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Prepared by Carol A. Beal July 16, 1979; Prepared for the Web by Mikhail Slobodinskii, June 22, 1999
11 boxex, 8 cubic feet, 11th floor
This collection consists of the records of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Local 171 and 892, and those of the Mahoning, Trumbull, and Mercer County District Council (MTMDC), which has its headquarters on Rayen Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. Transferred to the Kent State University Archives by Raymond R. Piaski, Financial Secretary, they were delivered on February 9, 1979, to the University by Roger Meade, Director of the Ohio Labor History Project. The processing was completed with the help of student aides Mary P. Mason and Sandra Greene.
This collection helps to document the labor movement in America, especially the uphill battle for attaining labor's fair share of the products of an increasingly industrialized society. In the nineteenth century, unions often sought far-reaching social reform. By the time the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed in the 1890's, however, the goals became more pragmatic and were aimed at better working conditions, better wages, and shorter hours. By the 1930's unions were legitimated by the Wagner Act and therefore accepted as a necessary counterbalance to an expanding federal government and a powerful industrial and business community. To solidify their power, labor organizations have increased their complexity and scope, and have developed a modern bureaucratic structure, especially since the merger of the AFL with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955. Despite this united front, there exists intense rivalry among individual unions to insure the security of their own members. The result of this competition has been a growing emphasis on job jurisdiction within geographic or occupational areas as shown by the proliferation of locals and of trade councils and other affiliated bodies to insure regional or occupational supremacy.
Within this collection, the nature and variety of the records demonstrate the concerns of modern unions. Local 171, for example, was formed in 1886 to protect the interests of carpenters and other skilled workers in related trades. At the time, there were only two firms in Youngstown that hired union men. Pioneer members negotiated with employers for improvements in wages and hours in a non-union and often hostile atmosphere. By 1954, the number of workers in the local who engaged in floor laying and tile installation increased sufficiently to warrant the establishment of a separate local, 892, to deal with conditions peculiar to these trades. The two locals nevertheless continued to share a building as well as affiliation on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. In 1956, Locals 171 and 892 joined with several other locals from Mahoning and Trumbull Counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania, to form the Mahoning, Trumbull, and Mercer County District Council. In addition, they affiliated with state and national councils such as the Ohio Council of Carpenters.
The organization of these records proved a formidable task. Due to the long time span covered by these records (1939 - 1975), there were certain inconsistencies in filing that necessitated considerable rearrangement of materials. In addition, many of the records have been salvaged after a fire which contributed to their somewhat disorganized state.
To make this collection more accessible to researchers, the materials have been first arranged topically and then either alphabetically or chronologically within each of the subject areas. All documents except correspondence for the two locals and for the MTMDC have been put into separate folders, but have been interfiled under the subject headings. Although correspondence has usually been filed chronologically, certain categories of correspondence, such as charges, trials and fines have been filed separately and have received special mention in the inventory listing. In addition, some subject files may contain correspondence along with other materials. Several cases in point are the folders pertaining to disciplinary actions against union officials. Preprinted correspondence was categorized as a form letter, bulletin, or newsletter and was removed from the chronological arrangement. Similarly, advertising and sales brochures, along with requests for charitable and political contributions, were filed separately under printed materials. Minutes are also in two places. In unbound form, they are in box six. Two volumes in bound form are in the last box. Last, the photographs in this collection may be transferred to the Audio-Visual (AV) file at some future date. Thus if they are not with the collection, the researcher should consult this file.
There are many aspects of this collection that offer rich potential to researchers in sociology and history, particularly those interested in unionism and labor history, the functioning of bureaucratic organizational structures, relations of unions with the government, fair employment practices, and apprenticeship programs. The completeness of the minutes, the financial records, and the correspondence enhance the prospects for a longitudinal study of topics such as the allocation of union funds or the growing jurisdictional concerns among members. There is also a plethora of information on the benefit structure within the union.
Of special interest is the material detailing the construction of the union headquarters in the 1950's. These include specifications for the building, (listed under the subject files); receipts for building materials and monthly statements of account (filed in the financial records); photographs (found in the av folders near the end of the collection); and oversized blueprints (located in box ten).
For convenience of the researcher, the general organization of the collection is as follows:
- Constitutions and bylaws.
- Resolutions regarding bylaws.
- Correspondence, general.
- Form letters, announcements, and requests.
- Special files.
- Financial records.
- Membership lists.
- Resolutions from conventions.
- Resolutions from local union.
- Printed material, bulletins.
- Printed material, miscellaneous.
- Miscellaneous, material.
- Bound volumes.
The Union has agreed to donate property rights to the Archives.
Researchers should note that the present collection contains only one copy of the Signal (vol. 1, no. 2, Sept., 1975), the Federation's newsletter. As Future editions are received, they will be added to the appropriate folder.