Teamsters Timeline, 1850-1949

1850 - 1949 | 1950 - 1971 | 1972 - 1984 | 1985 - present




San Francisco draymen organize to regulate their charges.


Chicago hack owners and drivers organize to stabilize hack fares.


Formation of the Team Drivers International Union, John Callihan as President.  Headquarters at 213 Franklin Street, Detroit, MI.


Chicago locals form the Teamsters National Union.


Amalgamation convention is held at Niagara Falls, NY, Cornelius Shea as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  IBT headquarters established at 147 East market Street, Indianapolis, IN.


August: 350 delegates meet in Cincinnati and vote to lay aside most of the IBT’s funds for organizing and bargaining.  Shea at GP, E.L. Turley as GS-T.


Chicago Teamsters strike Montgomery Ward; strike is broken.


Convention empowers GP Shea to appoint representatives and organizers where needed; office of General Auditor established with George W. Biggs as first auditor.  Thomas L. Hughes elected GS-T.


A breakaway group forms the United Teamsters of America.


Dan Tobin is elected General President, membership at about 20,000, three International office staff.


Name changed to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers to reflect the union’s expanding jurisdiction.


Beginning of shift from horse team cartage to motor transport.


IBT seeks to organize bakery and confectionary wagon drivers.


IBT convention delegates decide to hold the convention every three years; also, convention entertainment had to be union members; first transcontinental delivery of merchandise by motor truck.


Decision is made to hold IBT convention every 5 years.


Tobin is elected AFL Treasurer.


Teamsters represent women laundry workers; black women laundry workers receive same pay as white workers.


Tobin is one of the two American delegates to the International Labor Conference in Amsterdam (the other is Samuel Gompers).


IBT votes to affiliate with the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress and with the AFL Building Trades Department (not seated until 1928).


IBT reaches 75,000 members.


Four full-time organizers are on IBT payroll.


The Union Labor Life Insurance Company is established with Tobin on its Board of Directors.


Tobin resigns position of AFL Treasurer; IBT is seated as member of the AFL Building Trades Department.


Detroit Kroger warehouse “strawberry strike,” JRH as spokesman for the strikers.


Tobin serves as chairman of the FDR campaign labor division. IBT reaches 75,000 members.


JRH successfully organizes truckers who hauled automobiles out of Detroit and across the country.


Teamsters launch strike in Minneapolis; it lasts for 11 days of violent confrontation with police and National Guard.


Convention delegates vote to outlaw membership in the Communist Party for IBT members.


Motor Carrier Act passed by Congress.


JRH appointed business agent of Local 299, Detroit.


General maritime strike in San Francisco. IBT supports longshore and warehouse strikers.


JRH farmed out to Farrell Dobbs in Minneapolis to help organize over-the-road drivers.


Western Conference of Teamsters established, headquartered in Seattle, with Dave Beck as chairman.


North Central District Drivers Council formed (Farrell Dobbs).


New York City teamsters strike for 40-hour work week with no reduction in wages, Mayor LaGuardia serves as mediator, Teamsters agree to a 44-hour week.


Motor Carrier Safety rules added to Motor Carrier Act.


Membership at 360,700.


Central States Area Agreement negotiated by JRH.


Fourteen fulltime organizers are on IBT payroll; the term “Stablemen” is eliminated form the IBT full name, Warehousemen added.


JRH appointed negotiating chairman of CSDC.


JRH elected president of the Michigan Conference of Teamsters.
IBT establishes a research department (David Kaplan, director).


American unions agree to abide by a No-Strike Pledge for the duration of the War.
Tobin appoints JRH a trustee of the IBT.
Membership at 534,000.



Southern Conference of Teamsters formed.


JRH elected president of Local 299.
October: IBT launches a campaign to reinstate daily milk deliveries that had been limited to every other day during the war.


JRH becomes president of Joint Council 43.
Judge George Murphy begins grand jury investigation of JRH and the Detroit Teamsters unions.


Congress passes Taft-Hartley Bill, Truman vetoes it but Congress overrides the veto (Hartley cited JRH as reason for introducing the bill).
New card index system replaces old ledger-based bookkeeping methods at International and locals.
December: Membership reaches million mark.
At convention John English is elected GS-T; IBT convention denounces Taft-Hartley.
Dave Beck named Executive VP.


International office staff at 25, Secretary-Treasurer’s office modernizes, installs new machines and methods of control.
September: National Warehouse Conference formed.
October: National Conference of Fruit, Vegetable and Produce Industries is formed; National Automotive, Petroleum and Allied Trades Division formed.
November: National Truckaway and Driveaway Conference formed; National Conference of Brewery and Soft Drink Workers formed.
Formation of the National Laundry Drivers Division, National Dairy Conference and the Miscellaneous and the Retail Delivery Conference.


January: IBT trade divisions meet to kick-off national organizing drive.
April 1-15: National over-the-road checking drive takes place.
Formation of the National Cannery Conference, National Bakery Drivers Conference, National Conference of Federal, State, County, Municipal and Public Service Employees, National Conference of Chauffeurs and Taxicab Drivers, and the National Conference of Building Materials and Construction Drivers.
Central States and Southern Conferences win employer-supported health and welfare plans.

Next: Section II: 1950 - 1971