Searching for Industry's Legendary Leader

by Jana Ritter - Published: 6/21/2013

For the fourth time since his disappearance in 1975, FBI agents have dug up a site in search of famed union leader, Jimmy Hoffa's remains. And so far, they have yet again, come away with nothing. Investing this kind of time and money on what continues to be become a wild goose chase, doesn't happen for just anyone unless you're a legend like Jimmy Hoffa.


While Hoffa made a name for himself over the course of his 40-year career as a union boss and becoming the well-known leader of the Teamsters Union in1957, Hoffa's legendary status has as much to do with the way he died as the way he lived. On July 30, 1975, Hoffa made plans to meet with some acquaintances at a restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The meeting never happened, and Hoffa was simply never heard from again. For the most part he has been assumed dead, but his mysterious disappearance has plagued authorities for decades.

From his very first job on a loading dock, Jimmy Hoffa began his lifelong dedication to fighting for the rights of the working class. In the 1930s Hoffa joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union organizing truck drivers and warehousemen. He became president of the Detroit chapter, and then the entire Michigan chapter, which caught the attention of the Teamsters' national leaders. Soon Jimmy Hoffa was vice president of the entire Teamsters Union and became the president in 1957. His success was due to his ambition, determination and ability to get things done. He organized union workers to hold strikes and boycotts that were significant enough to demand better contracts with the companies they worked for. Basically, Hoffa made companies realize that the unions were a force to be reckoned with.

But Hoffa also had a dark side, most notably his long held ties to the Italian mob and participation in organized crime. This had him under the government's careful watch and he was eventually convicted of misuse of union pension funds. Despite receiving a prison sentence of 13 years, Hoffa got out just four years later in 1971 after President Nixon commuted his sentence to time served. Part of the deal was that Hoffa was banned from Union activity until 1980, a provision that he promptly ignored. Hoffa did all he could to regain his power in the Teamsters union from behind the scenes, but didn't make much progress before that fateful day in 1975.

While we may never know exactly who killed Jimmy Hoffa or what happened to his body, his relationship with the mafia made Hoffa several enemies and it was likely one of them who had him killed. But the fiercely secretive and protective nature of the mafia has made it difficult for authorities to find any real suspects. While people have come forward claiming to know where Hoffa is buried and leading the FBI to dig up various locations around Metro Detroit, all searches have been fruitless. Most recently, a former mob boss came forward saying that Hoffa was buried in a field formerly owned by another Detroit mobster. But on Wednesday, FBI again left a dig site with nothing.

Wherever Hoffa is now, it's what he did back then that has been ensuring working-class people receive livable wages ever since.