The Teamsters in 1908: Growing Strong

Posted: April 11, 2015
Source: Teamster.org

Dan TobinOne of Daniel Tobin’s first acts as General President was appointing John M. Gillespie as the first International General Organizer.  Gillespie finished out his term as a Business Agent for Local 25 and began his service on behalf of the International Union in 1908.  Working out of Local 25 headquarters at 165 Causeway Street in South Boston, Gillespie covered the New England and the New York regions, though he often traveled further to help with labor-management and jurisdictional disputes. Tobin and Gillespie had weathered many struggles together, including a strike against Standard Oil in 1905; and he placed complete faith in his friend to fulfill his responsibility and do what was best for the union and its members.

Organizing workers and growing the union would be Tobin’s primary objective during his first year as General President. In later years, he would attribute the strength of the IBT to friends like John Gillespie. Another key ally in Tobin’s administration was Chicago labor leader, a bright 33-year-old by the name of Thomas L. Hughes. A founding member of Local 705, Hughes rose through the ranks and, in 1906, was elected General Secretary-Treasurer of the IBT, ushering in a new chapter for the IBT. Following the Tobin’s election, the two men quickly became a Teamster “dream team,” forming a partnership that would last decades, each bringing their unique talents and vision to create the foundation needed for the Teamsters to become the country’s strongest union.

With Tobin and Hughes at the helm, the Teamsters began to expand dramatically and mature organizationally, becoming a premier advocate for the working class. Both men saw the need to communicate with a growing membership. Tobin took the lead on revamping the union magazine, writing and editing the publication under a new title: International Teamster.

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