July 19-20: Street festival, picnic will honor 80th anniversary of 1934 Teamsters strikes

The North Loop neighborhood is known today for trendy new apartments and condos, bars and restaurants, but 80 years ago it was the scene of bloody hand-to-hand combat on the streets between striking members of Teamsters Local 574 and a private army fielded by the business community to break the strike.

July 20, 1934 Minneapolis police opened fire on unarmed strikers, killing two and shooting 60 in the back. The day became known as “Bloody Friday.” The Minneapolis Labor Review reported 100,000 people turning out for the funeral procession for the two slain workers.

Farmer-Labor Party Governor Floyd B. Olson deployed the Minnesota National Guard to impose martial law.

In August, the employers’ organization recognized the union and agreed to improved wages and working conditions.

The 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strikes, together with other mass strikes that year in Toledo and San Francisco, helped lead Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act the following year. The new legislation provided a formalized way for unions to seek and win recognition from employers, spurring a wave of union organizing nationwide.

To honor the 80th anniversary of the 1934 strikes, a committee of union activists, labor historians and descendants of 1934 strikers plans events July 19 and 20 in Minneapolis:

  • Saturday, July 19, 3:00-8:00 p.m., street festival near the “Bloody Friday” site at 7th Ave. N. and 3rd St. N. Music, food and speakers will be featured.
  • Sunday, July 20, noon to 4:00 p.m., picnic at Wabun Picnic Area at Minnehaha Park, with music, food and speakers.

Watch for additional details in next month’s Labor Review.

To contact the event planners, e-mail remember1934mpls [at] gmail [dot] com or phone 612-802-1482. A facebook page, www.facebook.com/remember1934, also provides updates and posts featuring “this week in strike history.”

Also July 19, Teamsters Local 120 will host a rally and picnic for its members at Boom Island Park from 1:00-3:00 p.m. At 3:00 p.m., the public is welcome to join Local 120 for a march to the “Bloody Friday” site from a staging area near the Star Tribune printing plant at 800 North 1st St. For more information, contact Paul Slattery at 651-343-1714.

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