North America's Strongest Union

WWII: Sacrificing for Freedom

The Teamsters were an integral part of the Allies’ victory in World War II, contributing on the battlefield and on the home front. In 1942, President Roosevelt asked Teamsters General President Dan Tobin to travel to Great Britain and report back on how British unions were helping to win the war. On his return, Tobin urged the U.S. labor movement to emulate the British approach suspending all labor discord in the face of the Axis’ threat to world freedom.

The National Conference of Teamsters was formed help meet the economic and military crises facing the U.S. It actively promoted war bonds and organized drives to collect scrap metal and rubber to be used in military supplies. Nationwide, other Teamsters local unions, joint councils, and regional conferences followed suit, raising more than $2 million in war bonds during the first 18 months of the war.

Teamsters served on the front, too. By 1942, 125,000 Teamsters were in military operations for the Allied forces. The Allied victory would not have been possible without the Teamsters who drove troops to the front. Our members did not hesitate to volunteer for service after the attack on Pearl Harbor, often going down in groups with other members from their locals to sign up together. They served in every branch of the armed forces, engaging in everything from building the Burma Road to landing on the beaches of Normandy. Teamsters won scores of medals for bravery and dedication to duty in all times of crisis, including members who received the highest honor, The Congressional Medal of Honor.

As in WWI, Teamster women did their part for the war effort too. Women took on many jobs previously held only by men and proved they could hold their own in any work setting. Many employers were sorry to lose the women workers when they gave up their jobs to the returning veterans in 1945.



Next...Post War Years: Growth and Power

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