Jimmy Hoffa Biography
They seek him here, they seek him there, but they never did find out who was responsible for the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Whodunit? Is it a murder mystery or an unsolved missing persons story?
The crux of the conundrum is no closer to being resolved despite the plethora of theories that have been painstakingly investigated by the authorities.
Asking who would be advantaged by the disappearance of Hoffa opens a rabbit hole of cavernous construction and ceaseless conjecture.
Most theories point to a mob hit, although which flavour of mafiosa is hotly disputed. Often overlooked is the corporate angle. Many times Hoffa iterated the corporate relationship with gangsters used as strike breakers. The revolving doors of intrigue have seldom spewed a more motley crew of slippery suspects and shadowy scoundrels.
The saying follow the money has never been more apt. Whilst he oft stated that the pension fund was always wisely invested, rumours abound that the fund was sourcing a myriad of gangster enterprises. Hoffa referred to his Vegas hotel and casino builders as "good customers". He viewed it as real estate deals that were advantageous to the pension fund.
As a labour leader he adopted a committed if somewhat controversial style. He was a leader who would not take no for an answer. His fiery temper simmered beneath a veneer of charm and cunning. He cut a ruthless figure in his negotiations and was as tough as they come. Here was a man who refused to back down to authority.
His rise to the top of the Teamsters Union garnered him a rugged reputation in both the organised labour movement and the political arena. The corporate world feared him, the politicians loathed him and the FBI surveilled him. Hell, with all this attention he must have been doing something right!
As tenacious as he was bold, Jimmy Hoffa was eventually brought to heel by the establishment who in 1967 saw fit to sentence him to thirteen years imprisonment (eight years for bribery, five years for fraud).
Once incarcerated the authorities denied him parole on three occasions. In 1971, in a move that raised establishment eyebrows, President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence, with conditions. He was meant to refrain from union activity until 1980, Hoffa was appalled but reluctantly accepted the offer.
The Legacy of Jimmy Hoffa
The enduring mystery of Hoffa's disappearance remains one of the most controversial of the 20th century. The enigma adds to the allure of the legacy of Jimmy Hoffa. Undaunted and defiant to the end, Hoffa remains a symbol of power to the labour movement. His enduring determination won the hearts and minds of generation's of workers who benefitted from his actions and respected his toughness to talk truth to the face of corporate and political power.
Quotes About Jimmy Hoffa
In 1957, John F. Kennedy grilled the union leader during the Select Committee Labor hearings:
"Mr Hoffa, this bill is not a strike breaking union busting bill, you're the best argument I know so far, your testimony here this afternoon, your complete indifference to the fact that numerous people who hold responsible positions in your union come before this commitee and take the fifth amendment because an honest answer might tend to incriminate them, your complete indifference to it I think makes this bill essential"
US Attorney General Robert Kennedy described him thus:
"He's not just the most powerful man in labor, he's the most powerful man in the country, next to the President"
The author Charles Brandt shared this assessment:
"From 1955 until 1965 Jimmy Hoffa was as famous as Elvis Presley. From 1965 until 1975 Jimmy Hoffa was as famous as the Beatles"
Brandt went on to say:
"There are simply no public figures today who so challenge the elite business and government establishment and so champion the working class as Jimmy Hoffa did almost daily and with arrogance"
The biographer, Arthur A. Sloane, summed him up by saying:
"To many, Hoffa was a kind of latter-day Al Capone... others, he was... hugely successful in improving working conditions for [his truck-driver constituents]"
Sloane elaborated with this comment:
"More apparent to Teamster members than any moral lapses were the tangible gains that had been steadily realized under Hoffa since his advent to power"
Sloane also spoke of his tardiness:
"No more than one third of his working time, indeed, was spent in his office"