International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James Hoffa will review possible charges against Sean O'Brien, president of IBT's Local 25, which represents the Boston area. The charges were recommended by the Teamsters' Independent Review Board after O'Brien threatened members of a rival faction inside his union.
IBT spokesman Bret Caldwell told the Washington Examiner: "Hoffa has accepted the IRB referral. He now will appoint a panel to hear the charges and make a recommendation as to whether or not to adopt the charges." A final decision will be made within 90 days, at which point Hoffa will inform the review board, which has veto power over the charges.
Caldwell declined further comment.
O'Brien is also an IBT vice president as well as president of a Teamsters council that mediates disputes within the union in the New England region.
At a union event in late August, O'Brien lashed out at rivals to Joseph Bairos, Local 251's secretary-treasurer and principal executive officer, who was running for re-election. "I’ve got news for you, anyone who takes on my friend, Joe Bairos, and his team, or Local 251, they’ve got major problems. They’ll never be our friends. They need to be punished," O'Brien said. A clip of the speech was posted on YouTube, reportedly by Barios campaign staffers.
The comments were reported to the review board, which monitors Teamster activities under a 1989 federal court-ordered consent decree. O'Brien subsequently told the board he had used a "poor choice of words" and only meant to say Bairos' rivals would lose the election.
The review board didn't buy it, and in an Oct. 17 report to Hoffa recommended that O'Brien be sanctioned for threatening retaliation against union members.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a dissident group within the union, posted the review board's report on its website.
The possible penalties for O'Brien range from suspension to expulsion. The Boston Globe described him as a "Hoffa ally" though, and he will likely face only suspension.
"O’Brien has allied himself with a slate of Hoffa supporters against candidates backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union," the Globe reported.
A spokesman for Local 25 could not be reached.