Militant Traditions of the Teamsters Union
The Teamsters Union was built through the struggle of the working Teamsters to organize against the terror of their employers. Through the bloody Teamsters strike in Chicago in 1905, the union began to develop. As was the case in all the unions, it was only by sacrifice, dedication and the vision of working people demanding their say at work, as well as the running of society, that the unions were built. On almost every occasion, the figures who built the unions were militant workers. Often they were socialists who understood that only by challenging big business’ control of society would workers be able to make any real and lasting gains. It was people such as Eugene Debs (who twice won nearly one million votes as the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party and who built the National Railway Union) and Big Bill Haywood (who was the leader of the Industrial Workers of the World – the Wobblies – and who led the Western Federation of Miners) who built the unions and laid the foundation for the modern labor movement.
However, during the 1920s and 1930s, the unions were under the control of leaders who refused to organize any workers other than skilled ones, and who put their relations with management before those with their members. In many ways, their outlook was similar to that of the Teamsters over the last 15 years. The 1929 stock market crash and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s exposed the strategies of these leaders. Cuts in wages were accepted, attacks on workers were not fought and the movement was in retreat.
Minneapolis Teamsters Win Victories
In this situation, a new leadership arose in Minneapolis in Teamsters’ Local 574. This leadership transformed the situation of the Teamsters and other workers in Minneapolis and then built the over-the-road organizing drive that laid the foundations for the strength of the modern Teamsters of today. It is by examining the methods and strategies they used that Teamsters can see how the union can be rebuilt in this present period of recession, stagnation and attacks by the bosses.
The Minneapolis Teamsters developed an alternative strategy to build the union. Starting with an organizing victory for coal and yard workers and drivers through a swift strike in early 1934, they then mounted an organizing drive among truck drivers in the city. Through audacious organizing drives around a clear program of demands, they transformed the situation in the local from between 100 and 200 members in 1933 to over 7,000 by the middle of 1934. Due to the support they won from rank and file Teamsters, they soon emerged as the dominant force in the local and prepared for a major struggle to win recognition for Local 574 from the trucking companies in Minneapolis.
The strategy of this campaign was to develop a clear program that dealt with the needs of the workers. This was worked out in discussions with the workers involved. Their demands meant a fundamental change in the conditions of workers and inspired them to rally around the union. These demands were agreed in mass meetings of the union. The members then elected a committee of 100 rank-and-filers to prepare for a serious struggle to win these demands.
Along with demands on wages and working conditions, nine key demands were codified by the new Teamsters leadership in Minneapolis into the “Model Contract” and are printed in the adjacent box.
Minneapolis Teamsters Model Contract Demands:
- Contracts with employers to be limited to a term of one year.
- Demands concerning wages and working conditions to be decided in consultation with the union members involved in each particular case.
- Premium pay to be received for overtime, with the added provision that there be no overtime until all employees on the job worked their full quota of regular hours.
- If the workweek should be reduced by legislative act, rates of pay to be increased in the proportion necessary to guarantee that there would be no reduction in total week pay.
- Disputes over seniority standing to be settled by the union. The employer to have no voice in the matter.
- Back pay owed to workers because of contract violations by the employer to be computed at two times the regular wage rate.
- Formal recognition to be required from the employer of the unions right to operate a shop steward system.
- The Union to retain the right to strike over employer violations of the working agreement.
- No boss to order his employees to go through a picket line of a striking union.
Farrell Dobbs, who soon emerged as the leading figure in Local 574, explained this “Model Contract” in the following way: “None of these provisions represented mere bargaining points to be used for horse-trading in negotiations with employers. Each and every one constituted a matter of basic policy. All were enforced according to actual practice. As staff director, it was my job to see that this was the case.”
The principal organizers of these struggles were Ray Dunne, Micky Dunne, Grant Dunne, and Carl Skoglund. Soon, new leaders developed out of the struggle, including individuals such as Farrell Dobbs, Harry DeBoer and Lack Maloney. These leaders were socialists and committed supporters of the ideas or Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution when the working class came to power for the first time in history. It was Trotsky and his supporters internationally that first fought against the Stalinist bureaucracy that developed in the Soviet Union.
The socialist leadership of the Minneapolis Teamsters saw that through unity, workers could be the most powerful force in the city. This power could stop production, gain support from other workers and unions, and reach out to the unemployed and small farmers. In other works, they made the struggle of the members the struggle of all workers across the city of Minneapolis. Workers in the city saw that a victory for Teamsters Local 574 would be a victory for all labor, and a defeat for all employers.
In the face of this upsurge in union militancy, the employers, who were organized in the misnamed Citizens Alliance, pulled together their forces to defeat this threat to their profits and their right to run Minneapolis in their own interests. By utilizing the Minneapolis newspapers, the judges and the two major political parties, they mounted a campaign of slander against the union, including vicious red-baiting. At the same time, they mobilized the police to attempt to defeat the mass strikes that developed.
In the face of these threats, the socialist leadership of the Minneapolis Teamsters relied on the power of a class-conscious and well-informed, organized working class. An essential part of this was the role played by The Organizer, the first daily strike newspaper in the US. This kept all workers in the city informed and involved. It also clarified the role of the big-business press, the two major political parties, the judges and the courts, and how they all defended the bosses. It clarified that by relying on its own strength and by being conscious of its enemies, the working class was the most powerful force in society when organized around a class-conscious leadership.
The leadership in Minneapolis also put forward a program to win support from the unemployed. This included building an unemployed section of the union, which fought to improve the conditions of the unemployed. This turned potential scabs into some of the best fighters for the union and was an essential weapon in defeating the employers’ attempt to recruit thugs and strikebreakers.
1934 Strikes Turn Around Situation in Minneapolis
The decisive strikes in the spring and summer of 1934 were only successful because they mobilized Teamsters and other workers and the unemployed in the city. Faced with employers who refused to negotiate, and who claimed poverty, the socialist Teamster leadership prepared for a serious battle. A headquarters was rented, a rank-and-file committee of 100 was elected to take over the day-to-day running of the strike, a women’s auxiliary made up of wives and girlfriends was organized, and kitchens were set up to feed over 4,000 and provide all workers who were involved with a meal.
As a result, members and workers across the city of Minneapolis were prepared for a major struggle. At short notice, mass picket lines, sometimes with thousands of Teamsters and other workers, were organized to stop all movement of trucks and shut down the operations of the employers. Workers from all trades came to help, including farmers who distributed food and nurses and doctors who donated time in the union hospital established in the headquarters. The union received copies of letters from secretaries who sent copies of the bosses’ plans to the union.
Farrell Dobbs explains in the Book Teamster Rebellion the enthusiasm that developed around the important strike of May 1934:
“Assembling the mass forces for such extensive picketing proved to be no problem at all. As soon as the strike was called, new members poured into Local 574 from all sections of the trucking industry. In no time at all, the union almost doubled its mid-April strength, reaching a figure of nearly 6,000. The union’s approach to the unemployed workers brought spectacular results. Hundreds upon hundreds of jobless poured into the strike headquarters, volunteering their services; they fought like tigers in the battles that followed. Together with women and men from other unions, they came to the strike headquarters at the end of their day’s work, ready to help in whatever way they could. Deep in the night they would finally stretch out wherever they found a place to get a little sleep before returning to their jobs. A significant number of college students pitched in to help the union. All in all, pickets were on hand by the thousands.”
In the two major strikes of 1934, the strategy was to win a decent contract for all truck drivers and warehouse workers in the city. To achieve this, it was necessary to stop every truck from moving. Cruising pickets were dispatched to challenge any truck that moved and ensure that it was prevented from continuing. Workers were organized across the city at public phones to watch for any movement of trucks and call the union, which would quickly dispatch a truckload of strikers to the scene. The Citizens Alliance response was to write out injunctions to prevent picketing. Unlike today’s union leadership, the Minneapolis strike leaders refused to obey these injunctions. When this happened, the police were dispatched to the scene. However, the police found themselves outnumbered on the picket lines which often involved thousands of workers. By using these innovative tactics, the union managed to stop all trucks from moving.
Faced with the failure of their regular methods of strikebreaking by using the city police, both uniformed and plain-clothed, the Citizens Alliance resorted to recruiting special deputies to beef up the police. They saw that the only way they might win was to use force. Specially organized deputies assaulted workers with riot gear and bullets.
In response, workers outnumbered and outlasted the police on the picket lines. On a number of occasions, well-organized strikers armed with baseball bats showed the cops and deputies that they could defeat them on the streets. Appalled at the murderous actions of the employers, Teamsters found that atrocities committed by the forces of “law and order” only hardened their resolve to win their struggle, and allowed them to win support from wider layers of workers and the population.
The final attempt of the bosses to win the strike in the summer of 1934 was to dispatch the National Guard, put the union leaders in a stockade, and attempt to use traitorous local union leaders to sell out the strike. However, rank-and-file leaders came forward to continue to lead the strike and to ensure that there was no sell-out. In the end, the employers were forced to capitulate and accept the major demands of the union, which won representation for all employees in 62 firms, including all the major companies and gained large wage increases for the workers.
After the successful May 1934 strike, management refused to accept the agreed settlement, precipitating the seven-week strike of July and August 1934, which was necessary to force employers to accept the agreements. Following that, the socialists were elected to the leadership of Local 574, with Farrell Dobbs elected as Secretary-Treasurer. The local then won increased wages for workers and established new traditions of union solidarity, which transformed the situation for labor in the city. Their methods of mobilizing for a struggle were often sufficient to force employers to settle. Those who did not soon learned how powerful organized labor can be.
During these struggle, the leaders of Local 574 also had to deal with attacks from Teamster International leader Daniel Tobin. In 1935, Tobin attempted to crush this socialist leadership by expelling Local 574 from the Teamsters International and built a new paper Local 500 in its place. However, the socialist leadership of Local 574 fought back and led a movement for reinstatement into the International. When it was clear that Tobin’s strategy had failed to break the ranks from their militant leadership, the militants were reinstated into the Teamsters International as a newly merged Local 544 in August 1936. The militant socialists were soon elected to its leadership in a stronger position than ever.
Minneapolis Teamsters Enforce the Contract
The Minneapolis Teamsters did not only win good contracts. They also didn’t hesitate to enforce them. An essential tactic used by Farrell Dobbs and other leaders of Local 574 in Minneapolis was the demand for the right to strike during a contract. This included the company having to pay double if they broke contract rules! If a number of grievances built up, the union would demand they be resolved or the company would be struck. Companies soon learned to respect the union when they found their businesses closed down. If there were any questions about seniority, the union decided this issue – the union had the final decision. This method was swift and effective and did not involve dependence on expensive lawyers. Also, it kept the rank and file in control of the grievance procedure and kept the power of the union where it was strongest – on the shop floor, not in lawyers’ offices.
In their struggles, the socialist Teamster leadership in Minneapolis immediately had to face the problem of the intervention of the City Council, the Mayor and the Governor. In most cities, these officials are members of the Democratic or Republican Parties. Their approach to labor is to use the laws to defend the right of the employer to hire strikebreakers, to restrict effective picketing, and to call arbitrators when labor seems to be getting too powerful.
The attitude of Dobbs and the Minneapolis Teamsters was to put no trust in capitalist politicians, but instead to expose their links to business and demand that workers must put their own representatives into power. In Minneapolis at the time, they supported candidates of the Farmer-Labor Party, but overall they supported the creation of a Labor Party as the only way that workers could win any serious, lasting gains. They argues that big business puts its own class interests forward at all times and has two political parties to defend them. Labor had to draw similar conclusions in order to defend the interests of the working class.
Through these methods and struggles, the wages and working conditions of Teamster members were transformed. For example, a wholesale grocery driver in 1933 was earning around $15 a week for an average 54-hour workweek, with no extra pay for overtime. That came out to about 28 cents an hour. After the victorious strikes in 1934, a driver was earning 52 cents an hour! Three years later, that worker was on 70 to 75 cents an hour and his workweek was down to 48 hours. In some areas, workers won pay raises of up to 64% as a result of the over-the-road organizing drive. These gains should be held up as an example of the kind of gains that could be won by unions today if they followed similar strategies.
Local 574 saw that the only way union leaders and business agents could represent their members was if they lived a lifestyle similar to that of their members. Farrell Dobbs explains their policy: “On the question of staff wages, the union leadership junked the outrageous bureaucratic practice of conniving to draw salaries comparable to those received by corporation executives. Staff pay was supposed to be $26 a week, the going wage for truck drivers at the time; as new wage increases were won for the workers, the staff would then get a similar raise.” Thus, all business agents and union officials were paid no more than the average wage of the workers they represented. Often it was much less. As Dobbs explains, “In this, as in every other respect, there was only one class of citizenship in the local; it was shared equally by elected officers, full-time organizers and rank-and-file members.” This ensured that only people who were willing to put the interests of the movement first came forward as business agents. Also, it ensured that their outlook did not get elevated above that of the members.
It should be noted that the Minneapolis leadership refused to use the term “business agents,” so as not to identify the union with a business. Instead, they called them “organizers.” Also, they instituted a policy that if a worker became an organizer, then his seniority was maintained. This ensured that he was not separated from the workforce and could always return to a regular job at a later date.
On grievances, organizers were expected to fight for their members. When face to face with management, they were expected to always argue as strongly as possible for the concerns of their members, and not to horse-trade or give up workers’ rights to management. It was only later, at the union hall, that the situation would be assessed as to the best way the problem could be resolved.
Minneapolis Teamsters Increase Their Influence
Between 1934 and 1940 the socialist leadership of Local 574 and then Local 544 won victory after victory. Local 544 became the most powerful union in the city. This power was extended to the Minneapolis Teamster Joint Council. This allowed them to initiate their plans to launch the over-the-road organizing drive. Before then, the Teamsters union was essentially a grouping of colonial empires that were governed by the rules of the local in that area. Now all drivers were to be organized in 11 states in the Midwest around a similar contract. This strategy again used the method of organizing the members around demands that would change their lives. The North Central District Drivers Council was organized by the Minneapolis Teamsters under the leadership of Farrell Dobbs. It soon represented the most powerful Teamster locals in the region and organized all drivers in the region under one contract. The first area contract signed in 1938 represented 175 Teamster locals, 1,700 companies and 125,000 workers – the largest contract ever signed to date by Teamsters. The 1939 Agreement covered 350 union locals in 12 states (2,500 companies) and covered close to 200,000 workers. It forged a new direction for the Teamsters union.
Through this organizing drive and the signing of the first area contract, the foundation was laid for the establishment of the Teamsters as a powerful industrial and international union. The membership of the Teamsters exploded from 75,000 in 1993 to 420,000 in 1939. Some of the major problems facing Teamsters today were turned around by the militant tactics used in this organizing drive, which drew on the lessons learned in Minneapolis. For example, today Teamsters face a proliferation of owner-operator drivers who have been convinced that they can improve their lives by buying their own truck. Very often this results in worse conditions. The Minneapolis Teamsters developed a clear strategy towards these drivers. They demanded that the company include these workers in the union contract. The company was to pay all the cost of running the rig, and the driver would be paid either at a rate per hour or per mile. This won these drivers to the union and increased the power of the Teamsters.
Lessons for Today
The lessons to be learned from the struggles of Teamsters and the working class under the socialist leadership of the Teamsters in Minneapolis is clear. A program of demands must be drawn up that deals with the problems of all workers. Through such a program, Teamsters and other workers can be mobilized into a powerful force. By clarifying the role of the press, the two political parties, the courts and the police as allied to the employers, workers can then move into struggle with a clear understanding that their task is to rely on spreading support among the widest possible layer of workers and involving them in struggle. In this way, big business is faced with an escalating movement of the working class, which threatens to challenge its power in society. This will force management to the bargaining table and increase the consciousness, cohesion and power of the working class in its struggle to build a Labor Party and move toward the socialist transformation of society.
Through this program and strategy, the working class of Minneapolis was mobilized into a fighting force, which then could strengthen each group of workers when their own contracts came up. Minneapolis was transformed from a non-union city, under the control of the employers’ organizations, into probably the strongest and most organized union city in the US.
Despite all the obstacles thrown at the union by employers, the un ion was able to win a contract and win important improvements in wages and conditions by using skillful tactics, by giving a clear explanation to workers of the issues involved, and by involving the membership at every turn of events. Through articles in the strike newspaper The Organizer, daily mass meetings of the union,, the involvement of workers from other unions and the involvement of all members in running the strike, the tables were turned on management.
This upsurge of the Teamsters in Minneapolis beginning in 1934 was one of the three militant strikes that won important victories and inspired the huge upsurge of labor in the mid-1930s. The tactics of mass picket lines began to be adopted by the newly emerged Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO). This process culminated in 1937 with the successful 44-day sit-down strike at General Motors, which forced the biggest and most powerful company in the country to accept the right of United Auto Workers to represent all autoworkers at the company. The power of the rank and file was shown to be decisive in the massive organizing drives that developed at this time. Huge gains were won during these militant struggles of the 1930s, and the situation of workers was transformed.
Union Leadership Contains Militancy
However, a leadership did not develop in the unions to take forward these new, successful tactics of the 1930s, with the exception of the Minneapolis Teamsters. Instead, the old leaders looked to contain these struggles whenever possible and return union methods to those of the past. In this they were aided by big business, which began to create many government agencies and bargaining bodies as well as legislation. The tactic of big business was to take the struggle off the streets, where it was successful, and into the courts and arbitration bodies, which are dominated by big business. Unfortunately, the union leaders cooperated in this.
At this time, big business and the government launched a campaign of terror against socialists and union militants. This was repeated by many union leaders. Red-baiting and terror was used to intimidate and victimize activists who looked to maintain the best traditions of struggles of the ’30s.
A vicious campaign of slander, red-baiting and distortion was launched by the Teamster International leadership and President Roosevelt against the Minneapolis Teamsters in 1941. Local 544 was put into receivership and the socialist leaders removed from their positions. At the same time, the government charged the leaders with sedition and “threatening to overthrow the government.” Farrell Dobbs, Carl Skoglund, Ray Dunne and Harry DeBoer and other leaders were jailed under the infamous Smith Act. In this way, the Teamsters International leadership and the government used repressive legislation passed in preparation for US entry into World War II to remove this leadership which had written some of the most heroic chapters in the struggle of workers in the US. It is an important warning to Teamsters today about the role of the government and the state toward union militants.
Having gained enormous power as a result of the terrific rise of membership – achieved by the over-the-road organizing drives – the international leadership of Tobin and Beck moved to throttle the upsurge of rank-and-file militancy in the Teamsters. Their methods were the methods of “business unionism.” Beck’s contempt for ordinary workers was shown in his 1949 statement (before he was elected president in 1952): “I’m paid $25,000 to run this union… Unions are big business. Why should truck drivers and bottle washers be allowed to make big decisions affecting union policy? Would any corporation allow it?”
In this situation, the rights of the rank and file were restricted and orders were issued from the top. Locals were restricted and put into trusteeship if they challenged Beck’s leadership. In spite of Beck, the union continued to grow in membership. He failed to win decent improvements in wages and working conditions even in the West (which was his base), and he failed to achieve uniform contracts as had been achieved by the Minneapolis Teamsters in the Mid-West.
The Role of Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa was never formally on the North Central District Drivers Council that won uniform contracts for members. He emerged as an energetic organizer in Detroit and saw how Dobbs’s strategy and methods had been successful. Observing some of the lessons of the Minneapolis Teamsters and the over-the-road organizing drives, he saw the huge power a uniform regional contract gave to workers and the union. He moved to organize the South and then the West into uniform regional contracts. This led to major gains for Teamsters and his becoming International President of the union in 1958. Under Hoffa, Teamsters emerged as one of the best-paid workers in the country, with improvements in wages and conditions. The signing of the first National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) in 1964 was an enormous gain for rank-and-file Teamsters, and was mostly due to the struggle put up by the Minneapolis Teamsters.
At the same time as Hoffa won big gains for Teamsters, he concentrated power at the top of the union and weakened the involvement of the rank and file. His methods were to strike deals with the companies, using threats and at times organizing swift, well-organized strikes, to force employers to buckle under. Hoffa dealt ruthlessly with any rank and file workers or union activists who crossed his path. He also had dealings with the Mafia. This further created secrecy at the top of the union and introduced the Mafia into the Teamsters. It also gave a weapon of big business in its drive to weaken the union.
Despite his continual accumulation of power at the top and the increasingly luxurious and extravagant lifestyle of the Teamster leadership, Hoffa did understand the power of the strike method, and extracted major concessions through his use of secondary picketing, negotiating similar contract dates, and using open-ended grievance procedures. The grievance procedure established in the original 1938 over-the-road agreement, did not allow for automatic arbitration and Hoffa could strike by watching the methods of Dobbs and the Minneapolis Teamsters.
However, the union movement was faced with increased anti-union legislation. Starting with the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, big business sought to force the unions into a legal straightjacket. The provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, especially Section 14b, restricted the right to secondary picketing, opened the union to injunctions and lawsuits, and built up official channels through which big business sought to weaken labor’s powers. The Taft-Hartley Act was put through by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. Despite threats of mass actions against this legislation, both the AFL and the CIO foiled to mobilize workers and allowed this legislation to become law without a major challenge.
The response of Hoffa, from the time he became International President, was to attempt to find a way around the Taft-Hartley Act and subsequent anti-union legislation like the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959, by depending more on using clauses in contracts guaranteeing the right to strike. Ever mindful of the threat of further anti-union legislation, he attempted to keep struggles to a minimum and especially avoided calling a national strike, which might have provoked big business and the federal government to bring its weight down on the Teamsters. His failure to confront the anti-union laws and to educate the membership as had been done by the socialist leadership in Minneapolis left the members open to the attacks of the 1970s and 1980s. It was the heritage of the struggles of the 1930s, along with the economic upswing of the US and world capitalism, that allowed Hoffa’s limited strategy to make some gains at that time.
Big business launched an offensive to weaken the powerful Teamsters Union by attempting to convict Hoffa for corruption. Big business wanted to weaken the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) and it was no accident that the Kennedys intensified their “investigation” of Hoffa immediately after the National Master Freight Agreement was signed. Almost all goods in the US were carried by trucks. If the Teamsters could be weakened, then all employers would be able to make higher profits. Eventually, Hoffa was put in jail in 1967, and power in the union passed to Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons and the other leaders of the Teamsters favored complete capitulation to the employers and came under the thumb of the Mafia. They adopted a conciliatory attitude to management.
These events occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, a period of economic upswing for capitalism. Production raced ahead, based on the dominant position of the US at the end of World War II. Management was seeing profits increase. During this period, gains could often be won by workers without having to resort to the militant strikes of the 1930s. The union leaders were able to point to their methods of one-to-one negotiation with management as all that was necessary to improve conditions for their members.
The union leaders deliberately buried all the traditions of the 1930s which they considered “outdated” and “disruptive” and discouraged workers from participating in the day-to-day life of the union. What the labor leaders did not understand and did not warn the workers about was that the postwar upswing of the economy was only a brief respite in the history of US capitalism. On the basis of capitalism it was inevitable that the upswing would break down into a period of deepening crisis.
Militancy Won Reforms
Important lessons for today can be learned by looking at the overall process of the 1930s through the 1950s. An explosive upsurge of labor in the mid-1930s built new powerful industrial unions and won major gains for workers. This movement then attempted to extend its power onto the political front by moving toward a labor party but that was blocked by the majority of the tops of the labor leadership. During and after World War II, the Roosevelt Administration and big business tried to break the unions, but failed. Faced with this situation, big business moved on the political front to weaken the power of the unions by getting its two major parties to pass the Taft-Hartley Act.
Since the labor leadership failed to challenge the law by mobilizing the industrial power of workers as well as failing to build a Labor Party, the labor movement saw a steady erosion of its legal rights and an increase of anti-union legislation. However, it was only when President Reagan moved to break PACTO that the employers dared return to the open-shop, union-busting measures they use today. This was again accepted without a serious challenge from the leadership of the union movement.
The unions are suffering the consequences of this today when attempts to organize effective picket lines are slapped down with injunctions and courts. The only way for labor to overcome these laws is to expose their class nature and launch a campaign to openly challenge injunctions and court actions. Part of this process should include the building of a political Party of Labor, based on the trade unions, to send workers’ representatives to Congress against the hired hands of big business: the Democrats and Republicans.
When the postwar upswing came to an end with the 1974-75 recession, big business moved to drive down the living standards for workers in order to preserve their profits. The assault on living standards started under Democratic President Jimmy Carter with the deregulation of trucking and other industries. It was intensified under Reagan, and then Bush. Open union-busting came onto the agenda, and across the country labor found itself on the retreat.