The Teamsters Rocky Road to Recovery - The Demise of Project Rise

Ryan Patrick Alford

University of Victoria Faculty of Law; Ave Maria School of Law

James Jacobs

New York University School of Law

Trends in Organized Crime, Vol. 9, No. 5, 2005
NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-22

The 1998 government-initiated civil-RICO suit and court-enforced agreement to purge the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) of organized crime's presence and influence will stand as an important chapter in America's labor history as well as law enforcement history. The remedial phase, now in its sixteenth year, is one of the most ambitious insitutional law reform efforts, since it involves the nation's largest private sector union and its most powerful organized crime syndicate. So far, the suit has transformed the IBT's system for electing international union officers, led to the suspension or expulsion of approximately 500 IBT officers, and produced several dozen IBT international union trusteeships over organized-crime influenced locals. It also spawned Project RISE, an IBT-initiated anti-racketeering program meant to persuade the U.S. Department of Justice that union is ready, willing, and able to police itself, thereby rendering unnecessarythe continued monitoring by means of the Independent Review Board (IRB) established by the settlement of the 1988 RICO suit.

This article seeks to make Project RISE's brief but extraordinary history available to scholars and policymakers concerned with labor racketeering, organized crime control, and the IBT itself. It also seeks to shed light on whether Project RISE should be seen as a model for for future organizational reform initiatives, or on the contrary, as proof that racketeer-ridden unions and other organizations cannot be expected or trusted to reform themselves. Part I reviews the history of the civil RICO litigation that eventually led to Project RISE. Part II describes the organization and operation of Project RISE. Part III chronicles and explains the demise of Project RISE. Part IV identifies Project RISE's accomplishments and failures.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: racketeering, mafia, unions, teamsters, organized crime, organized crime control, consent decrees, labor history, labor reform, RICO, Project RISE

JEL Classification: J51, J54, K19, K31, K41, K42

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: September 17, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Alford, Ryan Patrick and Jacobs, James, The Teamsters Rocky Road to Recovery - The Demise of Project Rise. Trends in Organized Crime, Vol. 9, No. 5, 2005; NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-22. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=918811

Contact Information

Ryan Patrick Alford (Contact Author)
University of Victoria Faculty of Law ( email )
PO Box 2300, STN CSC
McGill at Ring Rds (Fraser Bldg)
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3B1

Ave Maria School of Law ( email )
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119
United States
James B. Jacobs
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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