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  • History of Teamsters Local 391

    Our History of Teamsters Local 391

    Local 391 grew from a base of 26 drivers in 1938, to become the largest, strongest union in North Carolina.

    The history of progress is a story of events. More importantly, however, it is a tale of people whose commitment and sacrifice paved the way for the wages, benefits, and working conditions that we enjoy today.

    In 1938, a group of drivers in High Point employed by Southern Oil Transport struck to win a labor contract. The agreement provided $8.33 in pay for a run of 400 miles from Wilmington to High Point to Charlotte to Fayetteville. These men teamed up with drivers from Atlantic States Motor Lines to secure a Charter from the Teamsters union.

    Congress passed the first minimum wage law in 1938, the same year Local 391 was formed. Workers had to be paid at least 25 cents per hour under the new law.

    Another 400 workers joined Local 391 through the end of World War II in 1945. During the war, the members of Local 391 saw their wages controlled by the War Labor Board.

    Road drivers for Roadway and other companies under the Local 391 fold got $12.17 for a trip from Greensboro to Asheville.

    The first area wide trucking agreement for North and South Carolina was negotiated in 1955. In 1963, Teamsters General President, Jimmy Hoffa, helped dedicate Local 391's new union hall, located between Greensboro and Winston-Salem on Interstate 40.

    While adding many new freight companies, the Local diversified through the years. For example, workers at the Miller and Schlitz (later Stroh) breweries joined Local 391's ranks. Adding UPS and other companies, Local 391 grew to 5,000 members by 1966. A bitter strike erupted in 1968 when Gilbarco failed to bargain in good faith. The Local gave special help to the picketers that Christmas.

    Spurred by a robust economy, Local 391's membership rolls topped 10,000 in 1979. However, deregulation, a sluggish economy, and a hostile legal system took its toll in the 1980's.

    Reflecting the Union's long history as a strong force in state and federal politics, Local 391 became the second largest contributor to DRIVE, the Teamsters' political action fund.

    Today, Local 391 represents nearly 8,000 members. There are many measures of a union's success. Size is only one. Another is the economic welfare of the members. Local 391 rates well in this area. For example, the Central States Pension Fund has paid over $200 million in benefits to Local 391's retirees over the years.

    The 26 men who formed Local 391 in 1938 probably never imagined the success the union would know or the challenges it would face in building the largest union in North Carolina. The future promises just as many periods of change.


    Mar 11, 2014

    Sep 07, 2007

    Dec 17, 2008

    1938-1988 Fifty Years.pdf

    Dec 13, 2008

    Teamsters Local 391 the First 40.pdf

    Feb 07, 2007

    The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with 1.4 million members, is one of the largest labor unions in the world. It is also the most diverse union in the U.S.

    Today, it would be hard to identify a Teamster on the streets because we are everywhere. The union represents everyone from A to Z - from airline pilots to zookeepers. One out of every ten union members is a Teamster.


    There are hundreds of Teamsters local unions across North America. The local unions and their members are the heart and backbone of the union.

    Unlike other labor unions, the Teamsters Union is structured to promote strong local unions, and strong local leaders. Since the locals negotiate most Teamsters contracts and provide most of the services to the members, they keep most of the dues money. Locals retain their own expert labor lawyers, certified public accountants, full-time business agents, organizers, and clerical staff.

    The members of each local elect their own officers, devise their own structure, and vote on their own bylaws, compatible with the International Constitution and Bylaws. While enjoying their independence, the locals benefit from the expertise and assistance of the International Union, and of the various conferences and councils in the union’s structure.


    Teamsters Joint Councils are set up in areas with three or more local unions. Joint Councils help coordinate Teamsters activities in those areas. They also help solve problems and decide some jurisdictional and judicial matters.


    Trade divisions and conferences aid Teamsters leaders throughout the country who share common interests and problems. They provide an informational clearinghouse for locals that negotiate in the same industry or bargain with the same employer.

    Local representatives discuss common problems and concerns at regular trade division and conference meetings.


    At the union’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., the International Brotherhood of Teamsters supports local unions with:

    • Coordination of national contract negotiations, political action, and organizing;
    • Training and educational programs for Teamsters officers, business agents, stewards and members;
    • Advice and assistance from experienced organizers, negotiators, researchers, attorneys, safety and health professionals, auditors, and communications specialists.

    View the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' organizational chart. Read about the department structure at the union's headquarters. The union’s General President and General Secretary-Treasurer serve as the executive officers of the union. The General Executive Board consists of 22 Vice Presidents geographically located or at-large. Three trustees, who are elected at Convention, serve as watchdogs over the International’s finances.

    Convention delegates, whom are elected locally, meet once every five years to amend the Constitution and adopt measures lending direction to the union. Between Conventions, the General Executive Board, guided by the Teamster Constitution, is the final governing body.

    Elections of officers for International union office are typically held once every five years.

    Page Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 (11:45:03)
  • Teamsters Local 391

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