AFT Affiliate St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Records
The St. Louis (Missouri) Teachers Union was organized in 1935 by Paul W. Preisler, as
the Teachers Union of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Its jurisdiction extended over
these separate political entities in order to include members from Washington University.
In 1944 the name of the local was changed to Teacher’s Federation of St. Louis and St.
Louis County. Its 1948 merger with Local 680, St. Louis Vocational Teachers’ Union,
extended Local 420’s jurisdiction to include “all eligible teachers in St. Louis and St.
Louis County including vocational and college teachers.” By 1962 its name had been
shortened to St. Louis Teachers Union. The St. Louis Teachers Union experienced great growth between 1961 and 1963, during which period its membership grew from 81 to 1,417. Membership grew in the 1970s after the AFT became sole bargaining agent for teachers and with the inclusion of paraprofessionals and support staff, but internal disputes and unsuccessful strikes led to many resignations and a decline in membership in 1968 and 1976.
Part I of this collection contains office files of the AFT local representing the teachers of St. Louis, Missouri. Correspondence, clippings, minutes, press releases, and other materials dealing with such topics as tenure, desegregation, educational standards, membership drives, and collective bargaining by teachers. Several of the files consist of the records of Betty Finneran as a vice-president of the AFT.
Part II of this collection contains material created or used by Betty Finneran and reflect her activities as well as activities of the union as a whole. Finneran served as president, secretary, and treasurer of Local 420 and founded the Retiree Chapter. Local 420 subjects include a dispute with the Missouri Federation of Teachers, raiding between Local 420 and the local National Education Association chapter, internal disputes among board members, organizing and elections, and desegregation of St. Louis schools. Outside of Local 420, Finneran was involved with the St. Louis Coalition of Labor Union Women and other women's rights efforts.
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