A dissident Teamster who started her career as a warehouse worker and truck driver is challenging James P. Hoffa for the top job in the Teamsters union.
Sandy Pope, president of Teamsters Local 805 in New York City, last week said she will run for general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
"The Teamsters Union is the most powerful union in the world and we should start acting like it," Pope said at an Oct. 10 rally in New York.
The dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union quickly endorsed Pope, who ran for secretary-treasurer on the TDU slate in 2006.
Pope is the second Teamster official to openly challenge Hoffa, who has led the Teamsters union since 1998 and was re-elected in 2001 and 2006.
Wisconsin Teamster leader Fred Gegare, a former Hoffa supporter and Teamsters vice president at large since 1998, announced his candidacy in May.
The challenges from Pope and Gegare a year before the election highlight dissatisfaction with Hoffa's handling of union pensions and company contracts.
In an interview with Labor Notes, a union activist magazine and Web site, Pope criticized a 2006 agreement that let UPS pull out of the IBT pension plans.
Gegare voiced similar concerns in May, also criticizing what he called the "top-down" attitude toward local union autonomy at the international union.
Pope blamed Hoffa for the "biggest contract concessions and pension cuts in Teamster history."
She said the "situation" at YRC Worldwide, which is asking Teamster employees for a third round of wage, benefit and pension concessions, "could have been avoided," though she added, "I don't know that I could do anything differently at this point."
Pope joined the Teamsters in 1978, working in a warehouse and as a steel hauler before becoming a truck driver and dockworker in Cleveland.
She became a Teamster organizer and business agent and once headed the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
In the 1990s, former General President Ron Carey named Pope an international representative for the Teamsters' warehouse division. She was elected head of Local 805 in 2005.
Pope is launching a petition drive to get the signatures required to place her on the ballot at the union's international convention next June.
Ballots will be mailed to the union's 1.3 million members in October 2011 and counted that November.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.