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International Brotherhood of Teamsters

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Labor Union

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Official Site: Teamster.org
Wikipedia: International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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A labor union formed in 1903 by the merger of two smaller unions. The word "teamster" is derived from the word for people who drove teams of draft animals; the original focus of the Teamsters union and the work for which is most often known outside the union is representing truck drivers. Since then locals have branched out into representing all kinds of manual labor work, this entry will focus on the trucking aspects of the union.


The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's International Brotherhood of Teamsters page on 9 June 2020, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) is a labor union in the United States and Canada. Formed in 1903 by the merger of The Team Drivers International Union and The Teamsters National Union, the union now represents a diverse membership of blue-collar and professional workers in both the public and private sectors. The union had approximately 1.3 million members in 2013. Formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, the IBT is a member of the Change to Win Federation and Canadian Labour Congress.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) had helped form local unions of teamsters since 1887. In November 1898, the AFL organized the Team Drivers' International Union (TDIU). In 1901, a group of teamsters in Chicago, Illinois, broke from the TDIU and formed the Teamsters National Union. Unlike the TDIU, which permitted large employers to be members, the new Teamsters National Union permitted only employees, teamster helpers, and owner-operators owning only a single team to join, and advocated higher wages and shorter hours more aggressively than the TDIU. Claiming more than 28,000 members in 47 locals, its president, Albert Young, applied for membership in the AFL. The AFL asked the TDIU to merge with Young's union to form a new, AFL-affiliated union and the two groups did so in 1903, forming the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and electing Cornelius Shea as the new union's first president. The election process proved tumultuous. Shea effectively controlled the convention because the Chicago locals—representing nearly half the IBT's membership—supported his candidacy en bloc. Shea was opposed by John Sheridan, president of the Ice Drivers' Union of Chicago. Sheridan and George Innes, president of the TDIU, accused Shea of embezzlement in an attempt to prevent his election. Shea won the election on August 8, 1903, by a vote of 605 to 480. The new grouping elected Edward L. Turley of Chicago as secretary-treasurer and Albert Young as general organizer.

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30 September 2015Teamsters Indicted for Attempted Extortion of Reality Television Production CompanyU.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts
2 August 2019Illinois State Senator Indicted for Allegedly Fraudulently Receiving Salary and Benefits from Labor UnionU.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois

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