- “Janesville Labor Movement, GM and UAW: Janesville Bicentennial Oral History Project”. 1976. 66 audio
cassette tapes (1-7/8 ips, mono) + 16 guides . Notes: This oral history collection consists of interviews done by Clem Imhoff in 1976 (?) with 15 members (?) of the United Auto Workers Local 121, which represents workers at the General Motors Corporation plant in Janesville, Wisconsin; this local union took part in the 1936-1937 sit-down strike movement in the United States.
CONTENTS: v. 1-2, Eugene Osmond. — v. 3-4, Ralph Hilkin. — v. 5, Don Dooley. — v. 6, Harry Johnson. — v. 7, Hugo Preuss. — v. 8, Lou Adkins. — v. 9, John Scott. — v. 10-11, Jack Johnson. — v. 12, Glenn Swinbank. — v. 13, James Wells. — v. 14, Wes Van Horn. — v. 15, Gerald Litney. — v. 16, Guidebook.
Location: Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, Wisconsin (call number CAS 977.587 JANES LOCKED CAB [i.e., Cassette 977.587, Janesville Room, Locked Cabinet]).
- Kenosha Retrospective: A Biographical Approach. Burckel, Nicholas C. and John A. Neuenschwander, eds.
Kenosha, Wis.: Kenosha County Bicentennial Commission; 1981. xvi, 384 p. Notes: PARTIAL CONTENTS: “C. Fred Stemm: Labor’s Political Outsider” / by Don Jensen, p. -108. — “Felix Olkives: Labor Enterpreneur” / by Leon Applebaum, p. -202. — “George Molinaro: Labor-Ethnic Politician” / by John D. Buenker, p.-294. — “UAW Local 72: Assertive Union” / by Angela Howard Zophy, p. -331.
N.B. Labor leader C. Fred Stemm, a blacksmith with the Bain Wagon works forge, was a
member of the Knights of Labor and active in Kenosha city politics from 1882 to through 1913, serving on the city council and also, for part of those years, as mayor of the city; Olkives was president of the Kenosha Trades and Labor Council from the late 1920s through World War II; George Molinaro worked on the assembly line for forty-five years, first at Nash Motors and then at American Motors after the company later changed hands, while also having a prominent career in the Wisconsin State Assembly, upon which political activities this article concentrates–he was also one of the older brothers of the actor, Al Molinaro); United Auto Workers Local 72 represented the unionized workers at the Nash Motors plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
- UAW 50 Years: [Janesville, Wisconsin]. Milbrandt, Howard A. ed. & co-author; Richard Costerisan,
co-author, and John O Meara, co-author.[Beloit, Wis.]: [Vance Printing]; [1985?].  p. Notes: Except for ten pages in the beginning of this volume, the rest of its many pages are devoted to the history of the union movement of the automobile workers in Janesville, Wisconsin.
During the earliest years of union activity in the area, three local unions were organized to represent the workers at the Chevrolet and Fisher Body plants in the city–these were directly affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and were known as Federal Labor Union (F.L.U.) No. 19059, F.L.U. No. 19324, and F.L.U. No. 19660. Then in 1940, these directly-affiliated local unions were re-chartered within the Congress of Industrial Organizations as United Automobile Workers (U.A.W.) Local 95 (March 15), representing the workers at the Chevrolet plant and U.A.W. Local 121 (on March 1), representing the workers at the Fisher Body plant. Finally, in consequence of the formation of the General Motors Automobile Division, which folded together the administration of both the Chevrolet and Fisher Body operations, the two separate U.A.W. locals merged together as U.A.W. Local 95, as the result of a special referendum on December 11, 1968.
Many photographs are included, as well as reproduction of numerous documents.
- Alanen, Arnold R. and Peltin, Thomas J. “Kohler, Wisconsin: Planning and Paternalism in a Model
Industrial Village”. Journal of the American Institute of Planners. 1978; 44(2):145-159. Notes: Alanen reviews the development of the company town of Kohler, Wisconsin, from its earliest beginnings around 1900 when the Kohler family purchased the land for their new factory four miles west of Sheboygan until the late 1970s when this article was published. By 1912 the company’s president, Walter J. Kohler, Sr., had decided to model further residential development for company employees after the style of recently-built planned communities in England known as “garden cities” but with the Kohler employees being able “to purchase their own homes in the true ‘American way’” (p.147). In 1916 a German-born planner named Werner Hegemann and a landscape architect named Elbert Peets were hired by Kohler to develop plans for the residential areas of the city which came to be known as “West One” and “South One,” but in the mid-1920s Kohler turned to the firm of the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Mass. for further designs for two additional residential areas known as “West Two” and “West Three.”
From the beginning Kohler’s vision for the company town encompassed much more than just the physical layout of the city’s streets and residences as he intended to guide the social development of the town as well through the provision of a wide range of civic amenities, such as a large rooming house (known as the American Club) for the single male workers at the Kohler plant, a large community center with space for various shops and offices needed by the village, provision of food stuffs from local farms owned by Kohler, classes in citizenship training for immigrants, etc.
In 1975 the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was hired by the Kohler Company to prepare a plan for the entire village for the next fifty years and their plan created three different zones for development: a village center, river parkland, and farm community. Also in 1975 a mail survey of the residents of the Kohler community was done by the author of this article; the survey found that only fifty-two percent of the actively employed heads of household in Kohler, Wisconsin, worked for the Kohler Company and that over eighty percent of the respondents to the survey felt that the professional planning done earlier for the community had resulted in an attractive place to live and that there was an adequate balance of influence in the civic affairs of the community between the town’s residents and the influence of the Kohler Company.
5. Buenker, John D. “George Molinaro: Labor-Ethnic Politician”. IN: Burckel, Nicholas C. and John A.
Neuenschwander, eds.Kenosha, Wis.: Kenosha County Bicentennial Commission; 1981; p. -294. Notes: George Molinaro worked on the assembly line for forty-five years, first at Nash Motors and then at American Motors after the company later changed hands, while also having a prominent career in the Wisconsin State Assembly, upon which political activities this article concentrates–he was also one of the older brothers of the movie and television actor, Al Molinaro.
- Chute, Charles L. Midwest Glass. National Child Labor Committee; 1911. ??? (NCLC Investigation Report
- Davis, Richard S. “The Strike at Kohler, Wis.: Bloodshed at Kohler, 1934”. IN: Davis, Richard S. The Best
of Davis: Selections from the Writings of Richard S. Davis. Milwaukee, Wis.: The Milwaukee Journal; 1961; pp. p. 25-32. Notes: The author, a longtime Milwaukee Journal reporter, was present at the Kohler factory on July 27, 1934, for the violent confrontation, known as the Battle of Kohler, between striking Kohler company workers and the “Kohler Special Police’ deputies of the company. The strike had began to win a first contract for A.F.L. Federal Labor Union No. 18545 (F.L.U. No. 18545 and had begun that July 16. That evening, when the strikers began stoning the windows of the various factory buildings, the company deputies–armed with clubs and guns–responded with a tear gas barrage into the crowd, followed up with beatings using billy clubs to drive the strikers and their supporters (including many women with their children) out of the city limits. In addition to armored trucks, the security forces that night also fired two machine guns into the crowd of strikers and their supporters, resulting in forty-seven strikers wounded from either buckshot or bullets and two strikers fatally shot; five women were among the injured. This piece reprinted here is the newspaper story the author wrote about this event.
- DeRosier, John Baptiste. “Nothin’ But a Machine: A History of the Eau Claire Rubber Workers on Strike”;
- Notes: M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 1998.  p. Using the records of both the Uniroyal, Inc. company plant in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the union representing the workers at the plant, United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers of America Local 19, DeRosier analyzes the labor strikes involving the Eau Claire plant in 1950, 1951, 1953, 1955, and 1967 and also discusses how the company discriminated against its female employees.
- Drew, John. UAW Local 72: The First 50 Years. [Kenosha, Wis.]: [UAW Local 72]; 1985.  p.
Notes: This fiftieth anniversary volume covers the history of the local union which represented the workers at the automobile assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After a sitdown strike called over a dispute regarding a new piecework system implemented by the company’s management, the Federal Labor Union No. 19008 was chartered by the American Federation of Labor beginning in September 1933. The author says that “this was one of the first, if not the first, use of the sitdown strike in the auto industry” and that “it would be almost four years later that the sitdown would be used by workers at General Motors to gain union recognition” (p. ). After formation of the United Automobile Workers union earlier in the year as part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the Janesville local union was re-chartered in November 1935 as United Automobile Workers Local 72.
At the time of the local union’s creation, the plant was owned and operated by the Nash Motors company. In 1954, the Nash company joined with the Hudson Motor Car company (located in Detroit, Michigan) to form the American Motors Corporation, which continued to operate the plant through this fiftieth anniversary (although the plant would be closed at the very end of 1988 by the Chrysler company which had only purchased the company in August 1987).
The volume is illustrated with numerous photographs, as well as reproductions of documents marking significant milestones in the history of this local union.
10. Drotning, John E. and Lipsky, David B. “The Effectiveness of Reinstatement as a Public Policy Remedy:
The Kohler Case”. Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 1969; 22(2):179-198.
- Dudley, Kathryn Marie. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press; 1994. 224 p. (Wolfe, Alan. Morality and Society Series. Notes: An anthropologist looks at the difficult 1988 closing of the large Chrysler automobile assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin and explores the various strategies utilized on all sides affected by this corporate decision–the company, local government, and the approximately six thousand employees laid off from the plant. Dudley, with family ties to Kenosha, explores the struggles of the plant’s workers in their confrontation with the long-term, national trend of the deindustrialization of the United States and the conflicting ideas in the community about what the city needed to do next to re-build, in the face of the loss of the city’s major industrial employer.
The first union representing the workers at the Kenosha automobile assembly plant had begun in September 1933 as Federal Labor Union No. 19008 with a charter from the American Federation of Labor (A.F.L.), but was re-chartered in November 1935 as United Automobile Workers Local 72, shortly after formation by the AFL of the United Auto Workers union. The Kenosha assembly plant had begun as the Jeffery Company in 1902 until Charles Nash purchased the company in 1916 and changed the name to Nash Motors. In 1954, Nash Motors merged with the Hudson Motor Car Company to form the American Motors Corporation (A.M.C.). A partnership made in 1978 with the French automaker, Renault, lasted until August 1987, when Renault was bought out by the Chrysler corporation. Then, despite having received many millions of dollars in financial assistance from the state and local government to upgrade the production facility, Chrysler announced on January 27, 1988 that the workforce at the Kenosha plant would be slashed by June 1988 from 6,400 employees to only 900 and that the plant would be completely closed by July 1988. Because of an extension of a few months, however, car production in Kenosha did continue until two days before Christmas in 1988.
Another edition: Dudley, Kathryn Marie. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 224 p. ISBN: 0226169103 (pbk.)
- Erb, David and Brumbaugh, Eldon. Full Steam Ahead: J.I. Case Tractors & Equipment, 1842-1955. St.
Joseph, Mich.: American Society of Agricultural Engineers; 1993. 343 p. Notes: A profusely-illustrated history of the production and model details of all the types of machines manufactured from 1842 to 1955 by the J.I. Case Company, an important manufacturing firm of Racine, Wisconsin, with occasional details about the company’s production employees and their terms of employment.
- Garrett, Garet. Salvos Against the New Deal: Selections from the Saturday Evening Post, 1933-1940.
Ramsey, Bruce, editor. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press; 2002. 282 p.
- Gierke, Lee. Proud of Our Progress, 1937-1987, IUE, AFL-CIO, Local 1131, Louis Allis: The History of
I.U.E. Local 1131. [Milwaukee?, Wis.]: s.n.; [1987?]. 31 p. Notes: The story of the first fifty years of the local union at the Louis Allis Company, a maker of special, high quality motors located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the local began as United Autoworkers (U.A.W.) Local 251 in March 1937, but switched in July 1937 to become Local 1131 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (U.E.) until, in 1949, the local joined the newly-created International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (I.U.E.) as Local 1131, when the U.E. was forced out of the C.I.O. for alleged communist domination.
- Gurda, John. “Profits and Patriotism: Milwaukee Industry in World War II”. Wisconsin Magazine of
History. 1994 Autumn; 78(1):24-34.
- Halpern, Martin. UAW Politics in the Cold War Era. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press;
- 361 p. (SUNY series in American labor history.
Notes: See Chapter Ten, “Defeat at Allis-Chalmers” (p. 173-183), for discussion of the major forces at work during an eleven-month strike in 1946 by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 248, which represented the workers at the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Corporation (located in West Allis, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin). This local union was one of the largest in Wisconsin, if not the largest at the time, and was also an important local union on the national scene within the UAW as a whole.
The strike began on April 30, 1946 and its main issue revolved around the procedures for handling grievances, with the officials of the company determined to significantly reduce the union’s participation in the early stages of the grievance process and the union committed to defending their effective grievance procedures. The company strategized with other employers from the National Association of Manufacturers regarding bargaining demands and exerted a noticeable influence on which provisions went into the soon-to-be-passed national Taft-Hartley Act. The company also redbaited the leadership of UAW Local 248 through a daily newspaper column appearing in the Milwaukee Sentinel (a Hearst paper) from September 23 through November 21, 1946 and signed with the pen name, “John Sentinel.” The federal House Un-American Activities Committee even came to Milwaukee and held hearings into the strike.
The strike situation was greatly complicated for the union members because of the political battles among the union leadership due to Cold War conflicts between the left and right wings within the various levels of the UAW, as well as within the Milwaukee County Industrial Union Council and the Wisconsin State Industrial Union Council. When a group of scabs tried to establish a company union in December 1946, they were given support by the leadership of the Milwaukee area’s anticommunist wing of the UAW and were able to get the National Labor Relations Board to schedule a representation election to be held during the strike.
Another edition: Also available on the web at www.netlibrary.com, according to OCLC record #42856238.
- Holbrook, Stewart Hall. Machines of Plenty: Chronicle of an Innovator in Construction and Agricultural
Equipment. Rev. ed. Charlton, Richard G., Updated by. New York: Macmillan; 1955. 269 p. Notes: An institutional history of the J.I. Case Company, a Racine, Wisconsin manufacturing firm specializing in agricultural machinery; today the company is known as the Case Corporation, but it was founded in Racine by Jerome Increase Case in 1844 as the Case Threshing Machine Company. Part One of this work is a complete re-printing of Machines of Plenty: Pioneering in American Agriculture by Stewart H. Holbrook (New York: Macmillan, 1955), except for different illustrations and without the original work’s bibliography and index; Holbrook’s work is a narrative history of the Case company’s founder and how the machinery developed and manufactured by the company throughout its history contributed to increased agricultural productivity and efficiency. Part Two of the work consists of a thirty-page update by Richard Charlton which brings the history of the company up to 1976; Charlton analyzes the adaptations made by the J.I. Case Company from the mid-1950s onwards to diversify into the construction equipment market, in order to remain competitive as the agricultural equipment market down-sized with the growth of large corporate farms during the 1950s and 1960s. The manufacturing employees of the company are rarely mentioned in either section of this work, but the title is included here because of the documentation it provides of the products and practices of this significant Wisconsin company.
Another edition: Holbrook, Stewart Hall; updated by Richard G. Charlton. Machines of Plenty: Chronicle of an Innovator in Construction and Agricultural Equipment. [S.l.]: Western, 1977, c1976. 269 p.
- —. Machines of Plenty: Pioneering in American Agriculture. New York: Macmillan; 1955. 246 p.
Notes: A narrative history of the J.I. Case Company, a Racine, Wisconsin manufacturing firm specializing in agricultural machinery; today the company is known as the Case Corporation, but it was founded in Racine by Jerome Increase Case in 1844 as the Case Threshing Machine Company; Holbrook focuses on the Case company’s founder and how the machinery developed and manufactured by the company throughout its history contributed to increased agricultural productivity and efficiency. The manufacturing employees of the company are rarely mentioned,
but the title is included here because of the documentation it provides of the products and practices of this significant Wisconsin company.
- Johnson, William R. “The Kohlers of Kohler: Acculturation in a Company Town”. History of Education
Quarterly. 1971 Fall; 11(3):219-248.
- Lindner, Barbara Jane. “Working-Class Culture and Unionization in North La Crosse, Wisconsin”; 1983.
Notes: Ph.D. thesis, Bowling Green State University, 1983. 305 p. [Available at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, in their Microforms Room, at call number P86-880]; OCLC 12061791.
- Lucht, Beth. “Out in the Cold”. Isthmus [Madison, Wis.]. 2000 Dec 8; 9-10, 12.
Notes: This article explores why the Rock-Tenn Company, which had an established and always-profitable cardboard-packing plant in Madison, Wisconsin, suddenly chose to close their Wisconsin operation in 2000 over less-profitable, but non-unionized plants; the 200 Wisconsin employees of Rock-Tenn were represented by Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Local 1202 (P.A.C.E. Local 1202).
- Meyer, Stephen. “Stalin Over Wisconsin”: The Making and the Unmaking of Militant Unionism,
1900-1950. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press; 1992. 263 p. (Cantor, Milton and Laurie, Bruce. Class and culture). Notes: The story of the workers and their union at the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Corporation from 1900 to 1950 is eloquently explained here. The company, located in West Allis, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee), was one of the largest employers in Wisconsin and specialized in a wide variety of metal and electrical manufacturing (from small electric motors to large steam engines, from tractors to artillery shell casings); the union, United Auto Workers Local 248, played a significant role in the Milwaukee and Wisconsin labor movement as well as nationally within the UAW. The author analyzes the process by which the employees built up the strength of the union at the job through the principles of industrial unionism and how the forces of power were able to tear it apart with the red-baiting tactics of the McCarthy period.
- —. “Technology and the Workplace: Skilled and Production Workers at Allis-Chalmers, 1900-1941” .
Technology and Culture. 1988; 29(4):839-864.
- Peterson, Walter Fritiof. An Industrial Heritage: Allis-Chalmers Corporation. Webber [i.e., Weber C.
Edward, With an epilogue by. Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee County Historical Society; 1976. 407 p. Notes: Well-documented and illustrated with high-quality photographs throughout, this volume is packed with details about the operation of this important Milwaukee manufacturing company, including a great deal regarding the working conditions of its employees during the corporation’s long history.
The book’s foreword explains that, although the editorial director for this book was the manager of the Allis-Chalmers News Bureau, this work is based on original research by Alberta Price Johnson, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin high school teacher, whose “investigations culminated in five typed volumes entitled Mill Stones to Atom Smashers, detailing the origins and development of Allis Chalmers during the periods 1847-1870, 1870-1900, and 1941-1945.” Walter F. Peterson “subsequently wrote a volume covering the period 1901-1941” and later “synthesized this material into a single narrative which appears as the first ten chapters of this book.” C. Edward Weber prepared the eleventh section (identified as the “epilogue”) to bring the corporation’s history up to 1976, when the Milwaukee County Historical Society published the volume as part of the bicentennial celebration of the American Revolution.
Another edition: Peterson, Walter Fritiof; with an epilogue by C. Edward Weber. An Industrial Heritage: Allis-Chalmers Corporation. Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 1978. 448 p.
Reviewed: Norris, James D. (reviewer). Wisconsin Magazine of History Winter 1979/80 63(2):154-155.
25. Petro, Sylvester. The Kohler Strike: Union Violence and Administrative Law. Chicago, Ill.: Henry Regnery
Company; 1961. 118 p. Notes: This title, from a publisher well-known as specializing in books of a conservative viewpoint, tells management’s view of the second major strike (from 1954 to 1960) at the Kohler Company in Kohler, Wisconsin; in fact, it’s not difficult to imagine the company president giving out complimentary copies of it. The author focuses on a major ruling issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August 1960 which favored United Auto Workers Local 833, the union representing the Kohler employees, and attacks the conclusions of that decision. He argues that the National Labor Relations Act should be amended and the NLRB abolished because they lead the federal government to tolerate violence by unions and encourage labor leaders to excesses, that they place unfair requirements on employers, and that all labor law cases should be heard in state and local courts, certainly not in federal administrative bodies like the NLRB.
- Pifer, Richard L. A City At War: Milwaukee Labor During World War II. Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin
Historical Society Press; 2003. 210 p. Notes: How Milwaukee workers and their families shared in the homefront efforts to win the war, while continuing to make use of labor relations for the future to come after the war’s conclusion.
- Rock, James M. “A Growth Industry: The Wisconsin Aluminum Cookware Industry, 1893-1920”.
Wisconsin Magazine of History. 1971 Winter-1972 Winter; 55(2):87-99.
- Rock, James M. and Peckham, Brian W. “Recession, Depression, and War: The Wisconsin Aluminum
Cookware Industry, 1920-1941″. Wisconsin Magazine of History. 1990 Spring; 73(3):202-233. Notes: This article discusses Wisconsin manufacturers of aluminum cookware and the challenges they faced as the industry developed from 1920 to 1941. A few paragraphs (p. 223-224) describe union organizing efforts in the industry in Wisconsin during the 1930s; three unions are mentioned: the Aluminum Workers Union, the International Association of Machinists, and the United Automobile Workers. At least half of the illustrations in the article show working conditions in the factories.
- Severson, Donald E. “A History of the Eau Claire Rubber Workers’ Struggle for Collective Bargaining,
1915-1938″; 1979. Notes: M.A. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 1979. 95 p.
- Stockley, Julian L. “‘Red Purge’: The 1946-1947 Strike at Allis-Chalmers”. Transactions of the Wisconsin
Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. 1988; 76:17-31. Notes: Although some previous writers have maintained that during an eleven-month strike from April 29, 1946 to March 23, 1947 there was Communist influence among the leadership of United Auto Workers Local 248 at the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Corporation in West Allis, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee), the author here reviews the record and concludes that “a careful study of the evidence indicates that the charges are unproven and that the company only used them to avoid negotiating a legitimate contractual agreement” (p. 17).
- Uphoff, Walter H. Kohler on Strike: Thirty Years of Conflict. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press; 1966. 449 p.
Notes: The Kohler Company, the well-known maker of plumbing fixtures, and its company town of Kohler, Wisconsin (located in Sheboygan County) were the focus of two long and bitter strikes from 1934 to 1941 and from 1954 to 1960. This history takes a carefully-documented look at the issues involved in prompting the strikes and why the dispute dragged on for such lengthy periods. Eventually, the labor conflict, perhaps the longest in U.S. history, was only resolved in 1965 when the Kohler company, after losing its appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed to a $3,000,000 back-pay settlement to the Kohler workers involved in the second strike, in return for their union dropping the unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board which had been brought against the company.
The Kohler labor conflict began soon after the passage in 1933 of the federal National Industrial Relations Act (N.I.R.A.), which was designed to make it easier for employees to win union
representation; the N.I.R.A. was part of the “New Deal” legislation passed during the first one hundred days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first administration. Although the paternalistic Kohler Company was determined to continue to maintain their workplace as an open shop, the Kohler employees soon organized and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, receiving a charter in August 1933 as Federal Labor Union No. 18545 (F.L.U. No. 18545). The Kohler company responded by assisting in the start-up on September 7, 1933 of a company union, the Kohler Workers Association (K.W.A.), and used delaying tactics over several months of talks with F.L.U. No. 18545 to prevent the union from achieving a contract with the company. On July 16, 1934, after much fruitless bargaining, F.L.U. No. 18545 went on strike. After eleven days on strike, there was a violent confrontation on the night of July 27, 1934 between the strikers and the many ‘Kohler Special Police’ deputies, who were armed with clubs and guns. Forty-seven strikers were injured in the incident from either buckshot or bullets and two strikers were fatally shot; five women were among the injured. The strike carried on until 1941 when the Kohler company suddenly “settled” because the company wanted to participate in the government war contracts during the Second World War; the company knew that, if they wanted to put up the new facilitlies required to handle the expanded war work, they had to have labor peace at their workplace, since construction workers would not cross a union picket line to work on a construction project. Although the strike settlement included a provision to re-hire all of the striking employees, through the strategem of a secret proviso, three of the strike leaders were kept from any further company employment; the settlement agreement also explicitly withheld recognition of any union to represent the Kohler workers and F.L.U. No. 18545 became inoperative.
Between the two strikes the Kohler Workers Association (the company union), continued as an organization and did win some improvements in the workplace for the employees, but Kohler company officials were deciding most matters for the K.W.A. By the early 1950s the leadership of the K.W.A. began looking to affiliate with an independent union organization. The K.W.A. membership voted in late April 1952 to affiliate with the United Auto Workers-Congress of Industrial Organization (U.A.W.-C.I.O.) and received their charter as U.A.W.-C.I.O. Kohler Workers Association Local 833 on May 5, 1952; the legitimacy of the local was confirmed with an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on June 10 and 11, 1952. Shortly thereafter, some members of the K.W.A. company union, who had opposed the U.A.W.-C.I.O. affiliation, formed a new company union, the Independent Union of Kohler Workers’ Association (I.U.K.W.A.), and filed a legal challenge to Local 833 having been given the treasury funds of the now defunct K.W.A., the original company union. After the I.U.K.W.A. lost its case about the membership funds before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the members of Local 833 voted on October 10, 1953 to modify its name to simply Kohler Local 833, U.A.W.-C.I.O., to reduce confusion with the I.U.K.W.A.
By the end of February 1953, Local 833 had been able to get a first contract in place for the period covering March 1, 1953 to March 1, 1954. Negotiations for the second contract began in early February 1954, but fell apart a few weeks later over the issue of extending the old contract during the contract talks. On April 5, 1954, after working for five weeks without a contract, Local 833 went out on strike. No further summary here can possibly capture the riveting drama of the lengthy strike which ensued–find and read this book for the entire compelling story!
Another edition: Uphoff, Walter Henry. Kohler on Strike: Thirty Years of Conflict. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1967. 450 p. (Beacon Paperback ; BP 274)
- Uphoff, Walter Henry. The Kohler Strike: Its Socio-Economic Causes and Effects. [Milwaukee, Wis.]: Priv.
print. [Cuneo press]; 1935. 139 p. Notes: Revised from an academic thesis, this is a sociological study which, according to its introduction (p. 1), is based on a survey of “the attitudes, opinions and prejudices among the various economic and professional groups” involved with the 1934 Kohler strike as well as on interviews with “people of the community.” The author also says that he made “this intensive study of one strike to show the various social and economic forces in operation, since similar tactics, strategy and methods are resorted to wherever the failure of collective bargaining leads to a strike.” The book’s preface is by Henry Ohl, Jr., then president of the Wisconsin Federation of Labor.
Reviewed: Kipp, Marjorie (reviewer). The Kenosha Labor, v. 1, no. 15 (Friday, February 7, 1936), editorial page (p. ).
- Walsh, Margaret. “The Manufacturing Frontier: Pioneer Industry in Antebellum Wisconsin, 1830-1860”;
- Notes: Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1969. 2 volumes (564 leaves). In an impressive work of original research, Walsh explores the development of manufacturing in Wisconsin from 1830, when settlement by northern European immigrants increased dramatically, to 1860 just prior to the U.S. Civil War. The author provides a statewide survey of the subject, as well as extensive discussion regarding the economies of six Wisconsin counties, selected as being representative of the different development patterns in Wisconsin during the period. The profiled counties are Jefferson, Grant, Winnebago, Eau Claire, Racine, and Milwaukee; the examples they represent are drawn from agriculture, lumbering, and mining, in addition to both rural and urban settings. With the state’s plentiful raw materials and good natural transportation routes helping to create a strong manufacturing base, the author concludes that it was not surprising that by 1860 Wisconsin’s industrialization had achieved significance not only for the Midwest, but also for the nation as a whole. The major primary sources used by the author included “the federal manuscript censuses for the state of Wisconsin, 1850 and 1860, schedule 5, products of industry, the Dun & Bradstreet handwritten commercial credit rating reports for Wisconsin, 1844-1865, and local newspapers … supplemented by manuscript business papers, agricultural and trade journals, city directories, reports of boards of trade and chambers of commerce and official state and federal government publications” (p. 538). For a fuller abstract, see Dissertation Abstracts International, 1970, 31/01, p. 348-A.
- —. The Manufacturing Frontier: Pioneer Industry in Antebellum Wisconsin, 1830-1860. Madison, Wis.:
State Historical Society of Wisconsin; 1972. 263 p. Notes: A revision of the author’s thesis (Ph.D.)–University of Wisconsin. Walsh explores the development of manufacturing in Wisconsin from 1830, when settlement by northern European immigrants increased dramatically, to 1860 just prior to the U.S. Civil War. The author provides a statewide survey of the subject, as well as extensive discussion regarding the economies of six Wisconsin counties, selected as being representative of the different development patterns in Wisconsin during the period. The profiled counties are Jefferson, Grant, Winnebago, Eau Claire, Racine, and Milwaukee; the examples they provide are drawn from agriculture, lumbering and mining, in addition to both rural and urban settings. With the state’s plentiful raw materials and good natural transportation routes helping to create a strong manufacturing base, the author concludes that it was not suprising that by 1860 Wisconsin’s industrialization had achieved significance not only for the Midwest, but also for the nation as a whole.
This book won the D.C. Everest Prize in Wisconsin Economic History.
- Zieger, Robert H. “Battery Workers at War”. IN: Holter, Darryl. Workers and Unions in Wisconsin: A
Labor History Anthology. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin; 1999; pp. 169-174. Notes: Excerpted from his book, The Madison Battery Workers, 1934-1952: A History of Federal Labor Union 19587 (Ithaca, N.Y.: New York State School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University Press, 1977).
- —. Madison’s Battery Workers, 1934-1952: A History of Federal Labor Union 19587. [Ithaca, N.Y.]: New
York State School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University; 1977;126 p.(ILR paperback; v. 16). ISBN: 0-87546-062-3 (pbk.). Notes: This book tells the story from 1934 to 1952 of the production workers at the Ray-O-Vac Battery factory in Madison, Wisconsin, which directly affiliated with the American Federation of Labor as Federal Labor Union (F.L.U.) No. 19587; this union, in 1963, changed their charter and became United Auto Workers Local 1329. There are lots of federal labor unions–why a book about this particular one? Because as the author explains in his preface, “the establishment, development, and tribulations of the union at Ray-O-Vac, while lacking the overt drama of the more spectacular labor events of the 1930s and 1940s, illustrate in microcosm basic themes in the recent
history of American unionism” (p. 1). It is to be hoped that all local unions in Wisconsin will note well that, according to the author, there were two additional major factors which led him to decide to write a history of the union of the Ray-O-Vac battery workers: the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (S.H.S.W.) collects the records of labor unions located in Wisconsin and F.L.U. No. 19587 had taken care to deposit a copy of all their records with the S.H.S.W.
Reviewed: Ozanne, Robert (reviewer). Labor History, v. 20, no. 2 (Spring 1979), p. 295-297. Reviewed: Lipsitz, George (reviewer). Wisconsin Magazine of History 62:4 (Summer 1979), p. 334-335.
- Zophy, Angela Howard. “UAW Local 72: Assertive Union”. IN: Burckel, Nicholas C. and John A.
Neuenschwander, eds.Kenosha, Wis.: Kenosha County Bicentennial Commission; 1981; p. -331. Notes: The history of the unionized workers at the Nash Motors plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is told, beginning with the formation of their Federal Labor Union No. 19008 in September 1933, through their re-chartering as United Auto Workers Local 72 (in 1937), and then their activities up to 1980.