BRAZIL, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — James P. Hoffa, son of James R. “Jimmy” Hoffa was excited about the new Indiana state historical marker that was unveiled in Brazil Tuesday commemorating his father.
“And it’s so important that we come back here, to get everybody together and finally get a marker, so people know, Jimmy Hoffa was born here,” James P. Hoffa said.
Valentine’s Day, 1913, Jimmy Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana.
Karen Jones, Historian of the Teamsters Union said, “A lot of people don’t know, the Teamsters were formed in 1903. But a lot of the public thinks it only started with Jimmy Hoffa. That’s how big he is.”
Hoffa’s family struggled with poverty, inspiring him to become a labor leader during the Great Depression. Hoffa became active in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in the 1930’s. He served as General President of the Teamsters from 1957-1971. In 1964, he got a national trucking agreement, raising wages for over 400,000 workers.
“The name Hoffa goes hand-in-hand with the Teamsters Union, Jarrod Skelton, Member of the Teamsters Union said. “You can’t say Teamster without recognizing the work that James R. Hoffa and the Hoffa family has done and dedicated to our great union.”
Hoffa opposed discrimination, supported efforts to reduce poverty and organized a political action committee for Teamster families to lobby for labor issues. That work, now commemorated by a historical marker.
“So many benefits we have today are because of the work that he did in the Union,” Jimmy’s son, James P. Hoffa said. “Getting the standard 8-hour day that we have. We take that for granted. We take overtime for granted. We take all the things that we have today, you know, the paid vacations. That didn’t exist before he came along.”
The community showed up as the new marker was unveiled. The community heard from Jimmy’s son, and several individuals who helped bring the marker to town. Following the unveiling, several people visited the Clay County Historical Society for punch and cookies, to visit and view the memorabilia of Jimmy Hoffa.
“I think the community is kind of impressed that the Hoffa’s have not forgotten their roots in Clay County,” Dave Crooks, President of DLC Media said. “Not only had Jimmy been back several times when he was alive, but his son James is here and now the grandsons are back.”
While Hoffa made great progress, he was the subject of many investigations and was convicted of jury tampering in 1964.
“I think when you look at the full history of James R. ‘Jimmy’ Hoffa, I think you’re going to see that a lot of people approved of what he did do, versus some of the mistakes that he obviously did make,” Crooks said.
Hoffa disappeared in 1975. And while the case remains unsolved, his legacy lives on.
“They’re not going to give it to you. You got to take it,” James P. Hoffa said. “And that’s what Jimmy Hoffa stood for. Taking it! The answer is we want justice, we want economic justice, and that’s what he did.”
The marker is located on the northeast corner of National Avenue and State Road 59. In Brazil.