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Julius Hoesterey

If Julius Hoesterey, for many years active both on the labor front and in municipal affairs in Rochester, can be said to champion any one cause, it is the cause of education. More education and a better grade of it would be his motto. Bearing out his firm belief in the value of a good education, Mr. Hoesterey, at the age of 52, is still studying and going to school, with a view to understanding the complicated political, social and economic forces which impel progress in our daily life.

Born in Jersey City, June 22, 1887, Mr. Hoesterey moved to Rochester sometime later with his parents. He attended East High School here for two years, went to night school for 12 years, and studied business administration at Mechanics Institute evenings for several years following. His present plans include entrance in the University of Rochester, Extension Division, where he expects to study government, economics and social, political and business problems.

Since education in itself does not provide one with an earning capacity, Mr. Hoesterey apprenticed himself to the lithographers’ trade in 1903. The following year he became a member of the lithographers’ union in Rochester and is today the only living member of the original organization in the city, in addition to being a charter member of the union as of its reorganization in 1909.

As a member of the union, he held the office of recording and corresponding secretary from 1907 to 1915, was president of the local from 1915 to 1926, and acted on the executive board from 1907 to 1930. He has been a delegate, also, to the Central Trades and Labor Council (AFL) on and off for a number of years, and steadily since 1935.

Employed in the lithographing department of E. E. Fairchild Corporation, Mr. Hoesterey is said to be the only superintendent in his trade who holds a union card. To discover the reason for his early sympathy with labor’s cause it is not necessary to look beyond the influence of his father, now a retired lithographer. “My father has been a staunch union man all his life, always in the forefront of labor’s ranks, and always fighting for its advance,” Mr. Hoesterey explained.

Realizing early that labor’s fight required informed union members, workers with a knowledge of vital affairs, Mr. Hoesterey organized and was chairman of the trade union education league in 1919. The outgrowth of this movement was the establishment in 1920 of Rochester’s first labor college, through the combined efforts of Hoesterey and Paul Blanchard, at the time in charge of education for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in Rochester. The college, which at one time had an enrollment of 1,400 students, ceased automatically in 1926 when both sponsors left the city. But it accomplished before its demise several worthwhile objectives.

After the establishment of the labor college, labor unions for the first time opened their doors to speakers and lecturers other than trade unionists. By its own example the college broke down the precedent that political and economic problems were not to be discussed at union meetings.

On the faculty of the labor college were many eminent, liberal Rochester educators, including Father Staub, Rabbi Wolff, Dr. Dexter Perkins, Bishop Hickey, Jacob Stein and Dr. Algernon Crapsey. Among the noted guests who attended mass meetings and debates sponsored by the college were Booker T. Washington, Reverend John Haynes Holmes, Clarence Darrow and the LaFollettes, senior and junior.

Simultaneous with the setting up of the educational league, Mr. Hoesterey joined James L. Brewer in an effort to organize a Farmer-Labor party in Rochester and ran for the office of mayor on the party’s ticket in 1920. One of the principal planks of the platform at the time was the establishment of the council-manager form of municipal government. He later sponsored the city manager league and was nominated to the city council, serving from 1934 to 1937. As a councilman he was chairman of the public works and the public utilities committees. More recently he helped Charles Stanton organize the Citizens’ Party.

Mentioning that his own union is today an entirely industrial form of organization, having developed from the semi-industrial form it took with the 1909 reorganization, Mr. Hoesterey decried the present conflict between the craft and industrial types of unions. “The industrial system is the only sound and practical form of organization,” he stated. “The breach between the AFL and CIO is a dangerous situation,” he continued, adding that it stems from the difference of opinion on top, among the leaders, rather than among the rank and file.

“If labor is to continue developing and making progress it must put its own house in order,” he remarked, noting that there is today too much concern among the leaders of labor about holding a few jobs. “For our democracy to maintain itself,” he added, “labor must prepare to take its place in the industrial and political life of the nation, based on constructive work, education, and the careful selection of its leaders, otherwise it holds itself liable for the establishment of some form of dictatorship, either proletarian or fascist.”

Discussing the trend toward a decreasing number of local publications, Mr. Hoesterey protested against the domination of a community by a single editorial policy and influence. “The more diverse public expression of opinion on questions affecting the general public, the more progress we will have,” he declared. He noted however, that labor gets a “fair break” in general news coverage.

Returning to a topic of special interest to him, Mr. Hoesterey condemned the presence of the patronage-spoils system in educational affairs. “It is absolutely essential that citizens force both political parties to agree on a strictly non-partisan basis for selection of members of the Board of Education — selection on the basis of merit,” he emphasized. “And labor should have a place on the Board,” he added, “to represent its particular view-point and stress the need for vocational training.”

Julius Hoesterey’s recreation differs very little from his daily pursuits, and centers around a rabid interest in political expression and knowledge of local, national and international affairs. He admits to occasional baseball playing, swimming and fishing and indicates his widespread interests by listing membership in the Masons, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Steuben Society of America, German-American Alliance and Turn Verein.