Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dave Beck, 99; Headed Teamsters Organizer Built Union into World's Largest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dave Beck, 99; Headed Teamsters Organizer Built Union into World's Largest

Article excerpt

Dave Beck, who rose from "skull and knuckles" union organizing to head the Teamsters union, has died at age 99.

Mr. Beck died Sunday (Dec. 26, 1993) at a hospital in Seattle "of old age," Martha Mues, a family friend, said Monday.

Mr. Beck was the first in a succession of Teamsters presidents to run afoul of federal corruption charges. He invoked the Fifth Amendment 142 times during congressional rackets hearings in 1957.

Of allegations that he had connections with the underworld, Mr. Beck said: "I dealt with many of them. Had to, because they . . . had a lot of money invested in industry. Definitely. But I never dealt with one where they got a foot inside the (union) tent. Never."

Mr. Beck joined the Teamsters in 1914 and became a full-time union official in 1926, running a crusade to "organize, organize, organize."

"At times we fought skull and knuckles - alley rules," he once said.

Mr. Beck's guiding philosophy was simple: "Labor is a business. You've only got one thing. You sell your labor for the best price in the marketplace based on the ability of industry to pay and your organized strength to command it."

The concept took him to the presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, which he led from 1952 through 1957 and helped build into the world's biggest labor organization.

David Olson, a labor historian at the University of Washington, said Mr. Beck "practiced a certain kind of unionism, a business kind of unionism. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.