Powerful Boston Teamster Boss Faces Suspension For Threatening To 'Punish' Members

In the mid 1980s, the President’s Commission on Organized Crime issued a report stating that the four major labor unions were under the influence of organized crime and run undemocratically at the detriment of their members. At the top of the list was the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.


In 1989, in order to settle a RICO suit by the U.S. Justice Department, the Teamsters’ International Executive Board entered into a consent decree, agreeing to federal oversight. This Justice Department’s oversight continues to this day–principally through an Independent Review Board.

While Teamsters’ bosses (and their political allies) have wanted to get rid of the government’s oversight, the Independent Review Board continues to investigate union bosses, like current Local 25 President Sean O’Brien, who (allegedly) violate their members’ rights, as is the case in the New England.

According to the Teamsters’ Independent Review Board, Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25, has unlawfully threatened to punish members of a Rhode Island local if they did not vote for his chosen candidate.

“I’ve got news for you, anyone who takes on my friend, Joe Bairos, and his team, or Local 251, they’ve got major problems,” O’Brien said, according to transcripts of the union hall rally in Rhode Island during late summer. “They’ll never be our friends. They need to be punished. They need to be punished and they need to be held accountable for their actions, trying to divide and tear down this local.” [Emphasis added.]

  • View the complete report [in PDF] here.

  • View the entire footage of O’Brien’s threatening remarks here.

Although Sean O’Brien, at age 34, was the youngest Teamster boss elected to head the powerful Boston local, he is not the first Boston Teamster Boss who has been in hot water.

One of his predecessors, George Cashman, pled guilty to extortion in 2003.

Cashman, president of Local 25, pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy in two separate schemes — one in which he and others were accused of extorting $100,000 from a health care company and another in which timesheets were falsified to allow 19 truck drivers to illegally collect more than $72,000 in health care benefits.

More recently, actor Mark Wahlberg had teamed with the A&E network to do a reality TV show about Local 25.

Set in the real-life world that provided such color to films as The Fighter and The Departed, “Teamsters” will give viewers a first hand glimpse of the most legendary union in the most aggressive and territorial city in America: Boston. Here, the Teamsters Local 25 battle for the rights of their 11,000 members.


Since the IRB’s report was issued last week, there is no word yet whether A&E still plans to air the show.


“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

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