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Alfredo Chávez Montoya Papers

Identifier: MSS-676-BC

Scope and Content

The Alfredo Chávez. Montoya Papers document Montoya's work as a labor organizer in the Southwest, 1940s1970s, with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, the AFL-CIO, the United Steel Workers of America, the Bracero Program, the Asociacin Nacional Mexicano Americano, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Much of Montoya's work was based out of El Paso, Texas, involving the greater Southwest, especially New Mexico, Arizona, and West Texas. The Montoya Papers primarily chronicle over thirty years of labor activity at the national, district and local levels, revealing diverse aspects of labor organizing, political involvement and the internal politics of labor unions. His papers provide an important resource for researchers interested in Mexican-American and Mexican labor history in the Southwest; the relationships between labor, government and the electoral process; as well as race, ethnicity, and gender issues in the labor movement. The collection is divided into twelve series. The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) series, 1977-1997, represents the beginning of another 20 years of Montoya's career. The bulk of this series remains unprocessed.

Bracero Program 1935-1951. Reference materials related to the 1942-1945 labor program initiated by the U.S. government.

Asociación Nacional Mexicano Americano, 1951-1954. Correspondence, financial records, newsletters and reference materials related to Montoya's time with ANMA.

Virginia Montoya, 1952-1953. Personal notebook of Virginia Montoya, wife of Alfredo Montoya. Contents relate to ANMA, the Bracero Program, Ladies' Auxiliary, and the Wallace political campaign.

International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine Mill), 1930-1967. The second largest series in the collection documents 16 years of Mine Mill activity. The four subseries are International and National Administration, District Offices, Local Unions, and Reference Materials. The International and National Administration subseries contains publications and materials related to the executive board and staff, financial records, legal defense, political action and union conventions. The District Offices subseries consists of papers related to Montoya's role as both a Business Agent and an International Representative for Mine Mill, in addition to papers from other International Representatives and materials related to political organizing at the district level. The Local Unions subseries contains materials from local unions 412, 415, 470, 501, 509, 616, 700, 890, 903, Arizona and Nevada locals, and local union councils. The materials include correspondence, proposals, negotiations, agreements, contracts, arbitrations, grievances, and financial records. The last subseries, Reference Materials, consists of a variety of files related to Montoya's work.

United Steelworkers of America (USWA), 1958-1980 . The largest series of the Montoya Papers documents approximately 12 years of USWA activity and history. It is divided into six subseries: International Administration, District 37, District 38, Staff Representative, Local Unions, and National Councils and Committees. The International Administration subseries consists of materials related to the executive board, various departments of the International Office, agreements and negotiations with specific companies, conferences, and union elections. The District 37 subseries contains materials related to union activities at the district level, including correspondence, conferences, and conventions. The District 38 subseries is small, containing papers from campaigns for District Director, Chicano staff meetings, and political action. The Staff Representative subseries is substantial, containing large amounts of Montoya's papers. It is divided into three sections: Office Files, Organizations and Subjects Files and Political Activity. The Office Files section consists of papers largely related to the administrative duties of the Staff Representative. The section of Organizations and Subjects Files contains a large amount of varied material demonstrating the range of activity required of a Staff Representative. The papers and materials include USWA Agreements, various subject files related to Montoya's work, ranging from Air Pollution to Chicano Affairs to Education. This section also includes materials from the large number of organizations that Montoya maintained a membership and/or a leadership position in. The section on Political Activity is largely made up of materials related to the various city, state, and national elections, including voter analysis, voter registration, and campaign materials. The National Councils and Committees subseries is small containing materials from the ASARCO Bargaining Committee, the National Non-Ferrous Bargaining Council and the Phelps-Dodge National Negotiating Committee. The Local Unions subseries includes materials from local unions 501,509,890,903, 2407, and 6352. The materials reflect union activity at the local level, including correspondence, proposals, negotiations, agreements, contracts, arbitrations, grievances, and financial records.

AFL-CIO, 1969-1995. Divided into three subseries--National, Texas, and New Mexico AFL-CIO, the majority of the materials in the National AFL-CIO subseries are publications by the AFL-CIO. The Texas AFL-CIO is the largest of the subseries due to Montoya's location in El Paso.

Pennsylvania State University Oral History Project, 1969-1975. Contains the transcript of a 1969 oral history interview with Alfredo Montoya, plus permissions correspondence.

Consists of the founding documents, first national convention, first newsletters, and other early records of this organization, founded by U.S. Latino trade unionists.

Photographs, 1970.

Restricted, 1966-1976. These files primarily pertain to grievances, arbitration, accident reports, and terminations. Ask CSWR staff for potential access to these boxes.

Oversize, 1953-1971. Contains oversize materials removed from series above.

Newspapers, 1952-1977. This series contains scattered issues of a wide range of Mine Mill, AFL-CIO, and other labor newspapers from around the U.S.


  • 1930-1995
  • Majority of material found within 1950-1980


Language of Materials

English Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research, however, boxes 20-23 are restricted, requiring researchers to sign a consent form prior to gaining access.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Alfredo Chávez Montoya was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 18, 1921. His parents were both originally from rural communities in the central part of the state, and his father worked for the Kennecott Copper mines in Grant County, New Mexico in the 1920s and 30s. Alfredo Montoya graduated from high school in Silver City in 1941, after which he attended the University of New Mexico. At the end of his junior year, he took a summer job working for the Bracero Program, the federal program to provide Mexican agricultural labor in the U.S. during WW II. Through contact with the Mexican laborers, Mr. Montoya was introduced to concepts of labor organizing and collective action. Instead of returning to college, he continued his work with the Bracero program in Colorado and then Oregon, where he met and married Virginia, who worked as a nurse for the Bracero program. After additional time at the University of New Mexico in 1948 and an early run for political office in Bernalillo County on the Progressive Party ticket, Mr. Montoya moved back into the labor organizing that would occupy the rest of his career, focusing on improving the lives of Spanish-speaking people in the Southwest and throughout the U.S.

Alfredo C. Montoya helped found the Asociación Nacional Mexicano Americano (ANMA) in 1949, when it was headquartered in Los Angeles, California. As president of ANMA, Montoya traveled the Southwest, setting up local chapters, promoting an international Latin-American perspective, and developing a broad program focused on social issues, discrimination, police brutality, immigrant and migrant labor, and political representation for Spanish-speaking communities. ANMA worked closely with labor unions, including the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine Mill). ANMA eventually moved to Denver, where Mine Mill had its headquarters. ANMA was declared a subversive organization by the McCarthy-era U.S. government in 1953 and dissolved the following year.

Mr. Montoya next went to work for the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine Mill), the progressive labor union that grew out of the Western Federation of Miners. Mine-Mill represented thousands of Spanish-speaking workers in the El Paso, Texas and Grants, New Mexico areas alone, and was at the time the largest union in the non-ferrous metals industry. The struggles of Mine Mill against Empire Zinc in the early 1950s are the subject of the classic labor film, Salt of the Earth. In 1953, Mr. Montoya moved to El Paso to work on a successful campaign to defeat a Steelworkers raid on the Mine Mill membership there. The assignment turned into a position with Mine Mill in El Paso as an International Representative. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Mine Mill's work was instrumental in getting federal mine safety legislation passed, in eliminating regional wage differentials in the industry, and in winning basic insurance and pension benefits for its members. Mr. Montoya and Mine Mill also worked to register Mexican Americans voters, and they became an important political force in regions like El Paso and Grants.

In 1967, Mine Mill merged with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) of the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Alfredo Montoya began as a staff person for the USWA in El Paso and worked for them and the AFL-CIO for the next decade. His work concentrated on supporting the locals in their grievances and arbitrations, and with increasing involvement with the Texas AFL-CIO. He was named Vice President of District 13 in 1975. In this capacity, he interacted with numerous unions, including the United Farm Workers and Amalgamated Clothing Workers. In addition, Mr. Montoya became intensively involved with politics through labor’s political action committees (PAC's), and Committee on Political Education (COPE). He helped organize major voter registration drives in El Paso and elsewhere, often turning out swing votes in favor of Spanish-speaking and Democratic candidates. In 1972, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Mr. Montoya also worked extensively with local government and charities in the El Paso area in his position as Staff Representative.

In 1973, a new organization, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) was formed with support from the AFL-CIO. LCLAA was formed by U.S. trade unionists "of Latin descent," to promote "participation by Hispanic trade unionists in a more responsive labor movement" ( Montoya served as one of the organization’s first executive directors in Washington, D.C. from1977 until 1997, when he retired to El Paso, Texas.


27 boxes (25.6 cu. ft.) plus 1 oversize folder


The collection documents a half-century of labor organizing in the Southwestern United States and nationally, 1940s-1990s, with a primary focus on the Latino labor movement of the United States. The papers include the union activities of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, the AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers of America, the Bracero Program, the Asociación Nacional Mexicano Americano, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).


12 series:
  1. Bracero Program, 1935-1951
  2. Asociación Nacional Mexicano Americano, 1951-1954
  3. Virginia Montoya, 1952-1953
  4. International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine Mill),1930-1967
  5. United Steelworkers of America (USWA), 1958-1980
  6. AFL-CIO, 1969-1995
  7. Pennsylvania State University Oral History Project, 1969-1975
  8. Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), 1973-1984
  9. Photographs,1956-1970
  10. Restricted
  11. Oversize, 1953-1971
  12. Newspapers, 1952-1977

Related Archival Materials

Center for Regional Studies and the Center for Southwest Research Fellows presentation, F. Scott Worman.

Western Federation of Miners, International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Records. Central office, district, and some local records, 1893-1975 (bulk 1940s-1967). 866 boxes, ca. 500 volumes University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

Francine Cronshaw Collection Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico.

Processing Information

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed addition - 102 boxes, B3-12A.
Finding Aid of the Alfredo Chavez Montoya Papers, 1930-1995
Edited Full Draft
A. Massmann
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding provided by the University of New Mexico Libraries, Center for Regional Studies

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131