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AFSCME Office of the Secretary-Treasurer: Gordon Chapman/Joseph Ames Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR002096
The collection covers the years 1944-1973, primarily focusing on 1962-1972. The early records in this collection document the activities of Leo Kramer and COUR, illustrating their rival campaigns. The later records in this collection document the activities of the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer, including finances, conventions, International Executive Board meetings, correspondence and speeches, political activities, legislation, files on councils and locals, and files on various associations with which AFSCME had relationships.

Important Subjects: AFL-CIO. Committee on Political Education AFSCME. International Convention AFSCME. Judicial Panel Coalition of American Public Employees International labor activities Labor unions—Finance Labor unions—Jurisdictional disputes Labor unions—Law and legislation—United States Labor unions—Organizing United States. Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959

Important Names: Ames, Joseph Lynn, 1925- Bilik, Al Chapman, Gordon Warner, 1907- Gotbaum, Victor Hastings, Robert Kramer, Leo Kubista, Roy Lucy, William McEntee, Gerald W. Meany, George, 1894-1980 Newman, Winn, 1924-1994 Roberts, Lillian Schut, Norman Trask, David Wurf, Jerry, 1919- Zander, Arnold S. (Arnold Scheuer), 1901-1975 Zinos, John Zwerdling, Abe
Series Description: Series 1: Leo Kramer files (assistant to President Zander), 1948-1964 (Bulk 1960-1964) Leo Kramer served as President Arnold Zander’s assistant. The great amount of responsibility Zander gave Kramer became an issue because Kramer was appointed by Zander rather than elected by the union. The files in this series include Kramer’s records on New York District Councils 37 and 50, which were led by Jerry Wurf and his brother Al; AFSCME’s political and financial reports; correspondence, and international trips.

Series II: Committee on Union Responsibility (COUR), 1960-1964 The Committee on Union Responsibility was formed by AFSCME members promoting reform in the governance of the international union. In 1964, the COUR candidate Jerry Wurf beat incumbent Arnold Zander to win the AFSCME presidency. Secretary-Treasurer Gordon Chapman joined the reform movement and was reelected to the office with his running mate Wurf in 1964. The records here include correspondence, convention files, newsletters, and clippings on COUR’s activities. General COUR files come first, and state COUR files come second, with each section arranged alphabetically.

Series III: Finances and Reports, 1944-1971, bulk 1961-1971 This series contains reports on AFSCME’s membership, charters, constitutional revisions and interpretations, and finances. Folders 3.15-3.25 contain various reports. Folders 3.26-4.3 contain financial information and are arranged chronologically.

Series IV: IEB and Conventions, 1964-1973 This series contains reports, correspondence, minutes, resolutions and amendments, and speeches from International Executive Board (IEB) meetings and from AFSCME International Biennial Conventions. The Convention files come first, followed by the IEB files. Both sections are arranged chronologically.

Series V: AFSCME Internal Staff, Political Action, and Meetings, 1965-1972 This series contains files on AFSCME Departments, AFSCME political action, meetings and conferences other than the biennial convention, internal staff meeting minutes, and staff training material. AFSCME Departments come first, followed by meeting minutes, conferences, committees, and political action and other files. Each section is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI: Councils and Locals, 1961-1972 (Bulk 1970-1972) This series contains files on Councils and Locals throughout the United States and Central America. The records feature correspondence, reports, clippings, publications, and meeting minutes. This series is arranged alphabetically by state and chronologically within each state.

Series VII: Correspondence and Speeches, 1969-1972 This series contains general correspondence and speeches, primarily by Jerry Wurf. The speeches come first and are arranged chronologically. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and chronologically within. The ‘chrono’ files include general correspondence to and from AFSCME’s high-level executive officers.

Series VIII: Legal and Legislative Files, 1971-1972 This series contains files on the legal cases in which AFSCME was involved and legislation for which AFSCME campaigned. It is arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series IX: Associations, 1966-1972

This series contains files on associations and committees with which AFSCME interacted. The files are arranged alphabetically by association.

Dates

  • 1944 - 1973
  • Majority of material found within 1962 - 1972

Creator

Language of Materials

Material mostly in English, with some in Spanish.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

11 Linear Feet (11 SB)

Abstract

This collection primarily covers the end of Gordon Chapman’s tenure as Secretary-Treasurer, and all of Joseph Ames’s tenure. These years saw turbulence in the International Union’s politics where founding incumbent president Arnold Zander faced challenges from an opposing faction called the Committee on Union Responsibility (COUR). COUR candidate Jerry Wurf won the presidency at the 1964 convention. Gordon Chapman held the office of Secretary-Treasurer. In 1966, Chapman retired due to poor health. He was replaced by Joseph Ames who had been President Wurf's assistant. Ames served as Secretary-Treasurer until 1972 when he became Judicial Panel Chairman, and William Lucy, then President Wurf's assistant, became Secretary-Treasurer.

The early records in this collection document the activities of President Zander's assistant Leo Kramer and COUR, illustrating their rival campaigns. The later records in this collection document the activities of the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer, including finances, conventions, International Executive Board meetings, correspondence and speeches, political activities, legislation, files on councils and locals, and files on various associations with which AFSCME had relationships.

History

Unlike AFSCME’s Office of the President, the Office of the Secretary-Treasurer has seen several occupants. Tenures and office holders are as follows: 1935-1936: Roy Kubista 1936-July 15, 1937: David Kanes July 15, 1937-October 4, 1944: Gordon Chapman October 5, 1944-1948: H.Z. Collier 1948-May 1962: Gordon Chapman June 1961-1962: James McCormack 1962-1966: Gordon Chapman 1966-1972: Joseph Ames 1972-present: William Lucy

This collection primarily covers the end of Gordon Chapman’s tenure as Secretary-Treasurer, and all of Joseph Ames’s tenure. These years saw turbulence in the International Union’s politics. Beginning in 1958 and culminating in 1964, discontent among union members over founding president Arnold Zander’s administration began to manifest itself at the biennial union conventions.

Opponents of Zander took issue with a number of procedures, which they felt added up to the international union seeking too much unilateral control over the councils and locals spread throughout the United States and Central America. Specifically, opponents disagreed with the method of imposing trusteeships, of selecting representative convention delegates, of electing regional representatives as international vice presidents, and of allocating votes based on the size of councils and locals. The opposing faction led by union members Al Bilik, Victor Gotbaum, Rob Hastings, Jerry Wurf, Joseph Ames, Norm Schut and Father Albert Blatz, formed a group called the Committee on Union Responsibility (COUR).

COUR feared Zander’s consolidation of power. Besides taking international control of councils and locals, often with little justification, and sending paid international staffers to act as convention delegates instead of elected representatives from councils and locals, Zander sought to eliminate other high level elected positions within AFSCME. When the AFL and CIO merged, the CIO’s public employee union, the Government and Civic Employees Organizing Committee (GCEOC), merged with AFSCME. The GCEOC’s leader was given a leadership position on level with President Zander and the Secretary-Treasurer. After several years, Zander eliminated this position. Zander also attempted to eliminate the Office of Secretary-Treasurer entirely. When that failed, he ensured that the office’s duties devolved to little more than those of a bookkeeper rather than those of an official elected at-large by the union delegates. He also gave increasing power and responsibility to his appointed administrative assistant, Leo Kramer.

In addition to seeking decentralization of power and more equal representation of Councils and Locals, COUR felt President Zander spent too much time traveling and working for Public Services International (PSI) to build up public employee unions in foreign countries. Finally, a lack of transparency caused COUR to grow suspicious of President Zander’s initiative to partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build low cost housing for workers in a handful of cities.

COUR tried to bargain with the Zander administration, offering to support his desire to raise the per capita tax in exchange for more equitable representation practices. Negotiations fell flat, however, and the 1962 convention was shocked when President Zander retained his office by only a few hundred votes over Jerry Wurf. Delegates elected neither Zander nor Wurf’s running mates to the Office of Secretary-Treasurer, instead choosing Gordon Chapman once again, who ran as an independent. Chapman, however, had become a COUR sympathizer, and his win, coupled with the election of COUR candidates to four of eleven International Vice President offices, gave COUR hope for the 1964 convention.

At the 1964 convention in Denver, COUR campaigning and general dissent combined to give Jerry Wurf the presidential victory. Gordon Chapman again won the Office of Secretary-Treasurer. The first new president in AFSCME’s history of twenty-eight years, Wurf had run on a message of reform. His administration immediately called for a commission to review the international constitution, led by COUR leader and Wurf’s assistant, Joseph Ames.

In 1965, Ames called a special convention to rewrite AFSCME’s constitution to address COUR’s concerns over regional representation and convention delegate voting. Among the changes enacted in this new constitution were the creation of a separate Judicial Panel, the inclusion of a bill of rights, and steps to ensure greater transparency over union operations.

In 1966, Secretary-Treasurer Chapman retired due to poor health. Joseph Ames took his place. Ames served in this position for six years, helping President Wurf rebuild the union according to the new constitution. As Ames implemented the changes he’d helped to enshrine, he saw that the Judicial Panel required more attention than he had previously considered. In 1972, after much discussion with Wurf, Ames proposed to the international convention that the Judicial Panel chairman become a full time, salaried position, on level with President and Secretary-Treasurer. The proposal was adopted, Ames became Judicial Panel Chairman, and William Lucy, who had been President Wurf’s assistant, was elected International Secretary-Treasurer, an office he still holds at the time of this writing, January 2010.

Arrangement

Arranged in 9 series – Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 1-3), Series 3 (Boxes 3-4), Series 4 (Boxes 4-5), Series 5 (Boxes 5-6), Series 6 (Boxes 6-9), Series 7 (Boxes 9-10), Series 8 (Box 10), and Series 9 (Boxes 10-11).

The files in this collection were shipped with little obvious original order. Series have been imposed on the records, somewhat in keeping with series evident in other AFSCME collections such as the Executive Office records. The series are arranged roughly chronologically with the Leo Kramer and COUR series coming first. Within each series, files are usually arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

Acquisition

The AFSCME Office of the Secretary-Treasurer: Gordon Chapman/Joseph Ames Records were placed with the Walter P. Reuther Library periodically since the early1970s and were opened for research in January 2010.

Related Materials

AFSCME collections including AFSCME Central Files Department Records; AFSCME Executive Office: Arnold Zander Records; AFSCME Executive Office: Jerry Wurf Records; AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Office: Government and Civic Employee Organizing Committee; and AFSCME International Executive Board Records.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Johanna Russ in January 2010.
Title
Guide to the AFSCME Office of the Secretary-Treasurer: Gordon Chapman/Joseph Ames Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Johanna Russ.
Date
2010-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
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