International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Local 1169: Records, 1934-1987

Scope and Content Note

The records of the IBEW Local 1169 are an incomplete collection of labor records, but they nevertheless contains important documentation about the local itself and IBEW workers in Wisconsin, and also about the collective bargaining process. Because the papers were donated via labor historian Darryl Holter when the local was still in existence there are only a few post-1980 items and none concerning the eventual demise of the local. The papers consist of ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS, CONTRACTS AND NEGOTIATIONS, GRIEVANCES, SUBJECT FILES, and FINANCIAL RECORDS. The minutes contained within the ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS series are complete from 1939 to 1981, but other types of records common to labor collections including bargaining, grievance, and membership files and financial records are incomplete to varying degrees. Despite these weaknesses, the records are the only known archival documentation about Square D, once a major Milwaukee employer, and they also provide useful documentation about the decline of manufacturing and industrial unions in Milwaukee during the troubled 1970s and 1980s.

The ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS include organizational and historical documents, minutes, election files, membership files, and newsletters. The organizational records include several versions of bylaws (the oldest version being issued in 1951), a copy of the 1939 founding charter, and handwritten notes extracted from the early minutes, probably for an anniversary event. No formal history of the local is known to exist.

The correspondence includes both incoming and outgoing letters, with the incoming being much more extensive. There is no correspondence concerning the organization and early years of the union. Most useful are the exchanges with the national and district offices and the Milwaukee County Labor Council. From Square D there is a file of exchanges with the Director of Industrial Relations primarily concerning voluntary terminations and a few interesting interoffice memoranda concerning company and union operations.

Although the collection includes no true membership records, several types of documents provide an incomplete substitute. There are membership cards which date from 1939 to 1949, but they are probably not complete even for this period. These cards include name, address, age, job classification, and wage. For a later period the lists of holiday pay also function as a sort of membership record. These lists indicate the starting date for employment with Square D and the holiday pay. Also included are weekly transfer lists, 1963 and 1971, and "house telegrams" lists, 1977-1981, the purpose of which is uncertain. Also useful are fragmentary files on initiations and resignations and miscellaneous files on transfers and other issues concerning individual members, 1956-1969. In addition, the contract files described below sometimes include information on wages and job classifications for individual employees.

The minutes are the most complete and detailed set of records in the collection, spanning the period from 1934 to 1981. Included are minutes for the Federal Labor Union 19926, one of only a few FLU collections currently in Historical Society custody; for the weekly and sometimes biweekly general membership meetings dating from 1939 to 1963; and for the Executive Board meetings dating from 1952 to 1981. Minutes of the Executive Board are sometimes internally referred to as reports. Interspersed within the board minutes are occasional minutes of general membership meetings, grievance meetings, contract negotiations, meetings with Square D, and stewards meetings. This fact is noted in the container list by the respective abbreviations U, G, N, BS, and ST. In addition to paper records this section also includes a tape recording of a special meeting in 1968 that discussed appointment of Arthur Jaraczewski as IBEW international representative. Less extensive administrative records consist of an incomplete run of the local's newsletter and documentation about internal elections, for 1954-1966 only.

The chronologically-arranged CONTRACTS AND NEGOTIATIONS files primarily document the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps reflecting the shift to nationally coordinated negotiations in the 1970s, the post-1975 files provide less complete documentation of the process, not even including any printed contracts for that period. Documentation in the series variously includes letters of agreement, published contracts, letters of agreement and supplemental letters of agreement, pension agreements, and reference material used in bargaining. Setting Local 1169's records apart from those of other IBEW locals held by the Historical Society and even from those of other unions held by the Society are the bargaining session minutes. While the minutes do not document every contract, they do provide much more detailed information about the bargaining process than is generally available.

Two tape recordings document special a 1973 meeting with IBEW representatives about the local's lack of bargaining success and a second meeting at which the board first announced the final version of the new labor agreement and at which the membership debated whether to accept the controversial offer.

The GRIEVANCES are also incomplete, perhaps because documentation about minor complaints was not retained by the union. The files are chronologically arranged by internal grievance number and by Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service number if the local number is unknown. The types of documentation present variously include correspondence, information forms, transcripts of arbitration hearings, briefs prepared by Goldberg, Previant and Uelman, and arbitrators' decisions.

The alphabetically arranged SUBJECT FILES document social activities such as dinner dances and children's Christmas parties, construction and operation of the union hall, support for the striking J.I. Case workers, and involvement with C.O.P.E. and other community activities. Of special interest is the material collected about Square D's financial situation and the reference material for a 1982 work analysis.

The final series, FINANCIAL RECORDS, consists of 21 chronologically arranged volumes of check stubs, the only available records about the local's financial affairs. The stubs cover only the years 1973 to 1983. They are primarily valuable for their periodic notes of account balances and for their documentation of reimbursements made to individual members for pay lost while participating in union activities.