Professional & Technical Employees, Local 17 records
The history of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers or IFPTE, can be traced back to 1914, when technical employees had no significant union representation. The first organization of technical employees was the Society of Marine Draftsmen, established in 1913 and ran by the upper management of the shipbuilding companies. The Society held its first convention in 1914, approving some minor resolutions while refusing wage increases. The Society disbanded shortly after, but the employees at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia seized the opportunity to form their own union, Draftsmen Union No, 15327, with a charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). These organized employees later became IFPTE, Local 1, becoming one of the first official federal unions. In less than four years, Draftsmen Union No, 15327, expanded to become the International Federation of Draftsmen's Unions founded on July 1, 1918 when the AFL granted another charter to start a new labor organization representing technical engineering employees. The International Federation of Draftsmen's Unions charters included Local 1, Portsmouth, Virginia; Local 2, New York, New York; Local 3, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Local 4, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Local 5, Newport, Rhode Island; Local 6, Charleston, South Carolina; Local 7, Quincy, Massachusetts; Local 8, Vallejo, California; and Local 12, Bremerton, Washington.
On October 24, 1927, the Seattle Association of Technical Engineers and Architects, Local 17, joined the Federation. In the early 1940s, Local 17 gained jurisdiction over the entire state of Washington in order to more effectively represent the needs of professional engineers in the region. At this time, the Local’s official name was changed to the Technical Engineers and Architects Association. From 1955 to 1973, the Federation went by the American Federation of Technical Engineers (AFTE), and Local 17’s name changed again to the Professional and Technical Engineers Association.
Since the 1970s, Local 17 has expanded its representation to include a wider range of job classifications – from nurses, social workers, and health specialists, to real estate appraisers, transportation planners, environmental specialists to engineers. By 1980, there were 3400 members. The Local 17 governing body voted in 2010 to separate from the Federation, whose membership costs had become increasingly unsustainable, and whose leadership was unresponsive to the priorities of Local 17 and its members. At this time, the name was changed to Professional and Technical Employees, instead of Engineers, to more accurately reflect the professional diversity of the membership. Since that time, the organization has expanded its reach into Oregon and continues to grow. Today, PTE Local 17 represents nearly 9,000 public employees across Washington and Oregon.
These records are arranged into eleven series: compensation and class specifications, meeting notes, financial records, Puget Sound Power and Light Company, letters, agreements, organizing services, San Francisco chapter, union-related publications, 2000 convention, and union paraphernalia. Compensation and class specifications provide insight into the duties, titles, salary, and benefits of technical workers from 1928 to 1964. Financial records were arranged by year. Puget Sound Power and Light Company includes organization charts, National Labor Relations Board petition and briefs, and information on strike issues. Letters were arranged by topic and date. Agreements include multiple contracts concerning trade workers: Coulee Dam engineers, Pacific Coast Shipbuilders, public utilities workers, log scalers, technical engineers, architects, and the Seattle Metal Trades Council. Organizing services is divided between Boeing-related literature and general organizing letters and reports. Union-related publications include membership materials, copies of biographical drafts, and IFPTE’s West Coast Engineer Newsletters arranged by date, from 1981-1996. Union paraphernalia contains a labor songbook and photo negatives on wooden printing blocks.