Skip to main content

UAW Local 833 Records

Identifier: LR000377

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection deal mainly with the second strike, the NLRB case, and the McClellan hearings. However, there are some materials on the 1934 strike, the Federal Labor Union, the workings of the KWA from 1933 to 1952, and even a few items dealing with the original Kohler strike in 1897.

Important correspondents: Paul Douglas, James R. Hoffa, Irving Ives, Walter J. Kohler, Jr., James E. Murray, William Proxmire, Carl Sandburg, Alexander Wiley

Series Description: Series 1: Local 833 and Kohler Co. Strike, 1954-1960

Series 2: UAW Kohler Co. Boycott, 1954-1958

Series 3: NLRB Case, 1954-1962

Series 4: Legal Proceedings, 1950-1954

Series 5: McClellan Committee Hearings, KWA/Local 833 Subject Files, 1934, 1954-1957

Series 6: KWA Subject Files - UAW/Kohler Co. Organizing Drive, 1933-1954

Series 7: KWA/UAW Local 833 General Subject Reference Files, 1897, 1934, 1952-1958

Series 8: Contract Negotiations with Kohler Co., 1950-1955

Series 9: Local 833 Financial Records, 1952-1965

Series 10: Local 833 Radio Scripts - WHBL, 1952-1958

Series 11: NLRB Case #13-CA-1780 Files - Attorney Rabinovitz, 1954-1962

Series 12: Local 833 Union Member Subject Files, 1951-1958

Series 13: McClellan Committee Hearings - Legal and Subject Files, 1933-1934, 1951-1958

Series 14: Kohler Co./UAW and KWA, 1933-1934, 1950-1954

Series 15: KWA/UAW Union Subject Files and Attorney Rabinovitz Records, 1933-1934, 1952-1958


  • 1897 - 1965
  • Majority of material found within 1933 - 1960


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


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


The Kohler Co. of Kohler, Wisconsin, manufactures plumbingware. Its workers first organized in August 1933 when they received the charter for Federal Labor Union #18545 from the American Federation of Labor. In September 1933 the company responded by forming another union under its auspices - - the Kohler Workers' Association (KWA). The first Kohler strike began July 16, 1934, because of the Federal Labor Union's unsuccessful attempts at collective bargaining. The company, claiming that the strike was started by outside agitators, hired deputies and bought an arsenal to protect itself. On the night of July 27, 1934, there was a riot which resulted in the death of two strikers and the wounding of scores of people. A National Labor Relations Board election in September 1934, resulted in the KWA being designated as the workers' choice. In October the Federal Labor Union began a boycott, but it was unsucessful. The strike dragged on until April 1941 with a few strikers still picketing. With settlement the Federal Labor Union became inoperative.

In August 1950 the KWA and the company signed an agreement that was somewhat like a union contract. At the same time, the United Auto Workers began an organizing drive among the workers with help from some KWA officials who were dissatisfied with the KWA's relations with Kohler and felt they needed a large union backing them up. The workers voted to affiliate with the UAW in April 1952.

The second Kohler strike began April 5, 1954, after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a new contract. The union filed its first unfair labor practice complaint against Kohler Co. July 8, 1954, and began NLRB Case #13-CA-1780 that would not be settled until August 26, 1960.

In 1954 the union began a nationwide boycott and the company reacted by sending its officials on speaking engagements across the country. The Senate's Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, i.e., the McClellan Committee, held hearings on the UAW and the Kohler Strike in 1958 which resulted in the UAW coming through "without damage to its reputation for honesty and democracy." In December 1965, in an out of court settlement, the union agreed to drop all pending unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB in return for the company's payment of $4.5 million in back wages and pension credits.


51 Linear Feet (103 MB, 12 scrapbooks)


United Auto Workers Local 833 has had divisive history between workers at the Kohler Co. in Kohler, WI and their employers. First organized in 1933 by the American Federation of Labor, workers were soon embroiled in a jurisdictional dispute with a company-formed union, the Kohler Workers' Association (KWA). Following a strike, the KWA won the bid from the NLRB to represent workers, but leadership soon became dissatisfied and voted in 1952 to join the UAW.


Arranged in 15 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-15), Series 2 (Boxes 15-20), Series 3 (Boxes 20-24), Series 4 (Boxes 24), Series 5 (Boxes 25-32), Series 6 (Boxes 33-38), Series 7 (Box 38), Series 8 (Box 39), Series 9 (Box 40), Series 10 (Boxes 41-48), Series 11 (Boxes 49-81), Series 12 (Boxes 82-83), Series 13 (Boxes 84-95), Series 14 (Boxes 96-99), Series 15 (Boxes 99-103). Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.


The papers of Local 833 were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in December 1969 by Local 833.

Related Materials

Refer to UAW collections.


Approximately 15 photos from 1934 and 100 photos from 1954 - 60 have been placed in the Archives' Audiovisual Collection along with a T-shirt, a tie, and buttons from the second strike. Bound volumes of The Kohlerian, 1946-56 and People, 1951-62 and various pamphlets have been placed in the Archives Library. The 18 scrapbooks include 2 from 1934 and 16 from 1950-60.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in 1972.
Guide to the UAW Local 833 Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA