The TEAMSTERS UNION, officially the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen, & Helpers, is one of the largest and most powerful labor unions operating in Cleveland. Organized locally in 1912, Local 407 was chartered to unionize men employed as draymen and teamsters for hauling and delivery services. Edward Murphy and John Rohrich guided the union in its first few decades and kept it free of the racketeering that characterized Teamster locals in other cities. By 1932 Local 407 was the largest in the country, and Murphy and Rohrich organized all area locals into District Council 41. When the National Industrial Recovery Act guaranteed workers the right to unionize and bargain collectively in 1933, the Teamsters were the largest beneficiaries as membership grew from 3,500 in 1933 to 24,000 in 1940 by organizing such groups as laundry, dry-cleaning, beverage, and newspaper drivers. The Teamsters, regarded as a tough, honest union in the 1930s, challenged the power of the Building Trades Council, the dominant force in the CLEVELAND FEDERATION OF LABOR, and in 1938 Murphy masterminded the election of two Teamster-backed candidates for CFL office.
After Murphy died in 1950, the union was taken over by WILLIAM PRESSER and N. Louis (Babe) Triscaro, whose activities were accompanied by violence and threats. In 1957 corruption and reported ties with the underworld resulted in a federal probe of the union and the murky finances of 20 Teamster leaders. Subsequently the Teamsters and its 40,000 members were expelled from the newly formed AFL-CIO. Cleveland Teamster leaders William Presser and his son JACKIE PRESSER also held international office in the Teamster union using Joint Council 41 and the Central States Conference of Teamsters, organized in 1953, as their power base.
In 1964 the Teamsters negotiated a Master Freight Agreement with 2,000 trucking companies that governed wages and working conditions for the general freight haulers that constituted the bulk of the union members. When supplemental contract negotiations on the MFA broke down several times during the 1970s, wildcat strikes incapacitated the trucking industry, and over 6,000 of the Cleveland area's 10,000 Teamsters were affected. After the trucking industry was deregulated in 1980, over 20,000 drivers lost their jobs as small firms were forced to close down or cut rates to remain competitive, and by 1986 truck drivers represented a smaller percentage of the union membership. Locals operating in Cleveland in 1995 included 407 (general freight hauling), 507 (industrial—power base of the Pressers), 416 (vending-machine service), 436 (racetrack employees and concession drivers), and 336 (dairy), 293, 41, 400, 52, and 244.
Neff, James. Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser's High Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the F.B.I. (1989).
Friedman, Allen and Ted Schwarz. Power and Greed (1989).
Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Local 407 Records. WRHS.