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AFT Affiliate St. Louis Federation of Teachers Local 420 Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR000463
Part I: The St. Louis Teachers Union Collection consists primarily of the files of the union's presidents, especially Betty Finneran (1960-65), Ralph Kirn (1965-67) and Demosthenes DuBose (1968 70), and of Executive Secretary Herald M. Doxsee (1962-65). The records document the affairs of the local and conditions in St. Louis's public schools as well as the more general themes of teacher unionization, national politics, desegregation and educational standards. President Finnernan's files also cover her activities as vice president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Series I, 1951-1970, Boxes 1-6: Correspondence, minutes, newspaper clippings, reports, press releases, grievances, circular letters, notices to membership, membership lists and other material relating to the activities of the St. Louis Teachers Union and its committees.

Series II, Boxes 7-9: Correspondence, reports and background material used in the local's contract negotiations with the Board of Education of the City of St. Louis and other board-related matters. Particularly well-documented is the issue of the duty-free lunch period.

Series III, Boxes 10-11: Three scrapbooks of clippings, covering issues of interest to the union during the 1960's.

Series IV, Box 12: Subseries A: Correspondence, reports and other materials relating to Betty Finneran’s activities as a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Subseries B: Correspondence, reports and other material related to Betty Finneran’s activities as president and a member of the executive board of the St. Louis Teachers Union.

Series V, Box 13: President’s correspondence.

Series VI, Box 14: Grievances.

Series VII, Boxes 15-20: Correspondence, minutes, letters, reports, circular letters, notices to members, legal documents, membership lists and other material relating to the activities of the St. Louis Teachers Union and its committees.

Series VIII, Box 21: Correspondence, reports and background material used in the local's contract negotiations with the Board of Education of the City of St. Louis and other board-related matters as well as material related to its activities with other agencies and organizations; federal, state, and local.

Series IX, Boxes 22-31: Unbound scrapbook of clippings, covering issues of interest to the union from 1972 to 1983.
The St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Records, Part II, were created or used by member Betty Finneran. Finneran served as Local 420 President from 1961-1966 and later served for ten years as Treasurer and ten years as Secretary of the local. She also organized and chaired the Local 420 Retiree Chapter. In addition to serving the St. Louis Teachers Union, Finneran was AFT Vice-President from 1963 to 1972. She was involved in women’s organizations, including the St. Louis Coalition of Labor Union Women, for which she served as president. St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Records, Part II reflect Finneran’s activities, as well as activities of the union as a whole. Local 420 subjects include a dispute with the Missouri Federation of Teachers, raiding between Local 420 and the local National Education Association chapter, internal disputes among board members, organizing and elections, and desegregation of St. Louis schools.

Series 10: St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 General Records, 1959-2001 (Boxes 1-3) This series contains meeting minutes, correspondence, flyers, newsletters, news releases, reports, and testimony. Meetings minutes are from regular and special board meetings, general and mass membership meetings, building representative meetings, paraprofessionals, and the secretarial/clerical chapter. Accompanying minutes are committee reports, including the Election Committee, Salary Committee, the QuEST Committee and others. Financial reports are also included.

Series 11: St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Subject Files, 1961-1988 (Box 3) This series mostly consists of grievances and legal cases, but also includes organizing and bargaining documents and information on employees of the union. Several prominent cases are represented in the grievance and legal matters files, including a wrongful termination case involving five teachers who were fired after a student drowned on a field trip (folder 3-28), school district desegregation and a related implementation study (folders 3-27 and 3-28), conflicts within Local 420 including unpaid vacation leave of a former president (3-27), a dispute with the Missouri chapter of AFT regarding representation (3-21) and a libel case against the Missouri National Education Association (3-30). Additional information on grievances may be included in correspondence or minutes in Series 10.

Series 12: St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Retiree Chapter Records, 1974-2009 (Boxes 3-4) This series consists of meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, newsletters, and flyers produced by and related to the Local 420 Retiree Chapter. Included are documents related to celebrations for newly retired union members and memorials for deceased members. This series also contains a file on Lois Jean Turner, who once served on the Executive Board of the retiree chapter and who was involved in lawsuits regarding her role on the Board of Trustees of the St. Louis Public School Retirement System.

Series 13: Betty Finneran Records, 1974-1976 (Box 4) This series consists of records created and used by Betty Finneran related to her activities with organizations outside the St. Louis Teachers Union. This includes her tenure as President of the St. Louis Coalition of Labor Union Women and communications with Missouri Equal Rights Act Coalition. Other materials include newsletters, flyers, and advertisements for various events and initiatives related to labor and women’s rights groups, including fair housing, International Women’s Day and Year, and racial discrimination.

Dates

  • 1951 - 2009
  • Majority of material found within 1962 - 2007

Creator

Language of Materials

Material primarily in English. Some material 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

19.5 Linear Feet (31 MB, 4 SB)

Abstract

The St. Louis (Missouri) Teachers Union was organized in 1935 by Paul W. Preisler, as the Teachers Union of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Its jurisdiction extended over these separate political entities in order to include members from Washington University. In 1944 the name of the local was changed to Teacher’s Federation of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Its 1948 merger with Local 680, St. Louis Vocational Teachers’ Union, extended Local 420’s jurisdiction to include “all eligible teachers in St. Louis and St. Louis County including vocational and college teachers.” By 1962 its name had been shortened to St. Louis Teachers Union. The St. Louis Teachers Union experienced great growth between 1961 and 1963, during which period its membership grew from 81 to 1,417. Membership grew in the 1970s after the AFT became sole bargaining agent for teachers and with the inclusion of paraprofessionals and support staff, but internal disputes and unsuccessful strikes led to many resignations and a decline in membership in 1968 and 1976.

Part I of this collection contains office files of the AFT local representing the teachers of St. Louis, Missouri. Correspondence, clippings, minutes, press releases, and other materials dealing with such topics as tenure, desegregation, educational standards, membership drives, and collective bargaining by teachers. Several of the files consist of the records of Betty Finneran as a vice-president of the AFT.

Part II of this collection contains material created or used by Betty Finneran and reflect her activities as well as activities of the union as a whole. Finneran served as president, secretary, and treasurer of Local 420 and founded the Retiree Chapter. Local 420 subjects include a dispute with the Missouri Federation of Teachers, raiding between Local 420 and the local National Education Association chapter, internal disputes among board members, organizing and elections, and desegregation of St. Louis schools. Outside of Local 420, Finneran was involved with the St. Louis Coalition of Labor Union Women and other women's rights efforts.

History

The St. Louis (Missouri) Teachers Union was organized in 1935 by Paul W. Preisler, as the Teachers Union of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Its jurisdiction extended over these separate political entities in order to include members from Washington University. In 1944 the name of the local was changed to Teacher’s Federation of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Its 1948 merger with Local 680, St. Louis Vocational Teachers’ Union, extended Local 420’s jurisdiction to include “all eligible teachers in St. Louis and St. Louis County including vocational and college teachers.” By 1962 its name had been shortened to St. Louis Teachers Union. The St. Louis Teachers Union experienced great growth between 1961 and 1963, during which period its membership grew from 81 to 1,417. Membership grew in the 1970's after the AFT became sole bargaining agent for teachers and with the inclusion of paraprofessionals and support staff, but internal disputes and unsuccessful strikes led to many resignations and a decline in membership in 1968 and 1976.

Arrangement

Part 1 Arranged in 9 series: Series I, 1951-1970, Boxes 1-6: The files are arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material and are arranged chronologically within each folder. Series II, Boxes 7-9: The files are arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within each folder. Series III, Boxes 10-11: unarranged. Series IV, Box 12: Files are arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material and chronologically within each folder. Series V, Box 13: The files are arranged chronologically. Series VI, Box 14: Arrangement is chronological. Series VII, Boxes 15-20: The files are arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material and are arranged chronologically within each folder. Series VIII, Box 21: The files are arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material. Series IX, Boxes 22-31: Files are arranged chronologically.
Part II arranged in 4 series – Series 10 (Boxes 1-3), Series 11 (Box 3), Series 12 (Boxes 3-4), and Series 13 (Box 4). Folders in Series 10 are arranged alphabetically by type of document and thereunder chronologically. Folders in Series 11 are arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically. Folders in Series 12 are in their original order and are arranged by document type or subject. Folders in Series 13 are arranged by organization name and thereunder by type of document.

Some material in this collection arrived in folders and some was unfoldered. Where practical, original folder arrangement was kept and additional material was arranged in separate folders, so folder dates may overlap or repeat.

Acquisition

The records of Part I of the St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 of the American Federation of Teachers were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs by Betty Finneran in April of 1971 and were opened for research in July of 1972. Additional papers were placed in the Archives in August of 1984 and opened for research in September of 1990.

Related Materials

St. Louis Teacher; Local 420 Uniscope; Local’s View (Missouri Federation of Teachers); Coalition of Labor Union Women Records

Transfers

Eight photographs, relating primarily to the national AFT, have been placed in the Archives' Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Stefanie Caloia on December 5, 2014.
Title
Guide to the AFT Affiliate St. Louis Federation of Teachers Local 420 Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Stefanie Caloia.
Date
2014-12-05
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2014-12-05: Added part II.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA