Posted: July 8, 2015
“No trucks shall be moved! By nobody!” was the rallying cry of Minneapolis Teamsters Local 574 as they struck in the summer of 1934. Their demands were clear: a fair wage, union recognition, and the trucking firms’ recognition of inside workers as part of the union. Despite the violent reaction of the authorities, the 574 won on all these points.
In the early 1930s, an employer advocacy group called the Citizens Alliance (CA) ensured that Minneapolis remained a non-union town. President Roosevelt’s New Deal program gave workers the right to collectively bargain, and Farmer–Labor Party governor Floyd Olson sympathized with unions. Olson’s support, however, proved tepid at best, and the bosses felt the New Deal did not mandate unions. Additionally, large labor groups were more interested in maintaining the status quo than in improving working conditions.
Instead, the Local 574 conducted a grass-roots campaign that won the hearts of the rank and file. The organizers were workers themselves, and relied on strong personal connections to develop their plans. Many of those leaders, V.R. Dunne and Carl Skoglund in particular, also belonged to the Trotskyist Communist League, which taught them how to strategize a radical strike. Smart planning, strong leadership, and member loyalty would carry the day.