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As It Was: “Clear It With Marjorie” Barnes Organizes Culinary Union


The Rogue Valley population more than doubled between 1942 and 1945, mainly due to construction and opening of the Camp White army training base east of Medford, Ore.  The valley experienced an acute shortage of workers.
Yet, the newly formed Culinary Alliance 1043, a union of waitresses, bartenders, and dishwashers, had only 82 members and no contracts in its first two years.  That is when Marjorie Barnes took over and earned the nickname, “Clear it with Marjorie” Barnes.

After a period of preparations, Barnes met with 16 members of the Hotel and Restaurant Association who agreed to work with union labor and union conditions for a year with no contract.  At the end of the year, everyone signed up with the Culinary Alliance.

By the end of World War II, there were 600 union members and 50 restaurants and bars in Medford with union contracts.  By 1949 there were still nearly 400 members of the Culinary Alliance and every one of them that wanted work had a job.

Barnes became statewide head of the Culinary Alliance of Oregon and was a highly respected member of the local Central Labor Council.

Source: ""Marjorie and Dorothy" Make a Grand Team While Running Culinary Alliance." Medford News, Mar. 1949, p. 1.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.