Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) records
Scope and Contents
Material in this collection is arranged according to the national, regional, or local office from which it was received. National office records include administrative meeting minutes, reports, and constitutions, as well as material pertaining to locals, strikes, conventions, merger attempts, and the relationship of OCAW to other unions, including the AFL-CIO, United Rubber Workers, the International Chemical Workers Union, the United Paperworkers International Union, the International Federation of Petroleum and Chemical Workers and the International Labor Organization.
Records of OCAW district offices contain correspondence, organizing files, and negotiations and contracts with energy companies, as well as case files from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). District 1 was responsible for the states of the California, Oregon, and Washington; Districts 2, 3, and 6 comprises the Rocky Mountain region and Southwest, Southeastern states, and the Northern Plains; and Districts 4 and 6 include Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. District 1 records also include the papers of Verlin L. McKendree, who served as OCAW’s Labor Advocate for the West Coast from 1946-1975.
This collection also includes expansive records of OCAW Local 1-128 in Long Beach, California, including records from the Oil Workers International Union (OWIU) in Southern California, which predated the formation OCAW and represented workers across the San Joaquin Valley, including Whittier, Brea, Los Angeles, and El Segundo. In the 1920s, the OWIU in Long Beach negotiated improved contracts with Shell Oil Company, ended the seven-day work week, and led the California Industrial Accident Commission to adopt safety orders for the petroleum industry. OCAW Local 1-128 represented workers of the largest oil terminal on the west coast, containing twelve oil refineries.
The personal papers of Tony Mazzocchi, primarily from OCAW District 8, includes OSHA complaints and arbitration files related to hazardous working conditions and accidents in the petroleum and chemical industries. Anthony ‘Tony’ Mazzocchi served OCAW in various administrative roles, including director of the Citizenship-Legislative Department, director of the Health and Safety Office, Legislative Director, and Vice-President through the 1970s and ‘80s. He was an influential lobbyist in the enactment of workplace health and safety legislation, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970.
Additional material includes the records of OCAW Local 7-515, representing Whitehall Laboratories in Elkhart, Indiana, particularly related to the plant’s closure in 1992; files of the OCAW Health and Safety office, including workplace training programs; and newspaper clippings compiled by the OCAW Publicity Office from 1985 until 1993.
See the scope/content note of each series in the collection for more detail. A box and folder inventory is available for most series in this collection. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Creation: 1934 - 1995
Conditions Governing Access
This collection contains or may contain private and personally identifiable information (PPII). Researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement in advance of access to collection materials. Contact email@example.com for more information.
The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.
Conditions Governing Use
Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oil, Chemical, Atomic Workers Union, affiliated with the AFL-CIO, extended representation to a variety of industries: exploration, production, transportation, refining and marketing of oil and gas. OCAW represented workers engaged in the manufacture of organic, inorganic chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, as well as uses of atomic energy. OCAW had its beginnings in 1899, with the formation of the International Brotherhood of Oil and Gas Well Workers and evolved with the establishment of the Oil Field, Gas Well and Refinery Workers of America in 1918, which became the Oil Workers International Union (OWIU) in 1937. The increasing production of gas along with petroleum, in contrast to the pre-war production of gas from coal, so changed the gas industry that it led to the merging of the OWIU with the Gas, Coke and Chemical Workers (OGCCW, formerly affiliated with the United Mine Workers of America) to form the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) in 1955. The three-pronged goals of OCAW were: organization and solidarity in the national political scene, giving voice to the worker within the industry machine in support of improved conditions, and promoting a democratically run internal organization for the union. OCAW, especially under the leadership of Anthony 'Tony Mazzocchi in the 1970s-1990s, was instrumental in the enactment of significant workplace health and safety legislation, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. OCAW merged with the Paper, Allied-Industries Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) in January, 1999 and later with the United Steelworkers in 2005.
See Ray Davidson, Challenging the giants: a history of Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union (Denver, CO: The Union, 1988)
1511.5 linear feet (1009 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) administration was comprised of a national headquarters and various regional district offices. Records contain negotiation files, contract material, grievance cases, publicity material, correspondence, organizing files and plant closure files. They also contain health and safety files and documents related to hazardous working conditions.
This collection is quite large and is minimally processed. A preliminary inventory, including folder level titles, exists for most series but has not been added to the finding aid. A box and folder inventory is available for most series in this collection.See the scope/content note of each series in the collection for more detailed description about each series. Contact email@example.com for access to the box and folder level inventories or questions.
- In Progress
- District 1, 1st Accession: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, August 16, 1999 District 1, 2nd Accession: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, November 15, 1999 District 1, 3rd Accession: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, January 19, 2000 District 2, 3 & 6: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, April 7, 2000 District 4 & 5: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, April 7, 2000 District 7, Local 7-515: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, April 7, 2000 National Office: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, August 18, 1999 National Office, 2nd Accession: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, January 20, 2000 National Office, 3rd Accession: Processed by Olivia Kaferly, January 20, 2000 Local 1-128 Long Beach, California: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, August 23, 1989 Citizenship-Legislative Director Washington, D.C.: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, September 14, 1993 Health and Safety Files: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, February 26, 1993 Tony Mazzocchi Papers: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, August 17, 1998 Publicity Department: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, August 9, 1993 Audio Visual: Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, August 9, 1993 Revisions by Jamie Marie Wagner, June 2020
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