B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(6 January 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 1, 6 January 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Union-Buster Arnold

One of the most important developments in the trade union field in recent months has been the beginning of a nationwide campaign against the teamsters union by Thurman Arnold, United States Attorney General, under the charge that the truck drivers are violating the Sherman anti-trust law through certain kinds of contracts signed with employers.

John C. Haefele, attorney for truck drivers local 407, IBT, submitted to Arnold an outline of the procedure in Cleveland, which requires drivers for long distance hauling companies which have contracts with the union to turn over their loads at various terminals in the city for delivery within the city limits by local drivers.

Arnold, in a letter to the Indianapolis Central Labor Union, wrote that perhaps this kind of contract was a probable violation of the Sherman Act by a union as “unreasonable restraints designed to compel the hiring of useless and unnecessary labor.”

“An example is the requirement that on each truck entering a city there be a member of the local teamsters union in addition to the driver who is already on the truck,” Arnold wrote.

While indicating that he is not seeking to obtain a ruling on the legality of the procedure followed by the Cleveland teamsters union, Haefele wrote:

“It is the desire of the officers and members of local 407 to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice in supporting the laws of the United States of America. It is with this thought in mind that we are requesting a fuller interpretation of your statement in order to clarify, justify and determine the future acts on the part of the officers and members of local Union 407.”

Cleveland Contract

Haefele’s brief describes a contract between local 407 and the Cleveland Group of Certified and Permit Motor Carriers, an organization of 71 operators in the Cleveland area, which includes a clause specifying that “drivers for member companies entering Cleveland must deliver directly to a terminal or may deliver or pick up a load within a one-mile radius of an employer’s terminal, but that such truck drivers may not make deliveries or pick ups elsewhere in the Cleveland area.”

“It has been the practice of both local trucking concerns and the union, in cases where a truck is operated into the Cleveland Area from distant points, to have a local union member operate such truck from the terminal to the point of delivery,” the brief states.

“We believe that it is to the public interest that a local man, who generally knows the city better and who has not just left a fast moving public highway, should complete the work of making delivery.

“The number of accidents on city streets involving long-distance motor transports has been drastically reduced since the system was adopted and consignees have found deliveries more rapid.

“Of course, our men do not begin from their service except at a terminal, unless the shipper designates otherwise, in which case our driver meets the truck on telephonic advice of the shipper,” the brief continues.

“We have never required that an extra driver be (hired in addition to the regular driver on a truck entering Cleveland on a terminal-to-terminal basis.”

“Now then, it is our opinion that the hiring of men under the above statement of facts and by virtue of existing agreements does not come under the category of unreasonableness , as defined by you as a violation of the anti-trust law.

“Immediately on the public announcement of your views on this matter our local union discontinued the use of a local driver to complete local deliveries for those who were not in contractual relationship with us, and we shall continue this policy until you have more fully informed us,” the brief concludes.

Edward Murphy, president of local 407, and a vice-president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, said that the procedure used in Cleveland was similar to that in many other cities, thereby giving the Cleveland situation a nationwide importance.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 July 2018