Dakota Datebook


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Across the ages, many people have gone on strike for different reasons and seeking different outcomes. Historically, they are remembered as a mix of peace and violence. In November of 1937, amidst other reported strikes, the G-M Plant in Michigan was in process of having its third Sit-Down strike. However, an ongoing strike in Grand Forks was a bakers strike—and these bakers were definitely standing up.

The strike began on a Sunday, and before the week was over, problems had escalated as 18 men were arrested. Throughout this time, five baking firms, Blacks, Chicago Bakery, Colton-Wilder, Franks and Eddy’s, were trying to keep going in the midst of strike by “concentrating their baking operations” at the Eddy plant. The employers of these firms had taken to doing “the actual baking” themselves in an effort to continue to produce.

On this date, the picketers for the strike, “most of them reported to be Fargo men imported for picket duty,” were using force to stop trucks from delivering bread. The picketers kept two trucks of the American Railway Express Co. from taking out any loads, and then later stopped a Hiller Transfer Co. truck from taking out its second load.

By noon, officials from the five baking firms announced that they would not be attempting any more bread deliveries until their drivers were granted some protection against “picket violence,” and all bread deliveries in the city were stopped. Representatives from Minneapolis had come in to help with negotiations that evening, and “a group representing the newly organized Associated Industries of Greater Grand Forks” met with police to ask for more police protection for the bakery delivery trucks.

The strike was still not completely settled by the next day after the arrests, though George Cox, manager of Cox’s bakery, met with a non-union arrangement and had already signed a working contract, and others were continuing to negotiate, and it reportedly was a peaceful day. But with the violence that had been exhibited, 18 picketers who had been arrested during were being charged with conspiracy to prevent the performance of a lawful act.

Things cooled down after that, though those picketers had to wait till December 14th to find out what would happen to them. Their case was dismissed, and they were discharged from custody at the request of the complainants of the action, and relative peace—and baking—once again took over the city.

Grand Forks Herald, Tuesday evening, p.5, December 14, 1937
Grand Forks Herald, November 19, 1937, p.1, p.5
Grand Forks Herald, November 18, 1937, p.1

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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