Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters Union

Misguided Justice Dept takeover of Teamsters Union tramples free speech and due process
Year Released
Film Length(s)
56 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Instead of building cases and prosecuting criminal elements in the Teamsters Union in 1989, the Department of Justice, under then US Attorney Rudy Giuliani, takes “temporary” control of the entire International Teamsters Union, but was extended for more than three decades trampling free speech and due process for 1.4 million union members.

Featured review

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


Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters Union documents the human cost of the government takeover of the Teamsters union.The film follows highly regarded Teamster leader Bill Hogan Jr. who fought against government control and found himself targeted by a government appointed watchdog with sweeping power to remove members for life even if they were never accused of a crime. Hogan finds himself barred for life on baseless charges from the union he helped build for criticizing government control which was supposed to last three years, but has lasted three decades. Thereafter, the government appointed watchdog known as the Independent Review Board or IRB barred for life four friends of Hogan who remained in the union for simply speaking to him. The government even charged Hogan with contempt of court for speaking to his lifelong friends which could have resulted in a jail sentence. After a long and expensive legal battle while his wife Ginni was dying of cancer, the case was settled with no admission of guilt. Yet Hogan is still banned from speaking to any Teamster other than his two sons.

The story is told through interviews with union members and former Justice Department officials who explain how the agency damaged lives and set a dangerous precedent for government overreach. Hogan and others point out that the Justice Department betrayed it's own promise that the membership would have the right to vote on a consent decree that gave the government it's power to control the union. Viewers also learn how the government watchdog which was supposed to rid the union of criminal elements, gave support to supposed "reform" candidate Ron Carey for International Union President who turned out to a former associate of the Lucchese crime family.. "Betrayal" is a powerful account of how government control greatly weakened the union, subverted internal democracy and led to the loss of three hundred thousand members.


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

Awards and Screenings

London Gold Movie Awards - Semifinalist Documentary Category, 2020
Los Angeles Independent Feature Awards - Semifinalist Feature Documentary Category, 2020
Doc Without Borders Festival , 2020
Miami Independent Film Festival , 2019
Workers Unite Film Festival, 2020

Director Commentary

I worked in a steel mill and was active in union politics before become a reporter. Having covered both labor struggles and wrongful justice as a journalist, 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 I felt it was a story that needed to be told.

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  • Closed Captioning

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