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 Truckers Strike
THE strike of Local 574 is a marvelous illustration of the initiative and resources of the workers, when they awaken to the necessity of organizing and fighting for their own interests. The bosses have been having their own way so long, without any serious opposition from the workers, that they got into the habit of thinking they are just so much raw material that goes into the process of production. That the workers have feelings, ambitions, yes, and brains, too -- that, they cannot understand.
If the workers organize and put up a fight the bosses are always sure that some “outside agitator” is responsible. It never occurs to them that the workers who run the industries of the world have also got sense enough to run their own organizations and run them effectively. When they confront a real example of this working class ability they get blue in the face. It is costing the Minneapolis bosses millions of dollars to learn that the drivers, helpers and inside men of Local 574 mean business, and are not being fooled by anybody.
Local 574’s strike is the best example of organization and efficiency I have ever seen-and I have seen a lot in my lifetime as a union man. A movement like this could never be built by a few individual leaders, as the bosses maintain, no matter how capable these leaders might be. The one thing that stands out in the strike is that here is a living monument of determined people. Hundreds and thousands of men and women have to combine their energy, their intelligence and their enthusiasm to make such a strike. That is what we have in Local 574 and its Women’s Auxiliary.
The leaders don’t have to worry about going too far ahead of this bunch; the problem is to keep pace with it. Almost every day we get some new proof that the workers - once they make up their minds-can give the wise bosses cards and spades when it comes to organizing things and making a group of people pull together for the common interest.
It would take a story long enough to fill a book to describe all the details of organization that fit together to make up the strike machine. And one of the most important chapters should be devoted to an account of the wonderful support and help we get from other unions and the unemployed workers, and also from the farmers and small-business and professional men.
It certainly warms the heart to see a poor farmer, who is run pretty ragged himself and cheated out of practically everything he works for, come into strike headquarters with a supply of food which he donates free to the commissary. And compare the work of our doctor and nurses, working all hours for nothing to tend the sick and care for the wounded-compare examples of humanity like that with the bosses and money-sharks who never have a thought for anything but their own personal profits.
When you see things like that you have to ask yourself where these chiselers who live on the labor of others get the nerve to lecture the common run of people about anything. But they have the nerve. They want to hog everything for themselves and then tell us that is the best and most moral arrangement that could be made.
Every strike nowadays brings out proof of the fact that not only the workers directly involved, but also the great mass of the population in general, are fed up with the small clique of financial highbinders who run the country for their own exclusive benefit. The masses-and this includes the small-business and professional people and the farmers as well as the wage workers-are anxious to show their sympathy for the strikers and take a sock at the arrogant money-hogs who begrudge a worker a decent wage for his labor. The Citizens’ Alliance gang in Minneapolis, like similar cliques in other cities, are playing with dynamite in trying to override this sentiment of the masses. Some day they are going to make us all mad. Then it will be too late to settle for 42 1/2 and 52 1/2 cents an hour, or anything like it. The workers are just beginning to realize their power. They can make over this old world to suit themselves-if they really make up their minds to do it.