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Walter B. Fogarty

When a man quits jobs right and left because of low pay and long hours, you can be sure he has strong trade union convictions.

Walter B. Fogarty, business agent of the United Shoe Workers (CIO) in Rochester since they were organized in 1937, is just such a man. Because he felt that reasonable working hours and fair pay are necessary for a man to maintain his self-respect, he has left numerous jobs “in protest against conditions.”

Fogarty was first exposed to the shoe manufacturing business and the problems of shoe workers when he started work for the John Kelly Shoe Factory, in Mill and Andrews Streets, before the turn of the century. Working long hours for $3 a week, he became convinced of the need for workers to assert their right to organize to protect their economic interests.

Leaving that factory after a short time, he migrated to Chicago. His next stop was a shoe factory in North Adams, Mass., where he fell in love and married. He is now the father of 5 sons and 5 daughters. Today the sons are organized as a family bowling team.

While working in North Adams, he became affiliated with the AFL Boot and Shoe Workers Union.

He returned to Rochester with his family in 1904 and worked as a street car conductor and at various other jobs for a while. Eventually, he returned to his trade as a shoe maker in the Kelly factory where he remained until 1922, when labor difficulties forced him along with many others to seek other employment. At that time he bought a truck and began an ice and coal business which one of his sons runs today.

Meanwhile, the various independent shoe unions of the country were moving to weld their forces into one union. The Amalgamated Shoe Workers Union resulted from four shoe workers conventions, the first in Chicago, the second in Rochester and the other two in Boston.

Elected general president of the organization with offices in Boston, Fogarty was re-elected to office after serving for a year. But the attempt to weld the shoe unions of the country failed for a number of reasons.

Following the failure of the Amalgamated in 1926, Fogarty obtained work in the Chrysler plant in Detroit where he cut gears. There was no auto workers union there at the time. Later he returned to Rochester and held a civil service job working for four years as a fireman for the Board of Education.

Early in 1937, Fogarty became active in the Independent United Shoe and Leather Workers Union, and served on the general executive board for one term. In the same year, however, this union merged with the Protective Shoe Workers to form the new, aggressive United Shoe Workers of America, and Fogarty began his duties as a business agent.

He is associated with Joseph Salatino, financial secretary and business agent, in the organization and adjustment work of Rochester Joint Council 10 of the CIO shoe unions of this city with an office at 286 West Main Street. This council covers approximately 1,400 paid members of the shoe workers union and is represented in E.P. Reed, C.P. Ford, William Hiber, F.A. Kunhert, Artisan Shoe, and Chestborough shoe factories.

Fogarty, a native Rochesterian, attended St. Patrick’s Parochial School and began to work at an early age. He likes to play the union game on the square, and lists no hobbies. He considers peace in the shoe industry here a tribute to CIO administration, and is proud of the cordial relations of the union with employers.