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The Teamsters in 1909: The Assault

Posted: April 11, 2015

broken eyeglassesIn January 1909, Tobin went traveled to New York City in attempt to merge two independent Teamsters locals. While speaking to the 200-plus members in attendance, Tobin sensed hostility in the audience. Tobin tried to speak but it was a fruitless endeavor; the crowds’ loud rants and heckles had drowned out the young president’s passionate speech for unification. The chairman of the meeting could not control the room, which soon escalated into rowdiness.

As the situation worsened, the crowd grew violent and Tobin was struck in the back of the head with what he would later describe as either “a piece of iron pipe or the butt end of a revolver.” He fell to the ground as three men stormed the stage and began kicking him in the face and head, worsening the original blow from behind and rendering Tobin unconsciousness

When he regained consciousness, he found himself on the floor of the deserted meeting hall, bloody, with glasses broken. He had been rescued by Ed Gould, a member of the independent union and the one who, driven by his disgust of former Teamster President Shea, had led the secession from the International in the first place. Gould helped lift Tobin from the floor and guided him down two flights of stairs.

— Read the complete source story.