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Teamsters Commemorate 1934 Minneapolis Strike

In Minnesota 80 years ago, Teamsters changed everything. The 1934 Teamster strike in Minneapolis was one of the main catalysts for the rise of unions in the 1930s. Teamsters recently celebrated that heritage, and remembered the fallen, at the site of the historic strike.

Tens of thousands of working people participated in the strike, which began May 16, 1934, and lasted throughout the summer.

There's no one more qualified to talk about the 1934 Teamster strike than Tom Keegel, the former General Secretary-Treasury of the Teamsters Union. Keegel is a third-generation Teamster who joined the union in 1959 after he graduated from high school. He worked his way up from being a Teamster business agent in 1977, to taking office as General Secretary-Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1999.

"People were hungry and looking for work," Keegel said at the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the 1934 Teamsters strike. "We need to commemorate them and honor them because they had the guts to stand up and take on the fight. Without them, workers wouldn't have health insurance, pensions, holidays or vacations.”

“It was a privilege for me to walk the strike path with Tom Keegel and hear the stories of the Teamsters who fought to bring us the rights and benefits we have today. As a new member I am proud to be a part of a union that has such a proud history and strong traditions. I hope that I would have the courage to fight as hard as they did for the things that matter most,” said new Super-Value Teamster Andrew McGuire.

A highlight of the event was when Sen. Al Franken spoke to those in attendance about the importance of the strike and the labor movement, but he and Keegel weren’t the only leaders in attendance, which included descendants of many original 1934 strikers.

The remembrance of the strike also included a march through Minneapolis, including to many strike sites, and a picnic. A marching band led the crowd in union songs as people lined the streets. A banner reading “Remember 1934” was carried by two descendents of the strikers, State Rep. Debra Hilstrom and retired Teamster Harry Villella, as well as two Teamster stewards, Marty Brinkman and Cecil Alston.

Original Article:

https://teamster.org/magazine/2014/summer/remember-1934

Testimonial

"I was there when we brought the Union in. The first-time contract they won for us was unbelievable. It changed the quality of my life. I am now a Shop Steward and enjoy working with my Union and looking after my fellow workers. "

- Paul Landrecht - Shop Steward. Island Farms Dairy.

For 35 years I have been a Teamster and a Dairyworker, I was a young kid needing a job in tough economic times. I found a place to work and make a living, I learned to work together with others having varying and different backgrounds than my own.

Much has changed for me personally and professionally, I got married to my beautiful wife of almost 25 years and we have raised two amazing children, both of whom are presently studying abroad. Both of my children were recipients of Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Funding.

So much of my success I can credit to having a well paying union job. The Teamsters have been a great union for me, negotiating strong collective agreements that held good wage and benefit packages as well as the cornerstone beliefs of seniority and workers’ rights. The Teamsters gave me a good wage and a voice.

I have always been an active Teamster, and now I sit on Local 464's Executive Board.

There can be a great degree of personal feelings when the word union is mentioned, but so often I look at professional associations and realize the name may be different, but the thought is the same...strength in numbers.

As I get toward the end of my career, I look forward to the thought of receiving the Teamsters Canada Pension Plan, and I am so grateful for the belief others had before me that Teamsters deserved a good and decent retirement...thank you.

Drew


- Drew Speirs

“They have demonstrated the dedication and leadership that
our Local requires. They have always provided sound counsel, support, and frank
discussion on matters involving the members, contract negotiations and our
Local.“ 

- Bruce Tillapaugh –Shop Steward. Island Farms, Victoria