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May 24, 2017

On This Day in 1995:

Some 2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract. They had been fighting demands for 12-hour shifts and wage increases tied to productivity gains.

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Labor Headlines

US labour news headlines from LabourStart

The Birth of the Teamsters

   For over 100 years, the Teamsters Union has helped millions of workers achieve the American Dream.
   Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters began as a craft union, representing the men who drove the horse-drawn wagons essential to American commerce. These team drivers contributed greatly to the American economy. They worked under poor conditions, toiling 12 to 18 hours per day, seven days a week, for an average wage of $2.00 per day. From these conditions arose the desire for a better life, and the vehicle for achieving this American Dream was to form a powerful union.
   Today the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is one of the largest unions in the world – and most diverse – representing more than 1.4
million hardworking men and women in the United States and Canada.

An Impressive History
   The history of the Teamsters is a record of accomplishment and a model of success for the American labor movement. Under the leadership of its second President, Daniel Tobin (1907-1952), the Teamsters set on a path toward organizing workers and a goal of raising living standards.
   The Teamsters enjoyed years of union-friendly administrations, most notably during Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency. FDR helped workers through initiatives that pulled the nation out of the Great Depression and that put Americans back to work. Despite setbacks -- such as the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which served to restrict and limit labor's influence -- the Teamsters have achieved, and continue to achieve, major victories for labor.

   Under President James R. Hoffa's leadership, membership reached 1.5 million strong in 1957. And in 1964 he was successful in negotiating the first National Master Freight Agreement, a watershed event for the labor movement. The National Master Freight Agreement moved more workers into the middle class than any other event in labor history. The agreement covered 400,000 Teamsters employed by some 16,000 trucking companies and spawned similar bargaining agreements in other Teamster trades and crafts.
   Despite trying times during the Reagan era of anti-union policies, the union developed a stronger, more democratic vision in the late 1990s under the leadership of General President James P. Hoffa. At the 2001 Teamsters convention, a historic amendment enshrined the concept of "one member, one vote" as a permanent component of the union's constitution. "One member, one vote" protected the members' voice in the union and created a truly democratic system for the direct election of International officers.
   In 2005, the Teamsters made a historic break from the AFL-CIO to join six affiliated unions with six million members in the Change to Win federation.

Today
  
Employing more than 200,000 Teamster members, United Parcel Service is the union's largest single employer. The best-known Teamsters work in the freight industry; more than 120,000 Teamsters work for multiple employers under the National Master Freight Agreement. Hundreds of thousands more work in occupations from airlines to zoo-keeping, in one of five Teamster divisions: Freight, Industrial Trades, Parcel, Public Employees and Warehouse. The Public Employees sector is the union's fastest-growing division. The largest concentration of Teamsters members are in the Eastern and Central states.

A Bright Future 
   Membership is growing. The Teamsters Union has refocused its energy on organizing more workers. By enlisting every Teamster member into its Army of Organizers, the union is spreading the word on the rewards of union membership - better pay, better benefits and respect in the work place. Our members know that they are the power behind the union. They stand together on the job, at the ballot box and in their communities to make a better tomorrow.

Learn more


The 1934 Minneapolis Strike
May 16, 2012

   In May 1934, Teamsters Local 574 in Minneapolis, Minnesota set out on a campaign to organize all the transportation workers in the city. When employers refused to recognize the union, Local 574 struck the city’s trucking operations.
   Some 35,000 building trades workers showed their solidarity by also striking. Although the strike was settled on May 25, employers delayed honoring their commitments, prompting a resumption of the strike on July 16.
   On July 20 – or “Bloody Friday” as it came to be known – police opened fire on the strikers, killing two and wounding 55. The governor declared martial law, and the National Guard occupied the Minneapolis local, arresting some 100 officers and members.
   Because of the ties that had developed between the citizens and the Teamsters, a mass march of 40,000 forced the release of the Teamsters and the strike was won.
   "The impact of it was that the employers were not going to be the masters of the workplace," said Teamster Jack Maloney, a veteran of the strike. "That was really what it was all about."
  
What happened in Minneapolis during the spring and summer of 1934 transformed the city and played a decisive role in the history of organized labor in the U.S. 
   The struggle was a turning point for working people: It helped to establish the right to form a union. Congress passed the NLRA in 1935 which marked the start of a new era of fairness and prosperity in American workplaces.
   The strike was also a successful turning point for the Teamsters: from a craft union to a national union as over-the-road drivers continued to organize across the Midwest and the nation.
   The following videos - produced by the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota - tell the story of the violent strike that led to the enactment of legislation acknowledging the rights of workers to organize and bargain: the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.




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