Friday, May 16, 2014

Celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike

Exactly 80 years ago today, Teamster truckers from Local 574 in Minneapolis began a historic strike that broke the power of the city's powerful union-busting alliance. The long, bitter, often violent strike allowed thousands of workers in Minneapolis to organize for better pay and working conditions. It also changed the course of labor relations in the United States.

In the spring on 1934,  Teamsters Local 574 in Minneapolis, Minn., set out to organize all the transportation workers in the city. When employers refused to recognize the union, Local 574 struck the city’s trucking operations. They were joined by 35,000 building trades workers. The strike was settled on May 25, but employers didn't honor their commitments. The strike resumed on June 26.

On July 20 – or “Bloody Friday” – police fired on the strikers. Two were killed and 55 wounded. The governor declared martial law, and the National Guard took over the local's office, arresting 100 officers and members.

A mass march of 40,000 Minneapolis citizens forced them to release the Teamsters. The strike was won.

The struggle helped to establish the right to form a union. Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 , beginning an era of fairness and prosperity in American workplaces.

The strike was also a turning point for the Teamsters: from a craft union to a national union as over-the-road drivers continued to organize across the Midwest and the nation.

The following videos above and below tell the story of the violent strike that led to the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.