Summary Information
Title: Congress of Industrial Organizations Collection
Collection Number: UE.10.2.2
Creator: Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.).

Collection Dates: 1938-1982
Extent: 11.25 linear feet (9 boxes)

Language: English

The United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) formed in 1936 and was one of the first labor unions to affiliate with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1938. This series contains correspondence documenting the conflict between the UE and CIO beginning in 1949, as well as research files on CIO policy.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

March 2009

Finding aid prepared by Meredith Johnson.

In 1932, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was first proposed as a group within the American Federation of Labor (AFL). While the AFL almost exclusively focused on craft unionism, the CIO would be devoted to the organization of industrial workers. The AFL opposed the formation of the CIO from the beginning, forcing the CIO to break from the AFL and become a rival labor federation in 1938. The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) was the first major industrial union to charter with the CIO.

When the Taft-Hartley Act was drafted in 1947, requiring union leaders to swear that they were not Communists, UE officers and CIO leaders were initially united in their noncompliance. Then one CIO union, the United Auto Workers, agreed to sign the affidavits and other CIO unions followed suit. In 1949 the CIO further complied with Taft-Hartley by cutting ties with any union suspected of Communist activities, including the UE. In response, the UE boycotted the CIO's national convention in 1949 and stopped paying member dues. The CIO retaliated by expelling the UE and creating a rival union, the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), headed by ex-UE President James Carey.

By 1952, the CIO was weakened and its leaders considered re-uniting with the AFL which had since included industrial unions into their membership. In 1955 the two officially merged to become the AFL-CIO. Although the much smaller and weaker CIO essentially disappeared in the merger, many of its chartered unions thrived under the new arrangement. Today, the AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the United States, consisting of 56 unions representing more than 10 million workers. Its primary purpose is to lobby on behalf of organized labor and settle disputes between its member unions and their employers.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This series includes documents regarding the CIO collected by the UE. The bulk of the material prior to 1949 is correspondence between the CIO and UE National Officers such as President Albert Fitzgerald, Director of Organization James Matles, and Secretary-Treasurer Julius Emspak. Beginning in 1949, files document the separation of the UE and CIO and their subsequent battle for members. Of particular interest are letters between UE officers and CIO President Philip Murray regarding the "raiding" of UE locals by other CIO unions in the wake of the Taft-Hartley Act. UE research files include CIO foreign policy documents and records of the CIO-AFL merger.


Files are arranged chronologically.

Subject Terms

  • Electric industry workers -- Labor unions -- United States -- History
  • Labor unions -- United States -- History -- 20th century
  • Labor unions -- United States -- Officials and employees
  • Work councils -- United States

Corporate Names
  • American Federation of Labor.
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.).
  • United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

Personal Names
  • Bittner, Haywood
  • Brophy, John, 1883-1963
  • De Caux, Len, b. 1899
  • Murray, Philip, 1886-1952

  • Correspondence

  • Labor

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America in 1976, 1986, and 1997.

Preferred Citation:

Congress of Industrial Organizations Collection, 1938-1982, UE.10.2.2, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed and the finding aid was written by Meredith Johnson in November 2008.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Related Material:

UE International Officers Correspondence, 1936-1956, UE.4.2, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

UE Research Department Personnel Papers, 1937-1977, UE.10.1, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Collection Inventory
Box 1 Correspondence and Research, 1938-1942
Box 2 Correspondence and Research, 1943-1946
Box 3 Correspondence and Research, 1946-1947
Box 4 Correspondence and Research, 1947-1948
Box 5 Correspondence and Research, 1949-1950
Box 6 Correspondence and Research, 1951-1955
Box 7 Correspondence and Research, 1956-1963
Box 8 Correspondence and Research, 1964-1967
Box 9 Correspondence and Research, 1967-1982