Commemorating Minneapolis Teamster Strikes July 2009

by Dave Riehle

This year, 2009, is the 75th anniversary of the great Minneapolis Teamster strikes. Several commemorative activities are planned, including a street festival, the placement of a 20′ X 40′ mural on an exterior building wall one half block from the site of Bloody Friday and a picnic/commemoration at a Minneapolis park.


On the 70th anniversary of the great Minneapolis Teamsters strikes in the summer of 2004 a group of young union activists organized an exciting street festival in the Minneapolis Warehouse District they called “One Day in July. The festival’s name referred to the day that came to be known as “Bloody Friday,” July 20, 1934, when Minneapolis Police shot down over 65 picketing strikers in the Minneapolis Warehouse District. Two of the strikers died of their wounds. The July, 2004 street festival was held at the intersection of 6th St N and 3rd Ave N where the 1934 shootings occurred. It ran from 2-10PM, featuring performers such as Brother Ali, The Strike, Belles of Skin City, Paul Metsa and others and was attended by over 1,000. The organizers of the street festival hoped that an event of this nature would help bring the attention of young people to these historic events that changed working class life in Minneapolis for generations to come, and with the wide media attention generated by the festival and the grass-roots organizing that helped to build it, their goal was attained.

NOW a reprise of the street festival remembering and celebrating the 75th anniversary of the strikes in July 2009 is being planned and organized. It is slated again for the Warehouse District and will take place on Saturday, July 25 of next year. More information is available at

The artists who performed at “One Day in July 2004” donated their talents in memorial of this heroic struggle for a better life for working people. “The Strike,” a musical group made up of young building trades workers from Chicago, for example, said they were honored to be asked to play and only requested a case of beer as compensation (union-made, of course.)

The dynamic, fighting Minneapolis Teamsters Local 544, which emerged from the 1934 strikes and went on the spark organizing of truck drivers throughout the country in the 1930’s, did not neglect entertainment or family life, either. Local 544 also organized annual summer picnics of tens of thousand of union workers and their families in Minneapolis. The local adopted as their slogan, “If It’s a Picnic or a Strike, We Do it Right!.” In that spirit, we urge you to join us and help support these events.


Financial support for these events, if you can do it, is welcome and certainly needed—these are all-volunteer events. Checks can be made out to “One Day in July” and sent to “One Day in July” c/o Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave , Minneapolis MN 55403.

For those interested in attending, some comradely accommodations will be a available.

For more information, email: Dave Riehle