1930: The Great Depression


The Great Depression hit the unions hard — organizing efforts decreased, memberships declined, and treasuries struggled to stay afloat. Violence increased as many union men and women went on strike to protest the return of slavish working conditions a generation earlier. Many unions would falter. However, under Tobin’s leadership, the Teamsters Union would prove the exception. Like every American at the time, they would be hit hard, but thanks to the strong foundation of their International, Teamsters prevailed, weathering the tough economic times better than any other union in the AFL. 

Tobin’s strict guidance of the financial system — put in place by GST Hughes decades earlier –allowed the Teamsters to stay afloat despite a loss in membership. It is during this time that Tobin becomes wary of “socialist” groups and communists, afraid the union will suffer from negative association.