Skip to main content

Iron Workers Tennessee Valley and Vicinity District Council records

Identifier: L1996-12

Scope and Content of the Records

This collection consists of a folder containing a speech draft titled, "The Partnership That Is Failing," an address by Merritt to [the] "Valley-wide Joint Cooperative Committee" and its annotations, an undated speech related to the history and current status of the Tennessee Valley Authority's labor-management relations, and a transcript of remarks made by Senator John Glenn at the opening of the 37th Convention of the BSIW. Another folder's contents are related to possible financial malfeasance and mismanagement in 1986 of Local Union No. 808, Orlando, Florida, with the partial transcript of Merritt's remarks at the October 1986 hearing, plus correspondence containing minutes of the General Executive Board Meeting in September 1986. A third folder contains correspondence, agreements, and charges related to an "Unauthorized Work Stoppage on the Bowater Paper Mill Project, Calhoun, Tennessee, Bechtel Construction, Inc. by dissident members of Local Union No. 704, Chattanooga, Tennessee" in 1989.

Merritt's daily expense and location information is contained in yearly bound "diaries" for 1962, 1964, 1966-1979, 1981- 1989. These logs contain the per meal and transportation costs while he was transacting union business, and they reflect his weekly trips to from Savannah, Georgia, where he made his home, and Knoxville, Tennessee and its environs, site of his union work. The information contained in these expense diaries was almost definitely used by Merritt in reports to union headquarters in New York City.

A notebook's contents, labelled "Joe Merritt," includes the itinerary and informational pamphlets for 38 TVA projects for Merritt's tour of the Tennessee Valley in May 1973. These pamphlets include the history and current factual information about each TVA project. The collection also contains The Tennessee Valley Authority Handbook (1973), a binder with printed contents for eleven tabbed sections including "Administration and Employees," "Dams and Flood Control," "Finance," "Navigation," "Power," and "Recreation." Both the pamphlets from the tour notebook and The Tennessee Valley Authority Handbook were published by the TVA.

A 4 1/4" thick, tabbed manual (no title) details the specific jurisdictional relationships between the BSIW, other unions, and the jobs performed during the 1950s and 1960s. For instance, the "Section 36-Pipe Enclosures" page notes that the "Erection of #11 gauge aluminum pipe enclosures on outside of building," on "5/14/59" with "University of California Residence Halls Job, Berkeley, California." This segment, as with other numbered "Sections," contains correspondence from the National Joint Board for Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes - Building and Construction Industry, and states that "there is no basis to change the contractor's assignment, which is to iron workers," and not the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, party to this dispute. In most sections, more than one job and its related correspondence copies are present.

Also contained in the collection are the contents of an 8 ½" × 11" notebook, untitled and holding: photocopies of memoranda of understanding between the BSIW and other unions with photocopies of sample job site pictures; blank steward, agreement and jurisdictional report forms; lists of firms with union agreements (June 1963); numbered Circular Letters (photocopies) from 1949 to 1963, and containing correspondence copies from the 1920s; and an "Executive Order - Establishing a Program for Resolving Labor Disputes at Missile and Space Sites," May 1961.

Bound copies of The Ironworker added to the Southern Labor Archives from this collection are for the years 1972 through 1988. Single copies of The Ironworker also added to the Southern Labor Archives periodicals are for July 1981, August 1985, July 1986, November 1994, and November 1995. Convention proceedings for the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers (BSIW) added to the Southern Labor Archives printed collection are for 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1981, 1986, and 1991. The Constitution of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers from October 1961 and General Working Rules of the union from October 1960 are now also in the Southern Labor Archives printed collection. Blasters' Handbook - A Manual Describing Explosives and Practical Methods of Use (Sales Development Section of the Explosives Department, E. I. DuPont deNemours & Co. [Inc.], 1969).


  • 1959-1995


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 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. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biography of District Council President Joe Merritt

John Ward Merritt, known as "Joe Merritt" throughout his career and so designated in this descriptive inventory, was born in December 1918 in Georgia. Merritt served as President of Local 709 of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers (BSIW) from 1947 to 1958, after attending Savannah High School from 1934 to 1938, and joining the union in 1941. In the same Local 709, Merritt also served as its Financial Secretary-Treasurer and Business Agent (1958-1961), simultaneously filling the position of Vice President of the Georgia State AFL-CIO from 1958 to 1960. From 1960 to 1961, Merritt was President of the Savannah Building Trades Council, leaving that position to become a General Organizer for the BSIW, a position he held from 1961 to 1974. From 1970, Merritt was the President of the District Council of Iron Workers of Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council, and in 1974 also became General Vice President, BSIW, as well as the President of the Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council. Until his death in 1995, Merritt was a lifelong farmer with his wife Lillian (m. 1955), and he commuted weekly from Knoxville, Tennessee to their farm in the Savannah, Georgia area.


3.5 Linear Feet (in 5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Donated by John "Joe" Ward Merritt, President of the District Council of Iron Workers of Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council, this collection contains speeches, expense reports, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) materials and bound copies of the unions' periodical The Ironworker.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mrs. Lillian Merritt, June 1996.

Separated Materials

During processing, materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Collections. For periodicals, see the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection finding aid or catalog. For rules, constitutions, and monographs, consult Special Collections for access.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. The Ironworker (bound), 1972-1988
  2. The Ironworker, July 1981; August 1985; July 1986; November 1994; November 1995
  3. BSIW Convention Proceedings in The Ironworker, 1960; 1964; 1968; 1972; 1976; 1981; 1986; 1991

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Rules Collection

  1. General Working Rules, October 1960

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Constitutions Collection

  1. Constitution of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, October 1961

Separated to the Special Collections and Archives Book Collection (Consult catalog for access)

  1. Blasters' Handbook - A Manual Describing Explosives and Practical Methods of Use, 1969

Processing Information

Inventoried by Special Collections Staff at the item level, July 1996.
Iron Workers Tennessee Valley and Vicinity District Council:
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
July 1996
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • June 2001: EAD finding aid created by Apex Data Services.
  • 2003: EAD edited by Morna Gerrard.
  • 2007: EAD revised by William Hardesty.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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