Police and Strikers in Tear Gas Cloud

The Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934, also known as the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike, was a pivotal event in both local and national labor history. Minneapolis at the time was largely a non-union city. Unions were gaining strength and numbers across the nation, but not in Minneapolis. Local business leaders had been successful in keeping unionsContinue reading “Police and Strikers in Tear Gas Cloud”

The Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934, also known as the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike, was a pivotal event in both local and national labor history. Minneapolis at the time was largely a non-union city. Unions were gaining strength and numbers across the nation, but not in Minneapolis. Local business leaders had been successful in keeping unions at bay by uniting under the Citizens’ Alliance, an organization committed to an “open shop” that would not require union membership as a condition of employment.

By May of 1934, General Drivers Local 574 of the international Brotherhood of Teamsters had organized members of the trucking industry into a union with 3000 members. Employers refused to recognize the union and Local 574 called a strike. Violent clashes occurred between strikers and police in the Market District. Special deputies were enlisted and on May 22, in a conflict known as the “Battle of Deputies Run,” two deputies were killed. Governor Floyd B. Olson secured a truce, and an agreement between employers and Local 574 was signed on May 31.

By mid-June, Local 574 complained that employers were not abiding by the May 31 agreement, and on June 16 the workers agreed to another strike. Employers used police escorts to move a truck convoy under the guise of delivering hospital supplies. On July 20, a day known as “Bloody Friday,” police opened fire on strikers, wounding 67 and killing two. Governor Olson declared martial law and called in the National Guard to keep peace in the city. In early August the National Guard raided the headquarters of Local 574 and arrested several Union leaders. The Guard later raided the headquarters of the Citizens’ Alliance, confiscating evidence of plans to obstruct mediation. A settlement was finally reached on August 22, 1934, one month after the second strike began. The agreement secured for the Union a minimum wage, Union recognition, and the right of the Union to represent all of its members. This victory for General Drivers Local 574 helped to create an environment for union support in Minneapolis, and paved the way for legislation such as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, also known as the Wagner Act.

The Organizer, the daily strike bulletin of General Drivers Local 574, was the first daily newsletter of its kind. The Minnesota Digital Library has the entire collection of The Organizer, published from June 25 through October 17, 1934.

This image was created in 1934.
Minneapolis Newspaper Photograph Collection.

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