Picnic, memorial, bike ride, art exhibit


The 90th commemoration of the landmark 1934 truckers strike that made Minneapolis a union city hits high gear in July with a culminating picnic featuring striker descendants and labor activists, the laying of a wreath at the site of a North Loop massacre and a biking tour of key strike sites.

The 1934 strike broke the power of employers who had suc-cessfully resisted unionization. Strikers used tight discipline and innovative tactics to force recognition of Teamsters who powered local commerce as truck drivers and associated workers. The strike led to a contract that improved their work-ing conditions. It reverberated down through history when strike leaders went on to organize over-the-road truckers and even led indirectly led to the Minneapolis Aquatennial.

“It is important for me as a Teamster to remember and honor the men and women of the 1934 strike,” said Paul Slattery, organizing director for Teamster Local 120, the successor unit of the local that organized the 1934 strike. “They gave their time, talent and even their lives to make Minneapolis a union town.” Slattery is a participant in the Remember 1934 Collective, which organized this year’s commemoration. A full list of events and background on the strike is available at the Remember 1934 Facebook site.


The culminating event of the commemoration will be the picnic on Saturday, July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Wabun picnic area of Minnehaha Park. This event will feature food, speakers, entertainment, children’s games and a display of 1934 memorabilia. Connections will be drawn between past and present labor strug-gles by speakers involved in present-day organizing and contract fights. Descendants of strikers will attend.

The periodic commemoration of the 1934 strike, which gained national attention for its fierce conflicts be-tween strikers, strikebreakers and law enforcement, is intended to keep the spirit of 1934 alive today, accord-ing to according to Bob Kolstad, a former Teamster and a member of the Remember 1934 Collective. The 90th anniversary commemoration comes at a time of renewed success for the labor movement in organizing workers.

“I hope the commemoration events show people what can be accomplished when they pull together--better working conditions, a higher wage and a fairer shake on the job,” said Linda Leighton, a collective member and the granddaughter of Vincent Dunne, a leader in the 1934 strike.


A more somber note will be struck on Saturday, July 20 when a wreath will be laid in the warehouse district to commemorate Bloody Friday, the day when 67 unarmed strikers were gunned down and two died at the hands of police during tumultuous street battles as strikers tried to keep trucks from running their blockade. The event will occur at 4 pm. at 701 N. Third St. where a plaque marks the site of one of the clashes.

Presentation about the history of the strike and film screening

John J. Hanson (son of 1934 “Strike Committee of 100” member) will speak on the night before the picnic at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St., St. Paul. It will include a film screening and a presentation on the historical timeline of the strike. The Friday, July 26 event is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Bike ride

A new addition to the commemoration schedule will offer a bicycle tour of 1934 strike sites. The 90-minute easy-paced tour will begin at 3 p.m. on July 28 at 1900 Chicago Ave. S., the site of a strike headquarters, and end at the site of the plaque in the North Loop. The event is a fundraiser for Socialist Alternative. See the Facebook site for more information.

1934 & Now Art Exhibition

Meanwhile, an eight-artist exhibit entitled 1934 & Now, Connections of the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike of 1934, which opened June 3, runs through Sunday, July 28 at the Cargill gallery of the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. Participating artists include Mike Alewitz, Rachel Breen, Keith Christensen, Olivia Levins Holden, Juxtaposition Arts youth, Carolyn Olson, Mike Rivard, and Brooks Turner. The exhibit will include banners, photographs, installations, paintings and a video presentation. The library is located near the sites of significant events during the strike.

“The exhibit explores the relationship of history to the present as well as workers’ role in social change, said exhibit organizer Keith Christensen. “The artwork connects a range of perspectives that relate to the strike.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here