Open battle between striking teamsters armed with pipes and the police in the streets of Minneapolis, June 1934
The citywide Minneapolis Teamster’s Local 574 strike began on May 16, 1934. The fundamental issue in the strike was over the open or closed shop with regard to transportation and warehouse unionization in this Midwestern city.
After facing off against cops, bosses’ goons, business union misleaders, two-faced politicians, the Citizen’s Alliance and the National Guard, the Teamsters broke the back of the formerly open-shop citadel, Minneapolis, ushering in what became a union city.
Four workers died by cops’ and goons’ guns and/or other weapons during this strike. Illuminating features of this strike were the willingness of the strikers to independently fight on their own terms, many times physically, and also form military formations, drawing on the experience of many of the strikers who were WWI veterans.
Thus, the strike leaders, anticipating that they would be facing naked state oppression eventually, led the strikers to set up and run infirmaries, soup kitchens, flying squadrons and the like.
Furthermore, a critical aspect of this strike was the formation of the Minneapolis Organization of the Unemployed. The Minneapolis Teamster’s leadership made it a priority to include the unemployed organization as a formal part of their union. Thus the unemployed as well as sympathetic farmers were life-and-death allies of the strikers and played valuable tactical and strategic roles in the strike and thereafter.
The successful conclusion of this strike by Local 574 led to the unionization of over-the-road truckers and other workers throughout the Midwest and nationally.
Bryan G. Pfeifer, “Lessons of three strikes from 1934 needed now”
There is no such thing as a pacifist labor strike. There has never been one in history. The success of a strike comes with the bosses’ knowledge that strikers will physically keep/push out scabs.
Labor historians and union folk need to publicly speak up about this when this debate is raised.
Even strikes in which no scabs are brought in and the strike is successful without violence only happen because the boss knows that the union has and will physically force their issue. It’s kind of like Mike Tyson calmly telling you to move out of the way at a nightclub. He doesn’t have to actually lay hands on you, but you know what will happen if you don’t, and the interaction can not be classified as non-violent.
There would be no unions right now if the union movement had been a non-violent movement. We would all be working 18-hour days from the time we were 8 years old."
Boots Riley (via fuckyeahmarxismleninism)
The shameful deeds of the British State in Derry on January 30th will always be remembered as Bloody Sunday, but often forgotten are its shameful deeds of January 31st 1919, or ‘Bloody Friday’.
“On Friday 31 January 1919 upwards of 60,000 demonstrators gathered in George Square in support of the 40-hours strike and to hear the Lord Provost’s reply to the workers’ request for a 40-hour week. Whilst the deputation was in the building the police mounted a vicious and unprovoked attack on the demonstrators, felling unarmed men and women with their batons. The demonstrators, with the ex-servicemen to the fore, quickly retaliated with fists, iron railings and broken bottles, and forced the police into a retreat.”
“An estimated 10000 English troops in total were sent to Glasgow in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of George Square. This was in spite of a full battalion of Scottish soldiers being stationed at Maryhill barracks in Glasgow at the time. No Scottish troops were deployed, with the government fearing that fellow Scots, soldiers or otherwise, would go over to the workers side if a revolutionary situation developed in Glasgow.
On 10 February 1919 the 40-hours strike was called off by the Joint Strike Committee. Whilst not achieving their stated aim of a 40-hour working week, the striking workers from the engineering and shipbuilding industries did return to work having at least negotiated an agreement that guaranteed them a 47-hour working week; 10 hours less than they were working prior to the strike.”
“General Strike!” by Cristy C. Road