David Witwer, Penn State Laureate for the 2020-21 academic year, explores the history of Jimmy Hoffa, a powerful labor leader with ties to organized crime whose disappearance in 1975 made him the most prominent victim of a mob hit in American history. Witwer discusses Hoffa’s disappearance, including why it mattered at the time and why it continues to matter, the case's connection to the federal government’s war on organized crime, and the shifting fortunes of the American workers who had once been among Hoffa’s most avid supporters.
Witwer is a professor of American studies at Penn State Harrisburg. He previously worked for the New York County District Attorney’s Office and was an investigative analyst on assignment with the New York State Organized Crime Task Force looking into the mob’s role in the construction industry. He has written three books on labor racketeering: "Corruption and Reform in the Teamsters Union (2003)"; "Shadow of the Racketeer: Scandal in Organized Labor (2009)"; and "Murder in the Garment District: The Grip of Organized Crime and the Decline of Labor in the United States" (2020).