International Association of Machinists.Alternative names
The International Association of Machinists is a trade union that was formed in 1888 by nineteen machinists in Atlanta, Georgia.
From the description of International Association of Machinists records, 1947. (Georgia Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 308473936
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Lodge #68 is one of the oldest of the Bay Area Metal working unions and has a long and interesting history. San Francisco IAM lodge #68 gained an early reputation for militancy and self autonomy and was frequently in conflict with the Grand Lodge. Serious conflict with the International during the 1930's and particularly during World War II eventually led to the suspension of Lodge # 68, the dismissal of its executive and the seizure of its funds. The independence of Lodge #68 and its willingness to do combat has been documented in several secondary sources including, Mark Perlman's The Machinists: A New Study in American Trade Unionism, (1962), which gives a good account of the battles between the local and the grand lodge during the depression and the 1940's. Richard Prime Boyden's unpublished manuscript, The San Francisco Machinists from Depression to Cold War, 1930-1950, (1988) explores the militancy of the both San Francisco Lodge #68 and Oakland Lodge #284.
IAM San Francisco lodge #68 was organized on February 10th 1885 and is the oldest local affiliated with the IAM. The Lodge was already in existence when the IAM was established in 1888. Lodge # 68 was typical of the old style Californian craftsman union, which took pride in its autonomy and isolation from the national movements. Lodge #68's long history of trade disputes began with a prolonged and unsuccessful attempt to win the nine hour day during the summer and fall of 1901. Six years later, on 1907 May 1st, San Francisco lodge #68 and an Oakland militant machinist lodge, stimulated the Iron Trades Council to launch a drive for the eight hour day. After an uneventful strike the machinists reached a compromise agreement which awarded them the eight hour day in gradual installments. The agreement specified a gradual reduction in the working day over a three year period between Dec 1st 1908 to June 1st 1910.
The next big dispute involving lodge #68 was the 1916 Auto Mechanics Strike. On May 1st around 200 mechanics had gone on strike for a wage increase of $4.50 against seven large auto agencies, beside the usual tactics of picket lines and boycotts, some of the machinists indulged in less above board practices, including industrial sabotage and the sending of spies posing as replacement worker (aka scabs). To harass the car dealers, lists were obtained from spies within the struck agencies of cars still under warranty, (most shops gave one year full coverage on vehicles they sold). The saboteurs would locate these vehicles and damage them with paint remover, knowing that the repair costs would be borne by the car dealer.
A key participant in the auto dealer conflict was Warren Billings who had been released from prison a year earlier after serving fourteen months for transporting dynamite during the PG & E strike. He acted as an union intelligence agent and fed information to Edward D Nolan, a machinist official at lodge #68. Nolan, a former member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), espoused the cause of industrial unionism and was a militant associate of Billings and Tom Mooney. The strike was still in progress on the day of the San Francisco Preparedness Parade of July 22nd 1916. As the parade passed along Market Street a bomb exploded killing ten and injuring forty people. The key suspects were Tom Mooney, his wife, Elena Mooney, Warren Billings, Israel Weinberg and Edward D Nolan. All five were arrested a few days after the blast.
Nolan would spend a total of nine months in jail. He was never brought to trial and was represented by Frank Mulholland, attorney for the IAM who secured his release under a $2000 cash bond. After his release he continued to protest the innocence of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings who would each spend twenty three years in jail. The minutes of Lodge #68 record the resolutions on the case passed by the San Francisco machinists.
The militant reputation of IAM lodge #68 continued into the 1930's with appointment of Harry Hook and Ed Dillon as officials. The latter was suspected by the grand lodge of communist connections. Hook and Dillon clashed on several occasions with Arthur Wharton, the president of the IAM, on issues concerning local autonomy and in particular the failure to obtain strike sanctions. The animosity between lodge #68 and the international was so strong that the grand lodge took the unusual step of refusing to contribute to Dillon's salary as business agent and the full costs were paid by the lodge. Yet despite numerous transgressions Wharton failed to come down harshly on lodge #68, probably due to its powerful influence on the West Coast. Another rebel machinist lodge in Oakland, Lodge #284, also organized strikes without the authorization of the grand lodge or even a majority of its affected members. This time the IAM president reacted firmly and suspended the defiant lodge.
The notoriety of Hook and Dillon would continue to keep Lodge #68 in the spot light during World War II. San Francisco was crucial to the United States war effort, particularly in the manufacture of Liberty war ships which created a large demand for skilled machinists. Lodge #68 recognized that its 5000 highly skilled members were essential to many Bay Area metal working companies. They were prepared to fight for a fair share of the war profits and to defend any incursions into existing labor practices. Had the machinists been able to negotiate directly with the employers some conflict may have been avoided. However in January 1942 the Federal Government established the National War Labor Board (NWLB). This board was given the power to regulate wage scales (which generally meant a freeze in real wages) and arbitrate in labor disputes. The machinists resented the intervention of the NWLB and a series of strikes and disputes arose.
In December 1942 when the government introduced staggered shifts, lodge #68 refused to cooperate with the new system which would effectively eliminate double pay for the Sunday shift. This refusal grew into a strike against two Oakland ships yards. For two weeks, 1800 machinists refused to work on weekends without overtime pay. The dispute led to an assistant secretary of the Navy informing President Roosevelt that lodge #68 and another rebellious machinist lodge #1304, were 'uncontrollable' and 'in practical rebellion against government policy'. On January 1st 1943 Roosevelt wired the local lodges directing them to obey government policy and settle the dispute. A special team of arbitrators were sent by Labor Secretary, Frances Perkins, to San Francisco but their efforts were unsuccessful. When workers in Los Angeles also joined the protests and other machinists around the country mounted similar campaigns the government was forced to drop its initiative
Lodge # 68 machinists were involved in sub contract work for Liberty ship engines at a number of San Francisco and Bay Area machinists shops including Joshua Hendy Iron Works. A dispute occurred there when management tried to de-skill work classifications and pay scales after a massive government funded retooling of the plant. The machinists responded with strikes and slow downs. By the summer of 1943 Lodge #68 had succeeded in preventing the changes despite charges of callousness and a lack of patriotism. (For the war period in general Lodge #68 machinists had very low levels of absenteeism and, despite industrial action during the summer of 1943, they were producing one Liberty engine a day, one of the best production records in the nation).
In 1944, as war production declined, lodge #68 implemented an overtime ban, a long established technique designed to avoid layoffs. The ban was scheduled to go into effect on April 17th 1944 and was immediately put under NWLB arbitration. The dispute might have been solved peacefully if it were not for Federal Mogul Corporation, a machinist shop in San Francisco, which persuaded a minority of workers to break the over time ban. When these workers stayed on the job after eight hours on July 27th the rest of the shop walked out in protest. The company was deemed vital to the war effort and President Roosevelt issued an executive order directing the Navy to seize the Federal Mogul plant and four other machinist shops.
Vice Admiral Harold Bowen, a top ranking Navy official and specialist in plant seizures, quickly arrived on the scene. He met continued defiance and reacted with draconian measures. Bowen demanded that the FBI should arrest Hook and Dillon and sought to prosecute them under the Smith-Connally Act (also known as the War Labor Disputes Act 1943). The machinist officials were not arrested but the FBI did spend 2 days searching the lodge offices and agents questioned individual workers as to whether Hook and Dillon had ordered them not to work overtime. Lack of evidence meant they were unable to jail the union leaders but the Navy did attack the union's rights in a number of ways such as suspending collective bargaining agreements, union shop dues, grievance procedure and job referral through the hiring hall. The Navy and Federal agencies also mounted attacks on individual machinists. Bowen served fifty-eight machinists with their draft papers, canceled the gas rations of others and ordered the firing of eight machinists. Such measures did end the over time ban but did not have the desired effect of breaking the union.
A few months later, in the fall of 1944, another crack-down on militant machinists took place when Martin Joos and Arthur Burke, members of Lodge #68, were dismissed and black listed after protesting to management against members of another craft doing machinists work at Bodinson Manufacturing company. Again the machinists were dismissed not by the company but by the Navy who had seized over a 100 San Francisco machinist shops after prolonged disputes between the machinists, the employers association and the National War Labor Board. Before they were fired Joos and Burke were both interviewed by FBI agents who hoped to prosecute them for violating war time anti-strike legislation.
The final show down came after the war had ended in the spring of 1946. Following another bitter clash between the Grand Lodge and Lodge #68 over the terms of a post war agreement with the California Metal Trades Association, the executive council suspended Lodge #68, blocked all its bank accounts, and subsequently tried Hook and Dillon. For their transgressions against IAM rules Hook and Dillon were fined $1000 and expelled. IAM Lodge #68 lost its charter and was taken into a trusteeship. (It was not reinstated until 1949). Hook and Dillon never regained admission to Lodge #68 and without its controversial executive the post war history of the Lodge # 68 appears to have been tame.
The notoriety of Lodge #68 during the 1930's and 1940's was largely due to the personality of its business agents. In his book The Fighting Machinists, Robert G Rodden, gives a colorful character sketch of Harry Hook and Ed Dillon: Oldtimers recall Hook as a talkative, two fisted tough who could belly up to the bar with the best. His side kick Dillon seemed to have no friends or interests outside the union hall. When Dillon mounted the rostrum at union meetings he would slam his coat to the floor, snap his suspenders and unleash a stream of fire-eating boss baiting oratory, bringing the members to a pitch of frenzied fury. Together Hook and Dillon were a formidable team. Hook was the muscle, Dillon the brains. (p.133)
During World War II, Lodge # 68 also clashed with the grand lodge over the admission of non white unionists as full members. As a response to discrimination against African-Americans in the defense industry, President Roosevelt appointed the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). By 1941 complaints had been filed against Lodge #68 of San Francisco for discrimination, and had not lodge # 1327 stepped in and opened up their union to African-Americans the matter would have undoubtedly been pursued further. (Lodge #68 had grudgingly allowed some African-Americans to work in ship yard machine shops but despite charging them a monthly fee for the privilege continued to bar them from membership). The machinists of Lodge #68 had a more enlightened stance on women members who were first admitted to the union during the World War II. Women machinists at the Joshua Hendy Iron Works were paid 75 cents an hour as 'production workers' although they were doing work identical to that performed by men at the 'specialist' rate of $1.11. A six month campaign by Lodge #68 won women machinists at Hendy's equal pay for equal work.
Over the years Lodge #68 has operated from a number of locations, initially in San Francisco and in more recent years South San Francisco. Previous addresses include, The Machinists Hall at 284 Oak Street, San Francisco, The Labor Temple at 16th and Capp, San Francisco, 2940 16th Street, San Francisco, The Machinist Hall, 3157 Mission Street, San Francisco and the War Memorial Building at Daly City. On 31 August 1991, after a number of organizing battles, Lodge #68 merged with Lodge #1347 and began operations at its current address 924 El Camino, South San Francisco.
Lodge #68 has been affiliated with a number of labor organizations: District Lodge 115, (comprised of 8 lodges in Oakland), The California Labor Federation, The California Conference of Machinists, The Pacific Coast Metal trades and The Bay City Metal Trades Council. During the 1930's Lodge #68 was a close ally of militant Oakland machinist Lodge # 284, which after it was suspended by the IAM president Arthur Wharton regrouped as local #1304 SWOC-CIO. Lodge #68 defied IAM rules and continued to collaborate with local #1304 during the 1940's. An allegiance that contributed to the final conflict between the Grand Lodge and Lodge #68. The jurisdiction of Lodge #68 encompasses machinists employed in ship repair, breweries, maintenance on newspaper presses, while its geographic catchment area ranges from San Francisco to San Mateo. Major employers, past and present, include Dalmo, Krough Pump, Joshua Hendy Iron Works, The Call and San Francisco News,
From the guide to the International Association Of Machinists, Lodge #68 Records, 1902-1980, (San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center)
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Lodge #284 was originally founded around the turn of the 20 th century. The early Lodge #284 has been characterized as militant due to its history of acting without sanction from the Grand Lodge. In his dissertation The San Francisco Machinists from Depression to Cold War, 1930-1950 (1988), Richard Prime Boyden states that the Oakland Lodge was founded by members of San Francisco Lodge #68 (Boyden, pp.186-187). Joint by-laws for the two Lodges are included in the 1908 journal in the collection for Lodge #68. Throughout the years, Lodge #284 and Lodge #68 worked together; and in 1936, when Lodge #284 faced suspension from the International Association of Machinists, Lodge #68 led supporters.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) was founded in 1888. San Francisco Lodge #68 was organized in 1885, even before the IAM, and became the oldest local. In 1895, the International Association of Machinists affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which was founded in 1881.
Boyden notes that in the early decades of the century, both the San Francisco and Oakland lodges were known as 'boomer lodges', "stronger and more militant", because a number of their members were 'eastern men' (Boyden, p. 71). The International Association of Machinists did not officially integrate until 1948 when its executive council ordered the qualification that members be white be stricken from the union's initiation ritual. Although the American Federation of Labor required that no statement of a color line be explicit in an affiliate's constitution, many unions, including the International Association of Machinists, excluded people of color unofficially through their initiation rituals. In the 1917 and 1919 minutes, Lodge #284's support of Chinese exclusion from employment and industry is noted. Women are mentioned in the journals, first as members of the Ladies Auxilary in 1917 and later as employees/union members receiving strike benefits. In the International Association of Machinists, women members were formally accepted in 1911. Mark Perlman touches on the issues of race and gender in his book Democracy in the International Association of Machinists (1962). He is also the author of The Machinists: A New Study in American Trade Unionism (1961).
The predominant strikes or conflicts in the early minutes (1917-1919 and 1919-1920) refer to the Marchant Company and the Hall and Scott Company. The 1917-1919 minutes ledger mentions a resolution to strike in early 1919 with or without sanction (p. 482). Much of the 1919- 1920 ledger documents recommendations for $6.40 for an 8 hour day, a 44 hour week and retroactive pay based on the Macy Award, which had fixed a wage level for shipyards (p.5, 45). Robert Edward Lee Knight mentions the Macy wage schedule in his book Industrial Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1900-1918 (Knight, pp.360-61).
In 1936, there was a walkout of machinists on both sides of the Bay. IAM President Wharton had already taken on a number of issues with the Oakland and San Francisco locals. He demanded that they join with other locals in forming a district organization and they refused. Also, 284 refused to accept a new production worker classification. Wharton had given conditional sanction to the strike, but after negotiating with a leading employer in the strike, Atlas Diesel, Wharton withdrew sanction. His action emboldened strikers. The national office ordered the strikers back to work and encouraged police to harass the pickets. The strikers sent Lodge #68's Ed Dillon to negotiate with Wharton. Dillon "hinted that western machinists might secede from the International Association of Machinists rather than lose this strike" (Boyden, p. 179). Wharton ordered the Oakland local suspended. "The entire regional labor movement rallied to the machinists' defense," providing 284 with funds and other support (Boyden, p.179).
At the National Convention in Milwaukee, "the Oakland strike commanded the most attention" (Boyden, p.181). Ed Dillon made the main speech in Oakland's defense, however when asked by Wharton if he and the appellants would abide by the convention's decision, Dillon's " refusal to commit himself in advance to support an unfavorable decision caused a large majority of votes to go against the Oakland strikers" (Boyden, p. 186). The remaining strikers returned to work and the next year the local received a new charter from the CIO to become Local 1304 of the Steel Workers' Organizing Committee.
The Oakland and San Francisco machinists' lodges, one CIO, the other AFL, continued to operate jointly...despite the...enmity between the rival federations. [IAM and AFL] officials would for the next ten years relentlessly pursue twin goals of destroying Local 1304 and purging the militant leadership of Lodge 68. (Boyden, p. 187)
When Lodge #284 was suspended, Local 1304 SWOC-CIO organized in many shops which had previously been under the jurisdiction of Lodge #284. As noted, Lodge #68 began working with Local 1304, although it met with the regrouped Lodge #284 also. Lodge #284 and Local #1304 rivaled each other for members.
Throughout the history of the International Association of Machinists and the American Federation Labor, there has been an effort to retain the status of the skilled worker. The Congress of Industrial Organizations, with its focus on industry not craft, has highlighted that issue of status as a limit in the AFL's ability to represent all employees. In IAM Lodge #284, workers came to gain employment at three general levels: journeyman, specialists and production workers.
There is much information about apprenticeship training in Dave Wilson's Business Agent files of the late 1940s. There were numerous joint committees of the East Bay and with San Francisco which focused on the apprentice training issue. The proposal for the formation of the junior college system in Alameda-Contra Costa Counties came about in 1948.
Over the years, Lodge #284 operated offices or met at 453 8th Street, Oakland; Moose Hall at 12th and Clay; the Labor Temple; Danish Hall at 164 11th Street; Cooks Union Hall at 1608 WebsterStreet; and 1117 Webster Street.
Lodge #284 has been affiliated with: International Association of Machinists, District Lodge No. 115 and its locals; Metal Trades Council; Iron Trades Council; California Conference of Machinists; California State Federation of Labor; and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County.
The jurisdiction of #284 includes machinists employed as welders, diemakers, diecasters, tool crib attendants, oilers and screw machinists. Its geographic jurisdiction includes Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville and San Leandro. Employers include Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance Co., Albert Wright Screw Products, Caterpillar Tractor Co., Food Machinery Corporation, Hall Scott Motor Car Co., and Leslie and Morton Salt Cos., and Marchant Calculating Machine Co.
From the guide to the International Association of Machinists, Lodge #284 Records, 1917-1966, mainly 1940s, (San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)|
|Machinists--Labor unions--United States|
|Labor--New York (State)--Kings County|
|Associations, institutions, etc|
|Machinists--New York (State)--Kings County|
|Machinists--Labor unions--New York (State)--Kings County|