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Charles Stirner Papers (Southern California Waiters Alliance), 1936-1988
MSS 059  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material at the Southern Califronia Library for Social Studies and Resarch

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles Stirner Papers (Southern California Waiters Alliance),
    Date (inclusive): 1936-1988
    Collection number: MSS 059
    Creator: Stirner, Charles
    Extent: 4 legal boxes, 2 letter boxes, 1 letter half-box, and 5 oversized folders

    2 1/3 linear feet
    Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
    Los Angeles, CA 90044
    Abstract: The collection documents the Southern California Waiters Alliance of which Charles Stirner served as Secretary-Treasurer in the 1950s and early 1960s. It also includes materials from the Joint Executive Board of the Culinary Workers and Bartenders International of which the Waiters Alliance was a part, and a few personal papers. Includes extensive materials relating to the termination of the Trusteeship imposed by the International on the Waiters Alliance in 1961.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Donated to the Library by Brigitte Stone on behalf of the Estate of Charles Stirner.


    The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Charles Stirner Papers (Southern California Waiters Alliance), Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.


    Southern California Waiters Alliance

    The Southern California Waiters Alliance, Local 17, along with the Waitress and Cafeteria Union, Local 639, the Bartenders Union, Local 284, Cooks Union, Local 463, the Miscellaneous Restaurant Employees Union, Local 440, and the Hotel Services and Club Employees Union, Local 765 make up the Los Angeles Joint Executive Board of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Unions - AFL-CIO. Also associated with the Waiters Alliance was the Los Angeles Cooks and Waiters Club, Inc. which was chartered in September 1937. The Club, which owned and ran the building used by the Alliance and other locals had had, as of July 1950, only one election in 12 years. The club remained in the hands of officers (Van Hook, Shackleford, Finnegan, and Adair) who had been ousted from leadership of the local, and charges were made of misappropriation of union funds, and lack of reporting of income to the club from gambling (cards) activities at the club.
    The General Executive Board of the Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union placed the Waiters Alliance under trusteeship for a year, on October 16, 1950. There was an attempt to extend the trusteeship but it ended in October 1951. The new union leadership under Stirner instituted a shop steward system that had formerly been missing from the local. Stirner's group also claimed an increase in benefits and services during the ten years they were in office, much of which was lost in 1962 under the second trusteeship.
    The International instituted the second trusteeship in 1961, after charges of un-democratic running of meetings and the failure of the union to pay back monies to the International demanded ahead of the original contract date. Hearings were held in July and August of 1961 challenging the trusteeship, but it continued into 1953 when Commissioner John Holcombe of the U.S. Department of Labor declared that "this trusteeship is being maintained for reasons which are inconsistent with Section 302 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959."

    Charles Stirner

    Charles Stirner was a committed and controversial member of the Southern California Waiters Alliance (Local 17). Stirner joined Local 17 in April 1939 after moving to Los Angeles from Chicago and Palm Beach where he had also worked as a waiter. Stirner came into prominence in the Union when he led the Rank and File Committee's 1951 challenge to the legacy of J.W. Van Hook's leadership of the union (Van Hook lost the 1950 election to Vincent J. Lawler, and retired from the union). The challenge centered on the local union's being put into receivership by the International and questions about the running of the Cooks and Waiters Club. Stirner and Edward Simpson, who won the Presidency of the Union in 1953, led the union until a second Receivership was declared and a trustee appointed by the Union took over in 1961. Stirner again led the move to have the trusteeship discontinued. This fight took until 1963. During his tenure Stirner wrote a column in the Los Angeles Citizen on the activities and philosophy of Local 17. Stirner and Simpson seem to have generated a lot of controversy and strong language from their challengers but they remained in charge of the union for at least a decade.
    In later years Stirner was concerned about nuclear disarmament and the Soviet Union (clippings), he also corresponded with and sent gifts to family members in Romania.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains correspondence, legal/court documents, hearing transcripts, minutes, bylaws, constitutions, contracts, election materials, photographs, newspapers clippings, and ribbons.
    The collection primarily documents Stirner's union involvements including both his service as Secretary-Treasurer of the Southern California Waiters Alliance and his service on the Los Angeles Joint Executive Board of Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions, AFofL. A small number of personal materials, from the 1970s and 1980s, include a series of letters in German from Stirner's relatives in Romania and clippings on the Soviet Union and nuclear disarmament. The bulk of the material concerns Stirner's 1961-1963 challenge of the trusteeship of the Waiters' Alliance instituted by the International. These are the complete transcript (1705 pages) of the hearing and various legal documents, including correspondence and notes prepared by Stirner's lawyers. Other materials refer to other lawsuits to which Stirner was party as well as materials related to the filing and resolution of various grievances filed by members of the union. The lawyers who worked on these cases include Robert Kenny and Stanley Mosk. Election materials include sample ballots, ballots with vote totals written in and campaign materials from Stirner's group and other factions. A small amount of materials relating to campaigns and controversies in the allied Waitress, Cooks, and Bartenders Locals also appear in the collection, including a series of political cartoons. Minutes include both Waiters Alliance minutes and minutes from meetings of the Joint Executive Board.


    The collection is divided into 3 series: PERSONAL PAPERS, UNION MATERIALS , and PHOTOGRAPHS AND CLIPPINGS

    Related Material at the Southern Califronia Library for Social Studies and Resarch

    Title: Robert W. Kenny Papers,
    Date: 1823-1975,
    Physical Description: 17 boxes