Airline Labor Leader Seeks Teamsters Presidency
NEW YORK (AP) _ William Genoese announced a bid Tuesday for president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, pledging to revive the weakened labor movement by recruiting women, minorities and professionals.
″If it breathes, we’ll go after it,″ said Genoese, 64, the feisty airline labor leader now seeking the top leadership post at the 1.6 million-member union.
Gone are the days of union strength built by longshoremen and fast approaching are waves of working women, minorities and professionals such as doctors and engineers who are ready to carry union cards, Genoese said.
While Teamster membership is down to 1.6 million from 2.2 million, women now make up 30 percent of the membership and minorities another 30 percent, he said.
″Organizing is the heart of the movement. If you don’t have numbers, you don’t have power,″ said the combative Brooklyn native, head of the Teamsters’ airline division. ″You have to go after them, regardless of the jurisdiction.″
But even as he looked toward the future, Genoese stirred visions of past union glory by recalling his mentor, former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, and revealing he is considering Hoffa’s son as a running mate.
Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, a Detroit lawyer and Teamsters counsel, is considered a possible contender for the presidency. He did not return telephone calls to his Detroit office.
It was his father who first tapped Genoese to join the Teamsters as an organizer in 1962. Genoese quickly rose through the ranks to his current post as head of the airline division. He said as many as 50,000 Teamsters hold jobs related to the airline industry.
The union, which agreed to government supervision as part of a settlement of a racketeering case, now has a field of five announced presidential candidates seeking a spot on the ballot at the Teamsters convention in Florida in June. Candidates must secure 5 percent of the delegate vote to get their name on the ballot. The ballot will be mailed to the general membership for a vote in December.
Delegates will vote - by secret ballot for the first time ever - for president, secretary-treasurer, 16 vice presidents and three trustees.
Other challengers for the presidency are R.V. Durham, the candidate supported by outgoing president William McCarthy; Ron Carey of New York; Walter Shea of Washington, D.C.; and Lou Riga of California.