In 1910, Tobin traveled with General Secretary-Treasurer Hughes to San Francisco and successfully re-affiliated Local 85, a large and financially sound Teamsters union founded in 1900 by Michael “Bloody Mike” Casey (1857-1937). Casey had served as one of the IBT’s seven regional vice presidents and the chief IBT representative and organizer for the entire United States west of Chicago.
Like Tobin, Casey was also an Irish-born immigrant who worked his way up to become a powerful labor leader. Tobin received word from Casey upon his return to IBT headquarters in Indianapolis that the members of Local 85 had indeed voted to be reconciled with the IBT. The two men admired one another and began a partnership to grow the union in the West. Tobin later remarked that Casey was “a real leader in [San Francisco] and represented a very fine organization.”
Casey rallied his members and was one of the first to begin rescue and emergency efforts after the 1906 earthquake. Casey was named to the oversight Commission for rebuilding the city.
The return of Local 85 – with its large treasury and membership – was a huge win for Tobin and would have a significant impact for the International. Casey would go on to organize Teamsters in Northern California at an increasing rate, bringing even more members into the rapidly growing IBT and ushering in a new age for Teamsters out West. Of the experience, Tobin later wrote: “I visited San Francisco and was successful in getting the largest organization in that city, Truck Drivers Local 85, and one of the most sound and wealthy local unions of the Teamsters in the country to re-affiliate with the International,” noting that the California workers were devoted to the principles of good trade unionism.