Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934

Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934

Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934

Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934

Synopsis

The 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike proved to be a pivotal event in twentieth-century American labor history. The Minneapolis Teamsters challenged the muscle of big business, as well as the authority of local, state, and federal government, and in the process they changed the very nature of labor relations in the United States. In The Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934, Philip Korth's description of events surrounding this landmark labor action are filtered through the recollections of the people who were there. Korth blends historical record with the words of actual participants to draw a thorough and compelling portrait of a labor strike and its consequences. Philip Korth's study illustrates the organizational strategies that made the Minneapolis strike a success, as well as how opposition and public perception defined emerging labor relations practices and public policy. At the same time, the author provides an in-depth examination of the conflict through interviews with witnesses and participants in,this pivotal event in labor history.

Excerpt

My interest in the Minneapolis teamsters' strike of 1934 arose during graduate school at the University of Minnesota when I enrolled in Hyman Berman's Labor History course. I expanded a paper I wrote for that course to meet requirements for a Master of Arts degree in the American Studies Program, and felt I had gone about as far as I wanted to go on the subject. When I began to teach a course in American Radical Thought at Michigan State University, and when I became active in organizing faculty for collective bargaining there, my interest in the topic renewed. I also became interested in the period of the Great Depression more generally, and began a research task with a goal of understanding 1934 and the major strikes that year in Toledo, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

I was enabled to pursue my initial plan to conduct oral histories of participants and observers by support from the Rockefeller Foundation, and in consecutive summers I hired undergraduate students I had taught in Michigan State University's James Madison College to travel first to Toledo and then to Minneapolis to record those histories. the first set of interviews provided the core of I Remember Like Today:
The Auto-Lite Strike of 1934
(1988) which I wrote with Margaret Beegle, one of the students who helped collect interviews. the second set of interviews has provided substance to this book.

To the people we recorded in the course of preparing this book we offer a special word of thanks. Their contributions give life to a complex event and help us preserve their experiences and add not only color, but understanding to an event rapidly fading from living . . .

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