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Finding Aid to the Retail Store Employees Union Local 410R Records
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical / Historical
  • Content Description

  • Title: Retail Store Employees Union Local 410R Records
    Date (inclusive): 1909-1989
    Source: Oswald, Diana
    Creator: Retail Store Employees Union. Local 410R
    Extent: 23.75 Cubic Feet (19 cartons)
    Collection number: larc.ms.0018
    Accession number: 1987/091
    Repository: Labor Archives and Research Center
    J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 460
    San Francisco State University
    1630 Holloway Ave
    San Francisco, CA 94132-1722
    (415) 405-5571
    Abstract: Includes: constitution and bylaws, minutes of the membership and executive board, records of associated retail clerk organizations, financial ledgers and statements, membership documentation, and contract negotiation files of the Retail Store Employees Union Local 410R.
    Location: Collection is available onsite.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English.


    Collection is open for research


    Some materials are in the public domain; transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Retail Store Employees Union Local 410R Records, larc.ms.0018, San Francisco State University J. Paul Leonard Library, Special Collections and Archives


    These records were donated by Diana Oswald, Secretary and Treasurer of the Retail Store Employees Union, Local 410R in 1987. Records will continue to be accessioned to the collection on an ongoing basis.


    The files of the Retail Store Employees Union (RSEU) are divided into 11 series: Series 1: History; Series 2: Minutes; Series 3: Correspondence; Series 4: Office Files; Series 5: Health and Welfare; Series 6: Membership; Series 7: Financial; Series 8: Agreements; Series 9: Reports; Series 10: Artifacts; Series 11: Unprocessed files.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Labor Archives and Research Center staff. Boxes 1 - 13 processed, boxes 14 - 19 contain unprocessed material and artifacts.

    Processing Information

    Collection was processed by Susan Goldstein in the summer of 1988.

    Biographical / Historical

    Little information exists on the origin and early growth of the Retail Store Employees Union (RSEU), Local 410R. The following account is from the Local's February 1985 newsletter. Diana Oswalt wrote this mini-history based on the recollections of William Silverstein who was Secretary-Treasurer of Local 410 from October of 1944 to July of 1970:
    The first spark of organization of Local 410 was in the year 1853, but was largely unsuccessful. Further attempts at organization flared up from 1860 to 1900, based on six o'clock and Sunday closing. The Local was chartered as the Retail Shoe and Textile Sales Union by the San Francisco Labor Council in May of 1900, one hundred and fifty members strong. By October of 1900, the Local had gained fifty additional members. The six o'clock closing agreement with the merchants went along uneventfully until January 1, 1901, when several Kearny Street merchants broke the six o'clock rule; the ensuing boycott of ten months was really only a failure because of the great drain on our meagre treasury. Until a merger in 1902, there were actually two locals involved: Local 432, covering clothing sales, and Local 410, which covered shoe sales. After the merger, Local 410's jurisdiction was shoe stores, clothing stores and hat shops, such as the Adams and the Lundstroms stores. This was later extended to shoe concessions. Organization continued throughout the Thirties. The ideas most rallied around were Union stores, Union labels and Union personnel.
    After the Wagner Act passed in the mid-thirties, there occurred a rush for organizing the unorganized. Then came the 1938 strike against the Emporium, Macy's, White House, Hale's, J.C. Penney's, Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Weinstein's, among others, for the Union shop. This was not achieved, but the strike did win for us the open shop and the protection of a seniority clause, a step in the right direction.
    In 1941, the Union struck over the Union shop and won a victory. Work weeks in independent stores were from 48-52 hours long, and about 44 hours in department stores. Pay scales were around $25.00 per week.
    In 1952, the Union negotiated health and welfare on contracts, as well as maintenance of membership, and in 1961, the first pension benefits were negotiated.
    The Union went through a number of name changes over the years. Originally organized as the Retail Store and Textile Sales Union in 1900, it became the Retail Shoe Clerks in the 1910's, the Retail Shoe Salesman Association in 1922, the Retail Shoe and Textile Union in 1944, the Retail Shoe and Textile Salesman's Union in 1948, and, finally, the Retail Store Employees Union in 1971. The Union was initially chartered by the Retail Clerks International Association (RCIA) on July 10, 1906 and was subsequently chartered by the United Food and Commercial Workers, UFCW, of the AFL-CIO in 1982. Over the years, Local 410R has been affiliated with the following organizations: the Retailer's Council, the San Francisco Labor Council, the Bay Area Joint Council of Retail Clerks, the California State Council of Retail Clerks, and the AFL Joint Council of Department Store Employees. As mentioned above, Local 410's jurisdiction covered shoe stores, shoe departments in larger department stores, men's clothing stores, men's furnishings and hat stores. The Local flourished when Mission Street was a vital area of commerce, home to now-defunct department stores such as City of Paris and the White House. In the late 1950's, Local 1100, the Department Store Employees Union, came to prominence by organizing large department stores and chains. Although the two unions sometimes co-existed in the same store and supported each other in strikes, Local 410 membershop declined from this point.
    Local 410 was a good union for women. Women participated in the union from its founding, and equal pay for women was an important principle in both theory and negotiations. As for leadership, Diana Oswald was one of the few female Secretary-Treasurers in the Bay Area.

    Content Description

    Includes constitution and bylaws, minutes of the membership and executive board, records of affiliated retail clerk organizations, financial ledgers and statements, membership documentation, and negotiation and contract files.
    The earliest materials contained in the collection are membership applications from 1906 to 1930's. Other early materials include minutes from 1918 to 1945 and dues ledgers from 1922 to 1939. The earliest correspondence dates from 1926 to 1939. The most current materials are minutes and Retail Clerks International Association (RCIA) reports from 1979 to 1980 and one store contract from 1984.
    The most significant gaps are the missing membership minutes from 1934 and all the missing minutes from 1945 to 1957.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Retail Clerks International Association
    Oswald, Diana