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Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Jack Maloney
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Jack Maloney was born in Minneapolis in 1911 and raised there. His step-father was an unskilled laborer and team driver, and Maloney dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support the family. He learned the truck driving trade, and joined the General Drivers Local 544 in the early 1930s. In the labor struggles of the 1934-1940 period, Maloney played a key organizing role for the Teamsters. He participated in the Minneapolis truck strikes, and then moved to Sioux Falls, Sioux City, and Omaha to help form Teamsters locals in those cities. Although not among the Minneapolis labor leaders tried under the Smith Act in 1941, Maloney served a term in federal prison on charges stemming from a bakers' strike in Sioux City in 1938. For part of this period, Maloney used his step-father's surname, Seaverson, and is referred to in this way in the Teamsters' newspaper and other sources. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: The interview is wide-ranging, although it mainly covers the years 1920 to 1937. He describes in some detail working conditions for unskilled and semi-skilled laborers in the 1920s; harvest field work and farming practices; itinerant Wobblies and their life-styles; and conditions in the trucking industry which led to the 1934 strikes. With the help of his step-brother, Don Seaverson, he recalls unemployed and hunger marches of the early 1930s in Minneapolis, relief efforts for the unemployed, the Farm Holiday Association's protests, and the coal truck drivers' strike of 1934. There are extensive personal memories of Carl Skoglund, Ray (Vincent) Dunne, Mickey (Miles) Dunne, Grant Dunne, Bill Brown, and Floyd B. Olson. He gives a vivid and detailed account of the 1934 general drivers' strikes, and describes the daily work of coal haulers, transfer drivers, and the grocery wholesaling business. He shows a particular interest in machinery, and incidentally explains the workings of farm equipment, steam engines, and trucks. Maloney comments at length on the IWW, tensions between Trotskyites and Stalinists, the mainstream labor movement, and Floyd Olson. He recalls a number of strikes in which Local 544/574 assisted: Strutwear Knitting Company, Flour City Ornamental Iron Works, the auto mechanics strike of 1935, and the Works Progress Administration strike of 1939. He touches on the role of the Ladies Auxiliary of Local 544, and his later career in organizing over-the-road drivers for the North Central District Drivers' Council. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: His account of the 1934 to 1937 labor struggles closely parallels that of Farrell Dobbs in Teamster Rebellion and Teamster Power, to which he often refers. Maloney's analysis is different, however, in that he was a rank-and-file union member who never belonged to the Trotskyite parties. While clearly sympathetic to the Trotskyite point of view and radical in his interpretation, Maloney is neither as intellectual as Dobbs nor as doctrinaire. Maloney's memory is crystal clear, and his story-telling delightful. Maloney's style is quite vernacular, and his tense usage is inconsistent. His own voice is retained throughout the transcript, except where unclear. He uses many slang terms.
9 hours sound cassette
127 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
08:51:42 running time
Interviewee: Maloney, Jack
Interviewee: Seaverson, Don
Interviewer: Rachleff, Peter J.
Interviewer: Salerno, Salvatore
Made in: Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Creation: 04/21/1988 - 04/25/1988 (Interviews conducted 4/21/1988 and 4/25/1988.)
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 30 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.228.28 (Accession Number)
MHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'