Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958 to 1971, mysteriously vanished on July 30, 1975.
Hoffa was a union activist from a young age and an important regional figure with the Teamsters by his mid-20s. By 1952 he had risen to national vice-president and served as the union’s general president between 1958 and 1971. He brought a new energy and outlook to the union and secured the first national agreement for teamsters’ rates in 1964, an achievement that moved more workers into the middle class than any other event in labor history.
Hoffa played a major role in the growth and development of the union, which eventually attracted the largest membership of any organized labor organization in the United States with over 1.5 million Teamsters at its peak, during his time as leader.
Hoffa became involved with organized crime in the early years of his organizing work, when legal protection for labor was nonexistent, companies used anti-trust laws as well as violent, cutthroat tactics against unions, and gangsters provided force to combat .
Teamsters contributed $25,000 to Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and supported other advocates for jobs, civil rights and justice.
He was convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964, in two separate trials. He was imprisoned in 1967 and sentenced to 13 years. In mid-1971, he resigned as president of the union as part of a pardon agreement with President Richard Nixon; he was released later that year, though barred from union activities until 1980. Hoffa, hoping to regain support and to return to IBT leadership, unsuccessfully attempted to overturn this order.
Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982. but his son, James P. Hoffa won a landslide 1998 victory to lead the Teamsters.
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