To remove criminal elements in the Teamsters Union in 1989, the Department of Justice, under then US Attorney Rudy Giuliani, takes “temporary” control of the International Teamsters Union, but it extends for more than three decades trampling free speech and due process for 1.4 million union members. 

Betrayal is a great film, captivating and chilling at the same time. Filmmaker George Bogdanich gives us a riveting story with an admirable hero in lifelong Teamster Bill Hogan and all manner of villains, most of them operating wildly under governmental sanction.

Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune columnist, WGN radio host
Synopsis: 

Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters Union documents the human cost of the government takeover of the Teamsters union. In a highly controversial move, the Justice Department used the RICO statute to take over the entire International Brotherhood of Teamsters, denying free speech and due process for 1.4 million union members over a 30-year period. Rather than prosecute wrongdoers, then US Attorney Rudy Giuliani invoked a legal short cut to seize control of the union through a government appointed watchdog with sweeping power to bar for life any union member whether that individual had even been accused of a crime. Criminal elements were quickly removed, but the government watchdog continued an abusive regime, barring for life respected union leaders who dared to criticize the continuing government takeover, which was supposed to last three years.

The story is told through interviews with union officials who were barred for life on baseless charges and prohibited from speaking to lifelong friends who remained in the Teamsters Union. The film highlights what appears to be a vendetta against respected Chicago Teamster leader Bill Hogan who led the effort to end the government takeover and found himself barred for life and then facing a jail sentence for speaking to former friends in the Teamsters union. Union members and former Justice Department officials speak about how the agency damaged lives and set a dangerous precedent for government overreach. 

Reviews

"Never until this film did I see such a lack of due process and restriction on freedom of speech as portrayed here. Government oversight at the very high price shown in this film needs investigation and an answer from the government."

Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate prosecutor, MSNBC legal analyst

"This film opened my eyes to a history of government intervention that has been and still is anti-labor, anti-democratic, clearly illegal and unconstitutional. Hiding behind the rhetoric of crime-fighting, the government established an unaccountable inquisition-like board to control the union. Thanks to George Bogdanich for telling this story."

Ruth Needleman, Professor Emerita, Labor Studies, Indiana University

"Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters” documents a powerful story that needs to be told about a continuing injustice that is little known to the general public."

Gordon Quinn, Co-founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films

"Extraordinary story, superb film"

Jonathan Rooper, former BBC producer

"With an abundance of research and testimony [director] Bogdanich presents a compelling case that the tragedy resulted from the Justice Department’s misguided effort to rid the Teamsters of  illegal influence."

Dan Patton, Reel Chicago Magazine
Director's Commentary: 

Having covered both labor struggles and wrongful justice as a reporter, I was shocked to learn how good intentions became the road to hell when the government takeover of an entire international union.  I learned that after the criminal elements were removed within the first three years, dedicated union leaders were being barred for life simply for speaking to former members who had been removed or for speaking out against the continued control of a government watchdog that acted arbitrarily and unjustly.  It was an important story that received very little attention from news organizations and needed to be told.