On December 6, 1933, a charter was granted by the American Federation of Labor (the A.F. of L.) to organize the Theatrical Attendants Union Local 19102 in San Francisco. This was a mixed local comprising ushers, box office cashiers, ticket takers and wardrobe personnel. This “B” local was soon taken into the I.A.T.S.E. (A “B” local is a special department local, in this instance box office or backstage.)
The San Francisco International Exposition on Treasure Island in 1939 – 1940 provided a great opportunity to recruit new members. The war years 1941 – 1945 also saw a boom in theatrical productions in San Francisco. Members Inez Hall and Ruth Conley, among others, saw an opportunity to form an independent wardrobe local. This charter was granted February 13, 1945 by the International President Richard Walsh and it listed twenty-two members.
The first general meeting for Local 784 was held March 7, 1945. The first Constitution and By-laws were unanimously approved. The first President of the local was Al Maas who served from 1945 until 1962, and the first Business Agent was Bill Sutherland who served from 1945 until 1974. The hourly and show rates were set on a yearly basis by vote of the membership and rate cards were then published. These rates applied to all employers.
By the 1970’s when Ada Philpot was Business Agent, this system had evolved to negotiated contracts with individual employers that allowed for more specific rates and conditions tailored to each venue. “Outside” rate sheets for non-specific venues are still set by the vote of the membership. Industrial and product demonstration shows have rates and conditions that mirror entertainment industry practice nationwide.Business Agent Philpot, as well as Business Agents Dorothy Priest in Los Angeles and Fredda Briant in New York, became very powerful and pushed the theatrical wardrobe locals to prominence in the International.