Minneapolis Citizens’ Alliance

The Minneapolis Citizens’ Alliance began in 1903 when owners of major industries organized to stop workers from unionizing, and demanding that every work place remain an “open shop,” without union representation.

In the 1930s, the Minneapolis Citizens’ Alliance (CA) was a major pro-business civic organization, which worked to undermine labor unions and expose their real or imagined threats. Through relationships with banking and finance, the local press, the National Guard, and the grand jury system, the CA attempted to defeat efforts to organize workers. Their leaders controlled businesses by threatening to have banks refuse to provide loans if any owner agreed to its workers unionizing. The CA accused all union leadership of being communists.

CA leaders believed that they had successfully eliminated unions until the Teamsters’ strikes of 1934, when labor organized a highly effective strike, which was met with violence. Workers were a backbone of the Farmer-Labor Party, who supported their efforts to unionize. CA leadership was staunchly Republican.

Following the successful strike, the CA reorganized and became the Allied Industries, drawing on the same leadership and pursuing the same policies.  Both the CA and AI made extensive use of spying and informers to infiltrate unions and other supporters of labor and progressive politics.

Dean Edward Nicholson worked within the structure of the CA, which included the Law and Order League, which he helped to lead.


SourceWilliam Millikan, A Union Against Unions. University of Minnesota Press, 2001Time Period1930s