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Guide to the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 Photographs PHOTOS.118

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Maggie Schreiner

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 08, 2019
Finding aid is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Amy C. Vo to reflect changes made to containers due to rehousing.  , February 2019

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Utility Workers Union of America. Local 1-2
Title: Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1940-1996
Dates [bulk]: 1980-1996
Abstract: Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America evolved out of the Utility Workers Organizing Committee (UWOC) established by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1938. In 1946, with more than 180 locals organized nationwide, the UWOC transformed itself into the Utility Workers Union of America, CIO. This collection includes photographs of meetings, events and rallies; individual and group portraits; 5 photo albums; VHS tapes; buttons, badges and hats; and personal artifacts from John McMahon, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1-2. The the photographs and artifacts span from 1940 to 1996.
Quantity: 8.5 Linear Feet in 13 manuscript boxes and 2 record cartons.
Quantity: 5 videocassettes
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: PHOTOS.118

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Historical Note

The history of Local 1-2 properly begins with the Utility Workers Organizing Committee (UWOC) established by the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1938. Previous practice within the industry had been to have company unions, easily controlled by management. Organizing was facilitated in the New York area by a merger of older local companies (New York Edison, Bronx Gas, the New Amsterdam Company, Central Union Gas, Northern Gas and others) into the Consolidated Edison Company(ConEd). One year after the merger the AFL-affiliated International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) obtained the right to represent ConEd employees, and soon issued charters to each of the seven company unions.

In 1940, after a bitter intra-union dispute in the IBEW between the newly organized utility workers and electrical workers, the ConEd employees pulled out of the international union. The seven utility locals constituted themselves as the Brotherhood of Consolidated Edison Employees. As a newly independent utility workers union, the body took the name Local 1-2, representing the separate identities of two major categories, plant and clerical employees, within ConEd. The governing Council of the Brotherhood included representatives of both categories of workers. The Brotherhood eventually came to represent all unionized workers at ConEd.

In 1945 the Brotherhood was invited to become part of the CIO's Utility Workers Organizing Committee; it would make a significant contribution to the size and power of this body. In 1946, with more than 180 locals organized nationwide, the UWOC transformed itself into the Utility Workers Union of America, CIO. Three of the top officers of the new international union came from New York's Local 1-2.

The first administration of Local 1-2 remained in office for seventeen years, with Paddy McGrath and Andrew McMann as president and Business Agent, and Richland and Marsini as Assistant Business Agents. The personal popularity of McGrath, combined with a system of elections which heavily favored the incumbents, assured the continuation in office of the old guard. In the mid-1950s challenges to the incumbents were mounted by a number of groups, including the United Social Club (Joe Murray), the Security Party (Jim Geoghegan), the Rider Avenue Committee (Sampson and McMann, who had split from the McGrath slate) and "Steam." At the same time, the insurgents attempted to change the by-laws, to replace the practice of system-wide elections and appointed business agents with section-based elections for Board members and business agents - and slates for top officers. In 1958, in a marathon caucus meeting at the New Yorker Hotel, the challengers finally got together and fielded a joint slate known as "The Coalition." In one of the first elections to be conducted by the American Arbitration Association; 16,000 out of 20,000 eligible voters participated. The ballots took several days to count and the opposition won by a substantial margin.

Despite a number of disputes and defections within the Coalition alliance, the new administration managed to remain in office until 1990, when a new insurgent group, the Justice Party turned them out after a hard-fought campaign. Against a backdrop of ongoing internal struggles, the Local also faced a number a challenges from the outside, and an uphill fight against ConEd's attempts to hold back wage increases, trim benefits, and shrink the workforce. Between 1958 and 1962 ConEd bought three power plants from the Transit Authority. Workers in these plants had been represented by Transport Workers Union, Local 101, and the transfer of the plants led to a battle between the TWU and Local 1-2 for jurisdiction over those workers. Local 1-2 emerged victorious, and thereby gained 2,000 members.

The Local has long faced serious health and safety issues, including high rates of cancer among members exposed to asbestos, PCB's, and other toxic substances, and severe injuries due to fire and explosions. There have also been debates within the union about discriminatory practices in ConEd hiring, about the use of nuclear power, and the constant threat of downsizing in the ConEd workforce. In 1968 the Local mounted a two-week strike, which resulted in a return to work with acceptance of the company's original offer. A more debilitating nine-week strike in 1983 resulted in losses for the union, and widespread dissatisfaction with the Local leadership among members. The company had responded quickly and effectively to the black-out threat, demonstrated its ability to run the system using supervisors and even handled a fire emergency in mid-town in record time. After the 1983 strike, the workforce, which had already declined from its 1958 peak of 25,000, was reduced through attrition to 13,000.

Hard times in the Local brought a new series of challenges to the leadership in the late 1980s. In the face of a serious threat from the Unity Party, headed by Mike Cotter, James Joy returned to the post of Business Manager of the Local after serving as International president. He arranged a temporary truce, creating a special post for Cotter - but strife continued, as the leadership sought to oust Cotter and a court-ordered election was held, which restored him to his post. A new round of by-laws changes resulted in the victory of the Justice Party, and its presidential candidate, John Goodman, in September 1990.

Sources:

  • For a more detailed history of the Local see the typescript survey report (Harry Van Arsdale Labor Records Project, Survey #387) produced by Jane Latour for the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives in 1991.

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Scope and Contents

This collection consists of black and white and color photographs dating from 1940 until 1996, though the majority are from 1980 through the mid-1990s.

Series I: Events and Portraits (1940-1996) The images document Local 1-2 meetings, conferences, elections and negotiations, as well as rallies and pickets. Social events such as picnics, dinners and parties are also represented. The contentious election history of the Local, including the 1990 victory of the Justice Party, is evident in many photographs. There are a large number of group and individual portraits of Local 1-2 leadership.

Series II: Photo Albums and Artifacts (1940-1996) This series includes 5 photo albums documenting conferences and initiatives. Additionally, there are approximately 40 political and Local 1-2 buttons and ribbons, VHS tapes, hats, badges, and personal artifacts from Secretary-Treasurer John McMahon, such as collected business cards, eye glasses and religious items.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into two series:

Series I: Events and Portraits; Series II: Photos Albums and Artifacts

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Photographs.
  • Membership cards.
  • Buttons (information artifacts).
  • Identity cards.

Subject Organizations

  • Utility Workers Organizing Committee
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Consolidated Edison Company of New York, inc.
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)
  • American Federation of Labor

Subject Topics

  • Labor unions -- Officials and employees.
  • Labor unions -- Organizing -- United States.
  • Strikes and lockouts -- Public utilities -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Labor unions -- Elections -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Electric industry workers -- Labor unions.
  • Collective labor agreements -- Public utilities.
  • Arbitration, Industrial.

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection, created by the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Utility Works Union of America, Local 1-2 Photographs; PHOTOS 118; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Archival Materials

WAG 131 Guide to the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 Records

See also: Records of the Transport Workers Union of America (including TWU Local 101). The Record, the newspaper of Local 1-2.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2 sent a gift of 6 boxes of photographs 1997 and 1998; additional materials were donated in 2003. The accession number associated with these gifts are 1997.064, NPA.2002.053, and NPA.2003.112.

Processing Information

Loose materials were housed in new acid-free folders. The majority of materials are in original folders with original caption information. Folder titles that have been supplied by the archivist are with square brackets.

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Container List

Series I: Events and Portraits, 1940-1996

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 1940 & 1950
1940-1950
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Dances
1950s
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Picnics
1950s
Box: 1 Folder : 4 1950s
1950s
Box: 1 Folder : 5 50s-60s
1950s-1960s
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Local 1-2 Photographs
early 1960s
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Miscellaneous
1960s
Box: 1 Folder : 8 1960s
1960s
Box: 1 Folder : 9 1967-1968
1967-1968
Box: 1 Folder : 10 1970s
1970s
Box: 1 Folder : 11 1980s
1980s
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Local 1-2 Photographs
early 1970s
Box: 1 Folder : 13 1970s-1980s
1970s-1980s
Box: 1 Folder : 14 1980s (I)
1980s
Box: 2 Folder : 1 1980s (II)
1980s
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Colombians
1985-1989
Box: 2 Folder : 3 St Patrick's Parade
1986
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Joy Reurns; Membership Meeting
Apr 1986
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Union Meeting
Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Whitfield, Charles: Retirement Dinner
1987
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Union Meetings
1987-1990
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Labor Day Parade
Aug 1988 - Sep 1988
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Membership Meeting
Sep 1988
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Picnic (Suntan Lake, NJ)
Sep 1988
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Toys for Tots
1988
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Utility Workers Local 1-2
1989
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Breakfast for Graduates of Van Arsdale Labor School (Astoria Manor)
1989
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Solidarity Day
Jan 25, 1989
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Democratic Fundraiser
Feb 1989
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Membership Meeting
Feb 1989
Box: 3 Folder : 7 1989 (I)
1989
Box: 3 Folder : 8 1989 (II)
1989
Box: 3 Folder : 9 1989 (III)
1989
Box: 4 Folder : 1 1990s
1990s
Box: 4 Folder : 2 St Patrick's Day
1989
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Rally at Irving Place (I)
Mar 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Rally at Irving Place (II)
Jun 8, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Union Meeting (I)
Jun 13, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Union Meeting (II)
Jun 13, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Workers Memorial Day
Apr 28, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Swearing in of Officers
Jun 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Rally (Westchester) (I)
Jun 5, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Rally (Westchester) (II)
Jun 5, 1989
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Company Sign, Irving Place
1989
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Rally (Bronx)
Jun 6, 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 2 [Rally], Queens Boulevard
Jun 7
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Rally, Irving Place
Jun 8, 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Link Up (I)
Jun 13, 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Link Up Pictures (Met Life, Con Ed, NY Life Rally)
Jun 13, 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Link Up (II)
[Jun 13], 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Link Up (III)
[Jun 13], 1989
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Link Up Contract Negotiations (Human chain around Irving Place)
1989
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Columbian Party
1989
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Gramercy Park
1989
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Gramercy Park Funeral
1989
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Membership Meeting
Sep 27, 1989
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Membership Meeting
Nov 21, 1989
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Gene [Briody], Cuomo and Walensa
Nov 1989
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Union Meeting
1989
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Hellgate Explosions
Dec 24, 1989
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Health and Safety Committee
1989-1990
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Labor Day Parade
1989 or 1990
Box: 6 Folder : 10 1990 (I)
1990
Box: 7 Folder : 1 1990 (II)
1990
Box: 7 Folder : 2 1990s
1990s
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Safety Meeting about State Funding
1990
Box: 7 Folder : 4 James (Jimmy) Joy (I)
Undated
Box: 7 Folder : 5 James (Jimmy) Joy (II)
Undated
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Key Players
1945-1995
Box: 8 Folder : 2 Miscellaneous
Undated
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Briody Administration (Meetings and Conferences)
1987-1990
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Memorial Service (Bruckner Blvd)
Feb 1990
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Membership Meeting
Feb 1990
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Anniversary, 50th
1995
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Anniversary, 50th: Dinner
1995
Box: 8 Folder : 8 President of Union
1996
Box: 8 Folder : 9 3rd Cubicle Portraits (Kelly, Houlihan, Armstrong, Keenan, Sanchez)
Undated
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Executive Board
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Group Pictures of Officers
1986-1990
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Picnic, NJ
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Miscellaneous
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 4 [1989]
1989
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Officers
1989
Box: 9 Folder : 6 Sanchez, Tony and Richard Besthoff
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 7 2nd Cubicle Potraits (Cotter, Sommer, Gallione, Bencivenao, Lendino)
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 8 COPE-Brooklyn
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 9 Briody, Gene (I)
1987-1990
Box: 10 Folder : 1 Briody, Gene (II)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 2 Gene Radio Show
1990
Box: 10 Folder : 3 Memorial Service (American Legion Post 1124)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 4 Officers, Local and National
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 5 Election Board
1989
Box: 10 Folder : 6 1st Cubicle Portraits (Zummo, Mastro, Papa, Providence, Clancy)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 7 Miscellaneous
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 8 Ryan, Willie (National Representative from Local 1-2)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 9 Westerkamo (President of the Mutual Aid Society)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 10 Cuomo, Mario
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 11 National Officers (Mike Kenny and Marshall Hicks)
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 12 Eastern Rally
Mar 4 1989
Box: 10 Folder : 13 Local 1-2
Aug 1, 1991
Box: 10 Folder : 14 Utility Workers
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 15 Retirement Party
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 16 Elections
Undated
Box: 10 Folder : 17 Elections (II)
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 1 General Membership Meeting
Feb 10, 1993
Box: 11 Folder : 2 Unidentified Meeting
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 3 Elections (III)
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 4 Portraits
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 5 Membership Meeting
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 6 Rally
Apr 23, 1996
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Photos from the Files of John McMahon
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 8 Group Portraits
Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 9 Regional Conference; Various Events
Oct 5, 1992-Oct 7, 1992; Undated
Box: 11 Folder : 10 Events and Portraits
1993-1994
Box: 12 Folder : 1 Various Events (I)
Undated
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Group Portraits
Undated
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Various Events (II)
Undated
Box: 12 Folder : 4 Various Events (III)
Undated
Box: 12 Folder : 5 Various Events (IV)
Undated
Box: 12 Folder : 6 Meetings
Undated

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Series II: Photo Albums and Artifacts, 1945-1996

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 13 Album: "Pictures"
undated
Box: 13 Album: "The Record" (Con Edison Post 1174 Hospital Visitation Committee)
1944-1975
Box: 13 Album: Conference (Washington, D.C.) (I)
1989
Box: 13 Album: Conference (Washington, D.C.) (II)
1989
Box: 14 Album: Constitutional Convention, 23rd (Hollywood, Florida)
Jun 24, 1987 - Jun 27, 1987
Box: 15 Badges
undated
Box: 14 Buttons
undated
Box: 15 Hats
undated
Box: 14 McMahon, John: Personal Artifacts
undated
Box: 15 Stickers
undated
Box: 15 VHS Tapes
1994, undated

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