Scope and Content
Title: Robert E. Durkin Papers,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1863-1989
Date (bulk): (Predominantly 1944-1989)
Accession number: 1992/056
Durkin, Robert E.
Extent: 2 Boxes, 56 Folders
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.
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], Robert E. Durkin Papers, 1992/056, Labor Archives & Research Center,
San Francisco State University.
The collection was donated to the Labor Archives by Dr. David McWilliams.
Robert Edward Durkin was born December 25, 1912 in Paterson, New Jersey. He enlisted in the Navy in November 1934 in New York
and received an honorable discharge in December 1938 in Seattle. He married Helen Cleo Jones in Lakewood Village, Los Angeles
on April 1, 1948. He did not have any children.
Durkin became a member of the Masters, Mates and Pilots, Local 90 in 1942. In 1949, he was elected Trustee and served on the
Executive Committee of Local 90. He was appointed as the Wilmington Branch Representative in 1952 and served out the remainder
of a term that had been left vacant by a predecessor. Durkin was subsequently elected for two more terms and served as the
Wilmington Branch Representative until 1957. In 1953, he was elected as a shareholder Trustee for Local 90's Building Association.
He served three more six year terms and was elected President of the Building Association in 1958 and reelected annually 13
times. He was elected as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the MMP- PMA Pension, Welfare and Vacation Plans and remained
chairman until December 1971. Durkin was elected President of Masters, Mates and Pilots Local 90 in 1957 and was consecutively
reelected for six more two year terms until 1971. At the same time that he served as the Local 90 President, he was also elected
President of the International in July of 1958. He served as International President until January 1961.
During his tenure as International President, he presided over a major restructuring that transformed the position of International
President into a full time job. Previously, the International President had been elected from among the delegates at the IOMMP
biennial convention and served concurrently as both Local and International President. Despite the fact that he led the restructuring,
Durkin decided not to run for the new job. However, he remained a member of the International Executive Committee from 1958
until 1971. During this time he served as a member and or chairman of the International Constitution and Finance Committees.
In 1970, all of the locals of the IOMMP merged into a single International Offshore Division and Durkin served as Vice President
from October 1970 until December of 1971. He retired on December 31, 1971 but remained a Shareholder Trustee of the Masters,
Mates and Pilots Building Association.
Scope and Content
The Robert E. Durkin Collection is divided into eleven series:
- Series I: Personal Information
- Series II: Masters, Mates and Pilots International
- Series III: M.M.P. Local 90
- Series IV: M.M.P. Local 88
- Series V: I.O.M.M.P. Offshore Division
- Series VI: Miscellaneous M.M.P. Locals
- Series VII: Safety
- Series VIII: Exxon Valdez
- Series IX: Legal Materials
- Series X: Maritime Associations and Organizations
- Series XI: Research Materials
The collection consists of material that Robert Durkin collected during his years in the Masters, Mates and Pilots. Durkin
was extensively involved in union politics and as a result the bulk of the collection deals with administrative and election
There are two documents from 1863 and 1868, respectively. These are copies of shipyard rules and regulations from the mid
19th century. They are located in the Safety Series (VII). The bulk of the material spans the period from 1944 to 1989. The
material in the collection both implicitly and explicitly helps to detail the struggle for survival that labor has engaged
in during the 20th century. In the case of the Masters, Mates and Pilots, it deals with how both automation and modernization
have impacted the maritime industry.
Of particular interest to researchers are the three folders that relate to the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound
in March of 1989. The captain of the ship was a member of the Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Union offered a slightly different
interpretation of the events than those put forth in the media. The folders include documents created by Durkin in relation
to the accident and also research materials including the legislation that was produced as a result.
The first box of the collection contains personal material including an array of commendations and licenses. It also has two
folders full of correspondence on both personal and union related matters. The first box also contains material related specifically
to the International and the Locals, particularly Local 90. The second box also contains material related to specific locals
as well as the Offshore Division. However the bulk of the second box contains material related to more general maritime and
union topics. This includes information on worker safety issues and practices, maritime associations, various legal files,
and research materials. The final two folders in the second box contain numerous clippings related to both specific Masters,
Mates and Pilots' issues and also to more general issues.