3M & Labor

Working for Job Betterment

The majority of employees in the Saint Paul Plant worked in the factories and received hourly pay. The company sought to offer competitive wages and working conditions comparable to other companies and factories in the area.

Before the hourly employees were unionized, the company worked with the 3M Employees’ Association on “employment and working conditions, wages and cost of living, safety and prevention of accidents, health and plant sanitation, hours of labor, recreation and athletics, and other matters of mutual interest and benefit.” The association was founded in 1933, two years before Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act.

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.), an umbrella union organization, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about the legality of the 3M Employees’ Association. As a result, the association was dissolved at the end of 1943. The hourly employees joined Local 75 of the Gas and Coke Workers Union, C.I.O. in 1944. By that time, the standard work week was 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, with time and a half pay for overtime.

One of the chief union organizers was Joseph E. Karth, who joined 3M in 1941. After serving in the military, he returned to 3M. He was elected president of Local 75 in 1948, serving until 1958. He was also a member of the Minnesota State House of Representatives between 1950 and 1958. He was then elected to the U.S. Congress representing the 4th District in 1958. He served until 1977.

3M was proud of its good management-employee relationships. In 1946, President William L. McKnight noted that there had never been a work stoppage at the Saint Paul Plant. That record was halted by a bitter two-month strike in the fall of 1967.

Since 1999, unionized employees have been represented by the United Steelworkers.

Images

3M Employees Exit Streetcar at Saint Paul Campus

3M Employees Exit Streetcar at Saint Paul Campus

Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

"Research Makes Jobs"

"Research Makes Jobs"

An unending cycle of product research, development and manufacturing created a boom in 3M employment. | Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Women At Work

Women At Work

Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

"Employees Entrance"

"Employees Entrance"

Employees head to work for the day. | Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Men and Machinery

Men and Machinery

Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Men and Machinery

Men and Machinery

Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Man and Machinery

Man and Machinery

Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Employees as Stockholders

Employees as Stockholders

Louis Anderson (right) of rubber compounding receives the first share under a new employee stock purchase plan from John L. Connolly in 1950. At left is the plan's first administrator, Irwin R. Hansen. | Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Werner von Braun and Joseph E. Karth

Werner von Braun and Joseph E. Karth

Werner von Braun (right) with U.S. Congressman Joseph E. Karth during a visit to 3M. Joseph E. Karth was one of the chief union organizers had joined 3M in 1941. After serving in the military, he returned to 3M and was elected president of Local 75 in 1948, serving until 1958. He went on to serve as a State Representative (1950-58) and U.S. Congressman (1958-77). | Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

United Steelworkers

United Steelworkers

Since 1999, unionized employees have been represented by the United Steelworkers. | Source: Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Marjorie Pearson, Summit Envirosolutions, Inc., “3M & Labor,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed June 23, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/394.

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