International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 85 of San Francisco was founded in August 1900,
with an initial membership of thirty-five men. The teamsters organized in response to the
appearance of the Draymen's Association, an alliance of San Francisco team-owners, which had
been founded in January of that year.
Prior to the formation of the union, San Francisco teamsters
toiled under conditions the Labor Clarion described as "among the most slavish in the west." The
average work day was from 5 a.m. to after 8 p.m., and "there was no such thing as regulation of
hours, or working men in shifts. The problem of the employer was to get as much work as he
could out of the flesh and blood of his hired men; the problem of the teamsters was to keep alive."