Scope and Content
Newspapers Published by the San Francisco Labor Council
Title: San Francisco Labor Council Records,
Date (inclusive): 1902-1976
Date (bulk): (predominantly 1965-1973)
Accession number: 85-3
San Francisco Labor Council
Extent: 56 cubic feet and 77 bound volumes of newspaper
San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center
San Francisco, California 94132
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Center's online catalog.
Official records of the San Francisco Labor Council have been generated on a
continuing basis since its organization in 1892. Early records were lost in the 1906 fires.
Most of the records produced since that time until 1964 were placed in the Bancroft Library at
U.C. Berkeley in 1969.
This group of records was placed in the Labor Archives and Research Center at San
Francisco State University by the SFLC in 1985. The collection was appraised by LARC
director Lynn A. Bonfield who organized the boxing and transferral of its contents during the
summer and fall of 1985. Rough processing, arrangement and description of the collection
was done by Bill Walker under the supervision of Lynn A. Bonfield and LARC archivist Leon
Sompolinsky in the spring of 1987.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives & Research Center. All requests for
permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing
to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of the Labor Archives & Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], San Francisco Labor Council Records, 85-3, Labor Archives & Research Center,
San Francisco State University.
The San Francisco Labor Council was organized in 1892 and received its charter from
the American Federation of Labor in May of 1893. In 1958 it merged with the San Francisco
Congress of Industrial Organizations' Industrial Union Council, some 3 years after the national
The SFLC is the primary voice of organized labor in San Francisco, currently
representing (1987) 130 affiliated union locals with close to 80,000 total members. In the late
1960s membership stood at over 200,000 represented by 150 local bodies. The largest locals
came from the service and retail trades, the various machinist and building trades and the
numerous marine industries.
The San Francisco Labor Council is one of the major bodies in the California State
Federation of Labor and continues to play an active role in the international AFL-CIO.
The SFLC is governed by its Executive Council, members of which are elected by the
general membership. The Council is represented by the elected Secretary/Treasurer, who
conducts the daily business of the SFLC. Papers of the two of the Secretary/Treasurers are
included in this collection. George W. Johns succeeded John F. Shelley in this office in 1950
when Shelley was elected to the U.S. Congress. Johns served until his retirement in 1972. He
was replaced by his assistant secretary John F. Crowley who served until his untimely death in
1985. He is succeeded by Walter Johnson, current Secretary/Treasurer of the SFLC.
Scope and Content
The Records in this collection primarily reflect the activities of the SFLC during the
1960s and early 1970s. A number of individual items and files, two of the record series, and
most of the long newspaper runs document earlier history of the SFLC and it's affiliates.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of the office files of the SFLC and the personal
activities files of two of it's chief officers, George W. Johns and John F. Crowley, from the
early 1960s to 1974. This was a period of great social change in America and in San
Francisco, and this is reflected in the record of the Labor Council and it's spokesmen. Both
Johns and Crowley served on a wide variety of civic and social action boards and
commissions, representing not only their personal views but, at least symbolically, that of
organized labor. Their papers, and the official files of the SFLC, are filled with material
relating to these activities, taken as a whole, these papers document significant facts of the
complex social history of San Francisco during this period. Materials are held which relate to
civil rights, housing and urban development, poverty, education, the criminal justice system,
and changes in the economic base and government of the city.
In addition to this wide range of outside activities, these files also reflect the daily
business of the SFLC itself and it's relationship to the many affiliate locals as well as current
labor actions, sanctions and boycotts. In addition, records of the Law and Legislative
Committee and the Committee on Political Education (COPE) document labor's efforts to
represent it's constituency and influence change in local and state legislation and elections.
Among the documents in the collection created before 1960, there are a number of
particular interest. The bound volumes of
The Labor Clarion,
San Francisco Labor and
Northern California Labor chronicle the local labor movement nearly continuously from 1902
Also housed in the collection are bound minutes and reports of the Allied Printing
Trades Council, and associate body composed of the numerous unions involved in the printing
trades. These volumes span most of the years from 1910 to 1963 and document the
tremendous changes which occurred in the industry and it's workforce during this period.
A small but significant volume is the bound minutes of the Asiatic Exclusion League,
of which the SFLC was a charter member, from 1906 to 1910. This group attempted to
document the inferiority of the various Asian races and agitate against their immigration to the
Among the committee records are files which predate the bulk of the collection. The
Labor Day Parade files contain letters, reports and papers relating to the demise of the
traditional Labor Day Parade in San Francisco in the early 1950s and it's eventual replacement
with locally written & produced television specials which were aired on Labor Day for several
years. Scripts for these programs from 1955, 1956 and 1957 are included.
The files of the Constitution and Bylaws Revision Committee contain some materials
relating to the 1955-56 changes in the SFLC Constitution as well as a larger number from
1956-61 reflecting the merger of the local AFL and CIO affiliates and the later loss of the
Teamsters locals. Lists of member locals with their current enrollments, number of delegates
and yearly financial contribution to the SFLC are included in some of these files.
Of particular note to historians of racial issues and civil rights are two documents
relating to blacks in San Francisco in 1962-63. Attached to the minutes of the Executive
Committee for 7/18/63 is a photocopy report on "Negro Unemployment" in San Francisco. In
the 1962/63 file of the Law & Legislative Committee is a 25 page report from the
Superintendent of Schools outlining the racial makeup of the city and it's schools in 1962.
As of June 1987 this collection has only been roughly processed. It should be
understood that assessment of the contents and significance of the collection are tentative and
will be revised as time and staffing allow further processing to occur.
Newspapers Published by the San Francisco Labor Council
- Vol. 1-46
Date: (Feb. 1902 - Mar. 1948)
San Francisco Labor
- Vol. 1-21
Date: (Apr. 1951 - Apr. 1973)
Northern California Labor
- Vol. 22-31
Date: (May 1973 - Apr. 1981)