American Labor in the Era of World War II

By Sally M. Miller; Daniel A. Cornford | Go to book overview
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The San Francisco Machinists and the National War Labor Board

Richard P. Boyden

In the fall of 1944, San Francisco machinists Martin Joos and Arthur Burke found themselves fired from their jobs and blacklisted. A member of Machinists' Lodge 68 since 1920 and a shop steward at Bodinson Manufacturing Company, Joos lost his job after protesting to management against members of another craft doing machinists' work. Burke was a wartime newcomer to the Bay Area and a union committeeman at the National Motor Bearing plant in San Mateo. The company dismissed him because he had prevented a machinist from being in the toolroom doing toolmaker's work. Both Joos' and Burke's actions consisted of routine performance of union business. Both men were fired by order of the U.S. Navy. Before being fired, each man was taken into a back room and questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, because the navy hoped to have them prosecuted under wartime antistrike legislation. 1

These actions were a part of one of the harshest set of federal government measures employed against any group of American workers during World War II. Pursuant to two executive orders by President Roosevelt in September 1944, the U.S. Navy took possession of the bulk of the machinery industry in San Francisco and the industrial suburbs south of the city. The existing multiemployer contract was suspended, as were


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