Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly [GPQ 8 (Winter 1988): 16-28]. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


During the Great Depression the Dakota Teamsters established themselves as the most important union on the northern Plains. 1 Their success involved struggle and sacrifice, with a full complement of setbacks and losses as well as advances and gains. From the 1930s on, the union has reflected certain of the general characteristics of the parent body, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America. Like the International, the Dakota Teamsters was always basically a truck drivers' union, but also something more. As with the International, the concept of jurisdiction was elastic. "In our teamsters union," the Minot, North Dakota, business agent explained in 1972, "we have had cooks, retail clerks, bakers, confectionery workers, waitresses, butchers, soft drink bottlers, grocery store employees, and many others."2 So it was in the Depression years.