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JIMMY HOFFA

The day Jimmy Hoffa didn’t come home
By Pat Zacharias / The Detroit News
On July 30, 1975, James Riddle Hoffa left his Lake Orion home for a meeting. Paroled from federal prison three years earlier, the former Teamster president had recently announced plans to try to wrestle back control of the union he had built with his bare knuckles from his protege — now adversary — Frank Fitzsimmons.
Anthony Giacalone, a reputed captain of organized crime in Detroit, was supposed to meet Hoffa that day.
James R. Hoffa as a Teamsters organizer in 1939.
Jimmy told his wife Josephine he would be home around 4 p.m. to grill streaks for dinner. After 39 years of marriage, she knew Jimmy would not be late.
Witnesses saw him waiting in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in upscale Bloomfield Township. He never made it home.
Hoffa. The name alone stirs strong emotions and opinions. Was he a visionary union hero or brutal despot? Was he a labor crusader or a criminal?
Jimmy Hoffa began his union career as a teenager in the 1930s. A grade school dropout, he almost single handedly built the Teamsters union into an awesome national power. His hammer-handed negotiating techniques, his alleged links to organized crime, and his bitter feuds with John and Robert Kennedy made Hoffa the prototypical labor leader of his day.
Born in Brazil, Ind., on Feb. 14, 1913, Jimmy grew up fast when his coal miner father died from lung disease in 1920. His mother took in laundry to keep the family together and the children also helped with after school jobs. Hoffa later described his mother lovingly as a frontier type woman “who believed that Duty and Discipline were spelled with capital D’s.”
In 1922, the Hoffas moved to Clinton, Ind., for a two year stay, then to Detroit to an apartment on Merritt Street on the city’s brawling, working-class west side.
Tagged by the neighbor kids as hillbillies, Hoffa won respect and acceptance with his fists.
After school Jimmy worked as a delivery boy and finally dropped out of school in the 9th grade just as the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression brought massive layoffs and business failures.
A friend, Walter Murphy, told him to get into the food business. “No matter what happens, people have to eat,” he said. Jimmy got a job at the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company, whose warehouses were located just a few blocks from his home. Lying to the foreman about his age, Hoffa began his job of unloading produce from railroad cars for 32 cents an hour.
The pay, two-thirds of it scrip redeemable for food at Kroger’s, was good considering the growing unemployment and food lines. The downside to the new job was that warehouse workers were required to report at 4:30 p.m. for a 12-hour shift, but they only got paid for the time that they actually unloaded produce. The rest of the shift, they would sit around idle and unpaid, waiting to be called but unable to leave the premises.
Striking truck drivers battle police in Minneapolis in 1934. Violence initiated by both sides was common during labor organizing in the 1930s.
The men also endured a foreman from hell, “the kind of guy,” Hoffa later said who causes unions. Called the “Little Bastard” by all the workers, he abused his powers, threatening and firing workers for no reason.
Hoffa and his coworkers, including Bobby Holmes, who would also rise in the Teamstrer hierarchy with Hoffa, bided their time. The harsh reality that one third of American workers remained jobless made them cautious in their organizing efforts.
Finally one night in the spring of 1931, after two workers were fired for going to a food cart for their midnight dinner, the men acted. Hoffa called for a work stoppage just as trucks loaded with sweet juicy Florida strawberries pulled into the warehouse.
Faced with the need to get the perishable cargo into refrigerators quickly, Kroger management agreed to meet with the new leaders the following morning as long as the workers resumed their duties.
After several days of negotiating, Hoffa and his aides had a union contract. It included a raise of 13 cents an hour, the guarantee of at least a half a day’s pay per day, a modest insurance plan, and of course, recognition of the union. The new leaders soon applied for and received a charter as Federal Local 19341 of the American Federation of Labor.
Hoffa was fired the following year after a fight with a plant foreman who goaded the hot-tempered union leaders into throwing a crate of vegetables on the floor and spraying the boss with assorted vegetable juices. Jimmy claimed in later years that he quit before he could be fired and walked away.
Hoffa next landed a job as a full time organizer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He took the Kroger union with him into the IBT where its membership was absorbed into Local 299.
Strikers at Detroit’s E&B Brewery block E. Kirby with their cars to prevent strikebreakers from getting through with their trucks. Arrow points to an E&B truck stuck behind the strikers’ cars.
In his early organizing days, Hoffa frequented Detroit’s loading docks, buttonholing warehouse men and driveaway and truckaway drivers. He also recruited employees in breweries, drugstores, packinghouses and retail stores. A sign he posted in his union hall read: “If it moves, sign it up.”
As an organizer Hoffa received no salary but got a small percentage of the dues of each new member that he recruited.
Union organizing in the ’30s was difficult and often dangerous, earning activists such labels as “rebel outsiders”, “radicals, “Communists,” or “anarchists”.
Hoffa recounted numerous street fights with thugs “who were out to get us.”
“Our cars were bombed out. Three different times, someone broke into the office and destroyed our furniture. Cars would crowd us off the streets. Then it got worse…..Your life was in your hands every day. There was only one way to survive….fight back. And we used to slug it out on the streets. They found out we didn’t scare. The police were no help. The police would beat your brains in for even talking union. The cops harrassed us every day. If you went on strike, you got your head broken. The whole thing didn’t take months-it took years.”
Joe Franco, a former Hoffa lieutenant, described the security technique Hoffa taught his officers: “To this day, I still have the habit he drilled into me about getting into a car. I put my right leg in and my left leg stays out, and then I start my car. If the car is rigged and you start your car that way, you have a 50-50 chance of surviving because if it blows up, it will blow you out of the car.”
In his first year as business agent for Local 299, Hoffa was beaten by police or strikebreakers 24 times. “I was hit so many times with night sticks, clubs and brass knuckles that I can’t even remember where the bruises were.” He recalled being arrested and thrown into jail 18 times during one 24-hour period of picket line duty.
This classic photo shows a 28-year-old Hoffa shooting craps on the sidewalk with Detroit lumber dealer Patrick J. Currier, left, as striking lumberyard workers look on.
“Every time I showed up on the picket line, I got thrown in jail. Every time they released me, I went back to the picket line.”
Hoffa stayed in touch with his constituents. He spent only one-third of his time in the office. He mostly worked the fields attending mass demonstrations, showing up on the picket lines and signing up new members.
“You got a problem. Call me. Just pick up the phone.”
His day started at 8 a.m. and continued through the early morning hours of the next day. In his “war” with management Hoffa made up his own strong-arm rules and he didn’t hesitate to apply them to rival unions, notably the CIO. Hoffa decided that the quickest way to spread the Teamster message into other regions of the country was to organize the long-haul drivers. He traveled up and down the highways pulling up at the side of the road alongside sleeping truck drivers, giving them his union sales pitch.
Drivers during those Depression years knew that they were easy targets for thieves as they slept alone in their trucks. They dozed holding a tire iron or wrench in fear of highway robbers.
Hoffa learned quickly to identify himself with a rapid fire greeting: “Hi-I’m-Jimmy-Hoffa-Organizer-for-the-Teamsters-and-I-wonder-if-I-could-talk-to-you-briefly-.” Then he’d jump back.
Sometimes he found not sleepy-eyed truckers but employer-hired anti-union thugs waiting for him along quiet deserted stretches of highway.
Hoffa yells out the window of his car at a Detroit News photographer who was taking his picture and Second and Euclid streets. According to the photographer, Hoffa yelled “Get the hell out, you bastard, I’ll punch you in the nose.”
But his tremendous zest and almost religious drive to convert truckers for the union would not be deterred. In 1936, while helping a group of nonunionized striking laundry employees, he met an 18-year-old Polish beauty, Josephine Poszywak, whom he married that September.
Josephine’s Polish background saturated her daily life. Educated in Polish-speaking parochial schools, family and church remained the focal point of her world. Described as a complete homebody, she loved cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids.
The Hoffas had two modest homes, one on Robson Street in northwest Detroit, and a cottage outside of Detroit in rural Lake Orion.
Their two children, Barbara and James Jr., recalled adventures with their dad at the Lake Orion property. When not unionizing, Hoffa proved to be a devoted, loving father.
He would create and tell the kids endless tales about “Freddie the Fox” who was always getting into trouble with the other creatures in the forest, but who always negotiated his way out of a potential disaster by using his brain. The stories, unlike Hoffa’s life, always ended happily. The kids remember that with dad, “it was always like the Fourth of July.”
Hoffa loved to fish and hunt and would travel to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, often taking his whole staff with him for part-adventure, part-union seminars.
One day on a hunting trip, Jimmy turned to his aide Joe Franco while they were having breakfast: “Franco, if laws were passed in this country that would eliminate unions, would the employers revert back to the ’30s and ’20s and pay their employees starvation wages and take full advantage over their employees?”
Hoffa in 1953. By now he was president of the Central Conference of Teamsters.


Franco told his boss, “I don’t think management would ever revert back to the old days of the sweat shops. I can’t believe that. They’ve been taught. We’ve organized them and we’ve established working conditions for their employees for appying grievances and whatever problems may exist.”
Hoffa looked at him, “Franco, you’re full of it. You give any employer a chance to cut his wages in half tomorrow morning and that SOB will do it. Because he’s money hungry and the only way he can make money is by taking it out of the working man’s mouth. Don’t ever think different. You’re young, You’re coming up, but, God, you’re naive.”
The Teamsters grew as did the power of Hoffa.
In 1952, Dave beck won the International presidency and Hoffa was elected International vice president.
In 1953 as president of the Central Conference of Teamsters, Hoffa negotiated for all cartage drivers in 20 Midwestern and Southern states, and he sought to bring Eastern locals into the unified Teamster bargaining network.
A senate panel known as the McClellan Committe, investigating improper labor paractices in the late 1950s, was looking into allegations by convicted labor racketeer John Dioguardi. Dioguardi had worked closely with Hoffa in the East and said that Hoffa had manipulated union funds for his own profit and had accepted payoffs from trucking companies. The charges were never proved and in 1957 Hoffa was acquitted of a charge that he tried to bribe one of the committee’s investigators.
But the committee’s case against Dave Beck ended with Beck’s conviction on embezzlement, larceny and income tax evasion charges.
The AFL-CIO expelled the Teamsters, and in October 1957, Hoffa won the International presidency, replacing Beck.
Hoffa completed the centralization process within the Teamsters. He designed the Teamster’s national freight agreements and brought the nation’s trucking industry under one labor agreement, boosting members wages and paving the way for a comfortable middle class lifestyle.
But Hoffa could’t shake law enforcement agencies. He fought federal investigators during the ’50s and ’60s. They charged that his empire thrived on violence, fraud and misuse of union money. His enemies relentlessly pursued him as a “ruthless” union official on the take.
Hoffa and Teamsters President Dave Beck in 1956.
After Robert F. Kennedy, who had been chief counsel for the McClellan Committee, became Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, the government’s investigations escalated.
The Justice Department was frustrated in its attempts to prosecute Hoffa until it enlisted the help of Edward Grady Partin, a Louisiana Teamster who in jail awaiting trial for embezzling union funds and kidnapping. Making a deal with the prosecutors, Partin befriended Hoffa, pretending to be a loyal lieutenant, during a 1962 Hoffa trial on charges of accepting an illegal playment from an employer. Hoffa was acquitted but two years later, on Partin’s testimony, a jury convicted Hoffa of jury tampering and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren would later call the conviction an “affront to the quality and fairness of federal law enforcement.”
Shortly after his ’64 conviction Hoffa received an additional five years when he was convicted in Chicago with six others of fraud and conspiracy in the handling of a union benefits fund.
In March 1967, with all apppeals exhausted, Hoffa entered Lewisburg Federal Prison to begin his 13-year sentence.
Hoffa refused to give up the presidency of the union, appointing Frank Fitzsimmons, mild mannered general vice-president of the Teamsters, as caretaker. During the next four years Hoffa had three parole hearings, all of which were rejected partially because of his refusal to give up the presidency. Finally in June 1971, Hoffa announced his retirement, clearing the way for Fitzsimmons who won election to the presidency.
President Richard Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence on Dec. 23, 1971, and Hoffa left prison the same day, returning home to map out his stratgy for regaining control over the union he had built with his own hands.
Days after his disappearance in 1975, both family and police believed the former union official, once among the most powerful men in the country, was dead, probably murdered. Police believed the Mafia killed him.
During his rise to the top Hoffa had encountered numerous shady characters and many didn’t want him back. Hoffa had close associations with top mob figures in Detroit during the early days of his career, men like Santo Perrone, Joseph (Scarface Joe) Bommarito, Frank Coppola and others known as the “East Side Crowd.”
Hoffa is congratulated by Teamsters members after a 1957 speech in Chicago at a meeting in which he was urged to run for president to succeed Dave Beck.
From his liaisons with alleged Detroit gangsters came introductions and ties to national mobsters. Hoffa never tried to conceal or deny these ties. “These organized crime figures are the people you should know if you’re going to avoid having anyone interfere with your strike, and that’s what we know them for…..We make it it our business, and the head of any union who didn’t would be a fool. Know who are your potential enemies and know how to neurtralize ’em.”
On July 30, 1975, Jimmy left home for an afternoon meeting with Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, a reputed crime capo in Detroit, and Anthony Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamster boss known to friends as “Tony Pro.” The relationship between Hoffa and Provenzano had been hostile since their days together at Lewisburg prison where Provenzano had joined Hoffa on racketeering charges. Hoffa blamed Provenzano for much of the federal “heat” that had come down on the Teamsters during the Kennedy reign.
Witnesses saw Hoffa waiting at the Machus Red Fox parking lot. He made at least two calls from a pay phone outside a hardware store in the upscale neigborhood mall.
Since that day the FBI and Justice Department have amassed nearly 70 volumes of evidence, much centering on the rival New Jersey faction that had been headed by Provenzano.
Hoffa’s disappearance remains the quintessential unsolved mystery.
Federal investigators believe mob bosses had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency, but they never found enough evidence to charge anyone.
Hoffa, seated at right, testifies before the McLellan Committee.
Many suspects have since died, including Provenzano, who died in prison. Investigators say Provenzano had made it clear to Hoffa to “get out of union politics or else.”
Some suspected that Chuckie O’Brien, a Teamster whom Hoffa had once treated like a son and whose mother had lived with the Hoffa family for a long time, played a role in the disappearnce.
In 1982 Hoffa was declared legally dead.
In 1995, James P. Hoffa, son of Jimmy and now president of the Teamsters, and daughter Barbara Crancer, held a memorial service for their father at Detroit’s Holy Trinity church. The service was attended by more than 2,000 friends who remembered the powerful and controversial leader.
Said Ed Scribner of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, “Hoffa’s career literally touched millions and millions of workers in this country…. who know a quality of life that was not possible before Jimmy Hoffa.”
Longtime friend and associate Robert Holmes reflected, “He never backed down from anybody. He was not only strongly opinionated, but he could take care of himself in other ways too. Everybody was mad at Hoffa but his membership. He was a real rank-and-file guy. The world has changed, everything has changed. People are more educated. I don’t know if he could do now what he did. But one of Hoffa’s best secrets was he knew how to get along with people. His name was his bond. He never asked you to do anything at all he wouldn’t do himself.”
Hoffa’s middle name was taken from his mother’s maiden name, Riddle, and his disappearance remains just that.
Hoffa and his family in 1957. From left, James, 15, daughter Barbara, 18, Hoffa and wife, Josephine.
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The men also endured a foreman from hell, “the kind of guy,” Hoffa later said who causes unions. Called the “Little Bastard” by all the workers, he abused his powers, threatening and firing workers for no reason.
Hoffa and his coworkers, including Bobby Holmes, who would also rise in the Teamstrer hierarchy with Hoffa, bided their time. The harsh reality that one third of American workers remained jobless made them cautious in their organizing efforts.
Finally one night in the spring of 1931, after two workers were fired for going to a food cart for their midnight dinner, the men acted. Hoffa called for a work stoppage just as trucks loaded with sweet juicy Florida strawberries pulled into the warehouse.
Faced with the need to get the perishable cargo into refrigerators quickly, Kroger management agreed to meet with the new leaders the following morning as long as the workers resumed their duties.
After several days of negotiating, Hoffa and his aides had a union contract. It included a raise of 13 cents an hour, the guarantee of at least a half a day’s pay per day, a modest insurance plan, and of course, recognition of the union. The new leaders soon applied for and received a charter as Federal Local 19341 of the American Federation of Labor.
Hoffa was fired the following year after a fight with a plant foreman who goaded the hot-tempered union leaders into throwing a crate of vegetables on the floor and spraying the boss with assorted vegetable juices. Jimmy claimed in later years that he quit before he could be fired and walked away.
Hoffa next landed a job as a full time organizer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He took the Kroger union with him into the IBT where its membership was absorbed into Local 299.
In his early organizing days, Hoffa frequented Detroit’s loading docks, buttonholing warehouse men and driveaway and truckaway drivers. He also recruited employees in breweries, drugstores, packinghouses and retail stores. A sign he posted in his union hall read: “If it moves, sign it up.”
As an organizer Hoffa received no salary but got a small percentage of the dues of each new member that he recruited.
Union organizing in the ’30s was difficult and often dangerous, earning activists such labels as “rebel outsiders”, “radicals, “Communists,” or “anarchists”.
Hoffa recounted numerous street fights with thugs “who were out to get us.”
“Our cars were bombed out. Three different times, someone broke into the office and destroyed our furniture. Cars would crowd us off the streets. Then it got worse…..Your life was in your hands every day. There was only one way to survive….fight back. And we used to slug it out on the streets. They found out we didn’t scare. The police were no help. The police would beat your brains in for even talking union. The cops harrassed us every day. If you went on strike, you got your head broken. The whole thing didn’t take months-it took years.”
Joe Franco, a former Hoffa lieutenant, described the security technique Hoffa taught his officers: “To this day, I still have the habit he drilled into me about getting into a car. I put my right leg in and my left leg stays out, and then I start my car. If the car is rigged and you start your car that way, you have a 50-50 chance of surviving because if it blows up, it will blow you out of the car.”
In his first year as business agent for Local 299, Hoffa was beaten by police or strikebreakers 24 times. “I was hit so many times with night sticks, clubs and brass knuckles that I can’t even remember where the bruises were.” He recalled being arrested and thrown into jail 18 times during one 24-hour period of picket line duty.
“Every time I showed up on the picket line, I got thrown in jail. Every time they released me, I went back to the picket line.”
Hoffa stayed in touch with his constituents. He spent only one-third of his time in the office. He mostly worked the fields attending mass demonstrations, showing up on the picket lines and signing up new members.
“You got a problem. Call me. Just pick up the phone.”
His day started at 8 a.m. and continued through the early morning hours of the next day. In his “war” with management Hoffa made up his own strong-arm rules and he didn’t hesitate to apply them to rival unions, notably the CIO. Hoffa decided that the quickest way to spread the Teamster message into other regions of the country was to organize the long-haul drivers. He traveled up and down the highways pulling up at the side of the road alongside sleeping truck drivers, giving them his union sales pitch.
Drivers during those Depression years knew that they were easy targets for thieves as they slept alone in their trucks. They dozed holding a tire iron or wrench in fear of highway robbers.
Hoffa learned quickly to identify himself with a rapid fire greeting: “Hi-I’m-Jimmy-Hoffa-Organizer-for-the-Teamsters-and-I-wonder-if-I-could-talk-to-you-briefly-.” Then he’d jump back.
Sometimes he found not sleepy-eyed truckers but employer-hired anti-union thugs waiting for him along quiet deserted stretches of highway.
But his tremendous zest and almost religious drive to convert truckers for the union would not be deterred. In 1936, while helping a group of nonunionized striking laundry employees, he met an 18-year-old Polish beauty, Josephine Poszywak, whom he married that September.
Josephine’s Polish background saturated her daily life. Educated in Polish-speaking parochial schools, family and church remained the focal point of her world. Described as a complete homebody, she loved cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids.
The Hoffas had two modest homes, one on Robson Street in northwest Detroit, and a cottage outside of Detroit in rural Lake Orion.
Their two children, Barbara and James Jr., recalled adventures with their dad at the Lake Orion property. When not unionizing, Hoffa proved to be a devoted, loving father.
He would create and tell the kids endless tales about “Freddie the Fox” who was always getting into trouble with the other creatures in the forest, but who always negotiated his way out of a potential disaster by using his brain. The stories, unlike Hoffa’s life, always ended happily. The kids remember that with dad, “it was always like the Fourth of July.”
Hoffa loved to fish and hunt and would travel to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, often taking his whole staff with him for part-adventure, part-union seminars.
One day on a hunting trip, Jimmy turned to his aide Joe Franco while they were having breakfast: “Franco, if laws were passed in this country that would eliminate unions, would the employers revert back to the ’30s and ’20s and pay their employees starvation wages and take full advantage over their employees?”
Franco told his boss, “I don’t think management would ever revert back to the old days of the sweat shops. I can’t believe that. They’ve been taught. We’ve organized them and we’ve established working conditions for their employees for appying grievances and whatever problems may exist.”
Hoffa looked at him, “Franco, you’re full of it. You give any employer a chance to cut his wages in half tomorrow morning and that SOB will do it. Because he’s money hungry and the only way he can make money is by taking it out of the working man’s mouth. Don’t ever think different. You’re young, You’re coming up, but, God, you’re naive.”
The Teamsters grew as did the power of Hoffa.
In 1952, Dave beck won the International presidency and Hoffa was elected International vice president.
In 1953 as president of the Central Conference of Teamsters, Hoffa negotiated for all cartage drivers in 20 Midwestern and Southern states, and he sought to bring Eastern locals into the unified Teamster bargaining network.
A senate panel known as the McClellan Committe, investigating improper labor paractices in the late 1950s, was looking into allegations by convicted labor racketeer John Dioguardi. Dioguardi had worked closely with Hoffa in the East and said that Hoffa had manipulated union funds for his own profit and had accepted payoffs from trucking companies. The charges were never proved and in 1957 Hoffa was acquitted of a charge that he tried to bribe one of the committee’s investigators.
But the committee’s case against Dave Beck ended with Beck’s conviction on embezzlement, larceny and income tax evasion charges.
The AFL-CIO expelled the Teamsters, and in October 1957, Hoffa won the International presidency, replacing Beck.
Hoffa completed the centralization process within the Teamsters. He designed the Teamster’s national freight agreements and brought the nation’s trucking industry under one labor agreement, boosting members wages and paving the way for a comfortable middle class lifestyle.
But Hoffa could’t shake law enforcement agencies. He fought federal investigators during the ’50s and ’60s. They charged that his empire thrived on violence, fraud and misuse of union money. His enemies relentlessly pursued him as a “ruthless” union official on the take.
After Robert F. Kennedy, who had been chief counsel for the McClellan Committee, became Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, the government’s investigations escalated.
The Justice Department was frustrated in its attempts to prosecute Hoffa until it enlisted the help of Edward Grady Partin, a Louisiana Teamster who in jail awaiting trial for embezzling union funds and kidnapping. Making a deal with the prosecutors, Partin befriended Hoffa, pretending to be a loyal lieutenant, during a 1962 Hoffa trial on charges of accepting an illegal playment from an employer. Hoffa was acquitted but two years later, on Partin’s testimony, a jury convicted Hoffa of jury tampering and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren would later call the conviction an “affront to the quality and fairness of federal law enforcement.”
Shortly after his ’64 conviction Hoffa received an additional five years when he was convicted in Chicago with six others of fraud and conspiracy in the handling of a union benefits fund.
In March 1967, with all apppeals exhausted, Hoffa entered Lewisburg Federal Prison to begin his 13-year sentence.
Hoffa refused to give up the presidency of the union, appointing Frank Fitzsimmons, mild mannered general vice-president of the Teamsters, as caretaker. During the next four years Hoffa had three parole hearings, all of which were rejected partially because of his refusal to give up the presidency. Finally in June 1971, Hoffa announced his retirement, clearing the way for Fitzsimmons who won election to the presidency.
President Richard Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence on Dec. 23, 1971, and Hoffa left prison the same day, returning home to map out his stratgy for regaining control over the union he had built with his own hands.
Days after his disappearance in 1975, both family and police believed the former union official, once among the most powerful men in the country, was dead, probably murdered. Police believed the Mafia killed him.
During his rise to the top Hoffa had encountered numerous shady characters and many didn’t want him back. Hoffa had close associations with top mob figures in Detroit during the early days of his career, men like Santo Perrone, Joseph (Scarface Joe) Bommarito, Frank Coppola and others known as the “East Side Crowd.”
From his liaisons with alleged Detroit gangsters came introductions and ties to national mobsters. Hoffa never tried to conceal or deny these ties. “These organized crime figures are the people you should know if you’re going to avoid having anyone interfere with your strike, and that’s what we know them for…..We make it it our business, and the head of any union who didn’t would be a fool. Know who are your potential enemies and know how to neurtralize ’em.”
On July 30, 1975, Jimmy left home for an afternoon meeting with Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, a reputed crime capo in Detroit, and Anthony Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamster boss known to friends as “Tony Pro.” The relationship between Hoffa and Provenzano had been hostile since their days together at Lewisburg prison where Provenzano had joined Hoffa on racketeering charges. Hoffa blamed Provenzano for much of the federal “heat” that had come down on the Teamsters during the Kennedy reign.
Witnesses saw Hoffa waiting at the Machus Red Fox parking lot. He made at least two calls from a pay phone outside a hardware store in the upscale neigborhood mall.
Since that day the FBI and Justice Department have amassed nearly 70 volumes of evidence, much centering on the rival New Jersey faction that had been headed by Provenzano.
Hoffa’s disappearance remains the quintessential unsolved mystery.
Federal investigators believe mob bosses had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency, but they never found enough evidence to charge anyone.
Many suspects have since died, including Provenzano, who died in prison. Investigators say Provenzano had made it clear to Hoffa to “get out of union politics or else.”
Some suspected that Chuckie O’Brien, a Teamster whom Hoffa had once treated like a son and whose mother had lived with the Hoffa family for a long time, played a role in the disappearnce.
In 1982 Hoffa was declared legally dead.
In 1995, James P. Hoffa, son of Jimmy and now president of the Teamsters, and daughter Barbara Crancer, held a memorial service for their father at Detroit’s Holy Trinity church. The service was attended by more than 2,000 friends who remembered the powerful and controversial leader.
Said Ed Scribner of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, “Hoffa’s career literally touched millions and millions of workers in this country…. who know a quality of life that was not possible before Jimmy Hoffa.”
Longtime friend and associate Robert Holmes reflected, “He never backed down from anybody. He was not only strongly opinionated, but he could take care of himself in other ways too. Everybody was mad at Hoffa but his membership. He was a real rank-and-file guy. The world has changed, everything has changed. People are more educated. I don’t know if he could do now what he did. But one of Hoffa’s best secrets was he knew how to get along with people. His name was his bond. He never asked you to do anything at all he wouldn’t do himself.”
Hoffa’s middle name was taken from his mother’s maiden name, Riddle, and his disappearance remains just that.
Hoffa, Jimmy (1913-1975?), American labor leader, who disappeared in 1975 and is believed to have been kidnapped and murdered. Hoffa was born James Riddle Hoffa in Brazil, Indiana. His father, a coal miner, died when Hoffa was seven years old. Hoffa left school in Detroit, Michigan, and at the age of 17 began work as a warehouseman for the Kroger Company, where he helped organize a strike.


By 1933 Hoffa was the business agent for Teamster Local 299 in Detroit, and in the early 1940s he formed and led the Michigan Conference of Teamsters. In 1952 he was elected an international vice president of the Teamsters Union, and in 1957 he became international president. Hoffa earned a reputation among his peers as a tough and effective bargainer. In 1964 he negotiated the union’s first national contract with trucking companies. Under Hoffa’s leadership the Teamsters Union membership grew to more than two million.


Hoffa was long rumored to be associated with organized crime and, beginning in 1957, was the subject of many government investigations and prosecutions. In 1967 he was sentenced to 13 years in the federal prison at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for jury tampering, pension fund fraud, and conspiracy. Despite his imprisonment, Hoffa refused to resign as president of the Teamsters and retained the support of most union members. After lengthy negotiations, United States President Richard M. Nixon commuted Hoffa’s sentence on the condition that he resign his office and refrain from any union activities until 1980. Hoffa left prison on December 24, 1971. Unhappy with the bargain, Hoffa unsuccessfully fought it in court while covertly working to unseat his successor in the union, Frank Fitzsimmons. Hoffa’s refusal to stay out of union affairs may have led to his disappearance on July 30, 1975. Hoffa was last seen at a restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he had an appointment to meet Anthony Provenzano, a Teamster boss and reputed Mafia figure, and Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit mobster, neither of whom would admit to having seen Hoffa that day. Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1983.


Fbi To Turn Over Findings in 1975 Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa To Local Prosecutors
The Associated Press
The FBI said Friday it will refer its findings in the nearly 27-year-old disappearance of former Teamsters President James R. Hoffa to local prosecutors for possible state charges.

No federal charges will be filed for now, though they may if more information is uncovered, said Special Agent Dawn Clenney of the FBI’s Detroit office.

“The FBI will continue the investigation of the Hoffa case. We will run down every lead as we have in the past,” Clenney said. “We think there is a possibility that the state can pursue charges.”
FBI agents hope to meet with Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca to review the case and discuss whether state charges apply, Clenney said.

Gorcyca did not immediately return messages seeking comment, but he told The Detroit News he must review every criminal case “whether the person’s last name is Hoffa or Jones.”
Gorcyca said he couldn’t speculate on the likelihood that his office would bring charges.

On Thursday, John Bell, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit bureau, told The Detroit News the federal case was stymied because of the time elapsed since Hoffa disappeared from a restaurant parking lot July 30, 1975.

Clenney, who spoke Friday on Bell’s behalf, declined to elaborate.

Bell’s comments followed the FBI release of 1,330 pages from its investigative file to the News. Clenney said the timing of the release and the comments on federal charges were coincidental.

The released documents showed the case still was active as of January, when investigators were pursuing leads in Baltimore and Indianapolis.

The FBI turned over the entire 3,432 pages from its file to U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The judge will decide what other material, if any, should be released to the public.

The case returned to the limelight in September, when the News reported DNA evidence placed Hoffa in a car that investigators had long suspected, but were never able to prove, was used in the disappearance.

The DNA from Hoffa’s hair matched that of a strand of hair found in a borrowed 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham driven by longtime Hoffa friend Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien the last day Hoffa was seen alive, the report said.

O’Brien told investigators in 1975 he borrowed the car, owned by the son of reputed Mafia figure Anthony Giacalone, to deliver a frozen salmon to Robert Holmes, then president of Teamsters Local 337.

The delivery was near the restaurant where Hoffa was supposed to meet with Giacalone and New Jersey Teamsters boss and underworld associate Anthony Provenzano. Neither showed up. Both said no meeting was scheduled.

O’Brien has denied having anything to do with Hoffa’s disappearance.

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, the late union leader’s son, declined comment, a union spokesman said.

Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, a municipal judge in St. Louis, said the FBI volunteered to mail her a copy of the newly released documents.

“I don’t see this as an ending. I see this as the FBI washing their hands of the situation,” Crancer said Friday. “I plan a wait-and-see attitude until I’ve been able to see the FBI report and analyze what it contains.”
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
FBI Passes Off Hoffa Case
Fbi To Turn Over Findings in 1975 Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa To Local Prosecutors
The Associated Press
James Riddle Hoffa, the son of a coal driller, was born on 14th February, 1913. His father died when he was seven and in 1924, the family moved to Detroit.

Hoffa left school at fourteen and worked as a department-store stock boy. An active trade unionist, in 1932, he led a strike at a Detroit grocery store. By the age of 37 he was chairman of the Central States Drivers Council in 1940 and two years was elected president of the Michigan Conference of Teamsters.

In 1952 Hoffa became vice president of the Teamsters Union under Dave Beck, the president. Allegations were made in 1956 that the leadership of the union was involved in illegal activities. The Select Committee on Labor, that included Joe McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, Karl Mundt and John F. Kennedy, decided that these charges needed to be investigated.

Robert Kennedy, chief counsel of the committee, was instructed to collect information and discovered several financial irregularities. This included taking $85,119 between 1949 and 1953 from union funds to pay his own personal bill. The investigation also revealled that a Seattle builder had received $196,516 out of union funds to pay for work done on Beck’s home. The investigations were televised and Kennedy’s questioning turned him into a national political figure.

Beck was eventually imprisoned for five years and Hoffa became the new president of the Teamsters Union. Robert Kennedy now began investigating Hoffa and he was eventually charged with corruption. Kennedy claimed that Hoffa had misappropriated $9.5 million in union funds and had corruptly done deals with employers. However, the jury found Hoffa not guilty. George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, did not agree with the verdict and Hoffa and the Teamsters Union were expelled from the association.

Hoffa was popular with his members and in 1960 was re-elected as president of the Teamsters Union. A long-term supporter of the Republican Party, Hoffa was a generous supplier of funds to Richard Nixon in his presidential struggle with John F. Kennedy. During the campaign, Robert Kennedy sent Hoffa a copy of his book, The Enemy Within. Kennedy wrote inside: “To Jimmy. I’m sending you this book so you won’t have to use union funds to buy one. Bobby.”
After Kennedy’s election victory in 1960 he appointed Robert Kennedy as his attorney general. Once in office, Kennedy resumed his investigations into Hoffa’s activities. Hoffa was eventually charged with taking money from the union’s $300 Pension Fund. J. Edgar Hoover, a long-term opponent of the Kennedys, passed FBI files on the attorney general to Roy Cohn, who in turn gave them to Hoffa. However, Hoffa, who disapproved of the Kennedy’s adulterous behaviour, declined to use this material against his prosecutors.

A former official of the union, E. G. Partin, was in prison facing charges of kidnapping, murder, robbery and rape, agreed to do a deal with the authorities and provide evidence against Hoffa. At the first trial at Nashville in October, 1962, the hung jury voted 7-5 for acquittal. The judge, believing that Hoffa’s team were guilty of jury tampering, called a mistrial. At the second trial at Chattanooga in January, 1964, Hoffa was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison.

In December, 1971, President Richard Nixon ordered Hoffa’s release. Later, FBI records revealed that Nixon had received illegal campaign donations from the Teamsters Union in exchange for a presidential pardon. After his release Hoffa travelled the country campaigning for prison reform. He also attempted to return as leader of the Teamsters Union.

On 30th July, 1975, James Hoffa disappeared when travelling to a meeting with the Detroit gangster, Anthony Giacalone. In 1982 Hoffa was legally declared “presumed dead”.
Jimmy Hoffa
Teamster Leader
In his prime, Jimmy Hoffa was one of the most influential men in the United States. From the very beginning his existence was threatened, having had a very traumatic childhood. His adult life was even more zestful than was his childhood (Friedman, 1989). His sudden disappearance has remained a mystery to everyone for years.What happened to James R. Hoffa, and why did it happen?These questions are only a few of the many that must be answered to solve this puzzling mystery. Jimmy Hoffa was the son of an unsuccessful coal prospector in the small town of Brazil, Indiana.His father died when Hoffa was only four (Friedman, 1989).During Hoffa’s childhood he was asked to give up his boyish ways and become the man of the house. Hoffa hauled laundry home in a wagon for his mother to wash, chopped and sold wood, and scraped mussel shells off the bottom of the Wabash River to sell by the ton to button makers. When his mother moved the family to Detroit, six years after her husband’s death, Jimmy hauled ashes and passed out leaflets for patent medicines at factory gates. He quit school at fourteen in the middle of his seventh grade year to work full time (Friedman, 1989).His years as a teenager were also charged with a special kind of radiant energy. At the youthful age of seventeen, Hoffa was unloading boxcars at the Kroger grocery chain warehouse in Detroit for thirty-two cents an hour. The Kroger Company was Hoffa’s first fight with the authority of a large company. Deplorable working conditions, low pay, and a sadistic foreman at the warehouse Hoffa says, drove him into the labor movement “for self-preservation” (Franco, 1987; 150).With four co-workers (who remained trusted members of his staff throughout his career as union leader), he organized enough of Kroger’s warehousemen to call an effective strike at a strategic moment; the arrival of a trainload of highly perishable strawberries at financial loss, if spoiled, the company acceded to them quickly, within an hour (Franco, 1987).In October 1931, the Kroger union was chartered as Federal Local 19341 of the American Federation of Labor. The following year Hoffa quit his job at Kroger to become a full-time organizer for Joint Council 43.It is risks like this that led Hoffa to become such a powerful figure in America. Hoffa had a very strong work ethic and worked his way up the rank-and-files to the top of the Detroit Teamsters. Hoffa’s workday was a long and sometimes never seemed to finish.He would start at about eight in the morning and sometimes not finish until early in the morning the next day. In his early organizing, Hoffa was a frequent visitor to the Detroit loading docks.He posted a sign the union hall that read, “If it moves, sign it up” (Zacharis, 2000; 4).Hoffa stayed in touch with his members.He only spent on third of his time in his office; the rest was out in the field at picket lines, mass demonstrations, or even recruiting members. Hoffa felt the only way he could spread the word about the Teamsters throughout the country was to organize long-haul drivers.In 1952, he was elected the international vice president of the Teamsters Union, and in 1957 he became international president.Hoffa negotiated for all cartage drivers in twenty Midwestern and Southern states.He even sought to get eastern companies involved.In 1964, he negotiated the union’s first national contract with trucking companies. Under Hoffa’s leadership, the Teamsters union membership grew to more than two million (James, 2000).
He was not the type of man one would like to call his friend.He was not always on the side of the law that is accepted by society. “. . . it is true that Hoffa used the thugs to climb to the top . . .”(Brill, 1978; 84).Hoffa was long rumored to be associated with organized crime, having links to Mafia figures such as Anthony Provenzano, a Teamster boss, and Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit mobster. Hoffa used the underworld to obtain power; he also shared in their crimes. He made thousands of dollars in extortion schemes that bled innocent businessmen of all they had. On his journey to the top, Hoffa made many enemies. One such enemy was the famed politician Robert Kennedy. One particularly intriguing encounter between these two men occurred in March of 1957. Hoffa was arrested for attempting to bribe a lawyer, John Cheasty, to become a member of the McClellan Committee staff and obtain confidential committee memorandums for him (Brill, 2000).The McClellan Committee was investigating improper labor practices by Hoffa.Hoffa was said to have manipulated union funds for his own profit and had accepted payoffs from trucking companies.There was evidence via photos with Hoffa taking documents in exchange for money.During the trial Hoffas lawyer found a way to convince the jury to look past the evidence and was acquitted.Some of these tactics were to have Hoffa’s lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, to portray Cheasty as an anti-black supporter and he brought in former heavyweight champion, Joe Louis.Louis told people that Hoffa and himself were close friends, but in actuality they were just acquaintances and all traveling cost were paid for by Hoffa.Dave Beck, the Teamsters president, was convicted on embezzlement, larceny and income tax evasion charges.The AFL-CIO expelled the Teamsters and this is when Hoffa became president of the union.Hoffa fought off investigators throughout the 50’s and 60’s.His enemies saw him as a “ruthless” union leader on the take.Robert Kennedy then became the Attorney General under his brother John F. Kennedy.The investigations started to escalate.The Justice Departments frustration was growing because they could not attain solid evidence to prosecute Hoffa. Then they got the help of Edward Grady Partin, a Louisiana Teamster who was in jail awaiting trial for embezzling union funds and kidnapping.The government made a deal with Partin where Partin befriended Hoffa (Zacharias, 2000).He pretended to be loyal to Hoffa during a 1962 trial that Hoffa was acquitted for.Two years later Hoffa was convicted for eight years on jury tampering.All this was based on Partin’s testimony to a jury.
Supreme Justice Earl Warren called this conviction an “affront to the quality and fairness of federal law enforcement” (Zacharias, 2000).He was later given five more years when he was convicted in Chicago with six others of fraud and conspiracy in the handling of a union benefits fund. Hoffa entered Lewisburg Federal Prison to begin his thirteen-year sentence, but refused to give up his presidency and appointed mild mannered Frank Fitzsimmons, general vice-president of the Teamsters, as caretaker.During the first four years of prison, Hoffa came up for parole three times.All three hearings were rejected partially because of his refusal to give up the presidency (Zacharias, 2000).Hoffa retired and Fitzsimmons won the election and became the president. On December 23, 1971, Untied States President Richard M. Nixon, after much compromise, gave Jimmy Hoffa a pardon from prison.Hoffa on that same day planned to take over as president of the Teamsters.Many of Hoffa’s enemies saw this attempt to regain power a threat. Informed sources of the Detroit Division [of the FBI] are generally of the opinion that Hoffa was abducted and hit with the knowledge, consent and possible participation of the Detroit LCN [La Cosa Nostra] family (James, 2000; 3).The authenticity of these sources are in question and the FBI cannot say if they are true or not or even accurate.All sources believe that Hoffas disappearance is directly connected with his attempts to regain power within the Teamsters Union, which would possibly have an effect on the LCNs control and manipulation of Teamster Pension Funds (James, 2000; 3).Many people, who believe in this theory, also believe that Hoffa could have provided the government information in exchange for the lifting of his union restrictions. When it comes to the disappearance of Hoffa, there are many questions that have been left unanswered.Firstly, it is known that Hoffa went to the Machus Red Fox Restaurant at two p.m. July 30, 1975 (James, 2000).He was there to meet fellow Teamsters members Tony Giacalone and Tony Provenzano. There is no doubt that during this meeting the men would be discussing subjects of an illegal nature. Neither Giacalone nor Provenzano was ever seen at the restaurant. Both men had strong alibis when investigated by the police. Witnesses did provide the police with enough information to surmise that a mutual friend of all three men, Chuckie O’Brien, and at least two other men did pick up Hoffa in Giacalone’s car (Brill, 1978).Hoffa was picked up at approximately 2:45 p.m.At this point in the evening, Hoffa still thought that he was going to meet Giacalone and Provenzano. The police had surmised that Hoffa was knocked out with some sort of object. This is believed because of the very small traces of blood and hair found in the back seat of the car. These blood and hair samples have been proven to be Hoffa’s (Brill, 1978).It was assumed that he was driven to another location to be murdered.For many years, the family put up a reward to find Hoffa or at least information, but then accepted the possibility of his death.Hoffa was officially declared dead 1982, seven years after his disappearance.Because of his illegal and immoral doings during his life, it is not hard to develop a motive for the murder.Hoffa was on the brink of becoming the president of the Teamsters again.Some believe whoever was responsible of his disappearance and wanted Hoffa out of the way did it at the wrong time. Hoffa surely would of been elected president and changed the way labor unions work forever. He was a great man with great intentions. He went about it wrong, but had Hoffa been successful he would be considered a national hero (Brill, 1978; 320).
Hoffa and other leaders participated in acts that led to many laws that regulated the labor unions.One of these laws was the Landrum-Griffin Act.This act gives individual union members freedom of speech, equal voting rights, copies of labor agreements under which they work, and some others.Unions were required to file periodic reports of all activities and financial holdings of union officers and employees.Employers have to file financial transactions with unions.All elections and appointments are heavily regulated.Hoffa affected the way the labor unions work today.One can only imagine what could have been if Hoffa would have not been confronted with his kidnapping or even possible foul play.
Brill, Steven. The Teamsters. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. pgs.15, 24, 31-76, 84, 95, 201-206, 280, 320, 364, 375.
Franco, Joseph. Hoffa’s man: the rise and fall of Jimmy Hoffa. New York: Prentice Hall 1987. pgs.150, 158.
Friedman, Allen. Power and Greed: Inside the Teamsters empire of corruption. New York:Watts Publishing, 1989. pgs. 124, 133, 135-138.
James, Michael (2000).Gone Without a Trace:25 Years After Hoffa Vanished, the Feds Still Haven’t Gotten Their Man.ABC News. 4 pgs. RetrievedOctober 13, 2000, from the World Wide Web: http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/hoffa000730.html
Zacharis, Pat.The Day Jimmy Hoffa Didn’t Come Home.The Detroit News.8 pgs.Retrieved October 13, 2000, from the World Wide Web: http://detnews.com/history/hoffa/hoffa.htm
Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A., & Schwartz, A. A. (1995). A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience: Science working group on facilitated communication. American Psychologist, 50, 750765. Retrieved October 15, 2000, from the World Wide Web: http://www.apa.org/journals/jacobson.html