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AFSCME Oral Histories

 Collection
Identifier: LOH002240
Collection consists of audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with seven of AFSCME's important early figures: Gordon Chapman, Al Church, Joe Collins, Ed Dailey, Roy Kubista, William J. McEntee, and Dr. Joseph Mire. They discuss their backgrounds, education and training, entry into the labor movement and AFSCME, their careers with the organization, and reminiscences on events and other key figures in AFSCME history. Some interviews span multiple tapes. Roy Kubista was interviewed twice, in 1982 and 1983.
Gordon Chapman was elected secretary-treasurer of AFSCME in 1937. He served until 1944, when he became executive assistant to AFSCME president Arnold Zander. In 1948, he was reelected to the office of secretary-treasurer. Chapman resigned from AFSCME in 1961 to accept a State Department appointment as special assistant for the coordination of international labor affairs. In 1962, he was once again elected as secretary-treasurer of AFSMCE where he served until his retirement in 1966 owing to poor health. During the 1950s, Chapman also worked actively with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Albert "Al" Church was vice president of AFSCME International from 1958 to 1964, and he served on the organization's Judicial Panel from 1972 to 1987. He began his labor career in the United Public Workers, CIO, as a staff worker shortly after World War II, working with local unions in northeastern Minnesota. In the early 1950s, Church joined the Government and Civic Employees Organizing COmmittee (GCEOC), and he became its international union representative to AFSCME when GCEOC merged with AFSCME in 1956. Church was the first executive director of Minnesota's Council 65, chartered in 1963. He was instrumental in the passage of the Public Employee Labor Relations Act of 1971 (PELRA).

Joseph E. "Joe" Collins served on AFSCME's executive board in the 1950s. In the 1930s, he organized the engineers of the Brooklyn Borough President's Office and was a member of the Civil Service Technical Guild. Collins was a charter member of CGEOC in 1950, and was chairman of its New York Joint Board in 1956, when GCEOC merged with AFSCME.

Edward "Ed" Dailey, originally of Youngstown, Ohio, was an AFSCME International area director. After entering the labor force at a local mill, he soon started working for the city of Youngstown. He was involved with bringing in AFSCME to organize the city workers and served for a time as local president. Around 1939, he was recruited by Gordon Chapman to take on the role of business agent for the Pittsburgh City Employees Local Union, and from then on he served on the AFSCME staff.

The Roy Kubista interview takes place in two parts. Part I discusses Kubista’s early life and education. Kubista began work with what would become AFSCME, the Wisconsin State Employees Association, in 1934 as a part-time researcher. Kubista discusses his research and the state of the association during that period and the early days of AFSCME. He recalls Arnold Zander and describes his experiences with the leader. In part II, Kubista discusses the role of AFSCME employee Colonel Alva E. Garey. The impact of World War II is mentioned, as is the association's involvement during and after the war. Kubista held the position of executive secretary from 1936 to 1970, and the latter part of the interview deals with his experience in that position.

William J. McEntee began his career as a union activist in 1924 after getting a job with the city of Philadelphia as a street cleaner. After organizing first under the Teamsters and then directly under the city, the street cleaners eventually joined the State, County and Municipal Employees under the AF of L and became Local 222. McEntee discusses his position at Local 222 as a business agent and later as president of District Council 3. He talks about the growth of the council in the 1940s. McEntee recalls his relationship and experiences working with international president Arnold Zander and the highlights of his experiences with the council and the union. He closes with stories of his life after his 1968 retirement.

Dr. Joseph Mire was an economist and the first education and research director of AFSCME from 1943 to 1955. Mire was born and raised in Vienna, Austria, and was active in the European labor movement. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1941 and taught economics at the School for Workers in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1943, Arnold Zander hired Dr. Mire as an economist-educator-researcher for AFSCME. Mire compares the European and American labor movements. He discusses the differences in labor education, research services, and political and social involvement in them. Mire left AFSCME in 1955 to become the Director of the National Institute of Labor Education.

Dates

  • 1976-06-13 - 1985-09-30

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

RESTRICTIONS: Due to the personal nature of oral history, the Library prohibits use of the material in any way that infringes on individual right to privacy, or results in libelous statements or slander, in accordance with U.S. law.

Permission to publish or quote must be obtained from the interviewee or interviewee heirs or assigns.

Extent

1.5 Linear Feet ((1 MB, 1 OS). ) : Consists of 7 printed transcripts and 11 audiocassettes.

Abstract

Between 1975 and 1985, the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University and AFSCME undertook a cooperative oral history project to gather and preserve the memories of key persons who witnessed or played a major role in the development of AFSCME. Professor of History Philip Mason headed the project and interviewed several leading AFSCME members. Collection consists of audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with seven of AFSCME's important early figures: Gordon Chapman, Al Church, Joe Collins, Ed Dailey, Roy Kubista, William J. McEntee, and Dr. Joseph Mire. They discuss their backgrounds, education and training, entry into the labor movement and AFSCME, their careers with the organization, and reminiscences on events and other key figures in AFSCME history. Roy Kubista was interviewed twice, in 1982 and 1983.

History

Between 1975 and 1985, the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University and AFSCME undertook a cooperative oral history project to gather and preserve the memories of key persons who witnessed or played a major role in the development of AFSCME. Professor of history Philip Mason headed the project and interviewed several leading AFSCME members.

Arrangement

Transcripts and recordings are arranged by interview number.

Custodial History

A prior name for the project and collection was "AFSCME Oral History Project."

Acquisition

Deposited by Philip Mason, Walter P. Reuther Library, in installments between 1976 and 1985.

Processing History

Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library. Finding aid written by Rebecca Bizonet on May 19, 2016.

Creator

Title
Guide to the AFSCME Oral Histories
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library. Finding aid written by Rebecca Bizonet.
Date
2016-05-19
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Description made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
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Detroit MI 48202 USA