Monroe NY – Glimpses of the past: Monroe Tube Company

I thought it would be fun to share glimpses into the history of Monroe NY, specifically to address those businesses or homes where a passerby might remark, “hmmm, I wonder what that was?”  Anything I share will be my interpretation of details I’m able to uncover, and I’ll provide pictures as well.  Future blogs might cover businesses which were here in the 1800s, but for today, this history comes from the 20th century.

Monroe Tube CompanyA walk down the Heritage rail trail near the Monroe, NY Crane Park, will take you past some obviously unused factory buildings.  The buildings are surrounded in part by fences, but graffiti has found its way onto some of the property. Windows are broken and plants are growing where plants don’t belong.  The property was obviously a bustling business at some point in the past, so I did a bit of research to find out what was there, and when.

In April 1943, a company called the Monroe Tube Company was established at this site to manufacture metal tubing in the twelve buildings which encompassed 76,982 square feet.  The Monroe Tube Company was officially terminated October 1989, and the buildings have been left vacant and unused until now. The end.

Well, I thought that was going to be the extent of this blog, but I was able to find that the company had a brush with the Court, and the results of the Court decision has been cited in many other cases since.

In the mid-1970s, the company became embroiled in a lawsuit regarding union issues.  In August 1973, the union began a drive to organize Monroe Tube.  Employees completed union authorization cards.  Subsequently, the president of the company held a meeting of all employees, and he advised them that signing the cards would have serious legal consequences, and that he would have a follow-up meeting to explain further.  In the interim, some factory employees were approached by management, and were asked (somewhat forcefully it was suggested) to withdraw their union authorization cards.

Monroe Tube buildingsA few days later, the president met with the employees again, and ensured they understood that the company was the one that paid their wages and provided benefits, and that the union did not.  He then provided a detailed explanation of their rights to get the signed authorization cards back from the union if they wanted to.  One specific management employee continued to press employees for the next few months to get their cards back.

On the days before the union vote was scheduled, the president again met with his staff, repeating his previous speech, and also told them that Monroe Tube Co. was not financially healthy and it had difficulty competing with other companies because of the age of production equipment and its Monroe location, and that he had considered selling the business. The very next day, the employees voted, and the union vote was turned down.

monroe tube company buildingsThe Union then filed objections, followed by the filing of an unfair labor practice charge, specifically surrounding what they saw as the company’s “unlawful” solicitation of employees to withdraw their authorization cards.  The National Labor Relations Board won their lawsuit.  Monroe Tube was directed to stop interfering with employee’s desires to approve a union, and they were also directed to allow another election.

The company appealed, and after reviewing the details, the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals rendered a decision in November 1976 that the “supervisor” who was pressing employees to get their cards back wasn’t an official supervisor after all, that no employees were forced to make changes to their authorization cards, and that, therefore, no new election was mandated.

So for forty plus years, Monroe Tube Company quietly made metal tubing, and with the exception of that short three or four year court battle, stayed out of the news.

So now you know!

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