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CRA081 -- Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers, Local 210 Records


6.76 Linear Feet
February 1984
Revised February 2000
Revised March 2003


The Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, Local 210 Records, were deposited in the Calumet Regional Archives in 1976.

Property rights in the collection are held by the Calumet Regional Archives. Literary rights are dedicated to the public. There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Linear feet of shelf space: 6.76 linear feet
Number of containers: 7 boxes
Calumet Regional Archives Collection 081
Processed By: Stephen McShane
Date: February, 1984

Scope and Content

These records document the history of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, Local 210, in Hammond, Indiana, from 1933 to 1961. The collection largely pertains to the affiliation period with the earlier Oil Workers International Union.

A series of minutes (1933-1946) generated by the Sinclair Group within the local contains attendance records, election results, and appointments to committees studying seniority, wages, by-laws,--and actions of the District Council. The minutes offer information on the Group's strategy to deal with various problems and grievances, including layoffs, job classifications, seniority, and "sharing the work." In addition, they detail numerous complaints filed by members against the company and the status of those complaints. Several motions recorded in the minutes deal with company "pressure" exerted on workers, preparation for strikes and strike votes, and discussion of agreements negotiated by the International. Also, minutes of special meetings called by specific departments e.g. Mechanics or Boilermakers reveal issues pertaining to their particular situations. Finally, the series includes minutes of the Sinclair Nationwide Council. Financial reports, committee appointments and reports, elections, and resolutions constitute these records which offer insight into the problems of other Oil Workers International Union locals around the nation and illustrate the members' reliance on each other for advice on dealing with management.

Although the minutes reflect the activities and interests of the membership, they often lack substance and appear incomplete. In addition, the series fails to represent other company groups in Local 210.

Next, correspondence from the Sinclair Group and Shell Group (1936-1950) encompasses complaints of members, inter- organization communications, some worker discipline reports, announcements of meetings, seniority lists, and job-openings. The correspondence provides data on local elections, negotiations, agreements, and pension plans. Similar records retained in the International correspondence ( 1935 -1947) concern arbitrations, strikes, strategy to work with management, wage rates, hours, vacations, classifications, agreement interpretations, and labor's conduct during the Second World War. A portion of the correspondence comprises communications between the refineries and the local, highlighting topics such as wage disputes, seniority, changes in the production process and hours, and impact of WWII defense production on the oil industry. Also, the discussions of management prerogative in work assignments and the union's responses appear in the correspondence. Finally, local to local correspondence (1936-1942) contains inquiries directed to Local 210 from other OWIU locals regarding wages, hours, working conditions, physical plant, grievance procedures, union philosophy, agreements, and problems with non-union workers. The entire correspondence series furnishes substantial information on the daily activities, concerns, and issues faced by the oil workers in the 1930's and 1940's.

Complaints (1936-1948) portray particular problems involved in worker-manager relations at the point of production. The complaint forms detail the worker's name, supervisor, and the worker's grievance against the company or supervisor. These documents often contain management's reply and the outcome of any action taken by the local or the company. Complaints about working conditions, layoffs, wages, and foremen constitute the majority of grievances.

Besides the major series described above, the collection contains samples of Local 210's agreements with several refineries in Hammond and East Chicago, along with lists of wage rates, seniority statements, and job bulletins. The records include legal summaries of several labor cases involving the local, including a dispute within the Local 210 offices (the Anne Baciu case) and an investigation of an alleged member of the Communist Party (the L.L Meskimer report). Finally, printed material from the O.W.I.U., C.I.O., and N.W. L.B. furnishes useful information on organized labor in the oil industry during the 1930's and 1940's.

The Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, Local 210 Records, may of particular interest to anyone desiring information on oil workers, the oil industry, and organized labor in the Calumet Region in a crucial period of labor history. Other labor collections held by the Archives include the United Steelworkers of America Collection (CRA 013), the U.S Steel Photograph Collection (CRA 042), the Hammond Teachers Federation Records (CRA 072), the Orval Kincaid Collection (CRA 091), the George Kimbly Papers (CRA 092), the USWA Local 1010 Records (CRA 115), the John Oglesby Papers (CRA 119), the USWA Local 1011 Records (CRA 121), the William Kranz Papers (CRA 122), the Samuel Evett Papers (CRA 137), the Peter Calacci Papers (CRA 138) the John Howard Papers (CRA 141), the USWA Local 1066 Records (CRA 144), the Gary Newspaper Guild Records (CRA 148), the John Mayerik Papers (CRA 168), and the Fosty Bella Papers (CRA 177).

Historical Sketch

The history of OCAWIU, Local 210 began in 1933 during the movement to organize the oil workers in the Calumet Region. Led by the Lake County Central Labor Council, the Building Trades Council, and the American Federation of Labor, the organizing campaign culminated in a general mass meeting at the Gary Labor Temple in July. This event led to an oil workers gathering at the Hammond Labor Temple on July 26, and by July 28, 1933 Hammond Local 210 became a chartered member of the International Association of Oil Workers and the largest northern oil workers union.

Aided by the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act's Section 7a, guaranteeing the right to organize and bargain collectively, the unionization drive grew stronger in the Calumet Region by the fall of 1933. On September 1, over 300 membership pledges were secured at a mass rally at the Slovenski Dom in Whiting, Indiana; this event represented the most successful I.A.O.W. membership rally in northwest Indiana during the 1930's.

Local 210's organizing efforts centered on the production floor of the refineries. The Socony plant's organization committee consisted of a group of long-employed workers demanding increases in wages, job security, and paid vacation. Although the company initially refused to recognize the committee, the threat of a strike in 1934 resulted in a memorandum of terms between the company and Local 210. This victory was the first successful plant organization enjoyed by the local. East Chicago's Sinclair and Shell refineries soon organized while the Cities Service plant continued to oppose organizing activity.

Although the workers at the area's refineries were organized, the major oil companies avoided recognition of the I.A.O.W. and Local 210 until the 1934 strike threat. In delicate negotiations between the I.A.O.W. and Harry Sinclair (including Local 210's cooperation by postponing two strike votes), and with the help of Harold Ickes' wage rate proposal, a strike was avoided and an agreement reached with the Sinclair Company. With Sinclair's recognition of the IAOW, Shell, Cities Service, and Socony soon followed suit, and only Standard Oil remained union free. Local 210 claimed to have organized 92% of the total oil work force among the Calumet Region's four major refineries. Local 210's successful unionization drive resulted in improved wages, better vacation and health benefits, and strict seniority and job classifications.

Because of the oil industry's geographic isolation and dispersion, organization campaigns encountered problems of covering all plants with individual locals. To resolve this difficulty, Local 210 aided workers in northern cities to organize their refineries (such as in Lockport and Lawrenceville, Illinois). 210's cooperative efforts led to the formation of I.A.O.W. District Six to facilitate unionization in the Midwest. Further cooperation appeared under 210's guidance with the establishment of industry-wide councils, such as the Sinclair, Cities Service, and Texaco Nation Wide Councils. Both-the districts and councils gave strength, unity, and coordination of union dealings with management across the country.

Several founding members of Local 210 later became national officers of the I.A.O.W. (the I.A.O.W. became the Oil Workers International Union in 1936). For example, O.A. "Jack" Knight worked as a stillman at the Shell refinery in East Chicago and became the IAOW president in 1940. Local 210's first financial secretary, E.C. Conarty, became secretary-treasurer of the I.A.O.W. in 1935. Ben Schafer became the first director of District Six, and George Hoffman formulated the rank and file philosophy prevalent in the international.

Throughout its history, Local 210 has been guided by strong maintenance of the voice of rank and file members. This strength, the planning skills of the local's leadership, and the tenacity of the membership, influenced the direction of the international oil workers' union and led to successful organizing campaigns in the Calumet Region which were virtually free of excessive violence during the turbulent unionization era of the 1930's.

Box File Description
1 1 By-Laws, Local 210, 1949, 1959, 1978
2 By-Laws, Sinclair Group, Local 210, n.d.
3-10 Minutes, Sinclair Shop Committee, (1933-1945)
11 Minutes, Conferences with Sinclair Company, 1935, 1938
12-13 Minutes, Unidentified, 1948, 1959
14-15 Minutes, Sinclair Company-Wide Council, 1936-38, 1945-46
16 Minutes, District 6 Council Meetings, 1938
17-18 Correspondence, In-House, 1939-42
19 Correspondence, Discharges, American-Maize Co. 1942-44
20-21 Correspondence, Inter-Department, American-Maize, (1941-1949)
22-24 Correspondence, American-Maize Group, 1941-45
25-29 Correspondence, Shell Group, 1947-50

Box File Description
2 1 Communications, Shell Group, 1949
2 Correspondence, Sinclair Local Mgmt., 1936-38
3-6 Correspondence, Sinclair Group, (1938-1947)
7 Correspondence, Sinclair Co.-Wide Council, (1939-1944)
8 Correspondence, Sinclair Retirement Plan, 1946-48
9 Correspondence, Block, Inc., 1939-1942
10 Correspondence, Complaints, 1942
11 Correspondence & Complaints, Construction, 1937
12 Correspondence, Members, 1937
13 Memoranda, Pckg. Starch Dept. Steward, 1942
14 Correspondence, Pipe-Line, 1939-41
15 Correspondence, Safety Suggestions, 1937-38
16 Correspondence, Shop Committee, 1937-38
17 Correspondence, Vacations, 1936-37
18-19 Correspondence, Local to Local, 1936-42
20 Private Correspondence, 1948-49
2 21 Correspondence, District 6, 1949
22 Communications, O.A. Knight, 1935, 1942-1943
23 Inter-Office Communications, Int'l., 1935-1943
24-28 Correspondence, Int'l., 1937-1941

Box File Description
3 1-4 Correspondence, Int'l., 1941-47
5 Correspondence, War Labor Board, 1944
6-7 Secretary's File, Local 210, 1958-60
8 Secretary's File, Shell, 1949-50
9 Liaison Officer File, Local 210, 1945-46
10 Membership & Wage Info., 1937
11 Survey of Cities Svc. Group Member's Opinions of Local 210, 1952
12 Treasurer's Reports, 1951
13 Budget Report, Local 210, 1st Quarter, 1961
14 Working Agreement, OWIU Local 210 & American-Maize Company, 1945, 1974, 1976
15 Agreement, Ashland Oil & Refining Co., 1941
16 Proposal on Shell Six Point Program, 1945-1946
17 Contracts & Agreements, Shell Oil Co. & OWIU, Local 210, 1946-1948
18 Agreements, Shell 1947
19 Agreement, Shell Oil & Local 210, 1950
20 Bulletins & Contracts, Shell Group, 1950
3 21 Proposals, Sinclair Co., 1938
22 Agreements & Rulings, Sinclair, (1943-1946)
23 Analysis of Changes in Articles of Agreement, Sinclair Companies & OWIU, 1945
24 Supplemental Agreements, Sinclair Locals, 1947
25 Agreement, Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. and OWIU, 1943-44
26 Agreement, Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. and Local 210, 1946-47
27 Benefits Agreements and Clauses, 1949-50
28 Sick Benefit Plans, 1941
29 Sick Benefit Statistics, 1936-39
30 Negotiations, Allby Asphalt Co. and OCAWIU, Local 210, 1960
31 Negotiations, January 27, 1945
32-33 Arbitrations, 1936-37, 1943
34 Arbitration Decisions, (1937-50)
35 Agency Shop Clause Legal Under Indiana's "Right to Work" Law, 1958
36 Agreement, United Sugar Workers Local 1101 and American Sugar Refining Co., 1942
37 Agreement, Union Tank Car Company and Local 7-210, 1975
3 38 Seniority List, American-Maize, 1944-45
39 Seniority List, Shell Group, 1948
40 Seniority Statements by Mgmt., Sinclair, 1935-1937
41 Supplemental Seniority Agreements, Sinclair, (1938-46)
42 Working Rules, Seniority, Sinclair,1934-39, 1942
43 Seniority by Departments, Sinclair, 1938
44 Agreement, Wax Plant Seniority, Sinclair,1938?
45 Seniority by Departments, 1942-1943
46 Wage Policy Committee, Local 210, Statements and Policy, (1941-1944)
47 Wage Bulletins, 1941

Box File Description
4 1 Wage Bulletins, 1942
2 Wage Rates, Sinclair, (1940-1945)
3-5 Wage Rates, (1935-1949)
6 Wage Rates, Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., East Chicago., n.d.

Series: Complaints
Box File Description
4 7 Acid Plant Sludge Mill, 1942
8 Barrel House, 1942
9 Barrel House, Amendment, 1942
10 Boiler Shop, 1942
11 Barrel House, Can House Machine Operator, 1942
12 Barrel House, Car Loader & Blocker, 1942
13 Barrel House, Compcunder Grease Maker & Pumper, 1942
14 Barrel House Discharges, 1942
15 Barrel House Drum Filler & Weigher, 1942
16 Barrel House & Drum Repairer, 1942
17 Barrel House Drum Washer, 1942
18 Barrel House Memorial Day Work, 1942
19 Bricklayers, 1942
20 Burners, 1942
21 Burners vs. Machinists, 1942
22 Car Dept. Pay, 1942
23 C.A. Reed, 1937
24 Car Repairman Wages, 1942
25 Charley Mills, 1940-1942
26 Countermen Store House, 1942
27 Crane Dept., 1942
4 28 Driver and Helper, 1942
29 Grease Works Machine Operator, 1942
30 Increase in Wages, 1942
31 Labor "Celite," 1942
32 Labor Dept. Pay, 1942
33 Laboratory, 1941-42
34 Laboratory & Wage Adjustment, 1941-42
35 Ledger, ( 1934-1940)
36 Lite Oil Treating Pay, 1942-43
37 Loading Racks/Showers, 1942
38 Loading Racks, Time and One Half, 1942
39 Loading Rack Vacation, 1942-43
40 Loading Racks Wages, 1942
41 Machine Shop Pay, 1942
42 Machine Shop Sub-Foreman, 1942-43
43 Machinist's Time, 1942
44 Mason Dept., 1942
45 A. Medley, 1942
46 Overtime, 1941-42
47 Pipe Dept., Reclassification, 1941-42
48 Pipe Dept. Wages, 1942
4 49 Power, 1942
50 Power & Utilities Pay, 1942
51 Release From Work, 1942
52 Salary, Engine Laboratory, 1942
53 Agreement on Seniority, 1940-42
54 Seniority, 1942
55 Shell Group, 1945-47
56 Sinclair Pipiline, 1941-42
57 Stillman Helper Seniority, 1942
58 Time and One Half, Boiler Cleaners, 1942
59 Time and One Half, Labor Dept., 1942
60 Tool Room Attendants' Wages, 1942
61 J. Truman, 1942
62 Wages, 1942
63 Water Supply, 1942
64 Wax Plant Wages, 1942?
65 Welders, 1942
66-75 1936-1948

Box File Description
5 1 Job Vacancies, American-Maize, 1942-44
2 Classifications and Bulletins, American-Maize, 1942-44
3 Job Classifications, American-Maize Co., 1944
4-7 Job Bulletins, Shell Group, 1948-51
8-9 Job Bulletins, 1945-47
10 Bids, 1950
11 Bid Protests, 1951
12 Bids, Auto Mechanic, 1951
13 Arbisi Bids, Car Driver Garage, 1951
14 Arbisi Bids, Stubduck, 1951
15 Bids, Janitor, 1951
16 Arbisi Bids, Loader, 1951
17 Master Bids, 1951
18 Arbisi Bids, M.O. Gouger, 1951
19 Arbisi Bids, Painting, 1951
20 Bids, Pipe Fitter, 1951
21 Arbisi Relief Jobs, 1951
5 22 Arbisi Bids, Roustabout, 1951
23 Arbisi Bids, Roustabout, Shellane, 1951
24 Arbisi Bids, Shellane, 1951
25 Arbisi Bids, Tank Cleaners, 1951
26 Arbisi Bids, Truck Loader Bids, 1951
27 Withdrawals, 1950-51
28 Job Applications, 1944
29 Job Classifications, 1942
30 Employee Incident Reports and Discharges, American-Maize, 1942-44
31 Shift Change, Sinclair Group, 1938
32 Strike Schedule for October, 1945
33 Work Schedules, 1945
34 Amaizo Oiler Case, 1943
35 Baciu Discharge Case, 1953
36 Injunction, Burnham Refining Co. & Local 210, 1939
37 Report, Investigation of L.L. Meskimen, 1952
38 Wage Cases in Sugar Cane Industry, 1935, 1942-43
39 Cases, 1937
5 40 Study Guides, Leadership Training Institute, OWIU, 1948
41 Teacher's Manuals and Related Materials, Leadership Training Institute, OWIU, 1948
42 Notes, 1959
43 Notes, 1960
44 By-Laws, OWIU, District 6, 1950
45-47 Reports, District 6, 1943-45

Box File Description
6 1 Constitution and By-Laws, OWIU, 1941-42, 1950-51
2 Constitution, OCAWIU, 1959
3-5 Proceedings, 8th Convention, OWIU, 1937-39
6 Propositions, l9th Annual Convention, OWIU, 1948
7 Convention Materials, OWIU, 1950
8 Indiana Employer's Benefit Payment Procedure Manual, 1938
9 Program, First State Convention, CIO, 1938
10 Labor Union Annual, CIO, 1948
11 CIO Record of First Eisenhower Congress, 1953
12 Code of Fair Competition for the Petroleum Industry, 1933
13 Negotiator's Guide, n.d.
14 "Management's Rights," by R.D. Clard, Sinclair Company, 1954
15-16 Memoranda, National War Labor Board, 1942-1943
17 Press Releases, NWLB, 1942-1943
18 Opinions, NWLB, "Little Steel Case," 1942
6 19 NWLB, Case of American Sugar Refining vs. United Sugar Workers, 1942-1943
20 Cases, NWLB, 1942-1943
21-23 Decisions, NWLB, 1943
24-25 Reclassifications, NWLB 1942-43

Box File Description
7 1-2 Reclassifications, NWLB, 1943
3 Government Regulations, 1943-44
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fuels and Other Information, (1950-1961)
5 A Case Study of a Modernized Petroleum Refinery, 1956
6 Labor Relations Cumulative Digest and Index, 1945-46
7 "Labor Safety Service," 1941
8 "Steel Fights for the Nation," 1944
9 "Wage Structure, Petroleum Refining," 1948

Box Description
8 Drawing, Sinclair Refining Company, Proposed Sanitary Sewer System, 1945
The Standard Oil Employees Assoc. Bulletin, May, 1945
Poster, Indiana Unemployment Compensation Benefits, 1938?
Posters, Various, n.d.
Scrapbook, Labor Cases, Strikes, 1938
Scrapbook, The Richmond Cases, 1941

Subject Tracings

  • American Maize Company
  • East Chicago
  • Hammond
  • Labor
  • National War Labor Board (NWLB)
  • Oil industry
  • Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union Local 210
  • Oil workers
  • Refineries
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Sinclair Oil Corporation
  • Steel
  • Strikes
  • Unions
  • World War II
  • Wages