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M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives

ARCHIVES OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND POLICY

Finding Aid for the
ALBANY TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION NO. 4,
COMMUNICATION WORKERS of AMERICA (CWA)

Records, 1850-1855, 1869, 1872-1988
(APAP-007)

For reference queries contact M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives Reference staff

Finding Aid Compiled by
Geoffrey A. Huth
June 20, 1990







M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935


VOLUME: 28 reels of microfilm.

ACQUISITION: All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives.

ACCESS: Access to this record group is unrestricted.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Administrative History

Scope and content note

Series descriptions

Box and folder list:


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Administrative History

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The earliest precursor to the Albany Typographical Union No. 4 was the Albany Typographical Society, which was founded on March 3, 1829. This organization, however, was more of a fraternal or professional organization than a labor union. The Albany Typographical Society continued at least until 1832.[1]

On May 23, 1850, printers from the city of Albany met in the Clinton Hotel to discuss the establishment of a typographical association. A committee was appointed to draw up a constitution and by-laws. Three days later the constitution and by-laws of the Printers' Union of the City of Albany were unanimously adopted. The committee had decided against forming a benefit society and counseled in favor of a union. That day, 54 people signed the first constitution which stated that the "objects of this Union shall be the maintenance of a fair rate of wages, the encouragement of good workmen, and to use every means which may tend to the elevation of printers in the scale of social life."[2] The election of officers was held on June 1, 1850, and this is the date the union marks as its date of founding.

From its founding, the union struggled with many problems facing its members. In 1850, printers worked 54- and 60-hour weeks, and reducing the work week to 40 hours was a goal that the union strove toward for decades. In the early 1850's, the printers complained about the hiring of "two-thirders," young men paid two-thirds the going rate. The hiring of these men undermined the union's expressed payment scales. Early in its history and especially in the 1870's, the union fought for control to determine the number of apprentices allowed per journeyman, as a means of regulating the profession.[3]

In 1854, the Albany Printers' Union joined the National Typographical Union, thereby changing its name to the Albany Typographical Union No. 4.[4] The Albany Typographical Union became inactive that year and did not resume regular activity until it rejoined the National Typographical Union (NTU) in 1860. NTU, itself organized only in 1852, changed its name to the International Typographical Union with the addition of Canadian locals in 1869.[5]

The Albany Typographical Union No. 4 was founded with the notion that strikes should be avoided if at all possible, but by 1878 the union began its first strike. The firm of Weed, Parsons & Co. was not complying with the union's apprentice rules, and Mr. Parsons would not even discuss the matter with the union.[6]] A strike committee was formed to design strategy. Some members of the union continued to work at Weed, Parsons, and were expelled from the union.[7] By October, the union had accepted its loss and voted to excuse dues of former Weed, Parsons, employees "until they obtain employment."[8] Weed, Parson & Co. appears again and again in the minutes of the union from the 1800's. It was a difficult shop to reorganize and was the least friendly towards the union. The Albany Typographical Union had a number of strikes over different types of disputes: price reduction for composition in 1882, the eight-hour day in 1906, and unfair bargaining in 1928. Ironically, on the 100th anniversary of its founding as a union opposed to strikes, the union voted to strike the Albany Times Union.[9]

The Albany Typographical Union No. 4 has changed the composition of its membership over the years. At first, the union included all printers in the city of Albany, but pressmen were not accepted as full members until 1851.[10] Early in its existence, the Albany Printers' Union tried to organize printers in Troy with no success, and it was not until 1860 that the Troy Typographical Union was founded.[11] As early as 1879, the union discussed whether pressmen should withdraw from the union.[12] The Albany Printing Pressmen's Union appears to have originally consisted of pressmen who had broken away from Local 4.[13]

On February 6, 1886, the Albany pressmen were chartered as a separate local of the ITU. [14] By 1890, however, the local had broken away from the ITU to become one of the founding members of the International Printing Pressmen's Union of North America.[15] Although there appears to be no documentation of this, bookbinders were thought to have originally been part of the Albany Typographical Union until they split off to form the Book-binders Society of Albany, International Brotherhood of Bookbinders, Local Union No. 10, in 1892. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Albany Typographical Union has merged with a number of locals over a broad geographical area: the Columbia County Typographical Union No. 896 in 1966, the Troy Typographical Union No. 52 in 1978, and the Poughkeepsie Typographical Union No. 315 in 1987.

The internal structure of the Albany Typographical Union was quite sophisticated. Even from its earliest moments, the union operated extensively by committee. It was a committee that first put together the proposal for the union, and Albany Typographical Union has been using that system ever since. When the union went on strike, a strike committee was always formed. Scale committees studied the question of scale in the trade. In the 1870's, many members of the union were brought up on constitutional charges related to working below scale, conduct unbecoming a member, etc., and these charges were presented and argued before committees. The union formed an executive committee to replace all other committees in 1878. This committee had the responsibility to hear grievances, make decisions about members of the union, and "to transact the business of the Union between meetings," but soon subcommittees and eventually other specialized committees were also instituted.[16] Standing committees included those for finance, business, and room, but the number and types of committees were always in flux.[17]

The Albany Typographical Union was also divided into chapels, one for each shop in which the union had members. Each chapel elected a chairman once a year who was responsible for the members in that chapel, who upheld the union's laws, and who informed the members of upcoming meetings.[18] Occasionally, there were disagreements between individual chapels and the local union, which were customarily brought up before the executive committee for resolution.

In 1988, the International Typographical Union (ITU) merged with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), with the former ITU operating as an autonomous sector of CWA. This development was the first significant step the ITU had made to bringing organized labor "closer to the creation of one huge union in the printing and electronic communications industry."[19] This huge union is conceived to eventually encompass locals currently affiliated with the Graphic Communications International Union and the Newspaper Guild. As communications conglomerates have expanded in size, many unionists have felt that the unions whose members work for these must also be large and sophisticated. Currently, the Albany Typographical Union No. 4 remains an autonomous local representing workers in the typographical trade, but the CWA encourages consolidation at the local level.

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Notes

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1.Historical Souvenir and First Year-Book of Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Half Century Number, January 1905.  Edited and compiled by Charles H. Whittemore.  Albany, N.Y.:  J. B. Lyon Co., Printers, 1905, pp. 17 and 19.
2. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Constitution, 1850.
3. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, November 27, 1875.
4. "Seventy Years' Record:  Officers of Albany Typographical Union No. 4 From June 1, 1850, to July 31, 1921."  In Official Souvenir Book: Albany Typographical Union No. 4 Commemorating the Sixty-Fifth Session of the International Typographical Union and the Seventieth Anniversary of A.T.U. Number 4.  Albany, N.Y.: J. B. Lyon Co., Printers, 1920.
5. Labor Unions (The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions), Gary M. Fink, ed. Greenwood Press:  Westport, Conn., 1977, p. 404.
6. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, January 21, 1878.
7. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, February 23, 1878.
8. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, October 26, 1878.
9. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, June 16, 1950.
10. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, March 29, 1851
11. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, June 26, 1852.
12. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, March 2, 1879.
13. Historical Souvenir and First Year-Book of Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Half Century Number, January 1905.  Edited and compiled by Charles H. Whittemore.  Albany, N.Y.:  J. B. Lyon Co., Printers, 1905, p. 29.
14. Elizabeth Faulkner Baker.  Printer and Technology:  A History of the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Union.  Columbia University Press:  New York, 1957, p. 71.  And Albany Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Union No. 23.  "Constitution, By-Laws and Rules of Order," 1954.
15. Albany Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Union No. 23. "Constitution, By-Laws and Rules of Order," 1954.
16. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Minutes, February 27, 1879.
17. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Constitution, Article, VI, 1869
18. Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Constitution, Article, VII, 1910.
19. McMichen, Robert S., Billy J. Austin and Bill Boardman.  "Stepping Into the Future With CWA."  Typographical Journal, Vol. 189, No. 2, Aug. 1, 1986, p. 2


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Scope & Content Note

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The Albany Typographical Union, which was the first labor union founded in Albany, N.Y., kept an almost complete set of its minutes from its beginnings in 1850. These minutes are the major record series of this manuscript collection. The only gap is one from 1855 to 1874. Since the union was basically inactive from 1854 to 1860, minutes do not exist for these years. And the minutes for 1860 through 1874 probably filled a single minute book. The completeness of its records is one of the most significant aspects of the union's records, showing the development of the union over 140 years.

The strategies and goals of an early union are delineated in the records of this union, as are the successes and failures the union faced as it tried to attain those goals. The relationship between the Albany Typographical Union No. 4 and management is varied: some employers were quite helpful to the union, and other employers worked against any organizing of its work force. For related records, see the records of the Fulton County Typographical Union, No. 268, 1894-1963; the Columbia County Typographical Union No. 896, 1927-67; the Graphic Communications International Union, Local 10-B, 1907-89; and the Graphic Communications International Union, Local 259-M, 1941-88. All of these were unions in the printing trades that had contact with the Albany Typographical Union.

For additional labor collections in the Department, see the online Labor subject guide at http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/labor.htm.

A page from The Historical Souvenir and First Year-Book of Albany Typographical Union No. 4, Half Century Number is available in the exhibit Documenting Labor Inside and Out: Labor History in New York State's Capital District.


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Series Descriptions

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Series 1: Constitutions and Rules of Order, 1850, 1869, 1910, 1917, 1924, 1928, 1939, 1947, 1955. 9 items. Arranged chronologically.

Printed copies of the Albany Typographical Union's constitutions and rules of order.

Series 2: Minutes, 1850-55, 1875-1988. 22 reels of microfilm. Arranged chronologically.

The minutes include correspondence, newspaper clippings, committee and convention reports, financial reports, and other material. The 1850-55 minute book ends with a copy of the local's constitution signed by each charter member. The 1892-97 minute book is partially burned, and many of the final pages of the book are water damaged, so it is possible that that 1855-74 minute book merely suffered greater damage and was subsequently discarded. The first few minute books are handwritten into bound volumes; however, by the 1890's many of the sheets are typewritten and glued into the volumes. This technique often reduces the legibility of the record. By the twentieth century, the volumes are bound from loose sheets of minutes, correspondence and other material, and the records are more difficult to use. From 1960, the minutes are filed loose in folders. The minutes from 1960's on contain increased documentation of financial activities.

Series 3: Membership Record Book, 1907-88. 1 reel of microfilm. Arrangement numerically by entry number.

This single volume has been updated by the Albany Typographical Union for over 80 years and contains information about members from decades previous to 1907. The record book "starts with the active enrollment as given on the election list of May 15, 1907," and the names of signatories of the constitution roll book of 1860 are also included. All subsequent enrollments were included until the book was filled in 1953, but the record book was updated with information about members' deaths, etc., through 1988. Information included in this volume includes age of member, place where apprenticeship was fulfilled, dates membership began, dates and reasons membership was severed, and date and cause of death. The book includes a name index to the entries which gives the entry number for each member's name.

Series 4: The Albany Citizen, 1928-29. 3 reels of microfilm. Arranged chronologically.

Daily strike newspaper produced by the Albany Typographical Union from November 26, 1928, to April 6, 1929. Publication of this paper continued for a few weeks following the end of the strike. This is the only complete run of the newspaper available. No issue was published on December 25, 1928, or January 1, 1929, and the publishing of the Sunday edition was suspended beginning March 3, 1929.

Series 5: Scale of Prices, 1893, 1906, 1917-21, 1923, 1925, 1928-29, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1942-47, 1950, 1952-53, 1955, 1957,1959, 1961, 1969, 1972. 1 reel of microfilm. Arranged by type of scale and chronologically thereunder.

Scales of prices are the typographical union's contracts with employers. Although the varying wage rates for different types of work and different shifts are incorporated into these documents, agreements on working conditions are also included. These scales of prices have been divided into general scales (which include all types of work), newspaper scales, and book and job scales. As newspaper work is the predominant form in the union, newspaper scales of prices make up the bulk of this series.

Series 6: Memorabilia, 1872-73, 1875, 1886-89, 1894, 1896-98, 1900-50. 1 reel of microfilm. Arranged alphabetically.


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Box and Folder List

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Series 1: Constitutions and Rules of Order, 1850, 1869, 1910, 1917, 1924, 1928, 1939, 1947, 1955

Reel 1

1850
1869
1910
1917
1924
1928
1939
1947
1955


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Box and Folder List

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Series 2: Minutes of Meetings, 1850-55, 1874-1988

Reel 1 (cont)

Minutes, 1850-55
Minutes, 1874-87
Minutes, 1887-92

Reel 2

Minutes, 1892-97
Minutes, 1897-1900
Minutes, 1900-06

Reel 3

Minutes, 1906-13
Minutes, 1913-15
Minutes, 1915-16
 

Reel 4

Minutes, 1916-22
Minutes, 1922-26
Minutes, 1926-29

Reel 5

Minutes, 1929-31
Minutes, 1931-32

Reel 6

Minutes, 1932-33
Minutes, 1933-34

Reel 7

Minutes, 1934-35
Minutes, 1935-36

Reel 8

Minutes, 1936-37
Minutes, 1937-38

Reel 9

Minutes, 1938-39
Minutes, 1939-40

Reel 10

Minutes, 1940-41
Minutes, 1941-43

Reel 11

Minutes, 1943-45
Minutes, 1945-48

Reel 12

Minutes, 1948-52
Minutes, 1952-53
Minutes, 1954

Reel 13

Minutes, 1955
Minutes, 1956

Reel 14

Minutes, 1957
Minutes, 1958

Reel 15

Minutes, 1959
Minutes, 1960
Minutes, 1961

Reel 16

Minutes, 1962
Minutes, 1963
Minutes, 1964
Minutes, 1965

Reel 17

Minutes, 1966
Minutes, 1967
Minutes, 1968
Minutes, 1969

Reel 18

Minutes, 1970
Minutes, 1971
Minutes, 1972
Minutes, 1973

Reel 19

Minutes, 1974
Minutes, 1975
Minutes, 1976
Minutes, 1977

Reel 20

Minutes, 1978
Minutes, 1979
Minutes, 1980
Minutes, 1981

Reel 21

Minutes, 1982
Minutes, 1983
Minutes, 1984
Minutes, 1985

Reel 22

Minutes, 1986
Minutes, 1987
Minutes, 1988


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Box and Folder List

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Series 3: Membership Record Book, 1907-88

Reel 23

Series 4: Albany Citizen, 1928-29

Reel 24

November 26-December 31, 1928

Reel 25

January 2-February 28, 1929

Reel 26

March 1-April 6, 1929


Albany Typographical Union No. 4, CWA
Box and Folder List

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Series 5: Scale of Prices, 1893, 1906, 1917-21, 1923, 1925, 1928-29, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1942-47, 1950, 1952-53, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1969, 1972

Reel 27

General, 1893, 1906, 1918
Book and Job, 1923, 1925, 1928
Newspaper, 1917, 1919-21, 1923, 1925, 1929, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1942-47, 1950, 1952-53, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1969, 1972

Series 6: Memorabilia, 1872-73, 1875, 1886-89, 1894, 1896-98, 1900-50

Reel 27 (cont.)

Circular, 1873
Invitations to Albany Typographical Union Events, 1886-89, 1894, 1905, 1907, 1909-12, 1938, 1946
Newspaper Clippings, 1920, 1938
Photographs, circa 1900-50
Priority Lists, 1943, 1968
Rules Governing the Chapel of the Albany Morning Express, 1886
Souvenir Books, 1905, 1920, 1950
The Victory, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1886
 (Official organ of the Rubies, a social club composed of members of Albany Typographical Union No. 4.)
Working Cards--Samples, 1872, 1875, 1896-98, 1913, 1921


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Last updated March 28, 2003