“A Battle for Free Speech” is a one hour documentary that explores the human and political consequences of a controversial decision by former US Attorney Rudy Giuliani to take control of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union on a “temporary” basis to remove mob influence.
The mobsters were gone within three years, but 25 years later, an embedded watchdog of the Justice Department, known as the independent Review Board (IRB) continues to control the international union, trampling on due process and free speech of 1.4 million members while being paid $6 to $8 million out of the union’s treasury. Members who never been accused of a crime, have been expelled for life on baseless charges or for exercising their right of free speech.
Former Chicago Teamster leader Bill Hogan won wide respect by negotiating agreements that brought film productions and trade shows to Chicago. But when Hogan publicly criticized the government takeover of the Teamsters union, he became a target of the Independent Review Board. Though Hogan was never accused of a crime, he was expelled from the union on trumped up charges. Thereafter, the government subpoenaed his phone records and four of his friends, who remained Teamster officials, were also expelled for life -- simply for speaking to Hogan.
As further punishment, Hogan was charged with criminal contempt for speaking to his best friend and faced a six month jail sentence. Offered a plea deal, Hogan chose to fight an expensive legal battle that won him the support of labor and business leaders, elected officials, civil libertarians, members of the film community like actor James Belushi and former Chicago Bears Hall of Fame football player Richard Dent. The charges against Hogan were eventually dropped, but he and scores of other elected Teamster officials who were never accused of a crime have been expelled for life, prohibited from speaking to lifelong friends.
For 1.4 million members of the International Brotherhood of Teamster who still face arbitrary justice and denial of constitutional rights we take for granted, the battle goes on.