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August 05, 1975 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-08-05

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Jimmy Hoffa: End of the road


The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Tuesday, August 5, 1975
News Phone: 764-0552
Energy showdown near
CONGRESS AND the President have failed to reach a
national consensus on energy all spring and summer.
That failure, previously merely a testament to the legis-
lative stalemate in Washington, now threatens to bring
higher oil and gasoline prices for consumers as the two
sides engage in a game of chicken to see who will bend
Both the Administration and the solons have been
able to rule out the proposals of the other branch. Presi-
dent Ford has sent two plans to decontrol the price of
"old oil" to the Hill (old oil is that petroleum produced
before 1972, currently fixed at $5.25 per barrel), only to
see them rejected by healthy majorities in the House.
The Congress, while unable to formulate a specific
policy, did at least rally united long enough to pass a
measure last week extending the price controls on old oil.
However, both Federal Energy Administrator Frank
Zarb and press secretary Ron Nessen have said that Ford
will veto the bill when he returns to his desk after his
European trip.
IF FORD makes good on his threat, which would be done
while the Congress is out of session, controls will run out
August 31, and prices will begin to rise September 1.
Economists disagree how steeply the price of gasoline
will go up if the controls lapse, but all are certain that
some increase will take place. Since the price of gasoline
reflects a blend of the prices for. controlled domestic oil,
uncontrolled domestic oil and foreign oil, everybody comes
up with figures designed to defend their own position.
The Administration contends that prices will rise no
more than seven cents per gallon, and that the hike
would not come all at once. More liberal analysts, how-
ever, dispute that claim and assert that the oil companies
will immediately take advantage of the end of controls
to boost prices to the range of 75-80 cents per gallon.
Congress could of course, come back from all over the
world (summer recesses are prime time for congressional
junketeering) and override the President's expected veto.
But the House Democratic leadership has admitted that
unless a groundswell of public outcry arises, they would
be loath to do so, thus leaving the nation ripe for a mam-
moth price boost just in time for the Labor Day weekend.
THE STATE OF affairs suits the President fine. He has
frequently made mention of his belief that higher
gasoline prices are good for the nation, and if it comes
deus ex machina or through legislative approval, it makes
little difference to him.
But in the meantime, the price rise could result in
another rerun of the inflation-recession spiral. Ford,
despite his avowed aversion to inflation, seems content
to ignore this, as well as the fact that the effect of
higher gasoline prices upon consumer use is still largely
unknown. Economists agree it will certainly cause some
reduction in use, but they're not at all sure to what degree
this will happen.
And of course, the people who will be hurt most by a
price rise will be people of moderate and low income, a
group Ford is also willing to ignore as politically unim-
portant (i.e. non-Republican).
But now the situation is in limbo. The President re-
tains the upper hand, but only by virtue of the fact that
Congress is out of session. He can veto legislation with
impunity for the month of August but must face the
music in September.
THE CONGRESS can react when it returns by reinstat-
ing control on the price of old oil, and the margin by
which it passed the bill extending controls last week
(303-117), suggests that the veto could be overridden.
But all this is still an evasion of the issue. Since

neither side is capable of effecting a plan without the
cooperation of the other branch, it is high time for some
of the joint arrogance to melt and some genuine com-
promise to be reached.

TIMMY H O F F A is missing.
The Robin Hood of the big
rig set, the central character
and to some, chief victim in the
labor rackets purge that a cru-
sading Bobby Kennedy launch-
ed over 15 years ago, Hoffa has
provided a prominent paradoxi-
cal counterpoint to both the
bombast of big business and the
platitudes of social reform.
Even after his four-year in-
carceration for jury-tampering
was commuted four years ago,
the 5'5" labor kingpin retained
his credibility among thousands
of middle Americans and made
the most of his leverage in an
effort to hustle his way back to
the top of the Teamster heap,
despite the lingering stigma of
prison stripes and a parole con-
dition forbidding him to resume
union activities until 1980.
There is little doubt, even
among his most ardent support-
ers that Jimmy Hoffa is every
inch the crook Bobby Kennedy
sod his Justice Department le-
gions made him out to be a
decade ago.
THE REST of the American
public, those not familiar with
unions looked on incredulously
as the labor boss repeatedly
bounced back from each set-
back, and spoke his mind with
a seemingly clear and resolute
conscience, long after most na-
tional figures would have suc-
How can this man, this ac-
knowledgedtcrook, stand up
there and tell us what's good
for the country, when he did his
level best to rip it off as Team-
sters leader, they asked.uAnd
why is the blue-collar bunch
dumb enough to listen to him?
What the mind-boggled mass-
es didn't grasp is the special
set of ethicsathat exists among
union men and thieves.
When Hoffa began his organ-
izing career in the 1930s, unions
were despised, their members
disturbed by the majority of
Americans. The radicals of their
day, they were considered the
progenitors of socialism, a
threat to free enterprise that
could not be handled lightly.
The labor/management disputes
of the era between the World

Wars were settled on the lines
and in the parking lots, not at
the negotiating table; their tools
of persuasion were fists, clubs
and guns, not legal jargonese.
IT WAS IN the dialect of the
iron hand that Jimmy Hoffa
fluency lay. He survived on
guile, ruthlessness, and a will-
ingness to turn on those who
no longer served his ends. The
pack of labor racketeers in the
thirties and forties that would
later evolve into the Teamsters
leadership of the fifties and
sixties were up against it, op-
posed by both corporate author-
ity and public sentiment, and
survival was the order of the
Only the young and the inordi-
nately naive were shocked in
the wake of Hoffa's disappear-
ance, by the disclosure of the
labor leader's lifelong friendship
with Anthony Giacolone, chief
of the Mafia's Detroit chapter.
It was disclosed that over the
years over $2010 million from the
Teamsters pension fund had
been used to capitalize Las Ve-
gas ventures widely accepted
as being under Mafia control.
BUT WITHOUT the Hoffas
and Becks, the truckers and the
other transport workers in the
1.7 million member workers
would never have risen from the
miseries of minimum wage to
a position of power and security
they now enjoy.
It was that us-against-the-
world camaraderie that sustain-
ed the Teamsters' faith in Hoffa
during his trials in the sixties
.em . . *. *.~mw . , *. *:E: ass

and that allowed him to retain
his presidency and appoint his
successor even after his con-
viction for jury-tampering.
While, the rest of the world
came crashing down around
him, the Teamsters stuck by
Hoffa, because for them, he
could do no wrong. As one truck-
er said during a one-day walk-
out after Hoffa's 1966 conviction,
"Our contract says we can take
a day off for a funeral. Jimmy
Hofa is dying. We're all dying."
Jimmy Hoffa didn't die then.
With the sustenance of his
friends, he emerged from the
tombs of federal prison in 1971,
as controversial and feisty as
ever. But since then the word
has gone out that it's not the
same old Jimmy. 'He's been
acting bizarely," one Teamster
man was quoted as saying. And
others suggested that he threat-
ened to expose corruption in the
pension plan, both his own and
that condoned in the union's in-
ner circle.
get Jimmy Hoffa in the 60's. At
best they could only put him
away for a while, so long as his
friends in the unions and the
syndicate stood behind him.
.Now the tables have turned.
It is the government who belat-
edly joined the effort to save
the little man who has bowed
the backs of giants. Perhaps
this time, that loosely defined
labor/mob coalition has decided
Jimmy Hoffa is no longer a
tolerable risk. If so, don't count
on the J u s t i c e Department
changing their verdict.
.............r..?^{;.i:::"rsy'';: r;a.} i5:},{,:"i{:":::. i:"

Contact your reps-
Sen. Phillip Hart (Dem), Rm 253, Old Senate Bldg., Capitol
Hill, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep), Rm 353, Old Senate Bldg., Capitol
Hill, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Rep. Marvin Esch (Rep), Rm. 412, Cannon Bldg., Capitol
Hill, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep), Senate, State Capitol Bldg.,
Lansing, Mi. 48933.
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem), House of Representatives, State
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, Mi. 48933.
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