, told The Detroit News he knew what happened to Hoffa. “I’m comfortable I know who did it, but it’s never going to be prosecuted because… we would have to divulge informants, confidential sources.”

Claims and developments

Hoffa was declared legally dead, and a death certificate was issued, on July 30, 1982, seven years after his disappearance.[21][28] His disappearance has given rise to many rumors and theories as to what happened to him.

When Hoffa did not return home that evening, his wife reported him missing. Police found Hoffa's dark green 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, unlocked, at the restaurant, but there was no sign of Hoffa or any indication of what happened to him. Extensive investigations into the disappearance began immediately, and continued over the next several years by several law enforcement groups, including the FBI. The investigations did not conclusively determine Hoffa's fate. For their part, Giacalone and Provenzano were found not to have been near the restaurant that afternoon, and each denied he had scheduled a meeting with Hoffa.[27]

Hoffa arrived first, around 2:00 in the afternoon, but after he had waited nearly 30 minutes, neither of the others had arrived. Annoyed, he called his wife and told her that he was going to wait for a few more minutes before giving up. This was the last time that she ever spoke with her husband. Hoffa was last seen by a truck driver in a maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham which pulled out of the restaurant parking lot and nearly hit the driver's truck. The truck driver, who was making deliveries in the area, pulled up next to the car and immediately recognized Hoffa sitting in the backseat behind the car’s driver. The truck driver also noticed a long object covered with a gray blanket on the seat between Hoffa and another passenger. The truck driver thought it was a shotgun or a rifle. He didn’t get a good look at anyone else in the car.

Hoffa disappeared at, or sometime after, 2:45 p.m. on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant at 6676 Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township, an affluent suburb of Detroit. According to what he had told others, he believed he was to meet there with two Mafia leaders: Anthony Giacalone and Anthony Provenzano.[26] Provenzano was also a union leader with the Teamsters in New Jersey, and had earlier been quite close to Hoffa. Provenzano was a national vice-president with IBT from 1961, Hoffa's second term as Teamsters' president.[21]


In 1975, Hoffa was working on an autobiography titled Hoffa: The Real Story, which was published a few months after his disappearance. He had earlier published a 1970 book titled The Trials of Jimmy Hoffa.

Hoffa faced immense resistance to his re-establishment of power from many quarters and had lost much of his earlier support, even in the Detroit area. As a result, he intended to begin his comeback at the local level with Local 299 in Detroit, where he retained some influence.[22]

Hoffa sued to invalidate the non-participation restriction, in order to reassert his power over the Teamsters, and John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon, was among those called upon for depositions in 1974 court proceedings.[25] Dean, who had become famous as a government witness in prosecutions arising from the Watergate scandal by mid-1973, had drafted the non-participation clause in 1971 at Nixon's request. Hoffa ultimately lost his court battle, since the court ruled that Nixon had acted within his powers by imposing the restriction, as it was based on Hoffa's misconduct while serving as a Teamsters' official.

While glad to regain his freedom, Hoffa was very displeased with the condition imposed on his release by President Nixon that restricted Hoffa from participating in union activities until March 1980.[10] He accused the Nixon administration senior figures, including Attorney General John N. Mitchell and White House Special Counsel Charles Colson, of depriving him of his rights by initiating this clause; both Mitchell and Colson denied this. It was likely imposed upon Hoffa as the result of requests from senior Teamsters' leadership, although IBT President Frank Fitzsimmons also denied this.[24]

The IBT endorsed Richard Nixon, the Republican Party's candidate, in his presidential re-election bid in 1972; in prior elections, the IBT union had supported Democratic Party nominees, but had also endorsed Nixon in 1960.[23] Suspicion was soon raised of a deal for Hoffa's release connected with the IBT's support of Nixon in 1972. It was alleged that a large sum of money, estimated to be as high as $1 million, was paid secretly to Nixon. Evidence was also alleged of a secret bribe paid in 1960.

On December 23, 1971, less than five years into his 13-year sentence, Hoffa was released from the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania prison, when President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to time served. Following his release, Hoffa was awarded a Teamsters' pension of $1.7 million, delivered in a one-time lump sum payment. This type of pension settlement had not occurred before with the Teamsters.[22]


Just before he entered prison, Hoffa appointed Frank Fitzsimmons as acting Teamsters president. Fitzsimmons was a Hoffa loyalist, fellow Detroit resident, and a longtime member (since the 1930s) of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit, who owed his own high position in large part to Hoffa's influence. Despite this, Fitzsimmons soon distanced himself from Hoffa's influence and control after 1967, to Hoffa's displeasure. Fitzsimmons also decentralized power somewhat within the Teamsters' union administration structure. During the Hoffa era, Hoffa had kept most power in his own hands.[21]

Appoints Fitzsimmons as caretaker president

Hoffa spent the next three years unsuccessfully appealing his 1964 convictions. Appeals filed by his chief counsel, St. Louis defense attorney Morris Shenker, reached the U.S. Supreme Court. He began serving his sentences in March 1967 at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.

Appeals denied

In 1964, Hoffa was convicted in United States Senate election.[20]

Prison sentences

[19] Hoffa had first faced major criminal investigations in 1957, as a result of the

Hoffa (right) and Bernard Spindel after a 1957 court session in which they pleaded not guilty to illegal wiretap charges

Criminal charges

Following his re-election as president in 1961, Hoffa worked to expand the union. In 1964, he succeeded in bringing virtually all over-the-road truck drivers in North America under a single national master-freight agreement, in what may have been his finest achievement in a lifetime of union activity.[18] He then tried to bring the airline workers and other transport employees into the union, with limited success. During this period, he was facing immense personal strain as he was under investigation, on trial, launching appeals of convictions, or imprisoned for virtually all of the 1960s.[10]

National Master Freight Agreement

The 1957 [16][17]

Teamsters union expelled

Hoffa took over the presidency of the Teamsters in 1958, at the convention in Miami Beach, Florida. His predecessor, Dave Beck, had appeared before the John Little McClellan-led US Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor or Management Field in March 1957, and took the Fifth Amendment 140[14] times in response to questions. Beck was under indictment when the IBT convention took place, and was convicted on fraud charges later that year at a trial held in Seattle, and imprisoned.[15]

Jimmy Hoffa (left) with his son James

Teamsters Union presidency

The IBT moved its headquarters from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C., taking over a large office building in the capital in 1955. IBT staff was also enlarged during this period, with many lawyers hired to assist with contract negotiations. Following his 1952 election as vice-president, Hoffa began spending more of his time away from Detroit, either in Washington or traveling around the country for his expanded responsibilities.[2]

At the 1952 IBT convention in Los Angeles, he was selected as national vice-president by incoming president Dave Beck, successor to Daniel J. Tobin, who had been president since 1907. Hoffa had quelled an internal revolt against Beck by securing Central States regional support for Beck at the convention. In exchange, Beck made Hoffa a vice-president.[13]

Hoffa worked to defend the Teamsters unions from raids by other unions, including the CIO, and extended the Teamsters' influence in the Midwestern states, from the late 1930s to the late 1940s. Although he never actually worked as a truck driver, he became president of Local 299 in December 1946.[12] He then rose to lead the combined group of Detroit-area locals shortly afterwards, and advanced to become head of the Michigan Teamsters groups sometime later. During this time, Hoffa obtained a deferment from military service in World War II, by successfully making a case for his union leadership skills being of more value to the nation, by keeping freight running smoothly to assist the war effort.

Hoffa's rise to power

[11] However, trucking unions in that era were heavily influenced, and in many cases controlled by, elements of

[10] The Teamsters organized

The Teamsters union, founded in 1903, had 75,000 members in 1933. As a result of Hoffa's work with other union leaders to consolidate local union trucker groups into regional sections and then into one gigantic national body—work that Hoffa ultimately completed over a period of two decades—membership grew to 170,000 members by 1936. Three years later, there were 420,000; and the number grew steadily during World War II and through the post-war boom to top a million members by 1951.[9]

Growth of the Teamsters


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