Who we are
HISTORY OF THE OPEIU LOCAL 11
The oldest Local Union of this International Union is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was chartered February 24, 1904. This Local Union, like the several hundred which followed it until January 8, 1945, was chartered as a directly affiliated Local Union of the American Federation of Labor (the AFL). During this period, directly chartered Unions of our trades were established throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.
Until the advent of the Wagner Act and the resulting impetus given unionization of While Collar workers, little notable progress was made in the field of office workers employed in private industry. This Act, however, helped unleash the demand of organization among workers of our trade with the result that very gratifying strides have been made in bringing the benefits of collective bargaining to office workers.
At the 1941 Seattle Convention of the American Federal of Labor, recognition of the progress made in the field was given attention with the result that the officers of the AFL were instructed by the Convention to establish an International Council of Local Unions comprised of office workers employed in private industry. In Chicago on July 28 and 29, 1942, at a meeting called and attended by President William Green and Secretary-Treasurer George Meany of the AFL, representatives of these local Unions met and established the International Council of Officer Employees Unions. Virtually all Local Unions of workers of our trade subsequently affiliated with the International Council. It should be explained here that the AFL followed the policy of establishing National and International Councils of Local Trade Unions so as to provide experience and training preliminary to the chartering of autonomous National and International Unions. Local Unions affiliated with such Councils continued normal functioning as directly chartered Unions of the AFL and in addition paid a small per capita tax to the Council to meet operating needs.
Within the relatively short period of 2-1/2 years, precisely January 8, 1945 at a Constitutional Convention held in Cincinnati and called by the President and Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL, an autonomous International Union charter was granted to the existing federal Labor Unions of office workers. The AFL participated in this Convention in a supervisory capacity during the adoption of a Constitution for the International Union and the election of its first officers. All funds and properties of the former became the funds and properties of the newly created Office Employees International Union. Immediately following this Convention, officers of the AFL urged and recommended to each Local Trade Union of our trade that they return their charters and seals to the AFL and secure charters and seals from the newly chartered International Union and make such other necessary transitions in their operation as required by the latter organization. In making the transition from Local Trade Unions to Local Unions of the International Union, the Local Unions experienced no alteration other than a change in names and number. All members, officers and properties of the former Local Trade Unions were carried over intact to the newly chartered Local Unions of the International Union. Approximately one hundred and fifty Local Trade Unions made this transition immediately. Only a few chose to continue their existing status temporarily.
The O.E.I.U. in its functioning as an International Union, had all the preliminary problems to overcome which are associated with the active operation of any other National or International Union. These matters have been fully and effectively resolved. As an International Union, we have been a major assistance to our Local Unions, organizers have been selected from our ranks to carry out the intensified organizational activity of the International Union and all other normal and necessary functions have been fulfilled.
Members of Local Unions of this International Union are employed in every conceivable type of private enterprise, including among others, a high degree of representation in the pulp & paper industry in Canada and the southern states, stock exchange and brokerage houses on Wall Street in New York City, the petroleum industry in Texas and other areas, motion picture, television and radio broadcasting industries in Hollywood, shipbuilding and repair on the Pacific Coast, the Tennessee Valley Authority, public utilities of all types in many areas and every form of enterprise in wholesaling, distributing and retailing fields, Attorneys, Court Employees, Electronic Technicians, Draftsmen, a heavy concentration in a wide range of industrial establishments, City and County (maintenance and clerical), Law and Justice divisions (police officers and deputy sheriffs), Libraries and Gas Workers.