National Press Club

Teamsters President Hoffa says unions caught in 'cultural war'

September 13, 2012 | By Justin Duckham | justinjduckham@gmail.com

James P. Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, speaks  to the NPC of his support for the Democratic Party.

James P. Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, speaks to the NPC of his support for the Democratic Party.

Photo/Image: Christy Bowe

The 2012 Presidential election represents a "cultural war" between union members and the conservative tea party movement, International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa told the National Press Club on Sept. 13.

"All of the sudden, there’s this tidal wave of attacks on organized labor," Hoffa said during a luncheon. He cited statewide efforts to introduce "right to work" legislation and limit public employees' ability to collectively bargain.

"It's really something to see,'' Hoffa said. ``I’ve been around for a while and I’ve never seen it. We really are fighting back.”

Hoffa said increased animosity between conservatives and labor leaders was part of a Republican ploy to wipe out Democrats’ top ally.

“We’re the backbone,” Hoffa said. If Republicans knock out labor ``they can basically turn this country around. They will have a free run.”

Hoffa declined to state how much the Teamsters would provide for President Barack Obama’s re-election effort, though said it was far less than he would like.

Unions can expect to be outspent 8-1 by conservative and business interests, Hoffa said. That is the result of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling, which effectively allowed both labor groups and corporations to spend unlimited funds on election advertising, he said.

Despite the spending gap, Hoffa expressed confidence Obama will win re-election this November. Outlining an ideal Democratic agenda, he said that lawmakers should focus on bringing American jobs back to the country, improving America’s infrastructure and ensuring the tax code is reformed.

“Do we win four more years of the same thing?” Hoffa asked. “After this election we’re going to have to have a sit down'' with Republicans.