United Public Workers of America

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Of current interest to many scholars and politicians is the issue of unionization in government and the industries directly effecting the public health and safety, ie., the public utilities. Various formulas and solutions have been presented by both public and private sources, but most of these do not contain a generally applicable answer to the question of how to provide employees with the right to organize and bargain collectively and yet maintain the vital public services of these institutions.

After a wave of strikes in 1946, the State of New Jersey attempted to solve this problem through passage of a statute providing for seizure of struck public utilities and operation of these utilities by the government for the duration of the strike. This statute was amended in 1947 by a provision for compulsory arbitration of the issues of a work stoppage or the issues preventing new contract determination. A punitive penalty of ten thousand dollars per day was to be levied against any union which struck a public utility with an additional $250-500 penalty to be ordered against any person or persons who aided or abetted such a stoppage. An additional provision stated that each day of work stoppage was to be considered a new offense.

On April 7, 1947. the Traffic Telephone Workers Federation went on strike against the Bell Telephone Company in New Jersey. On April 10, the governor filed suit against the . Union for $10,000 under the terms of the public utilities statute. On the following day, officers of the Telephone Federation and several other employees of the telephone company were arrested and subsequently released on $500 bond.

A case was brought before the District Court by the American Civil Liberties Union to enjoin the application of the statute. An injunction was thereby ordered against the enforcement of the statute pending the determination of constitutionality by a higher court. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey.

In a memorandum opinion, Vice-Chancellor Bigelow of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute as a valid exercise of state police power and further stated that the seizure was of the "pro forma" or protective custody typo and, as such, did not deprive the parties "of their property without due process. The Supreme Court of New Jersey later upheld this opinion.

From the guide to the New Jersey vs. the Traffic Telephone Workers Federation of N.J. and the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. Files, 1948., 1948, (Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Herbst, Frank, 1917-1979. Papers, 1937-1993. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Series 1, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 2. Moe Foner interview, 1975-1981. Cornell University Library
referencedIn National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Series 1, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 8. 1199 vice-presidents interviews, 1975-1977. Cornell University Library
referencedIn National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Series 1, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 4. Lillian Godoff interview, 1976. Cornell University Library
referencedIn United States. Congress. House. Committee on Education and Labor. Special Subcommittee To Investigate Teachers Union, Local No. 555, United Public Workers of America, CIO. Investigation of Teachers Union Local No. 555, UPWA-CIO : hearings before the United States House Committee on Education and Labor, Special Subcommittee To Investigate Teachers Union, Local No. 555, United Public Workers of America, CIO, Eightieth Congress, second session, on Sept. 27-30, Oct. 1, 19, 1948. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Virginia State Industrial Union Council. Papers : 1928-1957. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Daniel Bell Research Files on U.S. Communism, Socialism, and the Labor Movement, Bulk, 1920-1960, 1886-1980, (Bulk 1920-1960) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Henrickson, Merle E. Merle E. Henrickson papers, 1945-1973, (bulk 1945-1950). Wayne State University, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs
referencedIn National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Series 4. Montefiore Hospital interviews, 1975-1976, bulk 1975. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Guinier, Ewart. Ewart Guinier papers, 1910-1989. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Papers, (inclusive), (bulk), 1865-1998, 1905-1975 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf United Public Workers of America. [Constitutions, agreements, etc.] Wisconsin Historical Society
referencedIn Ewart Guinier papers, 1910-1989 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Frank Herbst Papers and Photographs, Bulk, 1941-1957, 1937-1993 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Series 1, Subseries 1, Sub-subseries 1. Leon Davis interviews, 1975-1981. Cornell University Library
referencedIn United States. Congress. House. Committee on Education and Labor. Special Subcommittee. Hearings. Transcript, 1948., 1948 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn Hilliard, Raymond M., 1907-1966. Raymond M. Hilliard papers, 1922-1967. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Stuart, Yale. Yale Stuart papers, 1945-1949. Wayne State University, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs
creatorOf New Jersey vs. the Traffic Telephone Workers Federation of N.J. and the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. Files, 1948., 1948 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Collective labor agreements--Public utilities--New Jersey
Arbitration, Industrial--New Jersey
Public utilities--Employees--Labor unions--New Jersey
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