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Engineers Association of ARMA Records

Call Number



1951-1983, inclusive


Vladeck, Stephen C.
Engineers Association of ARMA
Engineers Association of ARMA (Role: Donor)


9 Linear Feet in 9 record cartons.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


This collection contains the records of the Engineers Association of ARMA, Local 418 of the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), from 1953-1983. This collection documents the unionization of ARMA's Brooklyn Plant of white collar defense engineers and technicians. The collection is made up of minutes and by-laws, office correspondence, the union's publicity and publications, photographs, grievances, arbitrations, and contract agreements and negotiations.

Historical Note

The Engineers Association of ARMA (EAA) was founded in March of 1951. Unionization of the plant had begun in 1950 when production employees working at ARMA's Brooklyn Plant became Local 460. The company was founded by Arthur P. Davis in 1918 was and continued to be a defense contractor, initially manufacturing searchlights and, subsequently, fire control systems and gyroscopic equipment for the Navy.

The engineers were compelled to unionize, when the company, to attract professionals during the Korean War labor shortage, paid new engineers as much as senior employees. The engineers decided to form an independent union and on July 11, 1951 the EAA called its first strike. The company had made a settlement with Local 460, and did not see a need to negotiate with the engineers and technicians of ARMA. After a week they were taken seriously by the company. The contract they negotiated provided for a union shop, 25 percent average wage increase, improved benefits, and a model agreement for other engineers, which the EAA had to fight the Wage Stabilization Board and the employer to fulfill. During this period the union helped to form the Engineers and Scientists of America (ESA) which aspired to join engineers nationwide for the purpose of strengthening collective bargaining. (The ARMA engineers later became disenchanted with this organization and withdrew in 1956.)

The expiration of the contracts in 1953 brought the union's bitterest strike. The IUE production local called a strike, and the EAA voted to honor their picket lines. The strike lasted 10 weeks, and some of the engineers were arrested during the first week's violence. After 8 weeks, the production and clerical unions reached a settlement, and the EAA then "officially" went on strike. The other unions honored the EAA picket lines, and a settlement was reached 10 days later.

Again in 1955, when the contract expired, a strike erupted. This time the strike lasted thirteen weeks. After this strike the EAA decided that it would have more influence if it banded together with the other unions in the plant by joining the International Union of Electrical Workers. On February 1, 1956 the ARMA engineers were chartered as IUE Local 418.

The union remained strong and grew in membership from 600 to 1900 as ARMA won defense contracts. ARMA moved its quarters from Bush Terminal to Roosevelt Field, having a total of 6000 employees at its peak of production.

Local 418 successfully negotiated contracts with ARMA with the assistance of their attorney, Stephen Vladeck whom they hired in 1953. He won significant cases for the engineers and technicians of ARMA, including liberalizing the company's policy on security clearance and on admitting female technicians.

Industrial relations improved somewhat, but the union was forced to take strike votes in many of the ensuing contract expiration years because of last minute deadlocked negotiations. The union went on strike for 15 weeks on October 10,1981, mainly because of issues that arose as a result of the merger with United Technologies (see below). The union's fortunes however, were closely tied to the ARMA management which began having problems attracting Pentagon contracts as early as 1953, when the Navy lost confidence in the company's product. The first lay off was in 1959. ARMA was successful in attracting Air Force contracts to produce B.52 tail defense and guidance systems until the middle sixties, after which no further major military contracts were secured. In the 1970's ARMA attracted some private sector work for Lockheed Aircraft, Delta and All Nippon Airlines. ARMA veterans suggest that the company was accustomed to dealing with inflated military budgets and could not compete well in the private market. In 1973 the company was sold to United Technologies and the ARMA division gradually was reduced in size, eventually being closed on October 1, 1983. As a result of this closing, the union was disbanded in October, 1983.


The collection is arranged into nine series:

Series I: Union Structure and Organization
Series II: Office Correspondence
Series III: Union Publicity and Publications
Series IV: Labor Agreements
Series V: Arbitrations
Series VI: Grievances and Other Legal Files
Series VII: Contract Negotiations
Series VIII: Job Descriptions
Series IX: Photographs

Materials in Series I-III are arranged alphabetically. Materials in Series IV-IX have not been arranged on the folder level by an archivist.

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains the records of the Engineers Association of ARMA, Local 418 of the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE). The material in the collection spans the entire existence of the union, from 1953-1983. The collection is made up of minutes, constitutions, and by-laws of the union; office correspondence; photographs; and publicity and publications of the union, including newsletters. The unarranged portion of the collection includes contract negotiations and bonus plans for engineers. The unprocessed section also includes labor agreements, including job descriptions, pension plans, health coverage, and contracts. A huge bulk of the unprocessed materials relate to the union's grievances and arbitrations filed with the union's arbitration department, including issues related to security clearance and job descriptions for engineers and technicians. The key issues of arbitration include subcontracting, merit and severance pay, and job descriptions.

The researcher will find in the records of the Engineers Association of ARMA an unusually complete account of the development of a white collar professional union. The collection also gives insights into the work process and labor relations for professionals employed by a defense contractor.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the Engineers Association of ARMA were transferred to New York University in 1983 by the Engineers Association of ARMA. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives. Please contact, (212) 998-2630.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Engineers Association of ARMA Records; WAG 023; Collection number; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least two business days prior to research visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Engineers Association of ARMA, IUE Local 418 in memory of their attorney, Stephen Vladeck in 1983. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1950.187 and 1983.011.

Collection processed by

Tamiment Staff; Edited by Nicole Greenhouse and Bonnie Gordon for compliance with DACS and Tamiment Required Elements for Archival Description and to reflect the incorporation of nonprint materials and addition of unprocessed materials (2013)

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:47:13 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English

Processing Information

In 2013, materials from Series I-III were rehoused. Series V, VI, and VII were rehoused into archival folders from original housing. Materials from series IV-IX largely remain unarranged on the folder level; materials from Series III-VIII were scattered throughout the collection and reunited to better reflect the initial processing archivist's intentions in the mid 1980s.

Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Engineers Association of ARMA Photographs (PHOTOS 026). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Engineers Association of ARMA Records.


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012