Item #4344 [Archive of Materials Related to an Early Hollywood Labor Strike]. California, Labor.

[Archive of Materials Related to an Early Hollywood Labor Strike]

[Los Angeles, Ca. 1933]. Thirty-five documents, five 8-x-10-inch photographs, one 6-x-8-inch photograph, and two newsletters. Varying levels of toning, some edge wear, but overall a well-preserved group. Very good. Item #4344

An informative collection of documents and photographs concerning the July 1933 labor strike of Camera Local Union 659 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The Great Depression heralded in a tough time at all levels in Hollywood. In the Spring of 1933, significant industry-wide salary cuts were called for by producers, at the behest of Will Hayes. Total budgets for Hollywood films dropped to $50 million, down from $156 million just two years earlier. This new reality, with much less money to spread around, splintered organized labor among actors, writers, and crew people, resulting in realignment that would forever change Hollywood labor relations. As a result of the troubles of 1933, both the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) were formed that year.

This fractious labor situation was put to the ultimate test in July 1933, when Sound Local Union 695 struck against Columbia Pictures. This snowballed into an attempted industry-wide strike over union jurisdiction for soundmen and other specialist unions, including Camera Local Union 659, which joined the strike in solidarity. The studios reacted with aggressive efforts to replace striking workers. They placed advertisements in the Sunday and Monday newspapers, as well as on radio, calling for anyone with technical experience with cameras and sound equipment. As soon as the strike started, Paramount rehearsed actors without sound until new technicians could be trained. Metro Studios brought in recording technicians from their audio operations. These efforts, combined with a threat from the electrical workers union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to shut off electricity to the studios, broke the back of the unions. The strike of the summer of 1933 was a disastrous one for IATSE, resulting in an avalanche of withdrawals from the union from which it took years to recover.

The present collection of documents include thirty Western Union telegrams or "Press Messages" exchanged between the Executive Board of Local 659; their legal representatives, Richard J. Green and Lindsey Evans; Hal Mohr, president of Local 659; Howard Hurd of Local 659; Ed Gibbons, press representative for IATSE; and others. A few of the documents also mention Pat Casey, labor relations representative for the producers. The documents are mostly internal communications among officials of IATSE, dating from July 26 to August 30, 1933 and involve a myriad of issues involved in the strike. Some of the present documents touch on the difficult aforementioned relationship between the IBEW and the Hollywood labor unions. In fact, at the outset of the July 1933 strike, Columbia refused to sign a new deal with Local 695, claiming the issues at hand were the result of a jurisdictional dispute between IBEW and Local 659. This attempt to pit one union against another ultimately worked, and it is documented well in the present collection. Other documents involve the union's dealings with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In addition to the correspondence between the officials of IATSE, one of the more interesting items here is a September 19, 1933 broadside advertising a radio address by Hal Mohr, president of Local 659. The broadside, which begins, "FLASH! Hal Mohr Speaks" in large letters at the top, encourages listeners to "Tune Your Radio to K.H.J. and Listen to Hal Mohr, President of Local 659 I.A.T.S.E., Who Will Speak to the Many Thousands of Employed on Why the I.A.T.S.E. Should Be Their Sole Bargaining Agent." This broadside was likely an effort to retain membership in IATSE as a flood of members left the union following the calamitous strike during the summer.

The present group also includes several photographs from 1933 picturing various members of the team representing Local 659. These include Hal Mohr, Howard Hurd, and Judge Ben Lindsey. Most of the photographs picture the three men outside a TWA airplane, most likely on their way to Washington, D.C. In fact, one of the captions on the verso of a photograph of Mohr and Lindsey picture them "meeting with members of National Labor Relations Arbitration Board, set up by F.D.R. to settle labor disputes." A wonderful group of documents and photographs providing an inside view of a labor strike in Depression-era Hollywood.

Price: $1,500.00