July 24, 2014: A series of events – a march, rally, concert, and picnic – were held July 19-20 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the historic 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike. Hundreds of people turned out to honor this historic labor victory.
Picnic goers heard speakers who talked about current labor struggles and organizing drives. The program was chaired by TDU activist and Local 120 retiree Bob McNattin as well as SEIU member Linda Leighton – a granddaughter of V.R. Dunne, one of the 1934 Teamster leaders. A couple of Teamster officials spoke, including Paul Slattery, the political and organizing representative of Teamsters Local 120.
Music was coordinated by Larry Long, a pro-labor singer. A solidarity chorus from Wisconsin pitched in as well.
The weekend kicked off with a march, sponsored by Teamsters Local 120, which included a brass band playing the labor anthem, “Which Side Are You On?”
Labor’s Turning Point
The 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike grew into a broad workers struggle. Their slogan was “Make Minneapolis a Union Town” and they did it. The strike leaders – with no help initially from the International union – went to organize trucking across the Midwest and beyond.
A young Teamster from Detroit named James R. Hoffa joined in that organizing effort. In Hoffa’s autobiography, he stated that Minneapolis leader Farrell Dobbs was his greatest teacher.
The Teamsters union grew in the next decade from a small craft union to a mighty industrial force, and the Minneapolis strikers provided much of the inspiration and the leadership.