State, County, and Municipal Workers of America

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State, County, and Municipal Workers of America
Founded1937
Date dissolvedApril 25, 1946
Merged intoUnited Public Workers of America
Members100,000
Head unionAbram Flaxer
AffiliationCongress of Industrial Organizations
CountryUnited States

The State, County, and Municipal Workers of America (SCMWA) was an American labor union representing state, county, and local government employees. It was created by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1937 along with United Federal Workers of America. SCMWA's leaders Abram Flaxer and Henry Wenning had been leaders of the Association of Workers of Public Relief Agencies in New York City prior to the formation of SCMWA.

In 1946, the CIO merged SCMWA with United Federal Workers of America to form the United Public Workers of America (UPWA). In 1950, UPWA was purged from the CIO along with other radical unions.

SCMWA is sometimes confused with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). AFSCME was an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, and SCMWA was formed following the creation of the CIO. SCMWA was active in many states, organizing state and local government workers decades before the enactment of public sector collective bargaining laws. In 1943, SCMWA negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement for school district teachers and staff.

History[edit]

In 1937, a number of AFSCME local unions, composed primarily of caseworkers, disaffiliated from that union and joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).[1] The CIO allowed these local unions to form the State, County, and Municipal Workers of America, and charged the new organization with competing with AFSCME at the state and local levels for membership.[2] Most of the leaders and many of the members of these local unions were strongly sympathetic to the beliefs and goals of the Communist Party USA.[1][3] Former AFSCME executive board member Abram Flaxer was appointed the new union's president, and former AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer David Kanes held the same post in SCMWA.[1] SCMWA membership grew quickly: It more than doubled the number of local unions (from 12 to 28) in a year,[4] and its members rose from 25,000 in 1937 to more than 48,000 in 1946.[2][5][6] In comparison, AFSCME's membership grew from 13,259 in 1947 to more than 73,000 in 1946.[7]

On April 25, 1946, SCMWA merged with the United Federal Workers of America (UFWA) to form the United Public Workers of America.[8][9][10] The impetus for the merger was the relative failure of the UFWA to attract new members, and SCMWA essentially absorbed the smaller federal union.[11]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Billings and Greenya, Power to the Public Worker, 1974, p. 29.
  2. ^ a b Slater, Public Workers: Government Employee Unions, the Law, and the State, 1900-1962, 2004, p. 126.
  3. ^ Galenson, The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1960, p. 60.
  4. ^ National Association of Social Workers, Social Work Year Book, 1939, p. 437.
  5. ^ Galenson, The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1960, p. 32.
  6. ^ One source puts the number of SCMWA members in 1937 at only 5,000, which would make the union's growth that much more surprising. See: Billings and Greenya, Power to the Public Worker, 1974, p. 29.
  7. ^ Billings and Greenya, Power to the Public Worker, 1974, p. 32.
  8. ^ Lyons, Teachers and Reform: Chicago Public Education, 1929-1970, 2008, p. 104.
  9. ^ Spero and Blum, Government As Employer, 1972, p. 214.
  10. ^ "New Union Urges Wider Labor Law," New York Times, April 26, 1946.
  11. ^ Spero, Government As Employer, 1948, p. 198; Fink, Labor Unions, 1977, p. 305.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Billings, Richard N. and Greenya, John. Power to the Public Worker. Washington, D.C.: R.B. Luce, 1974.
  • Fink, Gary. Labor Unions. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1977.
  • Galenson, Walter. The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960.
  • Lyons, John F. Teachers and Reform: Chicago Public Education, 1929-1970. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
  • National Association of Social Workers. Social Work Year Book. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1939.
  • "New Union Urges Wider Labor Law." New York Times. April 26, 1946.
  • Slater, Joseph E. Public Workers: Government Employee Unions, the Law, and the State, 1900-1962. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 2004.
  • Spero, Sterling D. Government As Employer. New York: Remsen Press, 1948.
  • Spero, Sterling D. and Blum, Albert A. Government As Employer. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972.