Strikes and wildcat walkouts have been commonly used by unions nationwide to achieve improved working conditions and wage and benefit increases when contract could be worked out with management at the negotiating table.
Since the 1930s, Muncie has had a reputation as a city with a history of strikes and wildcats. During the height of the organized labor movement in the 1950s through the 1970s, the two largest unions, UAW 287 and UAW 499, frequently went on strike to demand wage and benefit increases. These strikes lasted anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
The Indiana Refrigeration Lines Strike
The Indiana Refrigeration Lines strike was one of the most violent in Muncie's history. It began in the 1960s when the company's drivers decided to organize themselves as a Teamsters local.
Rodney Tetrault founded what would become Indiana Refrigeration Lines trucking company after World War II. At first his trucks hauled lumber from Kentucky to Muncie to supply Tetrault’s lumber yard. When John Hartmeyer, general manager of Marhoefer Packing Company, bought specially cooled truck trailers for shipping Marhoefer meats, he contracted with Tetrault to supply truck tractors to pull the trailers. Tetrault then also bought refrigerated trailers and established Indiana Refrigeration Lines. Eventually the company had terminals in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, as well as in Indiana.
Indiana Refrigeration Lines employed its own drivers and also leased its refrigerated trailers to independent truckers. In 1964, company drivers sought to unionize as a Teamsters local. Tetrault opposed unionization. The strike and resulting Teamsters violence against Tetrault, Hartmeyer, and their businesses are shown in these photographs. Indiana Refrigeration Lines eventually unionized under Teamsters Local 132.