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Susan Green

Victory Certain as N.Y. Teamsters Strike Nears End

(23 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 38, 23 September 1946, p. 1.


NEW YORK, Sept. 18 – The teamsters’ strike, which stopped virtually all New York truck movement for sixteen days, neared its end today, with victory in sight for the strikers. Operators are rushing to sign individual contracts with the union, granting a $7.40 weekly wage increase and improved working conditions. Though some big truck operators are still holding out, it is expected that the employer front will be entirely broken by the end of the week. Some trucks are already rolling, carrying placards “Signed Up.” Today was the first day in over a week that New York City newspapers approximated their normal size.


So strong are the ranks of the striking New York City truck drivers despite Daniel J. Tobin’s calling off of all sympathy strikes, that rift has developed among the trucking employers. A large section now believes that it will have to make substantial concessions to the strikers. This is the latest development.

Politicians, labor leaders and bosses involved in the strike, now in its third week, were alike scared stiff by the almost complete tie-up of the city’s hauling business.

Mayor O’Dwyer was panicked into signing up 2,000 emergency police. Then, the strikers defying their local leaders and refusing even to consider the Mayor’s proposal for an 18 cent an hour increase, O’Dwyer appealed in desperation to Daniel J. Tobin, international president of the teamsters, to insist on arbitration. Having thus exhausted his limited resources, the Mayor appointed a committee to take over, which committee, by the way, has on it not one representative of labor.

Tobin Intervenes

Dan Tobin, though he rebuked the Mayor for asking him to interfere in the strike, let his actions at least partly belie his words, for he took measures to weaken the strike. He ordered all sympathy strikers back to work. Thousands of sympathy strikers of the twenty-four other New York City locals, as well as 10,000 Jersey drivers, had joined the 15,000 men of Locals 807, 282 and 816 of the AFL International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Thus Tobin tried to break the solidarity of all drivers in the metropolitan area. A New York Herald Tribune reporter described the effect of Tobin’s order as follows: “Instead of spreading like a prairie fire, the stoppage dwindled in scope.”

However, that word “dwindled” is a gross exaggeration. At the beginning of the third week of the strike 486 A&P stores are closed, as are 276 Safeway stores and 78 smaller food shops. The Roulston, Reeves and Bohack chain stores are almost out of stock. The textile, garment, construction, printing and publishing industries of the city, all feel acutely the effects of the tie-up in their lack of supplies.

The adamant attitude of the strikers has caused the Master Truckmen’s Association, representing about 200 truck owners, operating some 3,000 trucks, to repudiate their for mer spokesman, Joseph M. Adelizzi and to inform the Mayor’s committee that they wish to negotiate their own contracts with the locals involved. Tight-fisted Adelizzi, still representing the other two employers’ groups, the Motor Carriers’ Association and the State Motor Truck Association, had offered the strikers all of a $3.00 increase a week. His latest word was: “We will take the men back to work, paying them retroactively in conformity with arbitration, or they may stay on the streets if they so choose.” In the 1938 truck drivers’ strike, this same Adelizzi was the last to sign up, but he did have to.

Strikers Reject Offer

Those employers who have seen a little light have indicated a willingness to accept the proposals of the Bohack grocery chain, employing about 110 drivers, and backed by Daniels & Kennedy, general trucking concern hauling newsprint for two morning papers in the city and hiring the same number of men.

The Bohack offer is for $62.40 for a forty-hour week to take the place of $55 for a forty-four-hour week in the former contract. It also provides for time and a half for Saturday work, with the promise of at least four hours of work on Saturday if a driver shows up for work. Two weeks’ paid vacation and the elimination of certain wartime rules objectionable to the men will likewise be conceded.

On September 12 a meeting of strikers howled down these proposals when Bohack drivers presented them. Another meeting of strikers has been called for September 17. John E. Strong, president of Local 807, will urge the approval of individual agreements, giving up the demand for industry-wide contracts which the men were still insisting on at their last meeting.

The union president will also pressure the men to accept the $7.40 weekly increase for the forty-hour week, as offered by Bohack. As Local 807 decides, so will decide Locals 262 and 816, which represent only 3,000 of the 15,000 striking drivers.

City Hall has issued optimistic reports to the press. Basing himself on the expressed willingness of the A&P and Safeway chains to accept the Bohack terms and thus bring into line the other employers in the Master Truckmen’s Association, the Mayor hopes to see trucks moving in the city on September 18. The Adelizzi group of employers, though representing owners of 15,000 trucks doing long-distance hauling, are not as vital to distribution within the city as the smaller group. Union leaders claim that the policy of “divide and rule” will ultimately force even Adelizzi to grant the same wage increase and make the other concessions. The ranks, as indicated, are inclined to doubt the effectiveness of this policy.

The original demand of the strikers was for a thirty per cent increase, for a forty-hour week instead of forty-four, for industry-wide agreements, for paid vacations, better rules, etc. The Mayor’s proposal would have meant an average weekly increase of $1.50. The Adelizzi offer was for a $3.00 weekly raise. The splendid effectiveness of the strike forced the present bid of a $7.40 average weekly raise with a forty-hour week.

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