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W. J. Usery, Jr. papers

 Collection
Identifier: L1985-12

Scope and Content of the Papers

The collection consists of papers of W. J. "Bill" Usery from 1940, 1942, 1952-2004. The International Association of Machinists series (1940, 1952-1969) documents Usery's involvement and participation with labor unions and the arbitration process. The United States Government series (1969-1977) pertains to Usery's government career, while the Bill Usery Associates series contains material relating to Usery's labor-management negotiation firm in Washington, DC. The Client and Mediation Files series (1942-1997) documents Usery's personal, and his Bill Usery Associates, Inc. labor-management consulting firm's, involvement in dispute resolution, strike settlement, and workplace productivity; it forms the bulk of the latter portion of the collection. The Name and Subject Files series (1963-1965, 1970-2004) includes material related to Usery's appointments to Presidential Commissions, while the series Oral History Transcripts and Materials (1967-1986) relates to Eastern Airlines and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The 2,265 photographs mainly consist of Usery at various points in his governmental service and form the final series in the collection. Artifacts include model rockets launched at the Kennedy Space Center.

Dates

  • 1940; 1952-2004

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the labor archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Some copyright restrictions may apply to photographs.

Biography of W. J. Usery, Jr.

Born in Hardwick, Georgia, December 21, 1923, Willie Julian Usery, Jr. has been known as W. J. Usery, but universally as Bill throughout his life. Educated at Georgia Military College (1938-1941) in Milledgeville, Usery worked as a machinist at naval shipyards in Brunswick, Georgia, and later as a Navy enlisted (1943-1946) underwater welder on a repair ship in the Pacific Fleet. While working as a maintenance machinist at the Armstrong Cork Company, Macon, Georgia (1948-1956), Usery attended Mercer University.

Usery was a founding member of the International Association of Machinists' Local 8 (joining March 1, 1952, what is now Local 918), eventually becoming its president and later IAM Grand Lodge Representative from 1956 until February 1969. In 1961, while GLR, Usery was appointed industrial union representative on the President's Missile Sites Labor Commission at Cape Canaveral (Kennedy Space Center from 1963 on) and at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Additionally, Usery coordinated union activities at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, and in 1967 became a member of the Cape Kennedy Labor-Management Relations Council, serving as its chair in 1968.

In February 1969, Usery received his first Presidential appointment from Richard Nixon as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Relations. While administering the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), Usery formulated and implemented Executive Order 1199, establishing standards of organizing and bargaining for more than two million Federal employees. In 1970 and 1971, Usery worked intensively to settle disputes in the railway industry involving the Brotherhood of Airline and Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC) and the United Transportation Union (UTU). Employing his characteristic non-stop negotiations, Usery had already averted a 1971, nationwide strike by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. Also in 1971, Usery had obtained the first collective bargaining agreement in the United States Postal Service's history.

From March 1973, and until February 1976, Usery held the post of Director, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, guiding more than 300 professional mediators in 79 field offices throughout the United States. During this period, Usery was chief mediator in major labor-management disputes, plus he advised Presidents Nixon (Special Assistant to the President for Labor-Management Affairs, August 1974) and Ford (Special Assistant for Labor-Management Negotiations, April 1975) on the status of the nation's labor-management relations. In October 1973, the AFL-CIO Council voted unanimously to offer Usery the directorship of the Department of Organization and Field Services, which he accepted but then declined at the request of President Nixon.

In February 1976, President Gerald Ford appointed Usery United States Secretary of Labor, a post which he held until Jimmy Carter became President on January 20, 1977. Almost immediately following the end of Usery's government service, he founded Bill Usery Associates, Inc. (BUA), a Washington, D. C.-based firm providing consulting services in all areas of employer-employee relations. Usery has also been selected to serve on Presidential Commissions, i.e. the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations and the Coal Commission.

Bill Usery and Associates served as the catalyst for pioneering negotiations among the United Auto Workers, Toyota and General Motors to produce the entity popularly known as "NUMMI," the New United Motors Manufacturing, Inc. (established 1983). NUMMI's inception involved Usery's firm in international negotiation, planning for productivity, and a wholly new way to foster labor-management cooperation. High profile strikes involving Usery and his firm's mediation talents included the Pittston Coal Strike (1989-1990) and the Major League Baseball Players Association Baseball Strike (1994-1995). Usery remains "on call" as a special mediator as presidents seek to resolve labor conflicts.

Usery was a Co-Commissioner of both the Coal Commission, seeking to resolve thorny issues involving miners' retirement funding, and the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations (1993-1995). In 1985, Usery established the Bill Usery Labor Relations Foundation, which helped create Partners in Economic Reform, a group working with democratic labor and management in the former Soviet Union.

In the mid-1990s, Usery's vision of labor-management cooperation found a home in the W. J. Usery, Jr., Center for the Workplace at Georgia State University, a entity with wide programmatic aims in collective bargaining, workplace productivity, and dispute resolution serving company and union leaders. In early 2000, Usery scaled back his work in the Washington, D. C. area to shift his focus to the work of the Center.

Extent

140.8 Linear Feet

Abstract:

The collection consists of papers of W. J. "Bill" Usery from 1940, 1942, 1952-2004. The International Association of Machinists series (1940, 1952-1969) documents Usery's involvement and participation with labor unions and the arbitration process. The United States Government series (1969-1977) pertains to Usery's government career, while the Bill Usery Associates series contains material relating to Usery's labor-management negotiation firm in Washington, DC. The Client and Mediation Files series (1942-1997) documents Usery's personal, and his Bill Usery Associates, Inc. labor-management consulting firm's, involvement in dispute resolution, strike settlement, and workplace productivity; it forms the bulk of the collection. The Name and Subject Files series (1963-1965, 1970-1995) include material related to Usery's appointments to Presidential Commissions, while the series Oral History Transcripts and Materials (1967-1986) relates to Eastern Airlines and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Organization of the Papers

The W. J. Usery, Jr. Papers, 1940, 1942, 1952-2004 are organized into eleven series.

  • Series I. International Association of Machinists records
    • A. Correspondence and Office Files
    • B. Name and Subject Files
  • Series II. US Government service files
    • A. Correspondence and Office Files
    • B. Secretary of Labor
    • C. Office Files
    • D. Speeches
    • E. Name and Subject Files
  • Series III. Bill Usery Associates files
    • A. Correspondence
    • B. Office Files
    • C. Speeches
    • D. Name and Subject Files
  • Series IV. Bill Usery Associates Office Files
    • A. Early and Internal Files
    • B. Financial and Personnel Files
    • C. Daily Records
    • D. Foreign Travel
    • E. Final Internal Files
  • Series V. Client and Mediation Files
    • A. Client Correspondence
    • B. Mediation Files
  • Series VI. Speeches and Conferences
  • Series VII. Name and Subject Files
    • A. Name and Subject Files
    • B. News Clipping Files
  • Series VIII. "Bargaining History of Eastern Airlines" Oral History Project
  • Series IX. Photographic Materials
  • Series X. Separated Material
    • A. Constitutions, Contracts, Proceedings, and Agreements
    • B Oversize Storage
    • C. Audio/Visual materials
    • D. Artifacts


Series I-III parallel Usery's career in labor and government service [accession L1985-12]. Series IV-VIII represent the later accession to the collection [L1998-01]. Series IX-X include materials from both accessions. Series IV, sub-series E is the last two installments of Usery and Associates, Inc., one in 2003 [accession 2003-16] and one in 2004 [accession L2004-11].

Finding Aid Note

Item level descriptions of photograph collection available; consult Southern Labor Archivist. Detailed finding aid for portions of the photographic collection (Series IX. Photographic Materials) available online. See W. J. Usery, Jr. Photographic Collection page.

Separate finding aid for artifacts collection available; consult Southern Labor Archivist.

Acquisition Information

Donated by W.J. Usery, Jr. in 1985, 1998 and 2004.

Separated Materials Note

During processing, printed materials directly related to the series' contents were separated to Series XI. Other printed materials were separated to the Southern Labor Archives Printed Collections and the Library collection.

Subjects and/or titles added to or holdings extant in the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection:

  1. Ad Council, Inc.; Aerospace Industry; American Arbitration Association; American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial; Organizations, Organizations Affiliated with American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Federal Employees; American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Committee on Political Education (COPE); American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Constitutional Conventions; American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Executive Council Statements; American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Metal Trades Department; Arbitration; Armstrong Cork Company; Benefits; Bicentennial; Economic Issues; International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (IUE); Glass Bottle Blowers Association; Grievance Procedures; Handicapped Workers; Hours; Labor History; Labor-Management Cooperation; Labor Mediators; Labor Press; Labor Relations in the Federal Service; Layoff; International Longshoremen's Association (ILA); International Association of Machinists (IAM); International Association of Machinists (IAM), Leadership Schools; International Association of Machinists (IAM), Pension Plan; National Labor Relations Board; Negotiations; Pension Plans; Plant Closures; Productivity; Retirement; Right-to-Work; Safety; Seniority; Steel Industry; Strikes; Technological Changes; Training; Unemployment; Union; United States Department of Labor; United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics; United States Sugar Corporation; Urban Coalition; Veterans; Wages work; Workers' Compensation

United States Government Documents

  1. Numerous Government Documents were separated to the Georgia State University Library Government. Consult archivist for information.

Georgia State University Library General Collection

  1. Numerous monographs were separated to the University Library General Collection. Consult archivist for information.

Processing Information

The first part of the Usery Papers was received in 1985 (accession L1985-12), with processing completed in July 1995. Using the then existing form of numbering Southern Labor Archives boxes, boxes containing this donation were numbered 3188-3337. The second donation was received in 1998 (accession L1998-01), and processing was completed in 2000. Boxes from that donation are numbered 1, 5-154 (no boxes 2-4). The final donations of Bill Usery and Associates papers were received in two installments, in 2003 (accession 2003-16) and in 2004 (accession L2004-11). Those boxes are numbered 156F-209 and make up Series IV, subseries E and Series X.

Newspaper clippings have been copied onto bond paper for preservation of content. Oversized materials, audiovisual and three-dimensional objects were separated and re-housed for preservation purposes. Original order was maintained.

Processed by: Annie L. Tilden, Robert C. Dinwiddie, April Mitchell, Peter J. Roberts, and M. Lee Sayrs. Photograph Processing: Caroline Blumenthal, Lee Sayrs, 1992; Peter Roberts and Sandi Roberts, 1998. Accessions L2003-16 and L2004-11 processed by Hilary Morrish, 2009.

Finding aid converted to Archives Space and edited by Harold Victor Hansen, Jr., Summer 2018.
Title
W. J. Usery, Jr.:
Subtitle
A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
October 19, 2000
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)