This website uses cookies.
Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

              November 7, 1996





James P. Hoffa

November 7, 1996

Page 1



James P. Hoffa

2593 Hounds Chase

Troy, MI  48098


SuperValu Grocery Warehouse

Finley Road

Belle Vernon, PA  15012


Ron Tortelli

Senior VP of Human Resources

SuperValu, Inc.

Eden Prairie, MN  55344


Ron Carey, General President

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC  20001

Ron Carey Campaign

c/o Nathaniel K. Charny

Cohen, Weiss & Simon

330 W. 42nd Street

New York, NY  10036


Bradley T. Raymond

Finkel, Whitefield, Selik, Raymond,

  Ferrara & Feldman, P.C.

32300 Northwestern Highway, Suite 200

Farmington Hills, MI  48334


John Sullivan, Associate General Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC  20001

James P. Hoffa

November 7, 1996

Page 1



Re:  Election Office Case No. P-1137-PACONF-CLE




A pre-election protest was filed pursuant to Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Rules

for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (Rules) by James P. Hoffa, a member of Local Union 614 and a candidate for general president. 

Mr. Hoffa alleges that John P. Morris, principal officer of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters and a candidate for International vice president, threatened to murder the protester during a speech made by Mr. Morris at a SuperValu, Inc. work site.  Mr. Hoffa further alleges that Mr. Morris and Ron Carey, incumbent general president and a candidate for reelection, were afforded more access to employees inside the SuperValu facility by the employer than Mr. Hoffa received when he campaigned earlier at the same location.

James P. Hoffa

November 7, 1996

Page 1



Messrs. Carey and Morris respond that the statement made by Mr. Morris was a rhetorical device not intended as an actual physical threat.  They also deny that they received a greater degree of access than that provided to Mr. Hoffa.


Regional Coordinator Joyce Goldstein investigated the protest.


1.              Allegation of a Threat Made by Mr. Morris


The investigation revealed that on October 23, 1996, Messrs. Carey and Morris campaigned at SuperValu.  Each candidate spoke to a group of approximately 100 workers gathered in a work site break room.  During the investigation of this protest, the Election Officer was provided with an audio tape of a portion of Mr. Careys speech and all of

Mr. Morris speech.  Towards the end of a 20-minute speech, Mr. Morris stated:


Shakespeare said weve got to kill all the lawyers; that means Hoffa too.  We dont need no lawyer running this union.  When this is all over, hell go back practicing law.  What will you be left with?


The Rules, at Article VIII, Section 11(f), prohibit retaliation and the threat of retaliation by any person against a member for exercising any right guaranteed by the Rules.  The right to engage in political and campaign activities includes the right to be free from threats of violence.  Lopez, P-456-LU743-CHI (April 10, 1996) (finding Ill kill you

to violate the Rules, in light of ongoing animosity between the parties); Smith, P-600-

LU150-CSF (April 30, 1996) (finding remark youll be taken out of here in a body bag to violate the Rules.); Kelly, P-600-LU705-CHI et seq. (March 27, 1991) (finding an aggressive threat to kick their ass made in a menacing manner to be harassment, in violation of the Rules).  A threat of physical violence for protected election activity is chilling and cannot be tolerated.


James P. Hoffa

November 7, 1996

Page 1



In the present protest, Mr. Hoffa contends that Mr. Morris statement, paraphrased from William Shakespeare, constitutes such a threat of physical violence.[1]  The Election Officer, however, determines this reference to be a critical reference to the qualifications of Mr. Hoffa, as a lawyer, to run for general president of the IBT, and not reasonably inferred as a physical threat.  It is clear from the context of Mr. Morris statement that he intended to express his displeasure at, what would be in his opinion, an outrageous outcome in the election.  Federal labor law recognizes that debate . . . should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks.  Linn v. United Plant Guard Workers, 383 U.S. 53, 62 (1966), quoting New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964).  There is no evidence of any surrounding facts or circumstances which would cause anyone to believe that this remark was a literal threat of violent or illegal conduct rather than mere rhetorical slings and arrows.  Mr. Morris was exercising his own right of free speech and did not violate the Rules by his remarks.  See Wsol, P-095-IBT-CHI (September 20, 1995), affd, 95 - Elec. App. - 17 (KC) (October 10, 1995) (Mr. Careys metaphorical reference to using a two-by-four on opponents did not violate the Rules).


2.              Allegation of Unequal Access


Mr. Hoffa claims that when he visited the facility to campaign on October 16, 1996, he was permitted to address only employees on break time, whereas the employer directed employees on work time to attend Mr. Careys presentation.  The protester also asserts that Messrs. Carey and Morris were permitted by the employer to campaign for considerably longer than himself.


The investigation revealed that Mr. Hoffa arrived at the facility between 4:30 and

5:00 p.m. on October 16, 1996.  At the time of his visit, the facilitys public address system was not functioning.  He gave a speech beginning at approximately 5:00 p.m. and spoke for about 20 minutes to a crowd of between 75 and 100 employees.  He then campaigned throughout the facility.  The employer allowed some employees who were on the clock to attend the campaign function for 15 minutes.  The Hoffa campaign requested that no supervisors be present for Mr. Hoffas presentation.


On October 23, 1996, Messrs. Carey and Morris campaigned in the same break room.  Like Mr. Hoffa, they began their presentation during a shift change, and workers not on the shift that was ending were given 15 minutes to attend the event.  At the time of their visit, the public address system was functioning, so the event was announced throughout the facility. Mr. Carey spoke for about five minutes and Mr. Morris spoke for 20 minutes to a gathering of approximately 100 employees.  Like Mr. Hoffa, Messrs. Carey and Morris then campaigned throughout the facility.  While the employer intended that the workers on the clock would spend no more than 15 minutes away from work, the employer states that employees were allowed to remain briefly beyond this time limit.


                Under the Rules, employers are not required to allow non-employees to campaign in any area other than the employee parking lot at work sites.  However, if an employer chooses to allow campaigning on their premises, it may do so as long as equal access is provided to all candidates, pursuant to Article VIII, Section 11(d).  See, Burrows P-118-LU70-CLA (September 13, 1995), affd, 95 - Elec. App. - 16 (KC) (September 30, 1995).


James P. Hoffa

November 7, 1996

Page 1



Given these facts, the Election Officer finds no provision of unequal access by the employer.  The candidates were allowed to speak in the same break room during a shift change.  Employees on the clock were allowed to attend.  The evidence indicates that Messrs. Carey and Morris may have been allowed slightly more time to speak to members.  This small inequity was not intended by the employer and does not rise to the level of a Rules violation.  Both Mr. Hoffa and Messrs. Carey and Morris were allowed to visit throughout the facility.  The candidates spoke to roughly equal crowds and the employer allowed members who were on the clock to attend both events.  Identical facilities were made available for Mr. Hoffa and Messrs. Carey and Morris.  Under these circumstances, the grant of access by the employer to Messrs. Carey and Morris did not violate the Rules.


Accordingly, the protest is DENIED.


Any interested party not satisfied with this determination may request a hearing before the Election Appeals Master within one day of receipt of this letter.  The parties are reminded that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no party may rely upon evidence that was not presented to the Office of the Election Officer in any such appeal.  Requests for a hearing shall be made in writing and shall be served on:


Kenneth Conboy, Esq.

Latham & Watkins

885 Third Avenue, Suite 1000

New York, NY 10022

Fax (212) 751-4864


Copies of the request for hearing must be served on the parties listed above as well as upon the Election Officer, 400 N. Capitol Street, Suite 855, Washington, D.C. 20001, Facsimile (202) 624-3525.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for a hearing.






Barbara Zack Quindel

Election Officer



cc:               Kenneth Conboy, Election Appeals Master

Joyce Goldstein, Regional Coordinator

[1]The first thing we do, lets kill all the lawyers. King Henry the Sixth, Part II,

Act IV.