Thanks to the historians at the Minnesota Historical Society for help in locating the The Daily Strike Bulletins of General Drivers Local 574 and other documents from the 1934 Teamster Strikes
[Below is an article written by SWP leader James P. Cannon for the daily strike bulletin of Minneapolis Teamster Local 574 during its historic 1934 strike.—Editor]
(Unanimously adopted at General Membership Meeting, Wednesday, July 11.)
SINCE the settlement of the strike on May 25, Local 574, through its duly authorized representatives, has been attempting to negotiate wage scales with the employers in accordance with the agreement which brought about the ending of the strike. We have attempted to settle with the employers all other matters left for negotiation. All these attempts to settle the dispute by negotiation, conducted with the greatest patience and persistence, have met with failure. The employers, egged on by the union-hating Citizens’ Alliance, behind which stand the banks and the sinister financial interests of Wall Street, have violated the agreement. They have set out to break our union and rob us of the fruits of our victory.
All the efforts of our union, over a period of six weeks since the ending of the strike, to establish living wages and hours have been frustrated by the arrogant attitude of the employers. The Regional Labor Board by its action, or rather by its failure to act, has aided in every case in upholding the hands of these employers. Every attempt of the union to negotiate and secure satisfaction for the just demands of its members has been met with evasions, tricks and subterfuges. Every approach for practical discussions of our grievances has been answered by columns of paid newspaper advertisements filled with misrepresentations, lies and slanders against the union and its leadership.
The vital questions of wages and hours, which are of life-and-death concern to our members and their families, have been callously ignored. The right of the union to represent all its members, which was explicitly agreed to in the strike settlement, has been denied. Seniority rules, provided for in the agreement, have been violated by a majority of the firms.
In this unscrupulous course, the Citizens’ Alliance and the employers are seeking to shift the issue. They cloak their campaign to wreck the trade-union movement and deprive the workers of decent human lives behind personal attacks on the leaders of the union. The bosses want to dictate to the union what leaders it should have. We reject this dictation. We have the right to be represented by leaders of our own choosing and we intend to assert this right. We reject the insolent demand of the Citizens’ Alliance and the bosses to choose our leaders for us. Local 574 is a democratic trade-union organization. Its membership is fully capable of deciding this question for itself without any advice from the exploiters of labor.
The general membership meeting declares that the leaders of our union have faithfully served the interests of the membership. They have conducted themselves as responsible trade-union officials and have not imposed on the union any issues, political or otherwise, contrary to the interests of the union and its members. They have shown their efficiency as organizers in the building of our union. They have demonstrated their loyalty and courage under fire.
The “red scare” of the Citizens’ Alliance is nothing but a fraudulent maneuver to distract our attention from the struggle for decent living conditions and demoralize our ranks. They will not succeed. The conditions of our lives are too bitter. Nobody can divert us from the fight to better them.
We note with the greatest indignation that D. J. Tobin, president of our international organization, has associated himself with this diabolical game of the bosses by publishing a slanderous attack on our leadership in the official magazine. The fact that this attack has become part of the “ammunition” of the bosses in their campaign to wreck our union, is enough for any intelligent worker to estimate it for what it really is. We say plainly to D. J. Tobin: “If you can’t act like a union man and help us, instead of helping the bosses, then at least have the decency to stand aside and let us fight our battle alone. We did it in the organization campaign and in the previous strike, and we can do it again. We received absolutely no help of any kind from you. Our leadership and guidance has come from our own local leaders, and them alone. We put our confidence in them and will not support any attack on them under any circumstances. ”
We are fighting for more wages, for better hours and working conditions, and for the right of union organization. The conditions under which we work are intolerable for men who want to live as human beings and who aspire to provide a decent existence and a future for their families in this, the richest country in the world. That is our right. We have worked for it, and we intend to fight for it to the bitter end.
In doing so we feel deeply convinced that we are fighters for the preservation of the trade-union movement and for the rights and interests of all workers. Our strength and confidence is multiplied by the conviction that our fellow workers and brother unionists in other trades, who helped us so nobly before, will rally to our aid again. We rely on the sympathy and solidarity of the other unions and workers’ organizations, who endorsed our demands by their presence in the great labor demonstration Friday, July 6. We appeal for the support also of the organizations of farmers and gardeners, of the unemployed workers, of the rank and file of small business and professional people of all who are cheated and oppressed by the financial tyrants who have turned our great, rich country into a land of privation and misery for the masses.
We are confident that our appeal will not be in vain. Therefore, convinced of the justice of our cause, relying on our own strength and the sympathetic aid of the great majority of the population. the general membership meeting solemnly declares:
l. All members of Local No. 574 will go on strike for the enforcement of the union demands on Monday, July 16, at 12 o’clock midnight.
2. We call upon our sister Local No. 120 in St. Paul to take similar action at its general membership meeting Thursday night, and we pledge to Local 120 our solidarity and cooperation in a joint struggle to a successful conclusion.
3. We call upon all other trade unions in the Twin Cities to rally to our support with moral and financial aid, and to hold themselves in readiness to take sympathetic strike action if such becomes necessary to secure our victory and smash the union-wrecking campaign of the Citizens’ Alliance.