The Dayton Union News began in 1940 as a collaborative, biweekly publication sponsored by local chapters of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) in Montgomery County, Ohio. Members of industrial unions, like UE, organized together in order to negotiate protections and benefits on behalf of all laborers, regardless of skill or craft. Participating unions in the Dayton Union News included those at Delco, Frigidaire, and NCR (National Cash Register Company), all companies that either started or found notable success in Dayton. As a union newspaper, most of the newspaper’s article content related to general labor news on a local and national level, announcing conferences and holiday parties with equal enthusiasm. With a strong community focus, Dayton Union News dedicated sections to each of its participating unions, publically celebrating their success. It also disseminated legislative news, and urged members to act on proposals and participate in politics. The phrase “Be wise—organize!” appeared several times on each page, separating articles. Single-panel cartoons often illustrated political events on later pages.
As the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), which governed UE, gained more traction nationally, the paper changed its title to the Dayton CIO News, and later to the Dayton AFL-CIO News when the CIO and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) merged to form the AFL-CIO. The CIO had begun as a group of unionists who wanted better protections for unskilled laborers working in mass production. They split from the AFL in 1938 citing a lack of support from the parent organization due to its focus on skilled laborers. In 1955, the two rejoined to better represent the interests of all workers, despite a lingering divide between craft and industrial union philosophies.
Of top priority to the publishers was providing information and commentary relevant to Montgomery County laborers. When the Second World War began, larger portions of the newspaper’s focus were dedicated to how wartime industry benefitted or potentially threatened union efforts. One benefit can be seen in the page count of the paper itself, which increased from four pages in 1940 to about 12 pages in 1943. With more space, the paper accommodated a greater variety of articles and advertisements, expanding its focus to promote local commerce in addition to union news. This newspaper appears to have ceased publication, although the exact date is uncertain.
Researched and written by Jen Cabiya