Union that represented workers at the American Bosch plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, affiliated with the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers after 1949. Records include by-laws, minutes of the Executive Board, General Council, and Membership meetings, correspondence, membership reports, grievance and arbitration records, contract negotiation proposals and counter-proposals, strike materials, and publications documenting the administration, activities, and membership of Local 206. Effects of changing national economy and international trade on workers and union affairs, through time, are evident.
The collection is open for research.
Background on International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, Local 206 (Springfield, Mass.)
Until 1949, Local 206, which represented workers at the American Bosch plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, was affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UER & MWA). On October 19, 1949, following the expulsion of UER & MWA from the CIO, a majority of Local 206 members voted in favor of disaffiliation from the UER & MWA, due to CIO charges "that the UER & MWA, or some of its officers and members were closely identified or associated with the Communist Party and its 'fellow travelers', so-called, whose aims and purpose we consider harmful for this country in general, and for organized labor in particular." Members then voted to affiliate their local with the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (IUE.)
Local 206 was also affiliated with a number of regional labor organizations, including the New England District #2 IUE-CIO, the Massachusetts State CIO (1951-1958), the Massachusetts State Labor Council CIO-AFL, and the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO. These affiliations clearly provided the Local with a source of support, both financial and psychological. Delegates from the Local frequently attended conferences arranged by these organizations.
The history of Local 206 is closely tied to changes in the national and international economy. The national copper shortage in 1950, for example, resulted in lay-offs by Bosch. In the early 1970s the company laid off over eight hundred workers, and initiated several proposals aimed at greater efficiency. Denying the Local's claims that Bosch's own investments in Europe were taking jobs from its American employees, the company did concede that foreign competition was becoming a serious problem. Management cited European advantages in engineering, transportation costs, and low import duties. In 1971 workers struck in protest of the company's plans for increasing production. In the same year the Local sent a letter to U. S. Representative Silvio Conte, protesting Westover Air Base's use of Mack trucks which used German pumps and parts, while the Local's "own people are on the streets."
In the late 1970s, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) took control of American Bosch. In 1980 UTC announced its intention to build new plants in Georgia and South Carolina. Although the corporation stated that these plants would not affect its Springfield employees, the Local was clearly concerned, especially since the company was increasing its subcontracting, and the Springfield plant was losing its own engineers. The Local was also well aware that several other companies had recently moved their companies from western Massachusetts to the South.
In 1986, UTC announced that the Springfield plant would be closed. The corporation cited its responsibilities to its stock-holders, over-capacity, and increasing production costs at the Springfield plant as the major reasons behind its decision. The Local argued that the corporation's reasons were fictitious. The Local charged that UTC dividends were increasing; that the management failed to listen to the union's statements concerning the condition of the plant; and that UTC's recent investment with Fiat to bail out an ailing British helicopter firm, clearly contradicted their statement that it was too expensive to bring work to Springfield. The Local organized a rally to protest the closing, stating its determination that its workers should not join the 25,000 workers in Massachusetts who had lost their jobs as a result of industrial plant closures since 1984. The rally's slogan, "Make Them Stay, Or Make Them Pay," was implicitly critical of the federal government which awarded these companies large contracts, and allowed them to move to wherever operating costs were cheapest. Despite the protests, the plant ceased production permanently in the summer of 1986. The Local survived for a short time thereafter with state funds to retrain laid-off workers.
By laws, minutes of the Executive Board, General Council, and Membership meetings, correspondence, membership reports, grievance and arbitration records, contract negotiation proposals and counter-proposals, strike materials, and publications documenting the administration, activities and membership of Local 206, International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, from 1936 to 1986. Although affiliated with regional labor organizations, Local 206 primarily represented workers at the American Bosch plant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The papers occupy 14.5 feet, and are divided into five series, including Administration, 1942-1983, Correspondence, Company-Union Relations, Publications, and Membership.
Includes detailed typed minutes of the executive board meetings, 1947-1965. These minutes document, among other things, the reports of union committees, the creation of conference delegations, the election of office holders, and votes on all types of union business, including: donations to other union strike funds; acceptance/rejection of the Local negotiating committee's assessment of the company's contract proposals; and the Local's stand on issues such as Taft-Hartley. The monthly general council meeting minutes include treasurer's reports and details of donations. The membership meeting minutes include votes on union concerns ranging from contracts to by-laws. The series also contains: minutes of the seniority committee meetings; the union association's reports and correspondence; information on the by-laws dispute of 1967-1969; and union notices and by-laws.
Includes correspondence with all labor organizations with which Local 206 was affiliated. The series also includes correspondence with the local's lawyers. All of this correspondence contains much information about industrial relations during the 1950s-1970s. The general correspondence files, organized chronologically, cover a wide variety of union affairs, ranging from letters to politicians, to room reservations for the local's social events. The series also contains several pension plans, and lists of retired members.
Divided into two subseries.
The first subseries, General, contains information about the contract negotiations between the management and the union, and includes time-study charts, and proposals and counter-proposals from both sides on issues ranging from wages to health benefits. This subseries also contains detailed reports on the organization and operation of the strikes held in 1968, 1971, 1977, and 1980, information about the plant closing rally held in 1986, and several contracts. The second subseries, Grievances and Arbitrations, contains evidence, correspondence, and decisions detailing specific cases.
Includes issues of the American Bosch company newspaper, Arma Progress, and issues of the local's publication Local 206 Bulletin, 1951-1971, and Local 206 News, 1979-1986.
Includes lists of members and their dues refunds. It also contains per capita and membership reports, 1936-1967, and a list of those who resigned in 1947.
Divided into two subseries.
Acquired from: Bob Forrant
Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf and Jean Kemble.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Local 206 Records (MS 132). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.