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Union Organizer   ~   Carl Hacker

The Bulletin Index, October 28, 1937

    "....First to get it in the neck fortnight ago were the plebian, garish hamburger emporiums of Brass Rail Restaurant Co., Pittsburgh owned chain of all-night eateries that goes in heavily for pseudo-Neopolitan atmosphere, 6c hamburgers and 5c beer.  Suddenly one morning Brass Rail windows blossomed with flamboyant, protesting signs and Brass Rail's 175 men & girl employe[e]s began picketing the chain's 11 locked doors.  What happened was difficult to say, for the fuss was not an hour old before charges & counter-charges, voll[e]ying back & forth between Brass Rail's hardboiled little General Manager E. A. DeLucia and the Hotel & Restaurant Employees' International Alliance Local 237's implacable, tall President Carl Hacker, blackened the air.  On the heels of this rumpus, that at week's end was still tightly deadlocked, Union President Hacker pulled 200 waiters, maids, bartenders and kitchen help out on strike at the keystone Hotel, demanding higher wages and a closed shop.  At week's end this dispute had taken on graver proportions, for Keystone's management (Knott Corp.) pronounced itself unable to add $1,700 to its weekly payroll and still meet its bond requirements, prepared to shut down the 20-story hotel for good.
    Event precipitating the Keystone fuss was the signing of a union contract calling for higher wages at the Hotel Pittsburgher, also under Knott Management.  But the Pittsburgher promptly closed its Union Grill, famed political meeting-place, and threw 60 out of work.  For a month similar jitters, retrenchments and closings in the face of the advancing union drive have featured Restaurant Row.  Dimling's Restaurant last week closed down its 2nd floor.  The Hotel Henry Rathskeller, once open until 2 a.m., now closes at 9 p.m., eliminating 20 workers.  The Nixon Restaurant has passed up the luncheon trade to be open only evenings.  The word was retrenchment all up & down fear-inspired Restaurant Row last week.
    Inspirer of that fear was a mild-mannered, intelligent, sleek-haired 6-footer who is rated one of the ablest union organizers in Pennsylvania.  41-year-old, Cleveland-born Carl Hacker, who started out as an auto-factory worker and electrician, came to Pittsburgh in 1929 as organizer for the radical International Labor Defense.  In 1933 he organized the Food Workers Industry Union, piloted it through the Hotel William Penn strike fiasco of 1934.  Thereupon Organizer Hacker, who left school at 13 and is self-taught, decided that he needed more knowledge of the restaurant business, got himself a job as counterman for two years in the Wood Street B & G Sandwich Shop to observe life from the inside.
    Year ago he was ready, quit his job and took over the tasks of special organizer for the Hotel & Restaurant Employees' union.  Oddity of his union is that it is an A.F. of L. affiliate though it is being organized on C.I.O. lines, i.e. dishwashers, cooks, countermen, waiters & waitresses all in one union, plus a close tie-up with the Bartenders' International League, Local 188.  Today Laborman Hacker and 11 organizers have implanted the union firmly in all of Pittsburgh's first-class hotels save the Keystone, have organized nearly 300 restaurants and rolled up a claimed union membership of 4,000.  Sometimes working 14 hours a day, in & out of one conference after another behind the unpainted door of his lower Liberty Avenue office, pale-faced, hard-driving Carl Hacker is currently negotiating with Hotel Webster Hall, Hotel Schenley, Hotel Roosevelt, some 40 to 50 restaurants, feels confident that within a year he will have all of Pittsburgh's potential 10,000 restaurant, hotel and domestic employe[e]s signed up."
(Source:  Excerpt from article, "Restuarants:  Caught Between Fires Of Labor Unionism And The State's 44-Hour Week Is Restaurant Row."  Pittsburgh, State & Nation, The Bulletin Index, October 28, 1937.  Full article available at ASC.)

Election Tomorrow to Be Test; National Officers May Intervene
January 27, 1938

    "For his utterances before a Communist rally at Duquesne Garden Sunday night, Carl Hacker, president of Local 237, Hotel and Restaurant Employes' Alliance, faces arraignment today before the executive committee of the Central Labor Union.
    And tomorrow, Mr. Hacker will seek vindication among his 6000 members in an election fight intensified by his flat declaration to the Communists that William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, is a "labor disrupter." His union is affiliated with the A.F. of L.
    The C.L.U. executive committee, headed by Charles L. Miller, of Engineers' Local 95, planned to convene at 2:30 p.m. to hear Mr. Hacker's version of the attack on Mr. Green, precipitated by the Federation president's insistence that the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor be purged of CIO unions......" (full article available at ASC)

Communist Party Membership Costs Job as Superiors Remove Him
January 29, 1938

    "Carl Hacker's membership in the Communist Party of America cost him his standing in the trade union movement.  His superiors have removed him from presidency of Local 237.  Hotel and Restaurant Employes' Alliance.
    The removal was effected yesterday by Fred H. Rasser, of Cincinnati, vice president of the international union, who came here on orders of President Edward Flore to probe Mr. Hacker's utterance against William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor.
    Mr. Rasser seized control of the local union and installed John Bookjans, secretary-treasurer-business manager and arch-foe of Mr. Hacker, as international representative in charge.  Emerging from a conference with the local's executive board, Mr. Rasser announced:  'The international union has taken over the operation of Local 237 and taken its autonomy.  The local's autonomy will be restored only by President Flore'......" (full article available at ASC)

Wins After Attempt to Sidetrack Him Fails
March 12, 1940

    "Carl Hacker followed up his injunctive coup against hostile elements in the Hotel & Restaurant Employes Alliance yesterday by winning election as business agent of the kitchen department of Local 237.
    Enemies of the man who was unseated as president two years ago for his membership in the Communist Party and criticism of AFL President William Green sought on the eve of the local's election to remove his name from the ballot.
    But Mr. Hecker [Hacker] obtained an injunction Saturday and came through in the election with 362 votes against 37 for Frank Gaglioni, 37 for Charles Kloter and 36 for Albert Casilio, his opponents. The job pays $40 a week......" (full article available at ASC)

Newspaper Clippings Available at the Archives Service Center:

October 28, 1937
Restaurants: Caught Between Fires Of Labor Unionism And The State's 44-Hour Week Is Restaurant Row
(Pittsburgh, State & Nation. The Bulletin Index)

January 24, 1938
Green's Critic Faces Grilling
Communist Head of AFL Union Asked to Explain

January 25, 1938
Scheme to Ruin Unions Charged
Hacker Blames Employers For Ouster Move

January 26, 1938
Hacker Cites Free Speech as His Privilege
U. S. 'Still a Democracy....Communist Says in.....'

January 27, 1938
Hacker Faces Double Fire in Union Dispute
Election Tomorrow to Be Test; National Officers May Intervene

January 27, 1938
Hurting His Own Union

January 28, 1938
Union Delays Hacker Voting
Halts Election as C.L.U. Acts to Expel Communist

January 29, 1938
Hotel Union Fires Hacker as President
Communist Party Membership Costs Job as Superiors Remove Him

January 30, 1938
Hacker is Ousted

January 31, 1938
Hacker to Defend Beliefs at Forum

February 1, 1938
Father Rice, Hacker Debate Communism
Ousted Union Leader Sees Labor Benefits -- Pastor Stresses Perils

February 1, 1938
Hacker Speaks As Communist
Defends Conduct of Union Affairs in Debate With Rev. Charles O. Rice
(Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

February 8, 1938
Hacker's Proposal Refused by Judge

February 9, 1938
Hacker Injunction Postponed

February 21, 1938
Hacker Drops Suit to Regain Union Job

March 14, 1940
Hacker Injunction Hearing Postponed

April 6, 1938
Union Parley Bars Hacker
Ousted Head of Restaurant Workers Stand Outside

November 23, 1938
Hacker Taken Back Into Union
Expelled Communist Reinstated With $25 Fine

November 2, 1939
Communist Head's Wife Quits City Job

February 27, 1940
Red Issue Up In Union Again
Hacker Nominated for Post in Hotel Alliance

March 12, 1940
Hotel Workers Select Hacker
Wins After Attempt to Sidetrack Him Fails

March 21, 1940
Red Saga
(The Bulletin Index)

April 11, 1940
Injunction Postponed on Union Ballot Dispute

May 1, 1940
Union Member Winner in Row
Communist's Name Ordered on Local's Ballot

October 1, 1941
Strike Leader Once Ousted for Assailing Green
Hacker Re-instated by AFL After Many Appeals

Unknown Dates:

Progress Must Continue
Wage Rates Must Be Maintained

February 1
Forum Hears Rice Attack, Hacker Defends Reds

Unionist Tries to Regain Post
Alleged Red, Once Ousted, Seeks Presidency

Catholic Radical Alliance Urges Hacker to Be Ousted