James B. Carey

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James B. Carey
James Barron Carey.jpg
Born August 12, 1911
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died September 11, 1973(1973-09-11) (aged 62)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Occupation Labor union leader

James Barron Carey (August 12, 1911 – September 11, 1973) was an American labor union leader; secretary-treasurer of CIO (1938–55); vice-president of AFL–CIO (from 1955); served as president of United Electrical and Machine Workers (1936–41) but broke with it because of its Communist con trol. He was the founder and president (1950–65) of rival the International Union of Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers. President Truman appointed Carey to the President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1946. Carey was labor representative to the United Nations Association (1965–72).[1] Carey helped influence the CIO’s pullout from the WFTU and the formation of the ICFTU dedicated to promoting free trade and democratic unionism worldwide.

Early life[edit]

James Barron Carey, of Irish descent, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 12, 1911, one of the eleven children of John C. and Margaret (Loughery) Carey. His father was a paymaster at the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Carey attended St. Theresa's Parochial School.The family moved to Glassboro, New Jersey. At the age of fourteen he was making trellises in a local factory after school hours and during summers; then he worked part-time as an apprentice projectionist in a local motion picture theater. The head projectionist, who was an officer in the film operators' union, reportedly gave the Carey the theory and practice of the labor movement. Carey graduated from Glassboro High School.

Union career[edit]

Carey got a job in 1929 as an electrical worker in the radio laboratory of the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company (later the Philco Corporation), and began taking evening courses in electrical engineering at Drexel Institute.[2]

Carey and six other workers at the Philco plant started the "Phil-Rod Fishing Club," primarily for the purpose of organizing a union. Discontinuing his studies at Drexel Institute, during 1931-32 Carey he attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton (Evening) School of Finance and Commerce, where he took courses in industrial management, business forecasting, and finance. Under the impetus of the National Industrial Recovery Act in June 1933, the radio factory set up a "Company Congress" to meet NRA collective bargaining requirements.

October 1933 Carey was sent as a delegate from his local to the convention of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Two months later representatives of a dozen AFL and independent unions in the radio and electrical industries met in New York, established the Radio and Allied Trades National Labor Council, and elected Carey, who was then twenty-two years old, as its first president.

In 1936, a more far-reaching industrial union, the United Electrical Workers (UE) was formed, and Carey was named its first President. Carey led the UE in its formative years. Under Carey’s leadership, the UE formed an affiliation with the new Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and Carey established alliances with CIO leaders John L. Lewis and Philip Murray. Gravitating toward progressive political ideology and molded by Catholic social welfare theology, Carey enlisted his union in the CIO's broader struggle to secure social, political, and economic rights for all workers, a fundamental transformation of labor-industrial relations and recognition of organized labor's institutional and participatory role in national industrial and economic planning.[3]

One of the by-products of organized labor during the Depression and World War II periods was the infiltration of the Communist Party into the affairs of trade unions. The Party felt that through the organization of workers, it could gain entry into American society and eventually influence its political structure. Some Americans had ambiguous allegiances during the Second World War, being against the totalitarianism of Hitler’s fascism while at the same time favoring the dictatorship of the Soviet Union as an ally of the United States. Some, like James Carey, were able to recognize the Communist threat while fighting against fascism. It was this recognition that led to an acrimonious split within the Communist-dominated leadership of the UE, and Jim Carey’s defeat as UE President at the 1941 UE convention.[4] From 1941-1942 Carey served on the National War Labor Board.

Carey continued being an active, non-elected UE leader as well as becoming an international labor figure as Secretary-Treasurer of the CIO. Carey spent a great deal of time in the 1940s traveling abroad to represent Philip Murray and the CIO as a member of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). In 1948, Carey helped influence the CIO’s pullout from the Communist dominated WFTU and the formation of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), an organization dedicated to promoting free trade and democratic unionism worldwide.

Carey embraced anti-Communism at home, and led the fight within the UE and its Communist leadership. He formed an internal opposition group, the UE Members for Democratic Action (UEMDA) and pushed for CIO disaffiliation of the UE and the chartering of a new electronic workers union that would be democratic and anti-Communist. The stage was set for the birth of the International Union of Electrical Radio and Machine Workers Union (IUE-CIO). [5][6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Carey married the former Margaret McCormick in 1938. They has two children, James and Patricia.[7]

Carey died on September 11, 1973, of a heart attack at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was survived by his wife and children.[7] He was interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.[8]

The James B. Carey Library at Rutgers University is named for him. "James B. Carey: Labor's Boy Wonder," an exhibition commemorating the life and career of the legendary labor leader and first president of the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers was co-sponsored by Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries and the School of Management and Labor Relations in 2006.[9]

More of Carey's archival record is housed at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs in Detroit;[10] the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum;[11] the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "James B. Carey is Dead at 62; Labor Leader Founded I.U.E." New York Times, 12 September 1973, 50.
  2. ^ "James Barron Carey, American labor leader." Profiles of American Labor Unions. Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ "Administrative History; the Carey Presidency in An Inventory of the Records of the President's Office of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, ca. 1938-1965."By James P. Quigel.Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.An Inventory of the Records of the President's Office of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, ca. 1938-1965.Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. http://www2.scc.rutgers.edu/ead/manuscripts/iuef.html
  4. ^ Bob Golon, Labor Archivist, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Librarie"Biography of James B. Carey"By shttp://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~smlr/library/james_carey/moreinfo.htm#exhibit
  5. ^ James H. Moore (2010). Times Long Past. Xlibris Corporation. p. 35. 
  6. ^ "An Inventory of the Records of the President's Office of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, ca. 1938-1965."By James P. Quigel.Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.An Inventory of the Records of the President's Office of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, ca. 1938-1965.Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. http://www2.scc.rutgers.edu/ead/manuscripts/iuef.html
  7. ^ a b "James B. Carey Is Dead at 62". The New York Times. September 12, 1973. 
  8. ^ Spencer 1998, p. 330.
  9. ^ Bob Golon, Labor Archivist, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Librarie"Biography of James B. Carey"By shttp://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~smlr/library/james_carey/moreinfo.htm#exhibit
  10. ^ James B. Carey Papers.Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs. Accession Number: LP001474 https://www.reuther.wayne.edu/node/2359
  11. ^ Harry S. Truman Library and Museum http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hstpaper/carey.htm
  12. ^ John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum ihttp://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKOH-JBC-01.aspx

Bibliography[edit]