in this reply BS it mentions a few times that the union was sued to open the books, this is all supposed to be public record why do you have to sue to get the records could someone please explain that.you have to sue to get info for what you have a financial obligation ,what's up with thatUncle BS said:A judge's rebuke
There's a question that Detroit labor attorney Barbara Harvey says has been popping up frequently since Hoffa began his run for the Teamster presidency.
"What I'm being asked is 'What kind of attorney was James P. Hoffa while he was in private practice?' "
She's quick to answer.
"What's notable about Hoffa's experience as an attorney is that that he represented clients who were convicted felons themselves É or embezzlers who were removed from office for their crimes against the union without actually being criminally convicted."
"Lawyers represent murderers and drunks and all sorts of other things all the time," counters L. "But that doesn't make them murders or drunks."
That misses Harvey's point: A labor lawyer with a history of representing corrupt union bosses might be a questionable choice as a leader of a union with a history of corruption.
As Exhibit A she offers up the case of George Vitale, who in 1989 was removed from his offices as an international union vice president and president of Detroit Local 283 for allegedly embezzling $10,000 in local funds and attempting to embezzle a $25,000 Lincoln Town Car while Hoffa was counsel for the local.
Prior to his suspension, Vitale went to federal court with Hoffa as his lawyer in an attempt to keep members from seeing their own contracts. The judge ruled in favor of the union members and directed that they be allowed access to the contracts.
That same year, members of the local attempted to gain access to union financial records after Vitale lost an election to a slate of reform candidates; not surprisingly, the union was in precarious financial condition. When Vitale refused to open the books to the new officers, another lawsuit was filed. Again, Hoffa &emdash; his fees being paid by the dues of the same union members he was working against &emdash; represented his friend Vitale in court. And, again, the judge ruled that the books be opened.
These days Don Stone is trying to organize fruit packers in Washington state, a cooperative effort with the United Farm Workers that is a long way from the circumstances 20 years ago when the agricultural industry used Teamsters to bust the heads of migrant laborers trying create the UFW. In the late 1980s, however, Stone was taking on Vitale and Hoffa.
"I couldn't separate the two," recalls Stone. "We had to go to federal court to keep Vitale from looting the treasury, and Hoffa was defending him all the way. We fought them because we believed in this union, believed it should be democratic."
To this day Harvey, who represented Stone and his fellow union members in the suits against Vitale, keeps near at hand court records that document Judge Anna Diggs Taylor rebuking Hoffa for his handling of the cases.
"Your conduct is needlessly wasteful and expensive, and a burden on the Court, on counsel, and on your own client," scolded Diggs Taylor. "And I think if you're going to continue to represent this client, you should re-evaluate your position. The people you represent work hard. They do physical labor for a livelihood. They are not lawyers, and most of them have no hope of ever becoming a lawyer. They hope, in fact through their membership in a union such as this, to be able to educate their children as your parents were able to, to spare them the backbreaking work they are undergoing." <HR>Curt Guyette is the Metro Times investigative reporter.