Jimmy Hoffa Part 1 – Tough Guys

Big Labor history from Robert F. Kennedy’s The Enemy Within: The McClellan Committee’s Crusade Against Jimmy Hoffa And Corrupt Labor Unions:

As I was going out the door, Hoffa said: “Tell your wife I’m not as bad as everyone thinks I am.” I laughed. Jimmy Hoffa had a sense of humor. He must have laughed himself as he said it. In view of all I already knew, I felt that he was worse than anybody said he was.

In the next two and a half years, nothing happened to change my opinion. On my way home I thought of how often Hoffa had said he was tough; that he destroyed employers, hated policemen and broke those who stood in his way.

It had always been my feeling that if a person was truly tough; if he actually had strength and power; if he really had the ability to excel, he need not brag and boast of it to prove it.

When a grown man sat for an evening and talked continuously about his toughness, I could only conclude that he was a bully hiding behind a facade. I thought: Jimmy Hoffa has been reading his press clippings. And he is afraid I have missed them.

Later, during a hearing, I told him frankly that I did not think he was tough enough to rid his union of the gangsters and hoodlums he had put in power. The statement visibly upset him; his body tensed in the chair, his face contorted, and several days afterward, when he was again on the witness stand, he went out of his way to give a detailed answer.

It is important to Jimmy Hoffa that he appear the tough guy to the world. But the truth is that the tough ones are not the Jimmy Hoffas, with three hundred lawyers, and hired lieutenants riding in Cadillacs, armed with guns and clubs.

The really tough ones are the men in Hoffa’s union who have the guts to stand up to him and his hired hands. The really strong ones are the men who get knocked down again and again by Hoffa and who always get up to fight back. The really tough ones are the men Jimmy Hoffa cannot buy and cannot cajole and cannot threaten.

The really tough ones are the Floyd Hooks, the Jim Lukens, the Barney Matuals, the Amos Renikers-men whose opposition to Hoffa we will discuss in detail later on.