In other good news for the Teamsters, a court order will bring an end to 25 years of federal government supervision of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that stemmed from a civil racketeering lawsuit filed by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani in 1988. The order, issued by Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York and approving a deal agreed upon by the Union and the U.S. Department of Justice, will phase out the federal supervision over the next five years.

The racketeering lawsuit alleged union corruption and control by the Mafia. In 1999, the Union and the government entered into a consent decree, establishing an independent oversight panel and special rules of nomination and election of officers. A number of Teamsters officials were criminally indicted.

The court order, issued February 17, was welcomed by the Union, which has been fighting to end the special supervision for years. "This is a historic agreement that returns our great union to our 1.4 million Teamster members," said James P. Hoffa, General President of the Union. The settlement is complicated, but it retains some election rules designed to ensure fair opportunities for nomination and election of officers. It also allows the Justice Department to seek an injunction if the Union makes rule changes that the government believes would make the election process unfair and deprive members of reasonable opportunity to nominate candidates, hold office, vote for and otherwise support candidates of their choice.

Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a group historically associated with insurgent candidates for leadership positions against incumbent union leaders and their selected heirs, supported the settlement but sought some changes to it that ultimately were not included.