Information for Researchers
Scope and Contents
Title: Bertha Metro papers
Date (inclusive): 1936-1973
Collection Number: MS 3422
Metro, Bertha, 1899-1976
(1.25 Linear feet)
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
Correspondence, negotiations for contracts, copies of contracts, organizing documents, strike leaflets, and other union documents,
together with transcripts of oral history interviews of Metro and her daughter, Phyllis Foley, also a union official; ephemera;
and some personal correspondence. Includes material relating to the hotel strikes of 1937 and 1941-1942. Correspondents include
Hugo Ernst, labor official who represented culinary workers.
Information for Researchers
Collection open for research; researchers must sign an agreement of use form. Photocopying is prohibited.
Copyright has not been assigned to the California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from
manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of the California Historical Society 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], Bertha Metro Papers, MS 3422, California Historical Society.
Photographs of Bertha Metro and Phyllis Foley have been transferred to the Portraits section of the CHS Photograph Collection.
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections Number
Collection donated by Phyllis Foley, 1979.
No additions are expected.
Processed by California Historical Society staff.
Bertha Metro was born in England. Her father, a socialist, imbued her with some of his ideals and principles. While still
a young girl, the family emmigrated to Canada where her father was killed in a tragic mining accident. In her early teens
she went to work to help support the family, eventually obtaining employment at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia,
After her marriage and the birth of a daughter on September 18, 1922 she and her family moved to Idaho where her husband (a
U.S. citizen) had relatives. From there they moved to San Francisco in the early 1930's. Her husband obtained employment on
the waterfront and she went to work in a large hotel as a maid.
In 1936 Ms. Metro began organizing the hotel maids on a voluntary basis. At this time she made contact with Hugo Ernst, a
labor official who represented the culinary workers. With his approval and some moral assistance she embarked on a career
which eventually led her to a full time paid career as a labor organizer and union official. The union she represented changed
its name many times and was last called the Hotel, Motel and Club Service Workers Union, Local #283, affiliated with the Hotel
and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union.
Early in 1939 an oral history was narrated by Ms. Metro for California Historical Society. However, due to her poor health
and advanced age, the interview was not concluded.
Shortly after the interview Ms. Metro died and her daughter, Phyllis Foley (also a union official), agreed to be interviewed
to help complete her mother's story and, moreover, trace her own activities as a union official, (Oral History interviews
for both women are available at CHS).
A key period in the life of Ms. Metro was the hotel strike of 1937 and the hotel strike of 1941-1942. This led to another
oral history project (in process, 1979-1980) in which interviews are being conducted with one representative of each of the
six culinary unions involved as well as with union counsel, a member of the CIO (which had formed a dual union) and perhaps,
in the future, one of the hotel owners or representatives.
Scope and Contents
Includes material from Bertha Metro's life as a union official, and includes correspondence, negotiations for contracts, copies
of contracts, organizing documents, strike leaflets, and other union documents, together with transcripts of oral history
interviews of Metro and her daughter, Phyllis Foley, also a union official; ephemera; and some personal correspondence. Includes
material relating to the hotel strikes of 1937 and 1941-1942. Correspondents include Hugo Ernst, labor official who represented
culinary workers. The only personal letters contained in the collection relate to Ms. Metro's endorsement of various politicians
running for office, or thank you letters for such endorsements. The collection contains miscellaneous ephemera her husband
acquired in Canada; union picket cards as well as some pay vouchers from Canadian mines. One interesting exchange of letters
between Ms. Metro and Hugo Ernst expresses her apologies when Ernst felt she had slighted his authority.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Ernst, Hugo, 1876-1954
Foley, Phyllis, 1922-
Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union. Local 283 (San Francisco, Calif.).
Hotel cleaning personnel--California.
Labor unions--Officials and employees.
Strikes and lockouts--California.
Women labor leaders.
Women labor union members--California.