Publication Date

Winter 1991


[Excerpt] The association between the union and the underworld, a relationship that young Walter Lippmann simply could not envision, did not stem from an insidious criminal power that somehow proved impervious to FBI surveillance. Rather, criminal involvement in the trucking industry may actually be the most lasting contribution to modern America made by those who, in the name of fundamentalism, prohibition and creationism, fought that modernity so insistently. During prohibition, organized crime's interest in the trucking industry grew exponentially as urban criminal groups developed enormous fleets of trucks to transport illegal liquor. Following repeal in 1933, the industry remained attractive to the underworld, both as a way to invest funds from other illegal enterprises and as a potential new "milk cow" that might replace the windfall profits accrued during the 1920s. The perishable nature of much of the freight carried by city drivers; the decentralized and competitive nature of the industry, where even threats to disrupt service could have customers flocking to competitors; and the rather astounding growth of the IBT during the 1930s all contributed to this condition.


Suggested Citation
Salvatore, N. (1991, Winter). Teamster democracy: A moment of possibility [Electronic version]. New Politics, 93-102.

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