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Truckers' Strike of 1934   Tags: 1930s, labor, minneapolis  

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Truck drivers' strike, Minneapolis, 1934

This strike, also known as the Minneapolis Teamsters' Strike and, alternately, sometimes called "a police riot," was one of the most violent in the state's history, and a major battle in Minnesota's "civil war" of the 1930s between business and labor. A non-union city, Minneapolis business leaders had successfully kept unions at bay through an organization called the Citizens Alliance, but by 1934, unions were gaining strength as advocates of workers for improved wages and better working conditions. By early May 1934, one of the worst years of the Great Depression, General Drivers Local 574 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) had organized 3,000 transportation workers of the trucking industry into an industrial union. When employers refused to recognize the union, or its right to speak for all of its members, union leaders called a strike. Trucking operations in the city came to a halt.

When police and the National Guard were called in to guard trucks, and the Citizens Alliance activated the local militia, strike leaders countered with "flying squads" of pickets. To inform the public of the strike's aims, and to keep workers informed of developments, strike leaders published a daily newspaper. Conflict escalated daily throughout May and reached a peak late in the month, at the city market, where strikers clashed with police, who were trying to open it for farm produce to be brought in. The police force was increased for the battle. Many women strike supporters joined the strikers and were severely beaten. Hundreds of strikers were arrested. In support of the truckers, 35,000 building trades workers went on strike. The battle raged on violently for two days. The strike ended on May 25, 1934 when the union was recognized and their demands settled. 200 were injured and 4 people died during the conflict. The Truckers' Strike marked a turning point in state and national labor history and legislation. The strike opened the way for enactment of laws acknowledging and protecting workers' rights.


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