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Charles Long

Charlie Long, shoe worker, has run the gamut of jobs in the industry and posts in various shoe workers’ unions in the 21 years he’s been in the field.

Starting as a punch press operator in the Empire Last Co., at the age of 17, during the World War, he’s tried his hand at almost every step in the manufacture of shoes. When the Knights of Labor merged with the United Shoe Workers of America, Long worked for the Utz & Dunn Shoe Co. under a temporary permit as an apprentice.

Migrating in 1919, to Lynn, Mass., where he worked for the Cushing Shoe Company, Long performed pre-organization work in the shop and office work. He received his first union permit, in the United Shoe Workers of America, Mixed Local 54, in the following year and moved from one job to another. When the Golden Rule Shoe Company, a co-operative venture, was begun in 1923, in Lynn, by his uncle, the late James Daly, known as “Golden Rule Daly,” Long was a member of the original committee of four which started the project.

During those years, shoe workers’ organizations experienced numerous ups and downs, mergers took place, independent unions were formed.

Having received an honorable withdrawal card from Local 54 in 1920, Long later joined the Amalgamated Shoe Workers of America, which subsequently merged with the United Shoe Workers Union.

While working for the Davis Shoe Co. in Lynn as a member of the AFL Boot and Shoe Union, Long experienced his first strike. He returned to Rochester shortly afterwards and again moved from company to company, performing all kinds of operations in the manufacture of shoes.

Rochester shoe workers were continually active attempting to organize, but no stable union seemed to result. In several places he worked, Long lost his job because of union activity — few companies were organized at the time.

He participated in a strike in 1931, protesting a company’s request for workers to sign yellow dog contracts, and as a result was out of work for a year and a half.

At his next job, he joined the United Shoe and Leather Workers’ Union on the quiet and organization, just among the cutters, began in earnest and with success. He became a member of the CIO United Shoe Workers of America, a merger of the U.S. and L. workers in 1937, participating in a successful sit down strike in the same year. He works at present for the E.P. Reed Shoe Co.

As a member of Cutters Local 144, CIO United Shoe Workers Union, Long became particularly active in union work. He served as a delegate to the New York State CIO convention in New York City in 1938. He was secretary of his local and committeeman for yearly contract negotiations with the E.P. Reed Co. He served also as delegate to Joint Council No. 10 from his local.

During the past year he has been delegate to and recording-corresponding secretary of the Industrial Union Council. He was chairman of his local and press representative of the Shoe Workers’ Union. When the national convention of the United Shoe Workers of America was held here last fall, Long, as delegate to the convention, was chairman of the convention rules committee, selected speakers and introduced the significant resolution on the Bata Shoe Co., which was ratified by the body.

In the year to come he will serve once more as delegate to the Industrial Union Council and delegate to Joint Council No. 10 from his local.

From his many years as a worker and unionist, Charles Long finds certain truths to be self evident. He expresses his union philosophy as follows:

“I have yet to find an old parchment or a record which states who was the originator or conceiver of unionism; although many claim it, none can authentically prove it. It is a truth handed down through the ages by advancing civilization, owing its origin to no one in particular, but emerging ever before the minds of men that they should learn the lesson that they are their brother’s keeper. Unionism provides the anvil upon which labor and capital can forge their destiny in peace and harmony with each other in their endeavors, as men were created to create, and not to destroy, that which God inspired, the Bill of Rights and Constitution of the United States, and the brotherhood of man.”

On the lighter side of the ledger, Long admits he is one of the fifth generation of Longs, who were early Rochester settlers. He enjoys playing chess, and has made a hobby collecting labor leaders’ autographs, hoping some day to pin down some of the international men.

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