Labor History in 2:00

May 22 The Battle of Deputies’ Run

May 22, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1934.

That was the day known as the “Battle of Deputies’ Run.”

The Minneapolis Teamsters strike was in full swing.

For three days, the city was peacefully paralyzed.

The wealthiest had kept the city an open shop for decades through their ‘Citizens’ Alliance,’ and now assembled an army of strikebreakers.

Strikers had been seriously injured on Saturday the 19th at the City Market.

They fought police and deputized ‘specials’ in an attempt to keep produce trucks from moving out.

Later that evening, flying pickets were ambushed in Tribune Alley after having been dispatched by an agent provocateur.

Strikers were beaten mercilessly, including several from the women’s auxiliary.

The sight of the bloodied women enraged strikers.

Another fierce confrontation was inevitable.

Hundreds of strikers waited at the Central Labor Union near the Market until Monday, when scab trucks were expected.

Fighting continued throughout the morning.

No trucks moved.

Hundreds of women marched to the mayor’s office demanding, “Take your hired thugs away!”

Anti-union violence so outraged building tradesmen that 35,000 walked off the job in sympathy.

Electricians, painters and ironworkers all reported to strike headquarters.

Then, on this day, that Tuesday, the decisive battle began.

Tens of thousands amassed in the Market on the side of the Teamsters, as ‘deputies’ would attempt to move the produce trucks out.

Strike leader Farrell Dobbs noted, “It became a free-for-all.”

The police stayed back as strikers and deputies battled it out until finally, the deputies dropped their clubs, turned tail and fled.

Union forces cleared the Market of every last scab, cop and deputy.

Historian Bryan Palmer notes, “An intense and deadly confrontation was over in short order. And it left the union in command.”

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