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Civil Service Technical Guild Records

Call Number



1937-2007, (Bulk 1970-1999), inclusive
; 1970-1999, bulk


Civil Service Technical Guild
Civil Service Technical Guild (Role: Donor)


20.5 Linear Feet in 21 boxes.

Language of Materials

English .


The Civil Service Technical Guild (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 375) was organized in 1937. It represents engineers, architects, chemists, and technical inspectors employed by the City of New York; employees of various City departments are organized into separate chapters, each with its own officers. The Guild has fought against "farming out" of city contracts to private firms, has won expanded benefits for its members, has opposed political patronage in hiring and has supported reform of the City's Civil Service examination and job classification systems. This comprehensive collection of union records was donated by former Guild presidents, Philip Brueck, Alexander Lurkis, Joseph Collins and Louis Albano, as well as by individual Guild members.

Historical/Biographical Note

The Civil Service Technical Guild was organized in 1937, its main purpose being to organize engineers and architects employed by the City of New York, to fight the problem of "farming out," the requirement of the new City Charter of 1936 that large-scale public works projects be subcontracted to private engineers and architects. The Guild was organized by Henry F. Cunningham, mechanical engineer, and William S. Elliot and George Ellenoff, assistant engineers. They succeeded in organizing 300 engineers, and in 1937 traveled to Albany, at their own expense, to protest to the New York State Legislature. They won passage of the Buckley Law, which removed the "farming out" provision from the City Charter. In its early years the Guild actively recruited members from existing professional associations and predecessor unions, including the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Technicians (FAECT), a militant CIO-affiliated union.

One of those who had traveled to Albany with the Guild leaders was Philip Brueck. A recent graduate of Cooper Union working at the Board of Transportation, he was elected President of the Guild in 1938 and remained in that office for nearly twenty years. Brueck was responsible for the Guild`s unique way of obtaining want it wanted. In all the years of the Guild`s existence the organization never resorted to a strike. Brueck learned political tactics quickly and, working closely with Alexander Lurkis, became proficient at writing legislation and then lobbying for its passage.

During the battle against the farming-out provision, the Executive Committee of the Guild, recognizing that working together with other organizations would provide more strength, recommended and implemented affiliation with the Civil Service Forum. The Forum appealed to many Guild members because it was neither a full-fledged union nor a professional association. In 1949 the Guild voted to disaffiliate itself from the Forum, charging that the Forum was not adequately representing the Guild`s concerns. In 1951 the Guild affiliated with the Government and Civic Employees Organizing Committee of the CIO. After the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955 the Guild affiliated with District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; it received its charter as AFSCME Local 375 in 1959.

After passage of the Buckley Law and an intensive organizing drive, about 2,000 new members in twenty-five city departments joined the Guild, which now represented engineers, architects, chemists, and technical inspectors. Employees of various city departments were organized into separate chapters, each with its own officers. Victories followed for Guild members, including salary increases, medical and dental plans, social security benefits for City employees and long-term disability insurance. The Guild was an early supporter of the mayoral campaign of Robert F. Wagner, Jr., and scored substantial gains under his administrations. The Guild played a major role in the drafting of the law establishing the New York City Department of Personnel and in the establishment of the Career and Salary Plan - enacted six months after Wagner's election in 1953. In the early years of Wagner's mayoralty two former Guild presidents, Phil Brueck and Al Lurkis, moved into top management positions in city departments, further cementing the cordial working relationship between the City and Guild. By the mid-1960s the Guild had won collective bargaining rights, a long-sought goal. Farming out continued to be a prime concern of the Guild, however; although it was no longer mandatory in City contracts, it remained optional. The Guild attempted to remedy the situation through additional state or local legislation, against the bitter opposition of private-sector professional organizations. On this issue the latter gained powerful allies, including several mayors and City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, and the Guild never achieved a strong anti-farming-out bill.

Guild resources were sorely tested during the severe fiscal crisis that beset the City in the mid-1970s. Guild members joined mass protests and otherwise acted in solidarity with other municipal unions, but there was growing dissatisfaction in the union with DC 37's leadership and a movement toward disaffiliation, supported by then president Richard Izzo, gained momentum. In response a dissident group of members, known as the "New Team," began to take form - on a platform of support for alliances with other unions and an active role in AFSCME and the Municipal Labor Committee. The "New Team" prevailed, and one of its key activists, Louis Albano, took office as Guild president in 1981. The "New Team" philosophy was to direct the Guild's course for the next twenty years. DC 37 leader Victor Gotbaum appointed Albano to head the Council's new Professional Committee. The union broadened its field of action, launching organizing drives, fighting nepotism and cronyism in the civil service, joining with the Transport Workers to back improvements in mass transit, raising issues of health and safety, creating a Women's Committee in 1986, and supporting a wide range of human rights campaigns, including efforts on behalf of civil rights in the U.S. and against Apartheid in South Africa.

Beginning in the late 1990s, the established leadership of DC 37, including top officers of the Guild, came under sweeping attack from a dissident group, the "Committee for Real Change." Within the Guild, as in many other Council locals, charges of malfeasance, fiscal improprieties and election fraud flew thick and fast. The Albano administration replied in kind, continuing with legal challenges after the election of dissident Roy Commer as Guild president in 1998. In recent years the union has continued to cope with major challenges, both internally and on the wider battleground of municipal affairs.


Rachel Bernstein, with Steve Beck and Molly Charboneau, Building a City, Building a Union: A History of the Civil Service Technical Guild (New York: Civil Service Technical Guild, 1987).


Series I-IV and VI are arranged chronologically; other series are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Organized into 10 series:

Missing Title

  1. I, Constitutions and Minutes
  2. II, Bargaining Files
  3. III, Correspondence
  4. IV, Elections
  5. V, Finance
  6. VI, Grievances
  7. VII, Legal Files
  8. VIII, General Files
  9. IX, Newsletters, Bulletins and Clippings
  10. X, Women's Committee
  11. XI, Unprocessed Material
  12. XII, Archived Website

Scope and Content Note

Series I: Constitutions and Minutes, 1941-2003. Includes Constitutions (1942-1999) and materials relating to proposed revisions to the Constitution; Minutes of meetings of the Board of Delegates (1955-2003), Executive Board (2002-2003) and General Membership (1980; 2003), as well as a few Chapter meetings.

Series II: Bargaining Files, 1967-2002. Includes reports, memos, correspondence, records of meetings, draft demands, agreements and other materials relating to negotiations with employers and their representatives.

Series III: Correspondence, 1940-2003. Is comprised of general correspondence of the President, the Executive Board and of Chapters 2, 8 and 14. Among the prominent correspondents are several presidents of AFSCME, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. and Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

Series IV: Election Files, 1957-2002. Petitions, memos, Election Committee records and campaign materials comprise the bulk of this series, which also includes ballots and election reports. The material covers elections of local officers, as well as convention delegates and officers of several chapters. Notable are many files documenting complaints to the Election Committee and to AFSCME's Judicial Panel recording allegations of illegal or fraudulent election practices. A number of such charges resulted in a disputed election for local president in 1998, and an adjudication that declared Roy Commer (heading the slate of a dissident group, "The Committee for Real Change") the victor over long-time president, Louis Albano.

Series V: Financial Records, 1969-2003. Consists primarily of financial reports. Includes members' petitions to local officers regarding budget matters, some memos and other records relating to dues payments and a file concerning deferred wages during the New York City fiscal crisis of 1974-1975.

Series VI: Grievances, 1976-1998. Records of grievances filed by individual members or chapters, with supporting documentation, including municipal regulations, contracts, correspondence from legal advisors, etc.

Series VII: Legal Files, 1960-2005. Includes correspondence, transcripts of court proceedings, testimony, advice of counsel and supporting documentation pertinent to disputes between various city agencies and the Guild, and between contending individuals and groups within the Guild. Notable are many files documenting charges and countercharges of misuse of union funds and other misconduct brought by Louis Albano, Roy Commer and their respective networks of supporters.

Series VIII: General Files, 1937-2002. Includes files on other organizations with which the Guild was affiliated, or had a relationship, for example, the AFSCME Professional Advisory Committee, the NYC Board of Education and other city departments, the Civil Service Forum, the District Council 37 Professional Committee, the MTA Coalition, the Municipal Labor Committee, the New York City Central Labor Council, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. Also included are files on issues of concern to the Guild, such as contracting out, privatization, and regional planning. Several files contain material documenting the history of the Guild and its anniversary celebrations.

Series IX: Newsletters, Bulletins and Clippings, 1937-2003. Comprised of articles from and complete issues of a number of publications either produced by the Guild or of interest to its leadership, as well as a lengthy series of clippings files (covering Guild publicity as well as general topics), arranged chronologically.

Series X: Women's Committee, 1985-2007. Contains publicity material for events sponsored by the committee as well as documentation of the founding of the committee, finances, and correspondence.

Conditions Governing Access

Series VI: Grievances is restricted, with materials opening for research 70 years after the date of creation, between 2049 and 2068. All other materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the Civil Service Technical Guild was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Civil Service Technical Guild Records; WAG 024; 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

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by officers and members of the Civil Service Technical Guild: Philip Brueck, President 1938-1955, Alexander Lurkis, President 1956-1958, Bill Goldsborough, William Malloy, Joseph Collins, President 1958-1972, Louis Albano, President 1981-1998, David Jacobson, James Parker, Eleanor Eastman, David Sedacca, and Harold Haldorsen. The accession number associated with these materials is 1984.009.

Additional materials were later donated by Louis Albano. The accession number associated with these materials is 2012.078.

Custodial History

The records of the Civil Service Technical Guild were assembled by the union in cooperation with the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, NYU during an oral history project initiated in 1984 in preparation for the Guild`s fiftieth anniversary. In the absence of a body of official union records, items were donated from the private collections of the following officers and members: Philip Brueck, President 1938-1955, Alexander Lurkis, President 1956-1958, Bill Goldsborough, William Malloy, Joseph Collins, President 1958-1972, Louis Albano, President 1981-1998, David Jacobson, James Parker, Eleanor Eastman, David Sedacca, and Harold Haldorsen. The accession number associated with these materials is 1984.009. Additional materials were later donated by Louis Albano. The accession number associated with these materials is 2012.078.

The archived website was migrated from the California Digital Library's Web Archiving Service to the Internet Archive's Archive-It Service in November 2015. The link to California Digital Library was removed in October 2017.

Separated Material

Photographs were separated to Civil Service Technical Guild Photographs (PHOTOS 012)

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Communications Workers of America, Local 1180 (WAG 063)

Collection processed by

Anthonia Mattheou, Rob Dishon, Thomas Sarff, Louis Albano and Pete Mantione.

About this Guide

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

Processing Information

In 2014, the archived websites were added as Series XII.

Philip Brueck papers and items that had been separated from the original collection were reintegrated into Series XI in April 2018.

Revisions to this Guide

July 2022: Revised by Weatherly Stephan to note restricted material in Series VI.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Civil Service Technical Guild Intro.doc


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