This small collection contains minutes of the district council and memorabilia of Mr. Bowles.
Otto Bowles was born October 19, 1904, to Lon and Cora Bowles in Lawrence County, Missouri. He served in the Navy from 1923 to 1929. He then moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he started working in construction as a laborer. He joined Laborer’s Union local 676 in 1938, serving as a steward on such jobs as the construction of the U. S. Medical Center and O’Reilly Hospital. In 1941 he was asked to serve as the secretary treasurer of the local, and accepted the job. Shortly afterward, the local’s business agent was drafted into the Army, and Bowles held both offices until 1943. He also served as business manager of the Building and Construction Trades Council in Springfield. In 1947, he quit both union posts in Springfield to become business manager of the Greater Kansas City District Laborers’ Council.
His job as business manager for the district was to organize and assist local unions in over 50 counties in western Missouri. When he took the job, there were only three local contractors that had agreements with the union in his territory, but by the end of 1949 there were 90 to 100 contractors signed.
In the early 1960s, the council expanded to include all of Kansas and in 1966 was renamed the Western Missouri and Kansas District Laborers’ Council. Kansas was a right to work state, so organizing efforts intensified in the district.
Between 1962 and 1966, Bowles assisted in a huge organizing effort near Sedalia, Missouri, where 150 missile silos and 15 control centers were built by union labor as part of the Minuteman missile project.
In 1975, Bowles retired. He died on May 7, 1998.
See the collection's finding aid for more information.