Impacts of Minneapolis
An overview of the strike
The Minneapolis teamsters’ strike is also known as a police riot. It was the largest and most important but a violent movement union in the history of state labor (Palmer 1). As a major of fact, it was one of the riots in the history of national labor that took place between businesses and labor.
Being a non-city at the moment, Minneapolis has its business administration that was very efficient in ensuring unions are not created. This was realized via organization popularly known as Citizens Alliance. Even so, by 1934, unions started earning popularity and gaining strengths. There were also increasing advocates for an ideal working environment and increased wages.
By May 1934, at the time of the great depression, an industrial union was organized with about 3000 employees. Even so, employers did not acknowledge the union with its conditions. This was the time when union leaders called for a strike that brought about the trucking activities in the city to a halt.
The National Guard and the police were called in to assist in guarding the trucks. Even so the strike leaders responded by using the picket of the flying squad. As a matter of fact, the leaders printed a daily newspaper revealing the purpose of the strike to the general public.
During the month of May, the strike intensified and it led to the arrests of many strikers that involved 35,000 trade employees. Later on in 1934, the strike came to an end via mediation. This followed the acknowledgement of the union and its demands. However, the strike had a significant impact in the USA.
Factors that Contribute to the Development of the Strike
One of the main effects of the industrial movement was the creation of unions by industrial employees. There were many industrial activities that focused on maintaining and growing such organizations. The organizations were also created as a way of addressing the needs of the staff.
The activities included pushing for better working conditions for all employees. The organizations were also created to help address the concerns of staff such as ideal working conditions and better way besides reduction of work hours within the US industries. Some labor organizations were created to help put an end to poor practices by employers. This included child labor among other related activities.
The American Federal labor was one of the largest labor unions at the time that aimed at addressing the issues raised by industrial workers. The AFL was to establish and monitor activities of labor unions in the US (Eidlin 250). Additionally, there are other unions including the Knight of Labor (KOL) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
Despite the nature and name of the unions, it is imperative to note that the labor organizations had two major principles. The first ideology focused at limiting the organizations of skilled laborers smaller groups by the union. In this regard, the employees were divided by craft or trade. This was carried out with a lot of care and adherence to set rules of ensuring purity in the organization.
The second ideology was popularly known as voluntarism and it privileged economic action of the political action (Eidlin 251). This kind of ideology was correct supremely for the US conditions. This was also as a result of labor army that could have only stayed up on the US economic front. Even so, this doesn’t mean that the leadership of the time including AFL shunning politics completely.
It simply means political activities were subordinate but separate from financial actions. The activities included bargaining collectively and having a narrow scope that eschew a broader effort for social change. The most significant feature of voluntarism was that it obeyed the fact that for employees to realize their set goals, they were to voluntarily depend on the created organizations.
Such a principle also focused on freeing workers from state interference. The two aforementioned principles also created the basis of unionism of the day in the US. Labor unions additionally, grew in popularity across the US and as a result, its members kept increasing. Between 1933 and 1941 for instance, the number of union members dramatically increased from 75, 206 members to 544, 247 (Eidlin 251).
The increase forced the union to change from being a decentralized craft union to a large industrial transportation body that was coordinated centrally. The organizations also managed to realize many of their objectives because employers would address the demands of employees in solidarity to help prevent unnecessary strikes.
Employers in the meantime began to join hands with a purpose of resisting and repelling unionization idea in the United States of America (Quam & Peter 105). As a result, the power of the two parties was also a reverse relation. Incase staff members were more coordinated than employees, they would be more powerful that the organization groups. Therefore, their decisions would stand. In the event where organizations by workers were organized well, their demands would also be given priority.
Even so, there were many cases where both sides were organized well and as a result, dramatic results occurred because of the movements. By early 20th century, the union’s opposition had increased tremendously. The staff and their organizations also became well organized by 1917. There was a countrywide open shop drive that took place between 1902 and 1917 (Quam & Peter 105).
The movement also threatened staff from creating or joining any kind of labor union. After the First World War, the plan of the US was initiated. This focused on driving out existing labor organizations and to prevent any further efforts of doing the same.
One the employer’s local organization was the Minneapolis Citizens’ Alliance (CA). It was relatively hard to ensure union recognition of employees in Minneapolis. This was a group of workers that managed to achieve an enhanced notoriety in the US. The organization was additionally the main acting force in labor disputes that occurred within the city.
The Citizens Alliance comprised of council of famous local property owners and different right-wing features that were active in local politics. The alliance also took a strong anti-union form. It was not reluctant in many cases especially when it comes to using force to break up the strikes. As a result, it managed to transform Minneapolis to a nonunion city.
In 1934, labor organizations gained strength and the General Drivers Local 574, managed to get a break in the end. This was a part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). There were 574 locals managing the transportation of 3000 staff members from the trucking industry and created an industrial union. Employers even so, refused to recognize the union. Additionally, the employers did not acknowledge the rights of the union especially to speak on behalf of its members.
The union therefore organized for a strike thus, stopping all trucking operations.
The Consequences of the Strike
The police riot was one of the most violent events. It took the Citizens Alliance by surprise with demands for acknowledgment of their union by their staff. One of the most immediate impacts was crippling all trucking operations in the region. Therefore, to ensure justice in the city, The National Guards and the police were called in to help guard the trucks. Citizens Alliance also had to move swiftly to alert local military.
Even so, leaders of the riot managed to counter them by using flying squad pickets. They also had support from more than 35,000 construction trade employees who also participated in the strike in support of the truckers (Palmer 3). In short, the Minneapolis strike had many effects that ended up inflicting a lot of pain to employees. Workers however were not in a position to achieve their objectives but the strike managed to achieve.
To start with, the strike led to death of four people and injured 200 others. This was based on the fact that the strike was violent. Many workers also ware participating in the strike and some were severely beaten while being arrested, thus causing more harm to the workers who were already stressed.
Despite the pain and misery that the workers on strike went through, they managed to successfully realize most of their objectives. The employers had to address their demands. This finalized acknowledgement of labor unions and enhancing the working conditions of workers and reducing working hours among others.
Many workers were also in a position to get huge salary increase because of arbitration. The strike as a matter of fact played a very significant role in transforming the city that was a union free and under the Citizens Alliance control to a city where workers aired their concerns via unions. This further changed to be a city full of hope to the people who are willing and ready to toil.
The strike also marked the Minneapolis state turning point and that of the labor history and the legislation. It acted as an eye opener via which, laws were implemented (Palmer 5). The laws were also designed to acknowledge and protect workers’ rights. Picketing in this regard was banned completely leading to a scab driven trucks getting back to work once more.
In terms of the legislation, marital laws were immediately declared in the city. This was a move pioneered by Governor Floyd B. Olson (Palmer 4). He managed to achieve this objective by deploying more than 4,000 National Guardsmen at his disposal.
In conclusion, the Minneapolis strike that took place in 1934, was widely considered a very crucial labor movement period more specifically, the Teamsters. It got rid of existing barriers that limited membership in the union in the past. This further led to stature of the union growth and as a result, the union proved that it was indeed a powerful force in the labor movement.
Legislations due to the strike were implemented to recognize the rights of workers in planning and negotiating. The legislations included the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Eidlin, Barry. “‘upon This (foundering) Rock’: Minneapolis Teamsters and the Transformation of Us Business Unionism, 1934-1941.” Labor History. 50.3 (2009): 249-267. Print.
Palmer, Bryan D. Revolutionary Teamsters: The Minneapolis Truckers’ Strikes of 1934. , 2013. Internet resource.
Quam, Lois, and Peter J. Rachleff. “Keeping Minneapolis an Open-Shop Town: The Citizen’s Alliance in the 1930s.” Minnesota History. (1986). Print.