Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1934 Teamsters strike memorialized in Minneapolis

Mildred Johnson, wife of striker Chester Johnson, stands with new marker.
The first marker to commemorate the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike, one of the great watershed moments in the history of the American labor movement, was installed in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District (formerly known as the “Market District”) on Saturday.

Speaking on behalf of the Remember 1934 Committee, Local 320 member Bob Kolstad addressed the large crowd gathered outside the iconic 1913 Sherwin-Williams Paint Co. building for the plaque’s unveiling ceremony. It's the same site where striking Teamster Henry Ness was shot and killed by Minneapolis police for protesting the city’s anti-union policies.

Kolstad said:
This is an important day. We believe that the plaque we are unveiling here today is the first public monument to the labor movement in the city of Minneapolis. It was here on the 20th of July, 1934 that the Minneapolis Police Department ambushed members of Teamsters Local 574 and their supporters, shooting 67 of them mostly in the back. Two of them died. They were murdered.
Tom Keegel, IBT secretary-treasurer emeritus, addresses crowd.
Dozens of descendants of the 1934 assembled in front of the speaker’s platform to pay their respects, including speakers John Hanson (son of 1934 striker John Hanson), Cherrene Horazuk (granddaughter of 1934 striker Harry Horazuk) and Linda Leighton (granddaughter of strike leader Vincent Dunne).

Horazuk, who currently serves as president of AFSCME Local 3800 in Minneapolis, said the labor movement should not rely on the good will of politicians or favorable court rulings to succeed.
We know that being in a union gives us a voice, more power and better wages. We know that when the working class stands up and fights back, we will win.
The ceremony also included remarks from former General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel, who later joined granddaughter Haylee Hilton, a staffer at Local 120, for an interview on a local television show where they discussed the strike and the significance of the new marker commemorating the events that made Minneapolis a union town.

Thanks to Workday Minnesota for the photos!