North America's Strongest Union

Post War Years: Growth and Power

Following the war, the IBT made sure all Teamster veterans kept their seniority when they returned from the war and went back to work. By 1949, membership topped one million, thanks to organizing in booming post-war industries: the automotive trades, food processing, dairy, and workers servicing vending machines. A decade-long national campaign “Have It Delivered” promoted Teamster freight and delivery services, creating more jobs for members.

Congressional passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in the summer of 1947 was aimed at the heart of the trade union movement as part of management’s efforts to reduce labor’s influence. The IBT continued to perfect its strategy of creating multi-state bargaining units, area-wide negotiations and control of the trucking terminals to become nearly unbeatable in a sustained job action.


At the 1952 convention, after 45 years at the helm, Tobin announced his retirement. Dave Beck was elected his successor. Over the next five years, the Teamsters grew in members and stronger at the bargaining table. In 1955, a 25-state contract covering all over-the-road and local freight hauling and establishing uniform rates was negotiated.

In 1956, Congress approved the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which created the Interstate Highway System. Beck and other Teamster leaders were key in helping pass this legislation. More than any other single act by the U.S. government, the creation of the Interstate Highway System changed the face of America. Its impact on the American economy—the new jobs it would produce in manufacturing, construction and transportation—was, in a word, phenomenal. And it also coincided with a period of dramatic growth for the Teamsters.



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