One of the largest and best-known labor unions in the US, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has 1.4 million members. The Teamsters represents workers in some 20 industry sectors, including airlines, freight, parcel delivery, industrial trades, and public service. More than 200,000 of the union's members are employees of package delivery giant United Parcel Service. Besides negotiating labor contracts with employers on behalf of its members, the union oversees pension funds and serves as an advocate in legislative and regulatory arenas. The union and its affiliates have about 1,900 local chapters in the US and Canada, including about 475 Teamsters locals. The Teamsters union was founded in 1903.
Teamsters chief James P. Hoffa (son of assumed-dead union leader Jimmy Hoffa) is working to improve the union's image after implementing ethics policies aimed at rooting out internal corruption and ties to organized crime. Hoffa, first elected in 1998, wants the Teamsters to police themselves and to put an end to the government supervision under which the union has operated since 1989.
The Teamsters have packed up and moved out from under the AFL-CIO umbrella and joined fellow unions Unite Here (textile, hotel, and restaurant workers), Service Employees International (SEIU), United Food and Commercial Workers, and others in the rival Change to Win Coalition. The group hopes to reverse the decline of labor jobs and union membership in the US by focusing its time and money on recruiting rather than on participating in political campaigns. Other key issues for Change to Win include health care, immigration, and retirement security. – less