The Robinson Library >> Economics >> Labor >> United States
Union News in 1958

"Rackets Investigation"

The Select Senate Committee on Improper Labor-Management Activites reported on March 24 that "union funds in excess of $10 million were either stolen, embezzled, or misused by union officials over a period of 15 years."

The Senate 'Rackets Committee' hearings in March.
Committee Hearing

At hearings held from May 9 to June 6, the committee aired charges that the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company had made secret pacts with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, and that Food Fair Stores had sold stock to union officials at drastically marked-down prices.

The committee held an introductory hearing in Washington June 30-July 3 to investigate charges that a Mafia syndicate had infiltrated unions and business.

Charges of racketeering and violence in dealings with Chicago restaurants with the restaurant and bartender union were presented before the committee July 8-17.

Chicago restaurant owners testified before the committee.
restuarant owners testify

On September 15 the committee heard former television producer Joseph A. Schneiders testify that at least $6,200 in Teamsters Brotherhood money had been used to help re-elect a Detroit judge who later presided over the trial of five Teamsters officials charged with extortion.


AFL-CIO president George Meany (left) met in August with Labor Secretary James Mitchell concerning congressional labor reform legislation about which they had not agreed.
George Meany and James Mitchell

Railway Brotherhood

The Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen celebrated its 75th anniversary in Oneonta, New York, on September 23, and the sole living charter member, 93-year-old Elmer Wessell, was present.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen celebrated its 85th birthday in 1958.

The Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen, which celebrated its 90th birthday on July 6, elected vice-president James A. Paddock to succeed retiring president R.O. Hughes.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers celebrated its 95th birthday in May. The Engineers won a 13 per cent wage boost in July, the increase to be spread over a three-year period. The new contract also provided for an escalator clause and fringe benefit improvements.


Teamsters officials refused to testify before the Senate "Rackets Committee" about violence in Texas and Louisiana.
Teamsters refuse to testify

John F. English, James R. Hoffa, and Thomas Flynn attended an October meeting of the Eastern Conference of Teamsters.
Teamsters leaders

United Auto Workers (UAW)

UAW president Walter P. Reuther spoke of bargaining goals at a special convention in January.
Walter Reuther

When contracts with General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford expired on May 30, the automobile workers were without a contract for the first time in 21 years. The UAW and Ford Motor Company agreed on a three-year contract on September 17, shortly after some 98,000 workers across the nation went on strike. The agreement added about 10 cents an hour to base pay and provided several fringe benefits.

Smiles marked agreement between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers on the final terms of a contract. Ford vice-president John S. Burgas is at left, Walter Reuther at right.
UAW contract agreed upon

Chrysler Corporation and the UAW signed a three-year contract on October 1. The new contract included a general wage increase of 7 cents an hour and higher pensions.

On October 2 more than 250,000 UAW members went on strike against General Motors. The nationwide strike affected 126 plants, but lasted only 12 hours. It ended when agreement was reached on a three-year contract similar to those made with Ford and Chrysler.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)

A new wage agreement between the United Mine Workers of America and bituminous coal operators was signed on December 3. The new contract called for a $2-a-day wage increase effective in two steps, with the basic daily wage rate to be $24.25 on April 1, 1959. The agreement also boosted vacation pay from $180 to $200 for the annual 14-day summer vacation period for all unionized mines. A "first" for the UMWA was inclusion in the contract of a clause whereby commercial operations agreed not to handle soft coal produced outside of UMWA contract terms.

UMWA president John L. Lewis (center) sought a new contract for members of the soft coal industry in December.
UMWA contract negotiations


A new American Bakery and Confectionery Workers Union was chartered, and a new Laundry Workers International Union was formed in early 1958, following their expulsion from the AFL-CIO in December 1957 (along with the Teamsters).

Rival bakery union officials scuffled when a rebel group tried to take over the Chicago headquarters of the union.
bakery unions scuffle

James Petrillo formally retired as president of the American Federation of Musicians at the annual convention in June. He was succeeded by Herman D. Kenin.
James C. Petrillo

The first serious garment workers' strike in 25 years took place in March when 105,000 members of the International Ladies' Garment Workers walked out. The strike was settled March 11.

The Ladies' Garment Workers held a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, on March 4.
Ladies Garment Workers' rally

The 1959 Compton Yearbook Chicago: F. E. Compton & Company, 1959

James R. Hoffa
Madison Square Garden

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> Economics >> Labor >> United States

This page was last updated on August 14, 2017.