The CertMag Team Wishes You a Happy Labor Day
Like many other workers in the United States, the members of the CertMag team are enjoying a day off from work in observance of Labor Day. We will return to our normal schedule and activities on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Until then, however, why enjoy this short free quiz about a key player in the history of U.S. labor relations?
There are many influential and important figures in the history of American labor, but perhaps no legend is as enduring as that of James R. “Jimmy” Hoffa, longtime president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters labor union.
A towering figure in labor relations for decades, as well as an associate of various leaders and middlemen in East Coast crime syndicates, Hoffa enigmatically disappeared at age 62 in 1975. He was last seen in the parking lot of Detroit restaurant that had previously hosted the wedding reception of his son.
Years of investigations followed and Hoffa was eventually declared legally dead in 1982. Numerous theories and potential “final resting places” (most famously including Giants Stadium in New York) have been investigated, but no body has ever been found.
How much do you know about the colorful history of the popular yet polarizing Hoffa? Let’s find out!
1) True or False: James Riddle Hoffa was born in Brazil.
2) What is the grocery chain that employed a teenaged Hoffa, and became the point of origin for his lifelong involvement in labor relations?
3) Which Michigan university bestowed an honorary doctorate on James Hoffa when he delivered a commencement address there in 2000?
4) Where did Hoffa meet his wife, Josephine Poszywak?
5) How many workers joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters between 1933 and 1939, largely as a result of Hoffa’s participation in union leadership?
6) True or false: Hoffa worked regularly as a truck driver during his early IBT tenure.
7) How old was Hoffa when he became president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters?
8) How many years of his 13-year prison sentence for bribery and mail fraud did Hoffa end up serving?
9) What was time of Hoffa’s scheduled meeting, on July 30, 1975, with Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Detroit’s Bloomfield Township suburb?
10) True or False: Actors Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and Barry Pepper have all portrayed Hoffa in film or on television.
1) True. Hoffa was born Feb. 14, 1913, to John and Viola Hoffa, in Brazil. The city of Brazil, that is, in Indiana’s Clay County.
2) Hoffa worked on the loading dock of a Kroger grocery store in Detroit. The low wages, poor working conditions, and hard-driving management provided by Kroger spurred the charismatic Hoffa’s interest in labor relations and he became one of the leaders of a nascent attempt to organize a labor union.
3) Hoffa never graduated from high school or college. His son, James P. Hoffa, was the commencement speaker at Michigan State University, the younger Hoffa’s alma mater, on June 3, 2000, and received an honorary doctorate of law degree.
4) Hoffa and Poszywak met when she was participating in a strike at the laundry service where she earned 17 cents an hour. Poszywak’s future husband was called to the scene to meet with four drivers, unionized Teamsters, who were also employed there. They were married Sept, 24, 1936.
5) More than 345,000. Hoffa joined Local 299 of the IBT in Detroit in 1932; as of 1933, IBT membership had risen to just 75,000 over the first 30 years of its existence..
6) False. Hoffa never worked as a truck driver, the occupation that dominated IBT membership in the years before, during, and after World War II.
7) 44. Hoffa became president at a national convention in Miami Beach, Fla., after having risen up through the ranks over a 25-year period.
8) Hoffa served 4 years, 8 months and 16 days before his sentence was commuted to time served by President Richard Nixon in 1971. The IBT subsequently endorsed Nixon in his 1972 re-election campaign.
9) 2 p.m. Hoffa had noted the meeting on his office calendar. He drove to the restaurant in his green Pontia Grande Ville and waited for Giacalone to arrive. He called his wife from a pay phone near the Machus Red Fox at or about 2:30 p.m. to report that he was still waiting. A friend found his unlocked car still parked at the Machus Red Fox the following morning. Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, reported his father missing at 6 p.m. on July 31.
10) False: Pacino played Hoffa in the 2019 film The Irishman and Nicholson played Hoffa in the 1992 film Hoffa. Stallone played “Johhny Kovak,” a fictional union organizer based on Hoffa, in the 1978 film F.I.S.T. Pepper won an Emmy for portraying longtime Hoffa nemesis Robert F. Kennedy in the 2011 TV miniseries The Kennedys, but has never played either Hoffa or a Hoffa-inspired character.