Oral Histories

Interview of James L. Daugherty

Union organizer and president of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1414. President of the California Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and member of the Communist Party.
Utilities Workers, the UE, and the CIO
Interviews not in a series, part one
Social Movements
Labor Movement
Biographical Note:
Union organizer and president of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1414. President of the California Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and member of the Communist Party.
Donahoe, Myrna C.
Daugherty, James L.
Persons Present:
Daugherty and Donahoe.
Place Conducted:
Daugherty's home in Lynwood, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Myrna C. Donahoe, Oral History Program,UCLA; Ph.D., history, UC Irvine. Donahoe prepared for the interview by consulting sources from the UE archives at the University of Pittsburgh. She also read a dissertation by Frank Emspak entitled "The Break-Up of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), 1945-50"; James Matles's Them and Us: Struggles of a Rank-and-Flle Union, a history of the UE; and an interview with James Matles from the labor archives at Pennsylvania State University. In addition, she consulted the papers that James Daugherty had donated to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research in Los Angeles.
Processing of Interview:
George Hodak, editorial assistant, edited theinterview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Daugherty reviewed the transcript. He verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions.Teresa Barnett, editor, prepared the table of contents, biographical summary, and index.
13.3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Father's employment; arrival in Los Angeles; fired from F. W. Woolworth Company for urging workers to oppose Woolworth's unfair policies; employment at the Southern California Gas Company; attends a meeting of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE); becomes president of UE Local 1414; joins the Utility Workers Organizing Committee (later Utility Workers Union of America) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); formation of the committee and its relationship to UE; difficulty in organizing Southern California Edison Company; Daugherty considered too valuable to the war effort to be drafted; union organizing during World War II; the Los Angeles and California CIO Councils; relationship between the state CIO Council and the national CIO; organizational structure of the CIO; members of the Los Angeles CIO Council; communists ousted from the CIO; Daugherty is taken into custody during UE strike; Taft-Hartley Act passed in spite of CIO opposition; Utility Workers locals on the West Coast vote not to sign the noncommunist affidavit; Daugherty officially replaced as Utility Workers regional director; resigns from Utility Workers; the Utility Workers after Taft-Hartley; local councils taken over by the national CIO; West Coast locals do not succumb to red-baiting; the strength of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union; the CIO after Taft-Hartley; problems of trying to organize outside the CIO; Daugherty works as an organizer for the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho; Mine Mill locals join the Northwest Metal Workers Union and then merge with United Steelworkers of America; effect of Daugherty's union work on his wife; several Mine Mill shops join UE with Daugherty; working for the UE; members' understanding and support of UE policies; UE organizes the phonograph record industry; efforts to organize plastic and electronics plants; the Communist Party's proposal in mid-1950s that UE should dissolve; Daugherty laid off by UE; present state of trade unions in the United States; checkoff system discourages rank-and-file involvement in unions; need to organize amalgamated unions of service workers; need to return to union-organizing principles of the 1930s; disintegration of the labor movement; red-baiting in the CIO; Henry A. Wallace's 1948 presidential campaign; Emil Freed and the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research; Daugherty's current activities and friends; Daugherty's membership in the Communist Party; his present attitude toward the party; Daugherty subpoenaed during the McCarthy era; Dorothy Healey and Ben Dobbs; the Communist Party and the labor movement.