Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana, a "gritty coal-mining town," in 1913 (Bujalski 1). His father died seven years later due to unknown causes. This unheralded loss left the family in an unstable financial dilemma. His widowed mother, Viola, provided the best she possibly could for Hoffa and his three siblings. She did house cleaner services for an upscale ritzy neighborhood.
His family was forced to move to Detroit, Mi, where he began working at Kroger's, a local grocery store (Bujalski 1). He worked day after day during the depression and developed an unappealing view of the world. This pessimistic view about life is apparent in how he describes life: "'Life is a jungle'" (qtd. in Bujalski 2). He learned how to manipulate and work around this so-called "jungle" to construct what became the most influential and famous union of his time: The Teamsters.
Hoffa got his start with the Teamsters union after being noticed for organizing a successful strike against Kroger's. The Teamsters asked him to join their union as an agent because of his skills with business organization. Through dedication and "outright thuggery," as Bujalski describes it, he quickly climbed the ladder of success until he secured the role of presidency. The Teamsters Union grew along with Hoffa, from a small local organization to one of the largest and strongest union in the nation (Bujalski 2). His undisputed power and controversial reputation brought much publicity to the Teamsters, even an unwanted sort. But Hoffa's reign was soon brought to an abrupt halt.