International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 66 Records
Language of Materials
The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFTPE), Local 66 is a labor union for engineers in the New York City and New Jersey area. During its long history, Local 66 organized architects, draftsmen and surveyors, as well as chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineers. The collection covers the history of IFTPE, Local 66 in its efforts to organize and represent engineers in the New York City and New Jersey area. The bulk of the collection consists of shop files documenting Local 66's successful and unsuccessful organization and bargaining efforts.
The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFTPE), Local 66 is a labor union for engineers in the New York City and New Jersey area. During its long history, Local 66 organized architects, drafters and surveyors, as well as chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineers.
The Architectural Guild of America was organized as a national union for architects and architectural draftsmen in 1934, on the heels of the New Deal and the impetus given to union organizing by passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act. New York City was center of the new Guild, with at least one other chapter in Washington, D.C. The Guild paid particular attention to the problems of wage parity and unemployment for architects working for the WPA. In keeping with the times, it exhorted its members to be concerned with the question of political representation for workers and solidarity with other unions.
In early 1937, the Architectural Guild of America affiliated with the International Federation of Technical Engineers', Architects' and Draftsmen's Union (IFTEADU) to become "Guild Local 66" with 23 charter members (soon to grow to over 60). The IFTEADU had been chartered by the AFL in 1918 to represent "all technical engineering, architectural and drafting employees." In 1936, the IFTEADU was reporting a membership of 3600.
The new Local 66 soon came head to head with its CIO rival, the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Technicians (FAECT). The FAECT was organized in NY in 1933 and reported 6000 members in 16 locals by 1936. At first, the FAECT proposed a three-way affiliation with the Architectural Guild and the IFTEADU. From 1935 until 1937, discussions of merger and joint work on the WPA issues were carried out between the Guild, the IFTEADU and the FAECT. The Guild (later Local 66) hesitated, stipulating separate status for a local of architectural men, thereby maintaining an orientation to organizing along craft lines as opposed to industrial organizing.
In early 1937 the Guild joined the IFTEADU-AFL and the FAECT joined the new Congress of Industrial Organizations. Joint work fell apart and disputes quickly grew over method (the FAECT was viewed as too brash and radical, too quick to strike), over jurisdiction in organizing new shops and, soon after, over accusations of Communist control of the national FAECT leadership. From the viewpoint of Local 66, the FAECT's "doctrinaire, more left, less pragmatic" methods led it into a disastrous strike against Ebasco in the late 1940s. Even now, the FAECT (which became defunct in the 1950s) is held responsible for opening up the engineering field to job-shopping (company use of non-union contractors).
From the beginning, Local 66 planned to have independent engineering and architectural sections. However, the architectural division was soon outweighed by new divisions of engineers and draftsmen. The Ornamental Iron and Bronze industry soon became the largest division with up to 400 members, 150 of them employed at the General Bronze Corporation in Long Island City.
Local 66 held its first strike against the marble industry in 1941 in a failed attempt to organize under a single contract the shops of all employers belonging to the Marble Industry Employers' Association. In general it preferred to negotiate and often brought its cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). During World War II, it often appealed to the National War Labor Board to grant wage increases as a move against "wartime profiteering" by the companies.
Another attempt (and strike) in 1950 to organize all field engineers and surveyors hired by members of the Building Trades Employers Association was set back when the NLRB ruled in favor of the Association's request for shop by shop elections.
From 1940 until 1962, Local 66 was led by J. Lawrence Raimist, a licensed engineer. Son of Louis Raimist, a labor representative for the Bakers Union, he joined the Guild in 1934, served in key positions and as editor before becoming president and later business manager. Raimist was not without his detractors, within the leadership of the international and the local and among the rank and file. Documents in the Mergenthaler shop files indicate for example the problems he had in accepting the criticism of an international representative who came to help Raimist, and before the Mergenthaler unit voted to disaffiliate from Local 66, the dissenting members demanded Raimist's resignation as condition for staying in the union.
Raimist's contributions included a long series of battles with companies on behalf of employees represented by his or other IFTEADU locals. He served for a period of time in the 1940s as international vice president, always urging the international to more aggressively organize engineers. Raimist resigned in 1962, having committed 27 years to the unionization of the white-collar engineers.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Local 66 had ongoing agreements with several large companies, including Foster Wheeler, R. Hoe, Lederle Laboratories, S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Co., Mergenthaler Linotype and General Bronze. The changing technology of the 60s, particularly in construction and in printing (with the demise of hotmetal printing) brought large changes to the work conditions and jobs. Computer technology has changed the way engineering draftsmen draw up their plans, requiring less specific education and skill to handle specifications, etc. Demographic changes in the location of work created changes in how Local 66 functioned internally as well. With jobs spreading further out from the city to the outreaching counties, workers followed suit. Meetings were attended by smaller numbers and day-to-day involvement in the union lessened.
Under Ed Meskin's leadership in the 1970s, Local 66 opened its campaign to organize the hundreds of engineers employed by the Port Authority. It was forced to withdraw after more than ten years of activity on behalf of PA engineers when it lost the last NLRB election.
This collection is arranged into five series:
Series I: Internal Structure and Units, 1936-1978
Series II: Records of the International Union, 1936-1978
Series III: Other Unions and Organizations, 1936-1978
Series IV: Shop Files, 1937-1979
Series V: Finances, Membership Records, and General Files (Unprocessed), circa 1935-1984
Series I-III and Series V are arranged topically and chronologically; Series IV is arranged alphabetically and chronologically.
Scope and Content Note
The collection covers the history of IFTPE, Local 66 in its efforts to organize and represent engineers in the New York City and New Jersey area. The bulk of the collection consists of shop files documenting Local 66's successful and unsuccessful organization and bargaining efforts.
It provides many forms of evidence to explain the motivations behind and obstacles to organizing white-collar professional engineers, personalities of the leading figures in the Local, the Local's objectives and methods, issues of importance to the members in each shop, and the technological processes central to each industry where draftsmen work.
The proportions reflect the union's priorities. For example almost two feet of correspondence with other AFTE locals gives evidence of Raimist's national ties and concerns for building a strong international. The relatively small quantity of "research" or "topical" files indicates the concentration on bread-and-butter issues — social and political issues taking a distant second place. Legislative concerns are intense whenever bills affecting engineers come to the floor. Officers' files are rather sparse in contrast to those of the business manager in this particular local.
Having failed in its bid to organize industry-wide engineering contracts, Local 66 went on to organize shop-by-shop. This is reflected in shop files, which contain organizing leaflets, contract, negotiation, and grievance files for each shop. The shop files document not only the organized shops but also of the many failed organizing attempts.
Foster-Wheeler Corporation: multinational corporation which manufactures and engineers major fuel-generating plants and components. Several unions represent the production and technical employees in its various plants. (A joint council of unions was convened in the 1950's.) Issues evident in these records include a major arbitration case against the company's compulsory retirement policy (1952-1953), the 1955 strike, a decertification campaign in the late 50's, and organizing "runaway shops" in New Jersey (1960) and Pennsylvania (1969).
General Bronze Corporation: major architectural bronze plant and one of the larger important units of Local 66 membership.
R. Hoe: manufacture of printing presses, industrial saws, ordnance equipment; a major unit of Local 66 membership.
Lummus Company: major corporation in the petro-chemical and oil refinery field on an international scale.
Mergenthaler Linotype: major producer of hot-metal composing machines for the printing industry. The shop was organized in 1954 when the company's engineering association affiliated with Local 66 and the clerical workers joined the OPEIU. A backlog of grievances and a dissenting group within the unit required attention from the international and its representative, Miles Holmes, but without resolution. The unit demanded Raimist's resignation and disaffiliated in 1961, having been "raided" by Local 18 of the Allied Trades Union, an independent "gangsters" union.
The correspondence (1958-1961) illustrates the growing conflict between not only Raimist (the business manager) and the dissenting members but also between him and Miles Holmes. While other documents throughout the Local 66 records describe Raimist's long tenure and commitment to unionization, the Mergenthaler correspondence gives a sharp example of his style when in conflict with his own union.
Raimist resigned in 1962. Local 66 won back the unit in 1964. In 1970 the company made plans to move to a smaller plant, having reduced its manufacture of hot-metal printing equipment — the result of the change in print technology to photocomposing "cold-type" machines. The unit was finally lost by attrition in 1976.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: independent of either state, this public agency serves to build and coordinate all major inter-state transportation facilities including bridges, tunnels, port facilities, international airports, related buslines and roadways. It also built and owns the World Trade Center. A major analysis of its financial and political underpinnings is given in The Power Broker by Robert Caro.
Local 66 sought recognition as bargaining agent for the PA's hundreds of engineers over a period of ten years. The records begin with the initial organizing drive of February 1969 up to the representation election of 1973 (which the union closely lost). Although never officially recognized as the sole bargaining agent for the engineers, Local 66 signed up a large number of engineers and played an important role in negotiating certain rights and benefits for them. It was also held responsible for representing all the engineers (members and non-members) in their grievances.
A considerable portion of Local 66 energies went to the process of appealing to the state legislatures and executives for important revisions in state lav/ to protect the Port Authority employees, their union rights, arbitration, compensation and benefits, tenure, and pensions.
The Port Authority Guild Chapter functioned as a regular unit of Local 66, having its own stewards and officers, paying membership dues, publishing a regular PA Guild newsletter, negotiating wages, job classifications , working conditions and benefits, working with the other recognized unions (transit workers, PA Police Benevolent Association, Police Superior Officers Association, etc.). The Local 66 organizing drive met with great resistance from the Port Authority administration and commission. Not being under the purview of state lav;, much of the Port Authority's actions were difficult to contest, requiring Local 66 to appeal to the state authorities for changes in the basic structure of PA governance.
When a third-party board was finally set up to arbitrate labor relations at the PA, the Authority's new strategy centered on contesting the composition of the proposed bargaining unit, choosing at first to claim large numbers of engineers as "management- confidential- or supervisory" positions. When Local 66 won a victory on this question, the PA then insisted that all white-collar employees of a certain level be organized by Local 66 (including accountants, nurses, etc.). Local 66 was unable to overturn this ruling and lost the 1978 election which included the non-engineering workers by one vote.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 66 was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 66 Records; WAG 010; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 66, via Michael Gorman in 1980. The accession number associated with this gift is 1980.011. Additional materials were donated in 1982 by Ray Shannon, local business manager.