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Teamster Black History Timeline Highlights

Listed below are just a few of the many achievements and events in the history of black members in the union.

1903 The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is formed by the amalgamation of two team driver unions: The new union was formed at a meeting in Niagara Falls, New York. Black delegates were sent to this meeting as well as white members.

1903 The first local executive board in New Orleans has black and white officers.

1905 Teamsters gain support of many African-American workers during the large Montgomery Ward strike in Chicago. The strike is unsuccessful, but union gained many new black members at this time.

1906 Teamsters speak out against the practice of other unions where separate groups are formed for black members.

1906 A Teamster Magazine editorial states that black workers make just as good union members as whites and have the same capacity to learn and become leaders.

1917 Teamsters represent women laundry workers and win a large increase for them. A non- negotiable part of the contract is that black women must be paid the same wages as white women.

1917 During World War I teamsters push employers to hire black men and women to for jobs traditionally held by whites as many white workers are now soldiers. Teamsters also insist that the wages should be the same. 

1919 Teamsters take on the official slogan “Equal Pay for All”

1920 Teamsters take on more “crafts” as part of the union, including dockworkers, construction workers and warehousemen, which increases the number of black members.

1932 Teamsters disavow the official practice held by other unions of making sure white members were given jobs first.

1934 Teamsters officially oppose the Jim Crow laws in the south.

1942 During World War II many more blacks became members of the union as jobs opened up in the war production areas.

Blacks begin to take on positions of responsibility in the locals, serving as shop stewards and being elected to office.

Black Teamsters serve in the armed forces with honor and in the many civilian forces at home.

1943 Teamsters once again publicly emphasize the no color line policy.

1950 Black leaders are receiving more “official” recognition, including spotlight stories in the union magazine and recognition awards.

1955 Feature spread in Teamster magazine on Robbie Jubiter, a woman steward at Montgomery Ward, out of Local 743 in Chicago.

1957 Teamster magazine Profile on Benjamin Turner, a steward at Local 728 in Atlanta. The story portrays Turner on equal footing with white peers.

1957 Turner story also pictures Gid Parnham, who was a first black organizer in the south, from Local 728.

1958 Clara Day becomes an Assistant Business agent for Local 743 in Chicago.


1961 Teamsters send supplies to Freedom Village in Alabama.

1962 Marvin Hinton and John Williams are acclaimed as outstanding member organizers by Local 210 in New York.

1962 Teamster women, black and white begin to take a large role in the D.R.I.V.E. Program. Teamster women black and white, travel together, unsegregated on buses from across the country to Washington DC for D.R.I.V.E. More than 15,000 Teamster women make the trip between 1962-68.

1963 Scores of Teamsters, black and white, from across the country attended the March on Washington

1963 Robert Ash is elected as a Trustee for Local 991 in Mobile, Alabama.





1965 Teamsters give $25,000 to Martin Luther King Jr. for his civil rights organization

1965 George Graham of Local 977 is recognized as a hero for saving the life of another driver. He was one of a number of black members cited for similar deeds throughout the decades.



1966 Teamsters support the endeavors of members. Ferris Cassius of Local 775 is congratulated as he opens his own business.

1966 Ernest McBride, Local 88 in Long Beach, CA is honored as a hero for saving children from a fire.


1966 Black delegates are very active at the 1966 Convention.

1967 Clara Day becomes Local 743 Community Service Director. She had earlier been appointed to the Chicago Human Rights Commissions by Mayor Daly. And, will serve on the state commission as well.

1974 Lou Richards hired as first black International organizer.

1974 Clara Day is a co-founder of the national Coalition of Labor Union Women (C.L.U.W.)

1975 The Teamsters National Black Caucus is formed.





1976 John Cleveland becomes the first black International Vice President

1999 Chester Glanton becomes an International Vice President

2001 Carl Haynes becomes International Vice President. Ron McLain becomes International Trustee

2001: Black members take active role in the Convention

2004 Ferline Buie elected first black woman Joint Council President.

2005 Henry Perry becomes International Trustee. Black Caucus Celebrates 30th Anniversary.


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