Collection Scope and Content Note
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Legislative files include drafts of bills, memoranda, letters and reports regarding the National Maritime Union's lobbying activities and its position on federal legislation of interest to its members. The bulk of these records concerns maritime legislation enacted during or immediately after World War II and includes documentation on proposed amendments to War Shipping Administration regulations (1943); on the Merchant Seamen's War Service Act (1945); on suspension of provisions of the Public Vessels Act of 1925; on seamen's rehabilitation legislation (1948); on proposed amendments to the Merchant Marine Act; on amendments to the National Service Life Insurance Act (1940); and on amendments to the Railway Labor Act (1946-1947). This legislation and other bills documented in these files sought to expedite the activities of merchant seamen during the war, to minimize work stoppages, to compensate families of deceased seamen, to provide vocational rehabilitation for those
disabled as a result of war-related injuries, to provide for the naturalization of foreign seamen who served on American owned vessels, and to protect the merchant marine from wartime sabotage. The union was also interested in such legislation as the Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act (1947-1948) and anti-organized labor legislation that began appearing in some states after the war.
National War Labor Board case files include statements, letters, decisions, and proposals for cases brought before the Board. These consist of the N.M.U. vs. the American Merchant Marine Institute on issues of working conditions, wages, and hours of work; vs. the American Communications Association, Pacific District Marine Local; vs. Pacific American Shipowners Association and American Export Lines et al regarding petitions for reconsideration of dispute settlement; vs. the general agents of the War Shipping Administration of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts; vs. the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Steamship Operators as agents for the War Shipping Administration and the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company on issues of jurisdiction and wages; vs. the Pittsburgh Supply Company on issues of union security, wages and union activity; and vs. Ford Motor Company on collective negotiations and wages (1942-1945).
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case files on N.M.U. representation elections include correspondence, petitions for certification, authorization cards and supporting documentation on certification elections brought before the Board. The elections were held for employees of the following: Cities Service Oil Company; American Trading and Production Corporation; War Emergency Tankers Inc.; Ponchelet Marine Steamship Company; Great Lakes General; Marathon Tanker Corporation; Agivilines Pursers; Grace Lines; Consolidated Steamship Company; Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and Great Lakes companies; Pittsburgh Steamship Company; General Petroleum Corporation; Richfield Oil Corporation; Hanna Company; Sun Oil Company; Great Lakes Conference; Midland Steam Ship Line Inc.; American Staff Officers Association; Newley Steamship Company; and Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company (1942-1947).
War Shipping Administration case files consist of agreements, letters and petitions regarding cases of the N.M.U. before the War Shipping Administration on the issues of wages and the allocation of personnel on the steamships Copley and Wheeler (1946).
Arbitration case files include awards, decisions, memoranda, and statements pertaining to cases involving various arbitrators. The cases include the N.M.U. vs. the following: the Bethlehem Transportation Company on the issue of overtime pay; the Atlantic Gulf Coast Committee for companies and agents on the issue of impasses in collective negotiations; the Isthmian Steamship Company on the issue of overtime wages; and the Ford Motor Company and Nicholson Transit Company on the issues of wages, hiring, seniority, discrimination, grievance procedure, and holidays (1942-1947).
Files on collective negotiations include materials pertaining to bargaining conducted between the N.M.U. and various railroads and shipping companies. The documents consist of copies of collective agreements, letters, and statements of proposals of the parties. Negotiations were conducted between the N.M.U. and the Panama Railroad Company; the car ferries of the Detroit River; the Wabash and the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Companies; the Ann Arbor Railroad Company; the Pere Marquette Railway Company; car ferries companies of the Great Lakes; the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company; the Richfield Oil Corporation; the Bethlehem Transportation Company; the Standard Oil Company of Texas; Inland Waterways; the Pan American Refining Corporation; and the Polarus Steamship Company (1940-1947). Also include materials pertaining to the mediation proceedings held by the National Mediation Board to resolve an impasse in collective negotiations between the N.M.U. and the Reading Railroad
tug boat operators (1946-1948).
Files on legal cases argued on behalf of the N.M.U. before the U.S. District and Supreme Courts and various military courts include correspondence, notes and various legal documents. These files include a libel case between the N.M.U. and various newspapers because of a published report alleging N.M.U. members refused to unload military supplies; a case against an N.M.U. member in which "militant union activity" was alleged to be impeding the war effort; the court martial of an N.M.U. member; and documents regarding the settlement of strikes against various Great Lakes transportation companies by the N.M.U. (1942-1947).
Standard maintained general files on N.M.U. activities and issues, largely during the war years. These include data on the national reorganization of the union in 1939; on pension and benefit claims and regulations; on the relationship of the N.M.U. to the Women's Auxiliary of the American Merchant Marine Institute, Inc.; and on sedition trials of N.M.U. members. Of particular interest in these files are documents relating to alleged racial discrimination in employment on the Atlantic Coast Line Company; the position of Joseph E. Curran (president, N.M.U.) regarding a Supreme Court case concerning communist affidavits (1948); documents relating to FBI investigations of the N.M.U. and the CIO (1943-1947); and a civil suit brought against Harry Bridges, Philip Murray and Joseph Curran for alleged suppression of free enterprise.
Also in the collection are two scrapbooks of news clippings and articles regarding various strikes and elections, non-union workers, salaries, collective agreements, court decisions, safety, hazards, accidents, disasters, factional disputes in maritime unions, communism in unions, and copies of N.M.U. news bulletins (1943-1947).