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Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR001535

Scope and Content

Part 1: The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Records consists primarily of outgoing presidential correspondence for the years 1899 to 1900 and 1912 to 1914, preserved in letterpress copybooks, Grand Executive Committee meeting minutes and proceedings for the years 1918 to 1920, including those documenting the resignations of President A. E. Barker and Secretary-Treasurer George Seal. It also includes BMWE Ladies’ Auxiliary convention proceedings as well as minutes and correspondence of the Denver and Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Auxiliaries.

Important subjects in the collection: BMWE Ladies’ Auxiliary. Railroads--Collective bargaining agreements. Railroads--Employees--Canada. Railroads--Employees--Trade-unions. Railroads--Employees--United States. Railroads--Maintenance and repair.

Important correspondents in the collection: T. H. Gerrey; A. B. Lowe; John T. Wilson.
Part 2: These records of the BMWE are a comprehensive documentation of the organization’s activities related to the growth and decline of railroad systems on an international, national and divisional scale. Organizational documentation includes governing documents, correspondence to and from presidents and union members, and agreements from 1906 to 2004, which give insight into a union that at one time had more than 350,000 members. Records specifically document the organization’s founding and history, its administration and the evolving activities of its members.

Important Subjects: Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes. International Brotherhood of Maintenance-of-Way Employes. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Railroads—Collective bargaining agreements. Railroad construction workers. Railroads--Employees. Railroads--Employees--Labor unions--Canada. Railroads--Employees--Labor unions--United States. Railroads and state--United States--History--20th century. United Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and Railway Shop Laborers Wages--Railroads. Important Names: Allen E. Barker; O.M. Berge; George E. Brand; T.C. Carroll; Harold C. Crotty; Mac Fleming; Fred H. Fljozdal; T.H. Gerrey; E.F. Grable; Rick Inclima; A.B. Lowe; Elmer E. Milliman; Samuel J. Pegg; John T. Wilson.

Series Description: Series I: History-Founding, 1906-1972 (Box 5-12).

Series II: Officers, 1934-2001 (Box 13-37). Subseries A: President, 1934-2001 (Box 13-31). Subseries B: Secretary-Treasurer (Box 32). Subseries C: Vice-Presidents, 1988 (Box 33-37).

Series III: Executive Board, 1911-2000 (Box 38-45).

Series IV: Conventions, 1930-1997 (Box 46-74).

Series V: Legislative Department (Box 75-103). Subseries A: Congressional Acts, 1934-1995 (Box 75-86). Subseries B: Affiliations and Organizations, 1922-2000 (Box 87-103).

Series VI: Education Department, 1920-1997 (Box 104-114).

Series VII: Safety Department, 1947-1998 (Box 115-122).

Series VIII: Strategic Coordination and Research Department, 1967-1988 (Box 123-135).

Series IX: Grand Lodge, 1920-1999 (Box 136-154). Subseries A: Ladies Auxiliary, 1920-1998 (Box 136-139). Subseries B: Correspondence (Box 140-145). Subseries C: Societies and Unions, 1950-1999 (Box 146-154).

Series X: Arbitration, 1918-1997 (Box 155-283). Subseries A: Evaluation Boards, 1932-1997 (Box 155-192). Subseries B: National Agreements – Roads, 1936-1990 (Box 193-224). Subseries C: National Movements – Roads, 1918-1989 (Box 225-271). Subseries D: Public Law Boards (Box 272-276). Subseries E: Retirement Board, 1980s-1990s (Box 156). Subseries F: Special Board of Adjustment (Box 277-281). Subseries G: Wage Agreements, 1919-1981 (Box 282-283).

Series XI: Systems Divisions and Federations (Box 284-352). Subseries A: Canadian and Chicago Railways, 1923-1994 (Box 156, 284-304). Subseries B: Correspondence, 1960-1993 (Box 305-309). Subseries C: Roads: Local, 1982-1993 (Box 310-311). Subseries D: Strikes, 1963-1997 (Box 312-329). Subseries E: Systems Dissolved, Defunct, 1997 (Box 330-331). Subseries F: Union Citations, 1992-2003 (Box 332). Subseries G: Federations, 1975-1998 (Box 156, 333-352).

Series XII: Audio-Visual Records, 1920-1952 (Box 353-356).

Dates

  • 1899 - 2004
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1990

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: 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.

History

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) was founded at Demopolis, Alabama, in July 1887 under the name The Order of Railroad Trackmen, with John T. Wilson as its first president. At first, membership was restricted to track foremen, but within a few years it broadened its jurisdiction to include all workers who build and maintain the tracks, bridges, buildings and other structures of the railroads. BMWE became international in scope in 1899, when it amalgamated with a similar organization in Canada. Its Grand Lodge headquarters were permanently established in Detroit, Michigan, in 1913, but it wasn’t until 1951 that the Brotherhood constructed its own building on Woodward Avenue in Highland Park, an enclave of Detroit. The Grand Lodge is comprised of System Divisions or Federations, each of which has under its jurisdiction one or more railroad systems and the Subordinate Lodges located on those systems.

The first local chapter of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the BMWE was organized at Macon, Georgia, in 1898, prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Auxiliary at the 1902 convention of the Brotherhood. Funding problems forced the discontinuance of the auxiliaries during World War I, but they reappeared with renewed vigor during the 1920s, when both the Denver and Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Auxiliaries were chartered. Minutes of whose meetings form part of this collection.

In 2004, the BMWE merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and consolidated its strength with that of the powerful Teamster Union. It is now known as BMWED-IBT.

A note on the name of the Union, from its website: "When the Union was started in the late 1800s, employe and employee were both valid spellings. We've never changed the spelling in honor of tradition."

Extent

360 Linear Feet (353 SB, 2 MB, 5 OS)

Abstract

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) was founded at Demopolis, Alabama, in July 1887 under the name The Order of Railroad Trackmen, and eventually it came to include all workers who build and maintain the tracks, bridges, buildings and other structures of the railroads. Its Grand Lodge headquarters was permanently established in Detroit, Michigan, in 1913, and the organization is comprised of System Divisions or Federations, each of which has under its jurisdiction one or more railroad systems and the Subordinate Lodges located on those systems. In 2004, the BMWE merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to become the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED-IBT).

Part 1 of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Collection consists primarily of outgoing presidential correspondence for the years 1899 to 1900 and 1912 to 1914, preserved in letterpress copybooks, Grand Executive Committee meeting minutes and proceedings for the years 1918 to 1920, and BMWE Ladies' Auxiliary convention proceedings, as well as minutes and correspondence of the Denver and Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Auxiliaries.

Part 2 of the records are a comprehensive documentation of the organization’s activities related to the growth and decline of railroad systems on an international, national and divisional scale. Organizational documentation includes governing documents, correspondence to and from presidents and union members, and agreements from 1906 to 2004, which give insight into a union that at one time had more than 350,000 members. Records specifically document the organization’s founding and history, its administration and the evolving activities of its members.

Arrangement

Part 1: Folders are listed in the order in which they appear.
Part 2: Arranged in 12 series - Series 1 (Boxes 5-12), Series 2 (Boxes 13-37), Series 3 (Boxes 38-45), Series 4 (Boxes 46-74), Series 5 (Boxes 75-103), Series 6 (Boxes 104-114), Series 7 (Boxes 115-122), Series 8 (Boxes 123-135), Series 9 (Boxes 136-154), Series 10 (Boxes 155-283), Series 11 (Boxes 284-352), Series 12 (Boxes 353-356). Series I: History-Founding has been inventoried, but not arranged; folders are simply listed by their location within each box. Series II – XII have been inventoried by box only; any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.

Acquisition

Part 2: The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes records were first deposited at the Walter P. Reuther Library in April 1994, with subsequent deposits in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Transfers

Part 1: Several videotapes on labor topics from the BMWE Video Library, a few photographs and a collection of pins and badges have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. A number of publications, including convention proceedings, constitutions and by-laws, the Journal of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and a history of the Brotherhood from its founding to 1955 have been transferred to the Archives Library.
Part 2: Photographic negatives, audiotapes and VHS tapes (Box 356) have been transferred to the Reuther’s Audio-Visual Department. Books transferred to library include: The First 75 (Lyon); George Meany and His Times (Robinson); History of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (Hertel); Nothing Like It in the World (Ambrose); Air and Rail Labor Relations (Gohmann); A Troublemaker's Handbook (La Botz); Fighter With a Heart (McCollester)

Note

Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes is the official founding name of the union and is not misspelled.

Processing History

Part 1: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Part 2: Finding aid written by Leslie Van Veen on April 25, 2013.
Title
Guide to the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Records
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA