Thanks to the historians at the Minnesota Historical Society for help in locating the The Daily Strike Bulletins of General Drivers Local 574 and other documents from the 1934 Truckers Strike
THE most successful commander of the Civil War was General Ulysses S. Grant, the man of whom Roscoe B. Conklin said: “If you ask what state he came from, our answer then will be: ’He came from Appomattox and its famous apple tree!’ ” By that he meant to say that he was a fighter who scored victories, and that it didn’t make any difference what state he came from.
We too are in a war. We may well study the secrets of the success of General Grant.
How did Grant win his battles and drive the enemy to surrender? Not by “slick” maneuvers, not by oversubtle “cleverness”, not by fine tricks. No, the secret of Grant’s driving power was bullheaded persistence.
Whenever they had him in a tight corner and put the squeeze on him, he only bowed his neck and declared: “We will fight it out on these lines if it takes all summer! ”
We take this example from military history on purpose. We take it because we regard this fight as a battle in a great war-the war between predatory capital and exploited labor. the war between the classes.
The hour has now struck when we are to be put to a new test. Local 574 has shown the world that it has a body of courageous fighters. They are not afraid. They can exchange blows with anybody. They can give it, and they can take it too. The labor movement of America, yes, of the whole world, admirably acknowledges the battle-courage of the men of Fighting 574 and their allies of the Minneapolis working class.
The world admits that we can fight. Now the question arises: Can we stick?
And our answer must be: We’ll bow our necks and stick it out if it takes all summer!
But it won’t take all summer. Our lines are solid. It is the bosses who are cracking under the pressure of the fight. They are losing millions of dollars and the strain is telling on them.
We are able to state on reliable authority that more than a third of the market firms are clamoring for a settlement in the employers’ meetings.
The bandits of the Citizens’ Alliance are finding themselves compelled to yield to this pressure from the ranks of the market bosses.
’Take the employers’ statements printed in the Saturday papers. The haughty expressions barely conceal the fact that you are listening to people who are in retreat and looking for a way out. A few days ago they said that they wouldn’t deal with the “Communist leaders of Local 574” - anybody who wants more than $12 a week and is ready to fight for it to the end, is a Communist in their eyes.
In their last statement, however, they say: “We will not negotiate with that leadership unless compelled to do so. ”
Well, this strike is being carried on for the specific purpose of “compelling them to do so”, and we will succeed in this aim if we fight it out to the end.
The strike is a test of strength, of persistence, of endurance. The employers have vast resources and great power: their money, the kept press, the police, the militia-all these forces are against our strike, and we do not fool ourselves about it.
But 574 has even greater resources to draw upon: the inexhaustible energy of the working class, its capacity for endurance and sacrifice, the solidarity of our fellow workers in other trades, the sympathy of the great majority of the population, an honest and courageous leadership and-our own daily paper! If we marshal all these resources and utilize them to the full, there can be no question of the outcome.
We must, furthermore, assert all our rights, and let nobody take them away from us.
The employers can foregather in the dark of the moon, in secret session. They can pull strings behind the scenes to make their puppets dance for them.
The workers, whose strength lies in the mass movement, can fight only in the open. Not through secret agents but in their own person. That is why they are so insistent upon the right to free assemblage, so that they may speak freely. The right to free speech, so that they may organize. The right to organize, so that they may strike freely. The right to strike, so that they may picket freely. The right to picket, so that they may win swiftly!
Whoever limits or seeks to limit these rights to the slightest degree, is striking a blow at the workers. The resolution of the Strike Committee of 100, which demands the withdrawal of the troops, the right to hold public meetings in front of our headquarters, and the right to picket, shows how determined Local 574 is to allow no infringement upon its rights.
We shall not allow ourselves to be cut slowly to pieces. We shall not allow ourselves to be delivered, bound hand and foot, to the employers. Instead, we shall resist every effort to strip us of our fighting strength. Instead, we shall bring the employers to terms which make it possible for us to live like human beings.
Those who think that we can be worn down in the battle, that our ranks and spirit can be broken, will be taught a lesson that will not soon be forgotten. We are imbued not only with an unshakable conviction in the justice of our cause, but with an iron resolve to fight to the last ditch.
We will not go back as beaten dogs! We will go back only as union men on union conditions!
The eyes of the labor movement of the whole country are upon us today. Financial support is coming in. Pledges of aid have been received from all parts of the land. The workers everywhere are looking to us. We shall not fail them.
We will fight it out on the picket line if it takes all summer!