Glens Falls in 1945 — Pigment workers celebrate contract

Unionized workers at Imperial Paper & Color Corp. in Queensbury headed into the post World War II economy with a new contract that increased wages and provided six paid holidays.

About 200 members of United Mine Workers of America Local 12,962 attended a banquet at the Rockwell House Hotel in Glens Falls on Nov. 9, 1945 to celebrate signing of the contract, the terms of which included $43,000 — the equivalent of $615,543 in 2020 dollars — in back pay.

Doc Cook and the “What’s Cookin’ Revue” entertained at the banquet, with a show that included tap dancing, acrobatics and other specialty performances.

A majority of employees had voted in January 1945 to affiliate with UMW, with 181 employees voting to affiliate with UMW, 85 with another union and three with no union.

The local plant, later owned by Ciba-Geigy, flew an Army-Navy production quality flag with two stars — recognizing its three quality defense production awards in December 1943, June 1944 and Feb. 1945.

Undersecretary of War Robert Porter Patterson, a Glens Falls native, wrote in a congratulatory letter to the plant on Feb. 17, 1945: “In maintaining the fine record which first brought you distinction, you have set an inspiring example for your fellow Americans on the production front.”

During World War II, the local plant manufactured napalm, chemicals used in gas masks, and olive drab pigment used in military paint.

During peace time the local company’s products included the green pigment used in printing federal currency and the pigment used in packaging for a major cigarette brand.

Click here to read my most recent previous local labor history post.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY