Labor in California has had a complex history, often quite volatile. Political and frequently exclusionary, the early labor movement was characterized by the strong opinions of strong leaders. Archival records related to labor contain publications, reports, studies, press releases, and other materials on union activity as well as opposition to union efforts.
Resources on California labor include extensive documentation of various unions during the 20th century. Especially strong is documentation of the predominantly African-American Sleeping Car Porters’ Union and the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union under Harry Bridges (1901-1990), leader of the 1934 longshoremen’s strike.
This guide features highlights from The Bancroft Library's collections relating to labor unions in California.
California State Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers, AFL-CIO records, 1945-1981.
The California State Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers was founded in 1947 by representatives of lumber and sawmill unions affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL. The council held jurisdiction over all voluntary affiliated local unions and district councils chartered by the Brotherhood within California. They represented workers in production and maintenance of logging operations and mills and factories of the logging industry.
Dating from approximately 1945 to 1981, the collection includes convention proceedings, correspondence, economic data, information bulletins, subject files, some records relating to district councils and local unions, materials relating to pension and health and welfare funds, and records relating to National Labor Relations Board cases, California Department of Employment cases, arbitration cases, and California Industrial Accident Commission cases.
Molders scrapbooks no. 1 and no. 2.
Clippings regarding strike, lawsuits, and other events 1922-1929.
American Communications Association records, approximately 1941-1948.
The American Communications Association was a CIO-affiliated union for telephone and telegraph workers founded in 1937 but active mainly in the 1940s.
Includes correspondence, communications, and other materials relating to Locals 101, 120, and 109 of the American Communications Association. In addition, the collection includes materials, mainly newspapers, produced by other telephone worker unions, as well as files relating to work with the National Labor Relations Board and some files relating to the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company.
California State Federation of Teachers records, 1936-1983.
Contains correspondence, reports, minutes, petitions, cartoons, news clippings, press releases and newsletters for the statewide organization and for union locals in Northern and Southern California.
Coast Seamen's Union of the Pacific Coast treasurer's ledger, 1885-1887.
Marine Cooks and Stewards Association of the Pacific Coast minutes, 1910-1931.
National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards records 1916-1955
The National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards records document union-related activity from the 1930s to the 1950s. The collection includes correspondence; files related to arbitration; War Labor and National Labor Relations Board cases; agreements with various companies; constitutional and biennial convention proceedings; committee minutes from various ports; General Council minutes and reports; files related to the Pacific Coast Section Presidential Board of Inquiry and United States Maritime Commission hearings; and publications.
Proceedings of the second biennial convention of the National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards: San Francisco, 1947 May 5-9.
Minutes of the special meeting National Maritime Union, 1944 July 21.
International Fishermen and Allied Workers of America records, 1936-1953.
The International Fishermen and Allied Workers of America was a trade union on the Pacific Coast of the United States active from 1939 until the late 1950s. Its records include correspondence. minutes (bulk about Local 34 in San Francisco), legal documents, membership records and financial records.
International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union papers, [ca. 1936-1976].
Subject files relating to seamen and maritime unions including publications, clippings, reports and studies, press releases, statistical data, legislation, constitutions and by-laws, collective bargaining agreements and ILWU memoranda and letters, etc.
Proceedings before the National longshoremen's board in the Pacific coast longshoremen's strike, 1934 Arbitration hearings in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles between waterfront employers and the International Longshoremen's Association, Local 38 and arbitration hearings in Portland and San Francisco between International Longshoremen's Association and the Portland dock employers' association; Pacific Coast Marine safety code; Statistics; Arbitration agreement, 1934.
Arbitration of controversy between Waterfront Employers Association of San Francisco: the Shipowners Association of the Pacific coast, and the International Longshoremen's Association, Local 38-79, pursuant to the terms of an agreement dated Feb. 4, 1937: typescript, 1937 July 31.
Transcript of the arbitration proceedings before arbitrator Robert D. Calkins.
Waterfront Employer's Union of San Francisco circulars, releases and correspondence: typescript, 1934-1938.
The Waterfront Employer's Union and the Waterfront Employers Association was a ship owners federation meant to break up the longshoremen’s labor unions in the ports along the Pacific Coast. Contains circulars, press releases and correspondence during and after the Pacific Coast Longshoremen's Strike in 1934 and correspondence between the International Longshoremen's Association and the Central Coast Committee for the ship owners.
Gold Hill Miners' Union records : Gold Hill, Nevada, 1876-1921.
Correspondence, minutes of meetings, financial reports, ledger and warrant books as an independent union and as Local no. 54, International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.
International union of mine, mill and smelter works. No. 61, Bodie, Calif. records, 1890-1913.
Incoming letters, financial and sick leave reports, accounts, etc., 1890-1913.
Western Federation of Miners, Silver City Union, No. 66 records: Silver City, Idaho, 1896-1902.
Minutes of weekly meetings at Silver City, August, 1896-September, 1898, financial records, register of members, membership cards, transfer cards, and other materials.
Eureka Typographical Union, no. 21, record book: ms., 1853-1859
Minutes of meetings, 1853 - 1859, constitution, list of original members, communications, etc.
International Typographical Union of North America, Union No. 46, Sacramento minutes of meetings, 1859-1940.
Articles, by-laws, constitution, lists of members; minutes run from 1859-1940.
San Francisco Typographical Union, no. 21 ledgers, [ca. 1917-1931]
Contains information on receipts, expenditures, names of members, etc. (2 volumes).
Arbitration proceedings between Pressmen's and Assistants' Union 24 and Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union 31-125 and Printers Board of Trade, Franklin Printing Trades Association, Employing Bookbinders Association, March-April 1922.
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters papers, 1927-1934.
Letters from New York and other offices to the Pacific Coast Division, press releases and clippings, concerning the organization and plans of the union.
Milk Wagon Drivers Union Local 302 minutes, 1912-1914.
Contains minutes of the Milk Drivers Union in Oakland, Calif. The Milk Wagon Drivers Union Local 302 became the Teamsters Local 302.
California State Federation of Labor, ca. 1938-1958.
Minutes of meetings, correspondence, pamphlets, leaflets, and miscellaneous printed material.
Knights of Labor records, 1886-1892.
Letters certifying the election of delegates to the state assembly of 1886; minutes and proceedings of the meeting of September 16-17, 1886; addresses of district and local assemblies. Minute book, February 24, 1886-May 13, 1892, of the Women's Labor League, San Francisco Assembly.
Marin Central Labor Union minutes, 1889-1924
Contains minutes and other business relating to the Marin Central Labor Union.
San Francisco CIO Council records, [ca. 1939-1949]
Correspondence, telegrams, reports, press releases, clippings, pamphlets, minutes, ledgers, vouchers, financial statements, and receipts concerning the activity of the Council in all aspects of union labor organizing and politics.
San Francisco Labor Council records, 1906-1965
Correspondence and other records relating to labor disputes, fair employment, wages, housing, health and welfare benefits, and other activities of the organization. The San Francisco Labor Council was a local affiliate of the American Federation of Labor.