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United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 525 (Asheville, N.C.) records

 Collection
Identifier: L1986-22

Scope and Content of the Records

The records of the United Food and Commercial Workers [UFCW], Local 525 (Asheville, N.C.), 1944-1986 (bulk 1961-1983), contain correspondence, organizing materials, National Labor Relations Board cases and decisions, legal files, publications, meeting minutes, annual reports, convention and mass meeting materials, financial records, political and legislative materials, and newspaper clippings. The collection mainly covers the work of members in North and South Carolina.

Early records (1944-1960) reflect the activities of the International Fur & Leather Workers Union. Records from 1961-1979 reflect activities of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of America Local 525 and records from 1979-1983 reflect the work of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 525.

The majority of the collection contains information about organizing individual stores, petitioning for elections, and negotiating contracts. A significant segment of UFCW members worked for Colonial Stores and A & P. While the records reflect that most negotiations were straight forward, the collection also includes information about notable labor contests with Gerber, Winn-Dixie, and Lundy meat packing.

In addition to day-to-day union business, this collection also contains correspondence from political candidates and the regional AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education office, mostly dealing with elections and political issues in western North Carolina.

Dates

  • 1944-1986
  • Majority of material found within 1961 - 1983

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Access to materials with personal information in boxes 35-39 is restricted. Consult Special Collections for access to this box.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide 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 reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
This collection is stored off-site. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

History of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 525 (Asheville, N.C.)

The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 525, began as the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of America [AMCBW], Local 525 (Asheville, North Carolina). AMCBW, a large union based in Chicago, represented butchers and meat-packers a well as leather and fur workers (who had merged with the AMCBW in 1955). In 1960-1961, the myriad of smaller AMCBW locals throughout North Carolina voted to merge into the Local 525 for better management of members' affairs. This consolidation allowed the union to centralize its operations and save significant amounts of money on overhead, as well as providing a single voice when dealing with multi-unit chain stores throughout the large geographic area. This area was further subdivided into districts with the following areas of responsibility.
  • District 1: Roanoke, Virginia
  • District 2: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • District 3: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • District 4: Durham, North Carolina
  • District 5: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • District 6: Greenville, North Carolina
  • District 7: New Bern, North Carolina
  • District 8: Wilmington, North Carolina


These districts allowed the local's officials in Asheville, North Carolina, to represent members in a particular geographic area despite the fact that they worked for different companies and to streamline the bargaining process based on area instead of company. Over time, the local expanded into South Carolina and Tennessee, but the largest part of its work occurred in North Carolina.

From their new central office in Asheville, presidents Tony Muncus and then John Russell looked after the needs of members throughout North Carolina with the help of International Representative Cornelius Simmons. The majority of AMCBW Local 525 members worked at Colonial Stores and A & P (both as clerks and butchers), but they also worked at Bi-Rite, Bi-Lo, Food Fair, Harris Teeter, K-Mart, and Allied Foods. Local 525 spent tremendous amounts of time in organizing and negotiating for its members. Struggles included a large-scale A & P strike in 1979 over job security and participation in the nationwide boycott of Winn-Dixie in 1977.

In addition to working with grocery chain employees, Local 525 also organized and represented workers employed in food processing factories. Notable factories covered by Local 525 included the Goodmark Foods factory in Raleigh, the Gerber Baby food factory in Asheville, and smaller, independent food and leather factories across North Carolina. Lundy Packing, A.C. Lawrence Leather, Fairmont Foods, Perfect Packed Products, Holly Farms, Swift and Co., Armour Creameries, Taylor Biscuit, Central Soya, Rath Packing, Carolina Meat, Goldkist Poultry, Almond Brothers Poultry, Cross Poultry, Colonial Jelly, Lackawanna Leather, Jesse Jones Sausage, Excelsior Underwear, Watson Seafood, Southeastern Poultry, Morton Frozen Food, Neuhoff Meat Products, Balentine Packing, Dobson Poultry, Curtis Packing, Fouke Fur, Marshville Poultry, Morgan Poultry, Hudson Poultry, Pittsboro Poultry, Rockingham Poultry, Swift Edible Oil, Chicago Rawhide, New Bern Oil and Fertilizer, Wilson Packing, Draper's Egg and Poultry, and Oscar Mayer all had organized union employees represented by Local 525 at one point or another.

The Goldkist Poultry factory workers were an interesting challenge for both the union and the company during labor unrest in the mid 1970s because agents of the Progressive Labor Party began counter-organizing workers in the plant along the lines of Communist ideology. This led to numerous court challenges including the bizarre occurrence of a plant worker suing both the union and company as co-defendants.

Local 525 worked in an extremely anti-union political environment, and as a result faced an uphill battle in promoting the interests of organized labor, often winning in court but being stymied by extra-legal methods and delay tactics. As a result of these challenges the local allied itself with local politicians in an effort to change the political culture of North Carolina, but had limited results. The late sixties and early seventies brought an increase in wages throughout the South, thus undermining the union's primary allure and as a result the union's power decreased over time.

In 1979, the AMCBW merged with the Retail Clerks International Union to form the United Food and Commercial Workers [UFCW], which ended years of fighting between the two rival unions over grocery store workers. This temporary increase in strength was short lived, however, and UFCW Local 525 was absorbed into UFCW Local 204 in 1986.

Extent

40 Linear Feet (in 40 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

The records of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 525 (Asheville, N.C.), 1944-1986 (bulk 1961-1983), contain correspondence, organizing materials, National Labor Relations Board cases and decisions, legal files, publications, meeting minutes, annual reports, convention and mass meeting materials, financial records, political and legislative materials, and newspaper clippings.

Offsite Location

This collection is stored off-site. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

Acquisition Information

Donation made by Joyce Coutlakis, July 1986.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, Local 442 (Atlanta, Ga.) records, 1918-1968 (L1972-36)
  2. Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, Local 525 (Asheville, N.C.) records, 1957-1975 (L1974-30)
  3. Meat workers contracts collection, 1951-1976 (L-contracts_AMCBW)
  4. United Food and Commercial Workers Union International Union, Local 204 (Charlotte, N.C.) records, 1977-1994 (L1996-13)
  5. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 204 (Winston-Salem, N.C.), 1976-1996 (L2003-13)

Processing Information

Processed by Hal Hansen at the file level, August 2010. Folders retain original titles and order. Boxes 35-39 are arbitration and grievance files, while box 40 contains separated audiovisual materials.
Title
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 525 (Asheville, North Carolina):
Subtitle
A Guide to the Records at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
September 18, 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • September 2010: EAD created by Traci JoLeigh Drummond.
  • February 2016: EAD revised by Hal Hansen.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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