Louis Weinstock Papers and Photographs
Language of Materials
Louis Weinstock was born in Hungary in 1903 and emigrated to the United States in 1923. He settled in New York City and in 1925 joined the Painters' Union, Local 499. Weinstock became one of the leaders of the "Rank and File" movement in District Council 9 of the International Painters and Paperhangers. He fought for Social Security and initiated the drive for unemployment insurance. Weinstock also led the Rank-and-File painters caucus in a fight against corruption in the union, defeating the corrupt leadership of the infamous Lepke-Gurrah racketeer gang and getting elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer. In 1951, he was charged with conspiring to violate the Smith Act while teaching a trade union class; he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail. Weinstock retired from the union in 1963 and died in 1994 from heart failure.
Louis Weinstock was born in Hungary in 1903 and emigrated to the United States in 1923. He settled in New York City and in 1925 joined the Painters' Union, Local 499. Weinstock became one of the leaders of the "Rank and File" movement in District Council 9 of the International Painters and Paperhangers. In 1926 Louis married Rose, also from Hungary and an activist in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. During the Depression, Weinstock fought for Social Security and initiated the drive for unemployment insurance even though the American Federation of Labor (AFL) leadership was opposed to such policies. Weinstock, with the help of Harry Bridges of the West Coast Longshoremen (ILWU) and Elmer Brown of the Typographers Union (ITU) headed a committee to rally support from 3,000 AFL local unions and ultimately forced the reversal of the position of William Green, then head of the AFL Executive Council who was opposed to such reforms. During the struggle for the unemployed, Weinstock participated in hunger marches and led delegations to city councils, state capitols, and was part of the National Hunger March to Washington, DC in the early 1930s.
Weinstock also led the Rank-and-File painters caucus in a fight against corruption in the union. Weinstock defeated the corrupt leadership of the infamous Lepke-Gurrah racketeer gang and was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer, the highest office in District Council 9. He was elected Secretary-Treasurer in 1926 and for 11 years he served as either Secretary-Treasurer or President of District Council 9. Under the renewed democratic leadership the union initiation fee was reduced from $75 to $5 which increased membership, especially amongst minority and immigrant groups, and particularly among African Americans and Puerto Ricans. Additional benefits followed: increases in wages, better safety conditions, and shorter working hours.
Weinstock participated in numerous activities for both social change and for the Rank and File movement in District Council 9. His activism included attending the founding convention of the World Federation of Trade Unions in 1945. He was a delegate to the first World Peace Congress, held in Paris in 1949. He continued to work throughout his life on the important issues facing international trade unions. In 1950 Weinstock became the secretary of a May Day parade planning committee. In 1953 the permit for the parade was canceled because the U.S. Subversive Activities Control Board declared that the group must register under the McCarran Act for operating a "Communist front" organization. At this point in Weinstock's life he was defending himself against three separate federal prosecutions: the May Day charge of perjury for allegedly lying about the name of the organizing committee, a Smith Act charge of teaching anti-American labor history, and a McCarran Act charge branding him as a Communist.
On June 20, 1951 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed up to take Weinstock to jail. He was charged with conspiring to violate the Smith Act while teaching a course on trade unionism in 1950. The Justice Department argued that some issues being taught could be viewed as advocating a violent overthrow of the U.S. government. In 1953 Weinstock was found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail and $6,000 fine. He was released from prison in May 1957 and continued to pay off the $6,000 fine in monthly installments for the next 19 years. After his release from prison in 1957, he was reinstated into the District Council 9 and continued his trade as a house painter until a massive heart attack in 1963 forced him to retire. In the 1960s he served as a business manager for The Worker, a newspaper published by the Communist Party of the United States.
After retirement, Louis and Rose moved to Los Angeles where they remained active by working with the Los Angeles Committee for Trade Union Action and Democracy (TUAD) and also coordinated a Senior Citizens Organization. During the 1980s he was active with senior citizens' organizations and was a delegate to the World Conference on Aging, organized by the United Nations, held in Vienna, Austria. Louis Weinstock died on November 26, 1994 at the age of 91 from heart failure.
Gersh, Adolph B., Occupational Hazards and the Painter.New York: New York District Council No. 9, B. of P. D. & P. of A., 1937.Hall, Burton H., editor. Autocracy and Insurgency in Organized Labor.New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1972.Montgomery, John Flournoy. Hungary: The Unwilling Satellite.New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1947.The Struggle of the New York Painters for Human Conditions.New York: District Council 9, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers of America, No Date.Zausner, Philip. Unvarnished: The Autobiography of a Labor Leader. New York: Brotherhood Publishers, 1941.
Most files are arranged chronologically within each series.
Organized into 7 series:
- I, Personal
- II, Correspondence
- III, Writings
- IV, Subject Files
- V, Resource Materials
- VI, Ancillary Materials
- VII, Photographs
Scope and Content Note
The papers and photographs of Louis Weinstock document his life from the 1920s to his death in 1994. The collection includes personal artifacts as well as an extensive amount of material from his involvement with the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers. The collection is organized into seven separate series: personal, correspondence, writings, subject files, resource materials, ancillary materials, and photographs.
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 Louis Weinstock was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from John Weinstock and Susan Weinstock Gould.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; Louis Weinstock Papers and Photographs; WAG 013; 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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Louis Weinstock's children, Dr. John Weinstock and Susan Gould, in 1995. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 1995.028, 1995.029 and NPA.1998.008.
About this Guide
Photographs from this collection were established as a separate collection in 1998, the Louis Weinstock Photographs (PHOTOS 077). In March 2013 PHOTOS 077 was reincorporated into the Louis Weinstock Papers and Photographs.