Libraries & Collections at Rutgers: Special Collections and University Archives: The IUE Labor Archives Project:
The IUE Labor Archives Project
Subgroup: Conference Boards & Negotiations
Table of Contents
Series Descriptions and Container Lists 1
Outline of Series
Subgroup: Conference Boards & Negotiations
In October, 1965, Rutgers University received the Records of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO (IUE), in accordance with the agreement between the IUE and the University Library designating Rutgers as the official repository for the archives of the union. The first accession group of IUE Archives contained approximately 495 linear feet of material and was transferred to Rutgers in the original office transfiles formerly stored at the union's international headquarters in Washington, D.C. These transfiles contained records and documents generated and collected by IUE President James B. Carey and other union officers, the various IUE Departments and their heads, and the constituent district offices and local unions from 1949 (the inception of the union) to 1962.
The IUE Conference Board & Negotiations records, comprising 11.5 linear feet, constitute one subgroup within Record Group I of the IUE Archives. Though the IUE's original central transfiles included a small core of IUE Conference Board records generated by the respective chairmen of the major conference boards (GE, Westinghouse, GM), Rutgers University Archivist William Miller and his staff attempted to amalgamate these with the voluminous conference board records contained in other departments, thus creating an all-inclusive subgroup. However, this effort remained incomplete by 1971. Upon further appraisal of this artificial arrangement plan, it was decided to reconstitute and return identifiable Conference Board & Negotiation files to their department of origin, or the department head responsible for generating the records. Thus, the bulk of the various IUE Conference Board & Negotiations Files are contained within the following subgroups: President's Office, Secretary-Treasurer's Office, and Legal Department.
Arrangement, processing, and description of the IUE Conference Board & Negotiations records- Record Group I, IUE Archives, was initiated and completed in 1993 after the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Rutgers University Library received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and additional financial support from the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers, AFL-CIO.
The International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (CIO) Conference Board was established as the union's chief institutional mechanism to coordinate the collective bargaining activities of local unions situated within a multi-plant setting, or, "more or less well-defined segments within the electrical, radio and machine industries." Article XXIV, Section B of the IUE Constitution (adopted at the union's 2nd Annual Convention, December 1950), formally created the Conference Boards representing IUE locals in the General Electric Company (GE), General Motors Corporation (GM), Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and Sylvania Electric Products Company. In fact, these IUE Conference Boards had been fully operational during the union's earliest negotiations with the aforementioned chain corporations. The constitution empowered the IUE Executive Board with the authority to establish additional conference boards as the need arose.
The Conference Board represented the IUE's functional and democratic response to the complexity of collective bargaining with large, decentralized electrical and electronics manufacturers. It united all locals within their respective corporate "chain" to formulate a common bargaining agenda and achieve industry-wide standards with respect to wages, pension, health, and insurance benefits, employment security, seniority, union security, and improved vacation and holiday pay provisions. By evolving democratic procedures for the framing of contract demands and building a consensus toward negotiations, the IUE leadership blunted management's ability to divide locals against one another.
Each Conference Board consisted of delegates elected by each local union falling within its jurisdiction. Representation was proportional, based upon the following formula: one delegate for the first thousand (1,000) members; one additional delegate for each additional thousand members; provided that a local may have no more than four (4) delegates. The primary tasks of the Conference Board involved: formulating collective bargaining demands within their respective jurisdiction; designating negotiating committees to negotiate contracts; determining the acceptance or rejection of national agreements; coordinating the administration of bargaining agreements within their jurisdiction; and determining whether or not strikes should be called to obtain satisfactory national collective bargaining agreements. Acceptance of a national agreement by the Conference Board required a vote by local unions "representing no less than two-thirds of the IUE members represented by that Conference Board." Once approved, the national agreement was binding upon all locals covered under the jurisdiction of the Conference Board. Likewise, a two- thirds vote determined whether strikes should be initiated or terminated. An elastic clause in Article XXIV enabled the Conference Board to "establish additional regulations to govern their activities, subject to the approval of the IUE Executive Board. Thus, each Conference Board drafted its own rules and procedures, primarily empowering and expanding the functions of the Conference Board Chairman.
Local union delegates attended an annual February meeting of their respective Board to elect a Conference Board Chairman. The Chairman served a one-year term and had primary responsibility for coordinating the collective bargaining activities and administering the national agreement under their jurisdiction. The Conference Board Chairman served as a permanent member of the negotiations committee. The chairman was empowered to call special meetings of committees and subcommittees established by the Board--either upon the request of IUE President, or, written request of locals representing two-thirds membership. Assisted by the IUE International Office, Conference Board Chairmen participated in contract negotiations and furnished local unions with minutes and other informational material (concerning wages, hours, and working conditions) generated by the Conference Board and Negotiating Committee. They also were empowered to arrange meetings with management concerning questions arising over interpretation of the national agreement and resolution of grievance matters at the national appeal level. At the request of a local union within his jurisdiction, the Chairman assisted in negotiating supplemental agreements to the national contract, providing that these did not violate the national agreement and jeopardize standards and working conditions existing in other plants. All Conference Board Chairmen were active in planning organization drives and the establishment of Steward's Councils within their jurisdiction.
Prior to the annual Conference Board meeting to formulate a bargaining program, the respective Conference Board Chairmen called for regional grassroots conferences in an effort to survey and assess local conditions and management's observance of the current contract. Often, in conjunction with the Secretary-Treasurer's Office and Research Department, they initiated wage surveys to gauge the extent of existing inequities or endemic problems impacting upon future negotiations. Once the bargaining demands had been formulated, the Chairman, assisted by the International Office and Negotiating Committee, devised a strategy for the impending negotiation sessions with management. During the course of negotiations, the Conference Board Chairman and IUE leadership conducted a vigorous educational and publicity campaign to sustain local union support for the initiatives of the Negotiating Committee, and the pending national agreement.
The 1950's witnessed the union's vigorous expansion of its Conference Board Program, extending coverage to IUE members working in diverse occupation sectors and other chain corporations. Conference Boards were established for groups with more than 25,000 employees, or where the IUE Executive Council deemed justified. Among the new Conference Boards were: R.C.A., Sperry-Rand, Professional, Technical and Salaried Workers, Skilled Trades, and Radio, TV & Parts, and Philco. The IUE also created Councils for significant occupational segments requiring their own special collective bargaining agenda. These included workers employed in the Battery, Optical, and Lamp industries, nominally affiliated with the electrical manufacturing industry.
Scope and Content
The IUE Conference Board & Negotiations subgroup contains 11.63 linear feet of records documenting the history and organizational evolution of the major IUE Conference Boards and their impact upon labor-management relations within the large chain corporations--GE, Westinghouse, and GM--during the 1950's. Establishment of the IUE conference boards reflected the union's functional and bureaucratic response to the complexity of negotiations with highly decentralized conglomerates. Record contents provide evidential documentation of the administration and operation of the various conference boards and their impact on pattern bargaining within the electrical and electronics industries. The IUE Conference Board provided an institutional and democratic framework for local union representation in the framing of contract proposals and other major collective bargaining decisions--strikes, work stoppages, and the acceptance or rejection of contracts.
Proceedings, minutes, and reports of the various IUE Conference Boards and Negotiating Committees (GE, Westinghouse, and GM) are incomplete and sporadic for certain years but still provide the best documentation of the board's scope of activities. Reports to the Conference Boards prepared by various IUE Conference Board Chairmen and officers such as President James B. Carey, Albin Hartnett, and Research Director, David Lasser, offer an incisive overview of major issues and the formulation of contract demands pursuant to negotiations with the major chain corporation. Contained within the reports are analyses of wage patterns and statistical data on corporate profits, historical sketches of collective-bargaining relations with the major chains, and the comparative analysis of contracts on an intra-industry basis. Collectively, these sources provide labor historians and labor-management specialists with valuable reference material on the evolution of the IUE's collective bargaining agenda. Particularly noteworthy was the union's refinement of its pension, health, and insurance programs and the struggle to achieve employer- financed benefits. Another predominant theme was the IUE's concern with employment security issues and its successive contract proposals for a minimum security wage, guaranteed annual wage, and Supplemental Unemployment Benefits Plan (SUB) in the face of layoffs and economic recession. Other collective bargaining goals included: the inclusion of wage escalators and cost of living adjustments; establishment of a wage inequity fund; and improved union security, seniority, and grievance provisions.
Reports, circulars, and releases issued by the various IUE Negotiating Committees and transcripts of IUE bargaining sessions are the best sources to trace the chronology of negotiations with GE, Westinghouse, and GM. The Secretary-Treasurer's Office subgroup, however, contains a more comprehensive Conference Board and Negotiations series covering inclusive bargaining dates and a broader array of conference boards (i.e. RCA, Sylvania, and Radio, T.V. & Parts). This material documents the collective bargaining process and the strategic maneuvering by the IUE to formulate contract proposals and respond to corporate counter proposals.
The activities of IUE Conference Board Chairmen (John Callahan, GE, Michael Fitzpatrick and Robert Nellis, Westinghouse, and E.J. Kraft, GM), are chronicled in supporting correspondence and memoranda accompanying sessions of the Conferences Boards. Their missives are interspersed throughout the series. Chief correspondents include IUE officials--James B. Carey, Albin Hartnett, David Lasser, Joseph Swire and Benjamin Sigal. There is also correspondence between IUE officers (specifically Carey) and corporate executives--including letters received from GE President Ralph Cordiner, Westinghouse President, Gwilym Price, and Louis G. Seaton, General Motors Director for Labor Relations. While Conference Board meetings and negotiations dominate the subject content, there is important documentation of IUE efforts to build a consensus among locals in regards to formulating contract proposals and taking strike action. This is evident in the regional IUE-GE Grassroots Conferences which shaped the union's bargaining agenda with GE. Though contract demands were filtered from the bottom-up, there is ample correspondence and memoranda showing how the IUE leadership and Conference Board Chairmen orchestrated the bargaining agenda and undertook extensive educational work to build consensus at the local and regional levels.
The subgroup also documents the impact of various strikes, organizing campaigns, and government (war) economic stabilization programs on negotiations and labor agreements. There is supplementary information pertaining to the 1952 lockouts and strikes at Bowling Green, Kentucky and Buffalo, NY, and the nationwide IUE strike against Westinghouse in 1955-56. The IUE-GM Conference Board series sheds light on the impact of UAW agreements with GM, and their implications for IUE members within GM. The 1960 IUE-GE contract talks comprise a sizable portion of the IUE-GE Conference Board Records and include strike material and records pertaining to IUE Local 301 and Leo Jandreau (Schenectady, NY).
1. GENERAL ELECTRIC CORPORATION CONFERENCE BOARD & NEGOTIATIONS FILES , Date Span: 1949-1963, 8.30 LN.FT.
Organized chronologically by year and arranged alphabetically within the yearly grouping.
The GE Conference Board and Negotiations Files document the frequently contentious course of IUE- GE negotiations at the national level from 1950-1963. This series includes a variety of records and material generated and collated by GE Conference Board participants, IUE officers, and GE management active in contract negotiations during the period covered.
The bulk of the series includes the following: minutes, reports, and releases generated by IUE- CIO "Grassroots" GE regional conferences, IUE-GE Conference Board meetings, and the IUE-GE Negotiations Committee; minutes (transcripts) of IUE-GE negotiations and bargaining sessions; union and corporate-issued publicity material (circulars, leaflets, newsletters, press releases, and clippings); summaries and analyses of contract proposals, counter proposals, and agreements; transcripts and summaries of IUE-GE bargaining sessions conducted under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services; correspondence (the bulk, office copies) between IUE and GE officers; copies and transcripts of statements, addresses, and interviews; and IUE memoranda and correspondence relating to GE negotiations and labor-management relations. There are also brief overviews of IUE-GE collective bargaining history which were prepared by Carey and his staff. A substantial portion of the IUE memoranda and circular letters were issued by John H. Callahan (IUE-GE Conference Board Chairman), Frank Fiorillo (IUE-GE Conference Board Secretary), James B. Carey, Al Hartnett, David Lasser, Joseph Swire, and Benjamin Sigal. Corporate correspondents include GE President, Ralph Cordiner, Vice President for Labor-Management Relations, Lemuel Boulware, and Virgil B. Day, Manager for Union Relations.
Record contents trace the evolution of the turbulent collective bargaining history between the IUE and GE. From the outset, GE stalled official recognition of the IUE and the first contract negotiations--a three-month affair that included a series of "rolling strikes" closing down 13 GE plants in eight states--in 1950, set the tone for subsequent collective bargaining sessions. IUE- GE negotiations were marred by strikes, in 1953 (Syracuse, NY and Linton, IN) and 1960 (nation- wide), as well as threatened work stoppages throughout the decade. The series contains a small amount of correspondence and bulletins devoted to the 1960 GE strike, with reference to the actions of IUE Local #301 and its Business Agent, Leo Jandreau, during the strike. Though the national IUE-GE labor accord of 1955 (a five year pact) provided a modicum of labor stability on wage issues, the Conference Board records and related materials document the contentious bargaining relationship over the union's push for a comprehensive employment security program to address the problems of automation and technological displacement, runaway shops, subcontracting of work, and cyclical recessions. Bargaining gains and trends are traced in the areas of: health, pension, and insurance benefits; cost of living adjustments (COLAS): and unsuccessful campaigns for a guaranteed annual wage, supplementary unemployment benefits, and non-contributory payment provisions for funding employee health care and retirement programs.
Memoranda and correspondence, sent and received by IUE-GE Conference Board officials and IUE officers, illuminate the degree to which the IUE's jurisdictional struggle with the UE impacted upon GE negotiations. IUE organizational gains were directly proportional to strengthening its position at the bargaining table. Early IUE-GE negotiations took place against the backdrop of a frenzied anti-communist environment and IUE officials cited examples of GE's policy of collusive- bargaining with the communist-dominated UE to defeat the IUE in key locals. Another predominant theme involves the intense publicity campaign waged by GE at both the national and local levels to discredit the IUE during negotiations and strikes. Documents contained in this series illustrate the union's concern and preoccupation with debunking GE's extensive and heavily financed propaganda machinery in communities dominated by the corporation. The degree to which pattern bargaining--i.e. gains made by the autoworkers, and steelworkers--shaped the conference board's pre-bargaining sessions and formulation of demands is also highlighted in this series.
Al Hartnett's GE Conference Board sequence (covering the period 1951-1957) contains important correspondence and memoranda between John Callahan and Hartnett assessing the status of negotiations and conditions and membership data at various GE locals. File contents also include pristine copies of conference board meeting minutes, IUE-GE Negotiating Committee reports, and typescript drafts of circulars and releases covering the period from 1953-1958. A substantial amount of this material is duplicated in the preceding sequence, but was used as Hartnett's own conference board reference files.
This series is complemented by GE Conference Board material contained within the GE and Westinghouse Research Files series of the IUE Research and Education Department Subgroup and the more substantial President's Office Subgroup (RG-I) records. The latter houses the largest portion of Carey's correspondence, memoranda, and reports pertaining to IUE-GE Conference Board activities and GE labor-management relations for the period, 1950-1963. There is much overlap and duplication, however, in terms of IUE-GE Conference Board proceedings, Negotiating Committee reports, and releases and circulars.
2. WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION CONFERENCE BOARD & NEGOTIATIONS FILES , Date Span: 1939- 1956, Bulk Date: 1950–1955, 2.0 LN.FT.
Organized chronologically by year and arranged alphabetically within yearly grouping.
Consists of a variety of historical and evidential material documenting IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board activities and negotiations with Westinghouse corporate management. This series complements and duplicates to some degree, the more definitive Westinghouse Conference Board & Negotiations records housed as a separate series within the Secretary-Treasurer's (Hartnett) Office Sub-Group, RG-1. Additional Westinghouse Conference Board Records can also be found within the IUE Legal Department Records, RG-1, General Files of Sigal. Dating from 1950- 1955, the records cover the early and formative period of the union's collective bargaining relationship with the electrical conglomerate. That bargaining relationship, though frequently contentious, nevertheless established a pattern and standard for wages, pension, health, and insurance agreements, and work-related issues covering 55,000 electrical workers. Record contents were generated by Conference Board participants, various IUE officers, and Westinghouse corporate managers. Correspondents include: IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board Chairmen, Michael Fitzpatrick (1950-52), Robert Nellis (1950-56); James B. Carey, Al Hartnett, David Lasser, Benjamin Sigal, and Joseph Swire; and Westinghouse Corporation President Gwilym Price, and Vice-President for Labor Relations, Robert Blasier.
Items include: proceedings and minutes of IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board meetings; reports, circular letters, and bulletins issued by the IUE-Westinghouse Negotiating Committee; employer newsletters and releases; research data on IUE organization, membership, and strike finances; analyses of Westinghouse Corporation's financial profile; agreements, contract proposals, and local supplements; summaries and transcripts of sessions of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services; correspondence, memoranda, and telegrams generated and received by IUE officers and Westinghouse management; transcripts of Carey statements and addresses on IUE contract demands and Westinghouse labor policies; correspondence and reports filed by IUE Field Representatives concerning local union support (strike contribution fund) for the nation-wide Westinghouse strike, 1955-56.
The Westinghouse Conference Board records chronicle the process by which the IUE leadership, research staff, Westinghouse Negotiating Committee, and Conference Board Chairmen formulated and refined the union's bargaining demands. Correspondence and memoranda exchanged between the IUE Conference Board Chairmen and IUE officers illustrate the intense publicity and educational efforts to forge a consensus among IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board delegates representing locals within the Westinghouse chain. Although early IUE-Westinghouse (1950-52) negotiations were generally less adversarial than those conducted with GE, friction soon resulted when the corporation concluded substandard wage agreements and work rules with the UE and sought to impose them upon IUE membership. Relations further deteriorated in 1951 when Westinghouse initiated lockouts at Bowling Green, Kentucky (refusing to extend coverage of the national contract to a new IUE local) and Cheektowaga, NY.
The IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board files and reports issued by the union's Westinghouse Negotiation Committee trace the IUE's aggressive campaign for: across-the board wage increases; establishment of an inequity fund to ameliorate regional wage differentials; cost of living adjustments; equal pay provisions; employer-financed health, insurance, and pension plans; the strengthening of seniority, grievance, and maintenance of membership clauses in contracts; and more liberal policies regarding vacations and holidays. Employment security issues figured prominently in the 1954 round of negotiations as the union bore the brunt of lay-offs attributed to a variety of factors--automation and technological displacement, plant relocation, and economic recession. As correctives, the IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board included among its ten point program proposals for a corporate minimum wage ($1.25 per hour) and a guaranteed annual wage.
There is substantial material relating to the issues which ignited the 156 day nationwide Westinghouse Strike of 1955-56. Management's unilateral demand for a multi-year pact (five years with a no-strike pledge) and the imposition of time-study schedules covering day workers under its "Industrial Engineering Control Program," galvanized the IUE to strike action. Included among the IUE-Westinghouse Conference Board & Negotiations Files are memoranda and correspondence relating to local union conditions during the strike. There is also an insightful survey of workers attitudes (with inclusive quotes) towards Westinghouse's contract offer of November 1955 involving Feeder and Service Employees at an unidentified plant.
3. GM CONFERENCE BOARD & NEGOTIATIONS FILES , Date Span: 1939–1958, Bulk Date: 1950-1958, 0.85 LN.FT.
Organized chronologically by year and arranged alphabetically within yearly grouping.
The IUE-GM Conference Board & Negotiation series chronicles the union's complex negotiations and bargaining relationship with the automobile giant during the 1950's. GM became the first major chain corporation to conclude a national agreement with the IUE in May 1950. During the period 1950-1958, the union negotiated four national contracts with GM covering 30,000 IUE members in six locals. These locals included various GM subsidiaries: Delco-Remy Battery, (Local 416, New Brunswick, NJ); Delco Appliance, (Local 509, Rochester, NY); Delco Products (Local 755, Dayton, Ohio); Delco Radio (Local 1155, Chicago, Illinois); Packard Electric Company, (Local 717, Warren, Ohio); and Frigidaire (Local 801, Dayton, Ohio). Though covered by the national IUE-GM contract, GM locals negotiated supplemental agreements to improve local plant conditions.
Among the records contained in the series are minutes, correspondence, and memoranda relating to IUE-GM Conference Board meetings (1953-54, 1958); reports, releases, and correspondence issued by the IUE-GM Negotiating Committee; correspondence, memoranda, and telegrams generated and received by IUE-GM Conference Board Chairmen, E.J. Kraft, GM Conference Board Secretary, Homer C. Pierce, and various IUE officers and department heads--James B. Carey, Al Hartnett, David Lasser, and Benjamin Sigal. Though small in quantity, the series contains substantive minutes of the 1958 IUE-GM negotiations sessions. Other negotiations-related records include union demands and corporate counter proposals; research data on wage patterns and GM profits; corporate generated publicity releases and newsletters (1956-58); and correspondence sent and received by Louis G. Seaton, GM's Director for Labor Relations.
The series highlights the IUE's struggle to advance wages, strengthen health, insurance, and pension plans, and refine grievance and union security provisions covered by the national agreements of 1950, 1953, 1955, and 1958. A dominant issue throughout the decade involved union efforts to prod GM to adopt employment security provisions as safeguards to cyclical recessions and layoffs during the 1950's. Reports and statements made by Carey to the Conference Board highlight the union's push for better production planning by management to ameliorate layoffs. Following the lead of the UAW, the IUE formulated contractual demands for the implementation of a minimum security wage and guaranteed annual wage. GM's rejection of these proposals prompted the IUE to devise a Supplemental Unemployment Benefits plan to provide a safety net for workers once state unemployment compensation had been exhausted. GM's efforts to discredit the SUB plan and substitute its own "Income Security Plan," proved a central issue during the 1958 contract talks. There are also files concerning legal issues in Ohio which prevented adoption of the SUB plan, and IUE-GM efforts to formulate an alternative plan. Factionalism within IUE Locals 755 and 801 (Dayton, Ohio) concerning support for GM's Income Security plans is documented in one file.
This series complements the more extensive IUE-GM Conference Board & Negotiations material deposited within the President's Office, Secretary-Treasurer's Office, and Legal Department Subgroups. Collectively, these subgroups provide a comprehensive and definitive overview of the IUE-GM collective bargaining relationship.
4. SUBSIDIARY CONFERENCE BOARDS FILES , Date Span: 1951-1963, Bulk Date: 1951-1958, 0.45 LN.FT.
Organized alphabetically by industry and arranged chronologically therein.
Contains a small quantity of supplemental Conference Board documents and material generated by the following IUE-designated industry and occupational sectors--Lamp Workers, Professional, Technical, and Salaried Workers, and Radio, T.V. and Parts. Much of the series consists of minutes, resolutions, and reports pertaining to sporadic IUE Radio, T.V., and Parts Conference Board meetings between 1951 to 1963. In addition, there are analytical reports generated by James B. Carey and Research Director, David Lasser, assessing issues and problems within each of the enumerated industries. In the Radio, T.V., and Parts industry, the issue of sustained layoffs and unemployment--owing to the government's materials allocation programs and restrictive consumer credit policies--is a predominant theme. Economic recessions, technological displacement, and plant relocation to non-union regions, frustrated IUE efforts to achieve higher wages and fringe benefits comparable to other industrial sectors. Also contained in the series are scattered issues of Salaried Slants, the bulletin for the IUE Professional, Technical, and Salaried Workers. Resolutions adopted in support of the 1954 Philco strike can also be found within this segment of the series.