Harry and Roy Aitken Papers, 1909-1940

Contents List

Container Title
Series: Interview with William Conners, July 27, 1984
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:35
Early Life
Scope and Content Note: Born in Madison. Raised on South Side. Left school early because of family illness and finances. Worked in shoe shop. Decided to learn a trade.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   01:45
Apprenticeship
Scope and Content Note: Found bricklaying work with contractor for $.50 an hour. 5 1/2 day week. Served four-year apprenticeship.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:35
Craft Pride
Scope and Content Note: Loved trade. Boss contractor emphasized pride in work.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   03:45
Apprenticeship (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Worked for one contractor. Union supervised the program.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   05:20
Description of Job
Scope and Content Note: Learned trade in home construction--also worked on churches and small stores. Discusses bricklaying. Making mortar, slacking lime. Changes in making mortar.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:45
Winter Layoffs
Scope and Content Note: Stopped work in November. Covered walls for winter. Contrasts to today. Most bricklayers cut ice or worked in tobacco warehouses during winter. He worked in foundry.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   10:05
Depression
Scope and Content Note: Personal situation--no work for 13 months. General description of national New Deal programs. Work relief at Breese Stevens Field. Compares Depression to conditions in 1980s. Says union had no problem with WPA programs--didn't undercut conditions. Discusses credit from grocer and landlord.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   15:10
Workloads
Scope and Content Note: Rejects notion of union quotas. For some intricate fireplace work perhaps able to lay only 75 bricks a day. For blind walls without windows maybe able to lay 1000 bricks a day. Describes different types of bricklayers.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   18:25
Labor Day Parades
Scope and Content Note: Marching units. Floats--demonstrate craft. Prominence of building trades.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   19:35
Union Involvement
Scope and Content Note: Local, state, and international offices. Becomes Doorkeeper for Local 13 in 1930. Fifth Vice President of international in 1952. International Secretary in 1966. Lists community activities. Others in Local 13 recruited him to serve as Doorkeeper.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   23:15
Madison Labor Movement
Scope and Content Note: Importance, strength, solidarity of Building Trades Alliance.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   25:00
Local 13
Scope and Content Note: Approximately 100 members. Growth with Badger Ordnance job in Baraboo--large number of out-of-town bricklayers. Large meetings at Labor Temple. Banquets. Pins awarded to longtime members.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:35
Member Involvement
Scope and Content Note: Limited membership involvement. Mentions committees.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   01:30
Lists Local Labor Leaders
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   02:50
Madison Labor
Scope and Content Note: Building trades--the backbone. General overview of craft and industrial unionism. Uncertain why CIO so weak in Madison.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   05:35
Union Gains
Scope and Content Note: Eight-hour day. Apprenticeship laws. Social security. Stresses labor's role. Gains by Local 13--travel expenses for out-of-town jobs, insurance. Gains under attack by Reagan.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   10:25
Jobs Outside Madison
Scope and Content Note: As bricklayer, always worked inside Wisconsin. Sometimes out of town for two or three months as a time (maybe returned home on weekends). Paid own expenses.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   11:40
Lists Other AFL Locals in Madison in 1920s
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   12:35
Building Trades, Strength
Scope and Content Note: Well organized. Doubts non-union bricklayers worked in Madison. At membership meetings, questions asked about who was working on particular jobs. If any question, union official investigates.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   14:10
Job Referrals
Scope and Content Note: Union not guarantee work. Try send out members on first-in/first-out basis. Hiring hall in 1940s or 1950s.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   16:40
Local Union Officials
Scope and Content Note: No full-time paid staff during 1930s. Deputies (business agents) worked as bricklayers--paid union scale by Local 13 when leave job to work on union business.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   17:55
Lessons
Scope and Content Note: Be honest with members. Importance of voting.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   19:45
Rapport with Contractors
Scope and Content Note: Value of labor-management cooperation.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   21:00
New Materials
Scope and Content Note: Metal, glass, concrete panels reduce jobs for bricklayers. Also precast brick panels--most made in organized shops by union bricklayers.
End of Interview
Series: Interview with Robert Schultz, August 8, 1984
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   01:20
Working at Oscar's
Scope and Content Note: Few other jobs available. Low pay.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   02:05
Trimming Department
Scope and Content Note: Describes job. Good place so far as temperature. Bonus system. Bonus lower on killing floor.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   04:25
Uneven Work
Scope and Content Note: Layoffs. Early fall, sometimes work two hours a day. Rush starts late October or early November. Favoritism--“no set hours at all before the union.” No recourse. During busy season, work until 6:30 or 9:00 at night. If no room for all livestock, feed and put back in railroad cars. Stockyards dusty. Plenty of work until March. Some recalled for June rush.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   08:10
Trimming Department (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Toughest job was scraping resin. Changes in work--improved technology makes work easier.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   10:05
Sitdowns
Scope and Content Note: In 1928, got rid of foreman who refused to allow injured worker to go for first aid. Early 1930s, two sitdowns over pay cuts. After first one, company promised no cuts for one year but Chicago office ordered another cut after three months. Sat down again, but threats force them back to work.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   11:45
Depression Conditions
Scope and Content Note: No recourse for grievances. Short weeks. Some have pay cut to $.38 per hour (partially restored under NRA).
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   13:30
Organizing Issues
Scope and Content Note: No recourse for layoffs--no seniority rights.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   14:10
Organizing
Scope and Content Note: Help from others including UW students. Information sheets. Organizers from all over the plant but main activists worked in trimming, cut and kill.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   15:20
Stoolpigeons
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   16:40
Union Chartered
Scope and Content Note: Hold open meetings. Membership declines to a “handful” because not getting any results.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   17:10
Strike Decision
Scope and Content Note: Wildcat. International refused to authorize because afraid of losing the local. Only 51 percent of voters backed strike. But activists felt had to act.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   17:45
Women
Scope and Content Note: Limited role in organizing at first.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   18:50
Company Policy Towards Union
Scope and Content Note: Refused to talk prior to strike. Discusses individual foremen.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   20:15
Strike
Scope and Content Note: May 31, 1934. WPA workers dump logs and rocks to block entrance and slow down police cars. Police threaten injunction unless obstacles removed. Strikers clear roadway--fear would lose strike if injunction. Arrests.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   23:50
Workers' Response
Scope and Content Note: Almost all honor lines although only 12 paid up members (out of 350 workers) at time of strike.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   24:40
Company Response
Scope and Content Note: Workers refuse to return until union recognized. Oscar Mayer decides to settle--strike gives firm a “black eye.”
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   25:35
Settlement
Scope and Content Note: Recognition. No discrimination. Seniority.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   26:25
Reprisals
Scope and Content Note: Prominent, highly visible unionists fired. Spy had fooled some and taken names at meeting. Ten fired. No action by union--not risk losing the local. Others forced out.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   03:10
Hired by Fort Dodge, Iowa Packinghouse
Scope and Content Note: Too much unemployment in Madison. Fort Dodge company had promised it would hire local workers only but needed experienced help. Aware of Madison strike.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   05:00
Organizing in Fort Dodge
Scope and Content Note: Contacts with independent packinghouse union in Austin, Minnesota. Some workers suspicious of AFL. Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee. Hold back per capita tax--received little help.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   06:40
Organizing Other Iowa Workers
Scope and Content Note: Help workers organize in Mason City and Sioux City.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   07:35
Alfred E. Newman
Scope and Content Note: (Shut off tape while he gets strike flyer from 1930s with drawing of Alfred E. Newman--“Scab”). Newman linked to company union. Source of Mad magazine character. Told him “Don't worry, when this strike's over you won't have a job.” Response--“Worry? Who, me?”
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   08:20
Relations Packinghouse Workers and Amalgamated Meatcutters
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   09:00
Links Three Independent Packinghouse Locals
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   09:45
Organizing in Fort Dodge (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Aided by Austin local, United Mine Workers, and Amalgamated Clothing Workers. Helped other local workers organize. Won 32 closed shop contracts for the CIO.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   10:55
1946 Packinghouse Workers Raid at Oscar's
Scope and Content Note: Unsuccessful. He refused to become involved. Another Iowa United Packinghouse Workers member participated. Told Schultz that majority signed up before election. On election day, company killed for two hours, then quit. Workers told this was what would happen if the CIO won.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   12:55
Returns to Oscar's
Scope and Content Note: 1950. Just in time to save credit for previous 7 1/2 years employment.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   14:30
Changes at Oscar's
Scope and Content Note: Good cooperation between union and management. In part, company wanted to keep the CIO out.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   14:55
United Packinghouse Workers Merger with Amalgamated Meatcutters
Scope and Content Note: “Best thing that ever happened.”
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   15:15
Key Gains from Unionization
Scope and Content Note: Seniority rights. Equal treatment. Favoritism ended.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   16:10
UW Student Helped Organize in 1933
Scope and Content Note: Went to Internal Revenue Service to obtain facts for organizing information sheet. Ran off leaflets and distributed them. Workers provided information on job complaints; he obtained important wage information from IRS by saying he needed the information for a school paper.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   18:20
Labor Law
Scope and Content Note: National. Recovery Administration helped protect workers. Praises National Labor Relations Act--now under attack by Reagan.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   19:15
Organizing Help from Other Unionists
Scope and Content Note: Most activists at Oscar's were inexperienced with unions. Labor Temple provides meeting place. Craft unionists offer advice.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   20:25
Some Former Cudahy Workers Had Union Experience
Scope and Content Note: Older. Polish and German immigrants. No trouble signing them up. Not in leadership. Not talk at meetings. Cautious at first, but backed the strike.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   22:10
Role of Amalgamated Meatcutters in Organizing Local 538
Scope and Content Note: Provided speakers. Problem--company would not recognize the union. Advised them to delay strike. Local activists felt “now or never.”
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   23:05
Battling Company Union in Fort Dodge
Scope and Content Note: Company uses to push back-to-work movement. Splits off local workers. 1937 National Labor Relations Board case. Union plants member in company union--exposes plan to “only buy flowers,” etc. at first rather than bargain. Some company unionists learned the hard way and became good union members.
Tape/Side   3/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   3/1
Time   00:35
1934 Firings at Oscar's
Scope and Content Note: Impact. Company had just signed agreement to end walkout.
Tape/Side   3/1
Time   01:35
Four-Hour Day Minimum Guarantee
Scope and Content Note: Problem with favoritism. If work, then guaranteed minimum of four hours that day. At Fort Dodge, guarantee established at National Labor Relations Board hearing.
Tape/Side   3/1
Time   02:45
Short Work Week Before Union at Oscar's
End of Interview
Series: Interview with David Kneebone, August 15, 1984 (#s 4-6) and , August 20, 1984 (#s 7-10)
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   00:35
Becoming a Printer
Scope and Content Note: 1966. Relatives worked in the trade.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   01:35
Respect and Security
Scope and Content Note: A good job. Grandfather worked regularly as printer during the Depression. International Typographical Union (ITU) took care of members during Depression through jobsharing. Newspapers provide steady work. “As secure a thing as you could ever want.”
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   02:25
Apprenticeship
Scope and Content Note: One-year probation. Union and management decide whether allowed to continue--most pass. Written tests--union screens applicants prior to first year. Joint apprenticeship committees. Timetables. Six-year program. Forced to serve full six years because of union activity.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   04:55
Aid to Apprentices
Scope and Content Note: Start at 45 percent of scale. Five percent increase every six months. “You were treated very special.” Get whatever help necessary. “It was a joy.”
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   05:55
Conflict with Management over Linotype Training
Scope and Content Note: Linotype was “the most fascinating piece of equipment in the whole place.” He knew it was outdated but wanted training. Apprenticeship based on learning skills to work for any employer. Regrets not trained on linotype. The few available linotype situations pay well. Produces a fine product.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   08:45
Phasing Out Hot Metal Typesetting
Scope and Content Note: ITU took lead in developing new processes. Locals kept abreast of developments.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   09:30
Tape-Operated Linotypes
Scope and Content Note: Perforate tape. At first, put tape on linotype. Later, computerized. Tape slightly faster than manually operated linotypes. Computer solves problem with ends of lines. Operator punches tape. Run tape through reader. Computer justifies lines.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   12:30
Final Year as Apprentice
Scope and Content Note: Conflict with management. Clear he would be active in local. Last year was hard--placed on days for disciplinary reasons. Night foreman had tried to fire him. Became Chapel Chairman after a couple months on days--“kind of unheard of.” Spent most of last year as keyboard operator.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   15:25
Jobs as Journeyman
Scope and Content Note: When needed production, he marked up copy. Marked up ads to computer specifications. Describes process--marked up, pasted up, shot on camera, sent to press. Tough job--“drained” by end of shift. Did markup 4 out of 5 shifts.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   17:20
Type Bank
Scope and Content Note: Trimming and correcting. “Grunt work.” Putting in correction lines. In part, because of low seniority but also placed on type bank because of union activity. Others in ITU believed company was punishing him. Helped bring local together.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   20:05
Foremen Removed from Contract
Scope and Content Note: In contract until last agreement. NLRB made it hard to fight. Members upset when foremen get separate vacation schedule--lower seniority but preferred vacation dates.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   21:20
ITU Role in Composing Room
Scope and Content Note: Changes with new processes. Concerned about getting out product.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   22:05
Labor Laws
Scope and Content Note: Factor in change in ITU's status. General comments on history of ITU's response to 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   23:25
Travellers
Scope and Content Note: Source of information on conditions elsewhere. Number declines by 1970s. Often not retrained.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   24:45
Retraining
Scope and Content Note: New processes committee. Fewer apprentices, so retraining and apprenticeship committees merge. Anyone interested was retrained.
Tape/Side   4/1
Time   26:30
ITU Philosophy
Scope and Content Note: Historical sketch. Importance of organizing. ITU and the split between the AFL and the CIO. Importance of internal democracy and member participation.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   00:45
Craft Pride
Scope and Content Note: Some thought that with paste up, “I'll be cutting up paper dolls, I won't be a printer anymore.” Still requires talent. Not so much as hot metal that required mechanical abilities. Not change need for “eye or perception” concerning final product. “People still take an awful lot of pride.” Especially commercial shops.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   03:20
Contact Between Newspaper and Job Shop Members
Scope and Content Note: Knew each other. Describes merger between Madison Local 106 and Milwaukee Local 23. Commercial shop members regarded Local 106 as newspaper local. Often relatively few from commercial shops at regular meetings. Stereotypes of each other. No real friction. Get together at picnics and Christmas party.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   06:30
Craft Pride (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Well-dressed. Women printers wear dresses and skirts to work; men wear white shirts and ties. Changes with the times. Pride in job. Community and political activity of members. “Never too proud to help each other.”
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   10:00
Member Involvement in Early 1970s
Scope and Content Note: Social functions. Some younger workers not appreciate union's role in improving conditions. Many of those workers are gone--lacked pride.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   10:25
Workplace Bonds
Scope and Content Note: When become journeymen, all work on night crew. Knew each other. Co-workers and friends.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   10:50
Union Activity
Scope and Content Note: “Just seemed to happen.” Learned of Milwaukee Apprentice League. Apprentices received priority when became journeymen. Priority---credit for length of time with union. Seniority--credit for length of time with company. Pushes for priority for apprenticeship if met standards established by company and union. Won despite some local opposition. Leadership change in local.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   19:20
Priority Explained
Scope and Content Note: Claiming rights for vacations, days off, situations.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   20:25
Situations and Claiming Competency
Scope and Content Note: Situations posted for five shifts. If competent, worker with most priority claims situation. Two weeks to prove competency. If fail, lose employment for up to six months. Union rule. Management determined competency. If fail, union could bar from employment for up to six months but management could not bar for more than six months. Not always that severe.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   23:15
Becoming Active in ITU
Scope and Content Note: Not seek leadership role. Others expected him to become involved. Better person for becoming involved and trying to live up to models.
Tape/Side   4/2
Time   24:50
Chapel Chairman
Scope and Content Note: As apprentice, assisted on night shift. Chapel elected chairman, who appointed assistant on other shift. They appointed own assistants. When switched to days, he replaced assistant chairman--actively sought the post. Became day chairman while still apprentice. Respected. Foreman harasses on first day as chairman.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   00:30
Chapel Chairman (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Harassment. Originally placed on days for discipline.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   01:55
Harassment
Scope and Content Note: Forced to serve full six years as apprentice. Forced to cancel vacation to keep job by passing special three-week competency test. Production Manager Richard Gottlieb did not attend joint apprenticeship meeting the day before Kneebone was to receive journeyman's card (if not become journeyman after six years, lose job). Gottlieb wanted him out. No full-time job until November, 1973--worked as substitute until then.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   06:00
Chapel Chairman (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Remained while substitute. Worthwhile experience. Out of office for 18 months but reelected “when things started getting rough again.”
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   07:25
Conflict with Gottlieb
Scope and Content Note: Run-in at joint apprenticeship committee meeting soon after Gottlieb became Production Coordinator.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   09:45
Responsibilities of Chapel Chairman
Scope and Content Note: Represent local on workfloor. Contact members to do the work (provide enough workers to do the job).
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   11:10
Overtime
Scope and Content Note: Overtime necessary if not able to provide enough members to do the work. Different views of commercial shop and newspaper workers. For latter, “goal of the union was to provide a satisfactory wage,” so that overtime was unnecessary. If overtime, then some printer was out of work because “people were too damned greedy.” Chairman has to tell workers if required to give up some overtime to a traveller. Sometimes had been forced to work overtime but still required to give it up (traveller replaces until overtime cancelled).
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   13:25
Alcoholism among Printers
Scope and Content Note: Complicates job of chairman. Talk with agencies. Try to keep from being fired. Union's view--so long as competent, no problem as far as management concerned.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   14:30
Gottlieb
Scope and Content Note: Three discharges during his first eight months. ITU won all three arbitrations. Gottlieb from Quad Cities--nonunion. “I think he felt too restricted” in Madison. Composing room workers made it clear they took orders from foreman, not from him. Big factor behind strike.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   18:15
MNI's Move to Fish Hatchery Road
Scope and Content Note: Editorial boards opposed. Gottlieb's decision.
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   19:50
ITU Role in Local Labor Movement
Scope and Content Note: Richard Huffmann as Union Labor News editor. Outspoken, popular paper. Mentions judges who held ITU cards. Support for CIO--if AFL not organizing, back CIO efforts. Kneebone worked nights: so not personally involved with other unions in early 1970s (other than newspaper unions).
Tape/Side   5/1
Time   24:45
Relations among Newspaper Locals in Early 1970s
Scope and Content Note: In 1960s, joint plant council discussed common issues. Never any “closeness.” Locals learned of others bargaining from company not each other. Gives national overview. MNI mailers joined International Mailers Union after IMU-ITU split. “Always some distrust.” Locals began coming together as MNI situation became serious in mid-1970s. By 1974, “pulling together a little bit.” National merger talks important in cooperation between ITU and Newspaper Guild.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   00:30
Relations among Locals (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: ITU's support for CIO influences relations. Some changes in late 1960s when reporters begin making more than printers. Mid-1970s, pressmen suspicious of printers, merger with Local 23. Mailers had voted not to merge with pressmen--rumors that MNI would withhold raise if merged. Suspicions remain.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   02:55
Sitdown Plans in 1960s
Scope and Content Note: Not aware at time--apprentices sheltered. Sitdown at Carroll Street plant discussed. Uncertain about issue--believes over retraining. Approximately 1968. But union obtained language guaranteeing broad training for apprentices.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   05:20
1974 Bargaining
Scope and Content Note: Transition period from hot metal. Company praised workers. Hard to learn “on the run.” Proud of accomplishment. Management takes tough position in bargaining. Concern about MNI plans for new plant. Lee Enterprises secretive. ITU seeks job guarantee in return for giving up jurisdictional rights. MNI rejects--improves severance pay. Describes severance pay as a management issue.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   09:45
MNI Bargaining Stance
Scope and Content Note: Drag out until Christmas then offer retroactive raise (Christmas bonus). Members accept. At pre-1974 session with State Journal, ITU asked what a statement meant, told “absolutely nothing.” MNI approach--delay, try to divide members from bargaining team, play off separate locals.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   11:40
Pressmen Settle First in 1974
Scope and Content Note: ITU and Guild in long negotiations. Pressmen settle without telling others. Mailers settle after one meeting. Then Guild settles. ITU position untenable.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   13:45
Relations among Locals (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: ITU-Pressmen tensions. Stresses accomplishment involved in 1977 cooperation.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   14:45
Showdown Too Late
Scope and Content Note: Easier to win with hot metal. With cold processes, can bring in specialists. Could get paper out with hot metal but with little local news.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   16:35
MNI Takes Hardline
Scope and Content Note: Greedy. Much easier if had waited. Gottlieb involved in a “religious crusade to rid the place of unions.” Very secretive about plans for new equipment. Not inform ITU of plans even after equipment ordered.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   20:50
Gottlieb Promised No Jobs Would Be Lost with Transition
Scope and Content Note: Verbal promise in 1974 negotiations. Influenced acceptance.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   21:45
ITU Concern over MNI Plans
Scope and Content Note: Suspicious when Gottlieb arrived. Aware of ITU's clashes with his father. Local 106 a small local with limited treasury. Influenced merger decision. Protect officers from reprisals. Stresses MNI's willingness to make example of individuals. After merger, full-time officers.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   24:40
Gottlieb and the Other Locals
Scope and Content Note: Different approach. Tries win over pressmen. Tries create company loyalists among pressmen. Internal conflict with stronger unionists winning out (1975-1976).
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   27:45
District Managers
Scope and Content Note: Organized separately. No contract for approximately 2 1/2 years before strike. Did own bargaining--concerned over pressmen's lack of enthusiasm.
Tape/Side   5/2
Time   28:40
Pressmen's View of MNI Threat
Scope and Content Note: First threatened when implication of attacks of ITU become clear.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   00:35
Personal Ties among Crafts
Scope and Content Note: Enter as apprentice--contacts help get hired. Family networks in different departments. Informal communication channels. Concern over attacks on ITU creates uncertainty. Importance of friendship networks and interaction off the job. New journeymen all work nights--socialize off the job. Key to strike unity--“people knew each other on a personal basis.”
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   03:35
Links among Crafts in the Plant
Scope and Content Note: Extensive discussion of production process and connections among departments. At Carroll Street, some printers helped distribute papers to carriers--got to know mailers. After work socializing among night shift members. Friendship bonds especially important in shaping older workers' response.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   05:25
1976-1977 Bargaining
Scope and Content Note: Some serious bargaining between company and editorial unions. Otherwise, little serious bargaining except night before strike. Mailers close to agreement. If settled, no strike. Role of Unity Committee. If Mailers settled, no strike and MNI would have picked the unions off one by one. Mailers would have been easiest to replace.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   08:40
Installing New Equipment, Spring 1977
Scope and Content Note: Secret. Installed behind locked doors. MNI claims not know what planning to do with it.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   12:50
Implementation
Scope and Content Note: New room built inside composing room--technician and Pinkerton there. Type handed through window. Not proofread. Classified ads typed directly in Advertising Department. ITU not seeking duplication--not oppose reporters, working at terminals. But felt outside material that had to be set was ITU work. MNI secretly hired six typists instead.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   16:05
Layoffs
Scope and Content Note: Result of unilateral reduction of ITU's jurisdiction. Work still there. Editorial boards promote image of inflexible union. Having failed to get job security, ITU insists on layoff by seniority. Forced to do new jobs--sometimes while continuing to do old job. Individuals pressured to quit. Unless take severance pay, have two weeks to prove competency. Unspoken threat--if not competent, lose job. But company able to tell court that never threatened to fire them. Anger. Humiliation. Crushed pride. Thirty-three of fifty-two lose jobs. Rest have wages cut by one-third. Pressure on those remaining. Grab overtime. Heavy drinking. Impact throughout the plant.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   24:00
Unemployment Compensation
Scope and Content Note: April 1977. No problem for the seventeen who took severance. Others have to wait seven or eight weeks. MNI not admit they worked there. Then allocates vacation and severance pay so not get unemployment compensation until those payments exhausted. When strike begins, many leave unemployment for strike roll.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   27:15
Layoffs (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Sixteen who didn't take severance pay were fired by seniority. The seventeen had been intimidated into taking severance without regard to their seniority.
Tape/Side   6/1
Time   28:15
National Labor Relations Board
Scope and Content Note: Pay cut just “good, hard bargaining.” Weak response prior to strike. After strike begins, view changes. If had ruled differently at first, perhaps no strike.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   00:30
Spring Preparations
Scope and Content Note: Unit Committee set up February. Clear that trouble ahead. Editorial workers trained for some composing room jobs. Locals stress seriousness of situation to their internationals. Try negotiate. By late February, clear that MNI not bargaining seriously.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   02:45
Training Sessions
Scope and Content Note: Company claims not sure what planning. Claims training so workers know what happens to their work after they're through with it. Weekend training for business and nonunion personnel. Hard to respond. Not producing anything for sale, not replacing anyone.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   05:15
“Never on Sunday”
Scope and Content Note: First Unity Committee activity. In part, response to Guild concern over Capital Times' finances. Direct pressure on State Journal. Hope McMillan would intervene.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   06:30
McMillan
Scope and Content Note: Others besides Guild believe the Capital Times publisher might intervene. Difference between him and former publisher William Evjue. Miles McMillan's concern--editorial after Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, not concerned about circulation.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   08:15
Practice Picket
Scope and Content Note: Big success. Recommends. “Just about any other place it might have had some real impact.” Good publicity. Company resumes surface bargaining--“if we show them we want to talk, maybe they won't embarrass us publicly any more.”
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   09:55
Assessment of Practice Picket and “Never on Sunday”
Scope and Content Note: Practice Picket accomplished more than expected. “Never on Sunday” attracted publicity but didn't cost many subscriptions. Stresses importance of publicity--once on strike, MNI limited coverage of the walkout. “Never on Sunday” campaign--unless MNI resolved the dispute, supporters would cancel subscriptions. Newspaper buying a habit--people learn can do without. Hard for papers to recover.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   13:05
District Managers
Scope and Content Note: Until problems began, he didn't know they had a contract. Neither Pressmen nor MNI had mentioned.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   14:55
Unity Committee
Scope and Content Note: Member from each of six bargaining units. Stress meet with own members so know where stand. Plan “Never on Sunday,” etc. Want get MNI's attention and learn members' response.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   16:45
Strike Headquarters
Scope and Content Note: Staff in regular shifts before strike. Rotate different locals. Make new friends in other locals. Get people involved. Factor in response to strike.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   19:10
Unity Committee Decision Making
Scope and Content Note: Set up to make binding decisions. In practice, act on unanimous decisions. Avoid divisions.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   19:20
Dangers of Splits among Leaders
Scope and Content Note: Example from strike. One leader's elitism towards pickets. Word spreads. Bitterness persists among ITU members.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   21:50
Unity Committee
Scope and Content Note: Internal battles trying persuade individuals to take firm stand. Relation between leaders and rank-and-file. Must know where members stand but also must be able to make decision. Critical of indecision of some leaders after members voted to strike. Walkout planned for August but ITU could not act alone. Press others to make a decision. Members of other locals coming to him for information.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   23:20
Strike Decision
Scope and Content Note: Late September, told Unity Committee it had to decide. Members of other unions come to him for information. Ultimatum--some will get fired if indecision continues.
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   25:20
One Leader Scabs
Tape/Side   6/2
Time   27:05
Expiration of Contracts
Scope and Content Note: Uneven expiration dates. ITU and District Managers contracts expired year earlier. Guild in spring, Pressmen and Mailers during summer. Contracts not barrier to strike in last few months. Still try to negotiate. ITU prepared to sacrifice Kneebone and others at bottom of seniority ladder. But not expect much.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   00:30
Lee's Record Elsewhere
Scope and Content Note: Often try to talk into submission. Discusses Racine situation. “For a chain its size a terrible record.” Usually able to get rid of unions without Madison-type situation.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   06:30
Lee's Expectation
Scope and Content Note: Believes wanted an ITU strike. Wage cut critical. Didn't think ITU strike would involve others. If force strike, quickest way to eliminate the ITU.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   08:10
Strikers' Expectations
Scope and Content Note: Knew it would be a tough strike. Some may have expected a relatively short strike because of what their leaders said. But ITU members knew it would be a long struggle.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   09:45
His Expectations
Scope and Content Note: Not certain of results. Knew members wanted to strike. If not strike, risk discharges for individual actions. No alternative if to act as union.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   11:00
Lee's Expectations (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Left ITU no alternative. Could have kept bargaining without the wage cut. Company wanted strike in April before the other contracts expired.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   12:25
Early Days of Strike
Scope and Content Note: Hectic but relief to see unity. Help individuals with financial problems. Large picket-lines. “Everyone was working together, pulling hard, getting the job done.”
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   14:45
Unity Committee and the Strike
Scope and Content Note: Daily meetings. Functions as strike committee. Mistake--some too busy for picketing. Had to be visible on lines so members know you're there to help with problems. With large number of police, thought especially important to be on lines. ITU members had to picket to get benefits.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   18:05
Picketing
Scope and Content Note: Raucous. No scab seriously hurt on line. Some pickets hit by cars.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   20:40
Madison Police
Scope and Content Note: Varied response. “The ones that didn't want to be there could be awful rough.” Didn't want police there--wanted to stop trucks. In retrospect, because of laws, probably saved some strikers from getting in trouble. Cops have no place in a strike--there to protect property.
Tape/Side   7/1
Time   24:10
Scabs Speed Through Lines
Scope and Content Note: Some ticketed but little done about it. Pickets carried on hoods at high speed. Two scabs always refuse to slow down.
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   00:35
Role of Local Government
Scope and Content Note: City officials pretty good. County officials less concerned. District Attorney Doyle wanted to avoid the issue. Unions concerned about MNI pressure on police. MNI ignores law requiring job advertisements to mention strike in progress. Not enforced. Some arrive from out-of-state unaware of strike. MNI's political clout. “They just didn't seem to want to take on MNI.”
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   08:00
Private Police
Scope and Content Note: Wackenhuts--limited role. Low pay. Before strike, local security. Pinkertons added just before strike. Wackenhuts arrive when strike begins. Only Wackenhuts had top security clearance inside plants. Estimates 20 guards per shift. At first, transport scabs. Later scabs cross on own and number of Wackenhuts reduced. Cameras monitor pickets. Low-paid Wackenhuts--“pretty much a ragtag group.” Wackenhuts establish local foothold as result of strike.
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   17:40
Attorneys
Scope and Content Note: Lee's Iowa attorney handled negotiations. Left when “things started getting nasty.” Washington unionbuster Stanley Straus handled NLRB hearings. Others from his firm also worked for MNI. Madison attorney Joe Melli wanted to be involved--negotiated against Pressmen. Unsure of cost. At NLRB hearings, Gottlieb mentioned $2600 per day. 56 days of hearings. Would have cost less to negotiate with unions. Capital Times “may never recover.”
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   22:05
Capital Times' Position
Scope and Content Note: “A little bit surprised.” Lee dominant partner at MNI.
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   23:25
Robert Melloon and Elliot Maraniss
Scope and Content Note: Former ITU members blacklisted by Lee after Quad Cities strike. Hired by Evjue.
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   24:25
Miles McMillan
Scope and Content Note: Stayed in background. Strike insurance.
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   25:35
Strike Insurance
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   26:50
In Effect, One Company
Scope and Content Note: Lee in control. “It was only when you get to court and you're dealing with technicalities and who signs whose paycheck.... They even run all the checks through the same computer. Kind of silly to say there's three separate companies. But that's how they do it.”
Tape/Side   7/2
Time   27:50
Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970
Scope and Content Note: Guarantee Capital Times survives if Lee survives. Otherwise, Capital Times could not have survived strike.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   00:30
Boycott
Scope and Content Note: Newspaper buying a habit. Ad rates based on circulation. MNI ignored strike cancellations. Not tell carriers of cancellations--force them to pay. Estimates combined cancellations--12,000 at first. Capital Times hurt the most. Liberal facade damaged. Public aware that not the “social messiah it painted itself as.” Impact lingers.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   06:25
Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Representative Kastenmeier pushed through Congress. Describes encounter with Kastenmeier over the bill in early 1970s--unwilling to appear at ITU meeting.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   07:55
Boycott (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: State Journal had more circulation outside Dane County. Sports coverage important.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   09:00
Union Response to Boycott
Scope and Content Note: Not satisfied. If all Dane County unionists had cancelled, strikers would have won. But strong support from some individuals and locals. Madison Federation of Labor leadership a factor in weak response. Told MFL attorney advised against active role in boycott.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   11:25
International Unions
Scope and Content Note: Helped pull together. Didn't want them too involved on daily basis. Kept them well-informed though. “The internationals were involved when we wanted them to be involved.” Proud of ITU's role--strong support when needed, strike benefits, paid legal bills, paid for strike headquarters. Members impressed.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   19:35
Importance of Strike to ITU
Scope and Content Note: Other publishers watch Madison. ITU support caused some to think twice. Demonstrated that ITU determined to back smaller locals.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   21:15
Sitdown Rejected
Scope and Content Note: Discussed. But guards “all over the place.” Probably would have worked at the Square.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   24:35
Community Support
Scope and Content Note: Not that well prepared in advance.
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   25:00
1962 Milwaukee Mailers' Cancellation Campaign
Scope and Content Note: Cancellation cards signed before strike. Stewards in other unions take plants to members. Mid-1970s, Milwaukee Journal still not recovered. Did not try here--not put other unions on spot; too busy. “If people wanted to put forth as much before the strike as after it was called, there might not have been a strike.”
Tape/Side   8/1
Time   27:20
Local Labor
Scope and Content Note: Mixed response. Teaching Assistants Association, Madison Teachers Inc., Memorial Union Labor Organization, nurses provided good support. Inadequate backing from building trades and union at Oscar Mayer. Notes that not always aware of support from individual members in building trades and other locals.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   00:30
Local Labor (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Locals not always inform newspaper workers of own members' support activities.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   01:40
Outreach
Scope and Content Note: Went to local meetings. Major financial help from American Federation of Teachers Local 243 (MATC teachers) to Welfare Fund.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   03:05
Welfare Fund
Scope and Content Note: He chaired. Some criticism of his emphasis on structure and evaluation of requests.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   04:00
Cost-Cutting
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   04:45
Community Support
Scope and Content Note: Good support from non-labor groups. “Came up kind of short as far as the Federation [of Labor].” Wanted Federation to be active rather than simply pass resolutions.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   06:10
Individuals' Responses
Scope and Content Note: “The big problem was the newspaper comes in the home.” Refers to union leader who continued to subscribe. Can talk big at meetings but not take issues home.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   08:20
Stressed Cancellations
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   08:35
Other Workers' Stake In Strike
Scope and Content Note: When have problem, scabs will cover story. How can a scab not favor the company? “If you're a scab, it's kind of hard to not be on the side of the company when you're doing a story. You're interviewing strikers. You didn't want anything to do with them when you took your job because you didn't have enough fiber or talent to get a job any other way so you became a scab. So you're covering a labor story now as a scab. I mean, what kind of view are you going to have?”
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   10:00
Madison Federation of Labor Response
Scope and Content Note: Compares to politicians--want names in print. Despite boycott, some union leaders give interviews. Worse to give interview than to subscribe--gives MNI credibility. A newspaper “lives on” credibility. Strike a controversial issue at MFL but not dealt with in open. Role in changes at MFL--affected alliances.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   16:50
Union Response to Picketlines
Scope and Content Note: Five ITU members (all supervisors) scabbed. One supervisor struck. Other units' own supervisors struck. Most scabs marginal employees--often carried by fellow unionists prior to strike.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   21:00
Teamsters
Scope and Content Note: Tell members not to cross but to call supervisor (to drive across). More support from nonunion drivers (afraid would tell Teamsters). Out-of-town Teamsters ignored picketlines. Strikers bitter.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   24:40
Strikers and the Law
Scope and Content Note: No major concern over anti-picketing injunction. Believes strike a factor in Mayor Soglin's decision not to seek reelection. Knew what was proper conduct on picketlines--discussed with police. MNI also contacted police. At rush hour, only allowed to stop cars for 30 seconds.
Tape/Side   8/2
Time   27:05
Plans for Strike Paper
Scope and Content Note: Plan in advance as a way to get views across. Thirty strikers contribute $1,000 each to pay for equipment.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   00:30
Press Connection Equipment
Scope and Content Note: ITU and Pressmen's members provided most of money. Used his severance check. Top-of-the-line typesetting equipment.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   03:20
Presses
Scope and Content Note: Beaver Dam, then Stoughton. Problem getting to Post Office in time for same day delivery outside Madison, Made special run to solve problem.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   05:20
Local News
Scope and Content Note: At first, Press Connection to emphasize local news. Then, people “started getting a little lazy.” Overemphasis on need for wire copy. ITU resentment over violation of initial agreement on amount of wire copy.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   09:00
Conflicts at Press Connection
Scope and Content Note: Political differences. In part, age differences. Some use as excuse to picket rather than work on Press Connection. Problems result from violation of agreement concerning proportion of local news and promise that all Press Connection workers would have input on editorial content. Anger over elitism.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   11:30
Control
Scope and Content Note: “It wasn't so much that they wanted [a say] initially. It's that the editorial people told them that this was the way it was going to be.”
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   12:25
Staffing Levels
Scope and Content Note: Spring, 1978. Discuss going private. Many in editorial feel strike over. Set staff levels. Composing room, press room, mailers cut staff. Editorial refuses to trim when shift to paid staff. On payroll when could have been on strike roll. Eventually cut by attrition. Resentment among many production workers.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   18:55
Cardinal Benefits
Scope and Content Note: Almost all proceeds to reporters and district managers. Money not funnelled through strikers' Welfare Fund. Perhaps done “in spite of the welfare committee because we were considered too bureaucratic because we did not willingly give up money without knowing why.” Guild created its own fund without telling others.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   21:40
Advertising and Circulation for Press Connection
Scope and Content Note: MNI threatened some advertisers. Some advertisers willing to deal with Press Connection, others refuse on principle. As weekly, bigger circulation than MNI papers. Circulation drops from 67,000 to under 15,000 when go to paid circulation. Mistake. Might have been able to get comics for Sunday and put out Wednesday edition with grocery ads and coupons. Some use coupons as an excuse to justify buying scab paper.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   26:35
Going Daily
Scope and Content Note: Gave strikers a daily routine. “Best damn therapy in the world.” Prove to selves that retain skills and able to do the job.
Tape/Side   9/1
Time   27:25
Cost to MNI
Scope and Content Note: Cancellations. Court costs. Security costs. Credibility with readers (“lifeblood of the newspaper”).
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   00:30
National Labor Relations Board (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Focus--who's strongest. 1977 pay cut--“good, hard bargaining.” “Paper tigers” with weak remedies. Changed view once strike began. Labor laws--“pro-management.”
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   03:40
ITU Settlement
Scope and Content Note: Recall list as for an economic strike. $443,000. Guild had settled earlier on own without telling others. Pressmen start own negotiations in secret. Mailers--half share to those who left early, remainder divided equally. Pressmen--divided equally. ITU gave $25,000 to local. Had to satisfy NLRB on distribution. All printers got $1,000. Rest divided in inverse proportion to earnings during strike. Board had vetoed Guild's proposed settlement based on length of strike involvement.
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   11:20
Decision to Settle
Scope and Content Note: Some had other jobs. Some not active in strike. He voted against it although best he could bargain. Wanted ruling on unfair labor practice charges. “Personally, I got more money but that wasn't what it was about when it started.” Most members pleased with settlement though.
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   15:35
NLRB Ruling Imminent
Scope and Content Note: MNI acted because expected ruling with a few weeks.
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   19:05
Impact on Families
Scope and Content Note: In some locals, divorces. Alcoholism. Standard of living--changed expectations. Biggest effect--dealing with friends and relatives (lack of understanding concerning long strike). Impact on children. Christmas.
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   22:20
Jobs for ITU Members
Scope and Content Note: Ten of fifty-two now working regularly as printers. A few others retired.
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   23:20
Attitudes towards Jobs
Scope and Content Note: Most would do it again. Found that other jobs could be rewarding. Benefits, no deadline, weekends off. Demystification of working for the newspaper. “As a whole, people are better people because of that strike.”
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   26:35
Strike's Impact on Values
Scope and Content Note: Values different. “People have learned they can do without their credit cards. They can do without a new car every two years.” “The most important thing to them is their loved ones--not the material things to impress their neighbors. It's a more intimate life now than there was before.”
Tape/Side   9/2
Time   28:05
Strike's Meaning for Madison Labor Movement
Scope and Content Note: Scabs cover labor stories.
Tape/Side   10/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   10/1
Time   00:25
Lessons of Strike
Scope and Content Note: Need aggressive approach. MNI strike--no alternative. Laws handicap unions.
Tape/Side   10/1
Time   02:55
Reaction of Other Unions
Scope and Content Note: Sympathetic but felt secure. Many unwilling to risk challenging the press.
End of Interview
Series: Interview with Evelyn Gotzion, October 30, 1984
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   00:35
Layoffs
Scope and Content Note: 1932. Laid off. Seasonal. Before union, favoritism. Seniority provides predictable system in which all treated alike.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   02:25
Union Social Activities
Scope and Content Note: Get to know each other. Help to get along on job too. Parties, family affairs. Sports, etc. Social hour after meetings--get to know other workers.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   03:40
Job Rotation and Grievance
Scope and Content Note: Grievance when company changes line. Workers had rotated jobs so that know all work. “Lifesaver” when work long hours during the war. Help company too. Foreman agrees. Help each other. But company thinks making too much on piece rates. Turns line around. Uses as excuse to cut rates. She shuts line off. Local presidents asks her to join grievance committee to argue the case. Victory. Stays on committee.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   07:05
Union Gains
Scope and Content Note: Vacation, holidays. Gradual improvement. Health insurance. Rank and file not always realize how much hard work went into these gains--so bring them in to sessions.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   09:30
Older Workers
Scope and Content Note: Many start work after high school. Stay at Ray-O-Vac. With seniority rights, tend to stay. Seniority stabilizes work force. Nineteen-week pension strike.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   10:15
Pension Strike
Scope and Content Note: 19 weeks. Got to know each other well. Picket kitchen. Aid from other unions. Help from East Side businesses. “It got to be one big family.” Very small pension prior to 1963 strike.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   12:50
Union Accomplishments
Scope and Content Note: Someone to go to. Help others with jobs. Camaraderie. During World War II, Thanksgiving potlucks on job. Conditions improved--cleaner. Union emphasizes importance of political involvement. Economic gains--started at $.27 an hour.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   17:55
First Job at Oscar Mayer
Scope and Content Note: Company rule--one worker per family. Either she or husband had to quit.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   18:40
Family Networks at Ray-O-Vac
Scope and Content Note: Her brother worked there. Later, nieces and nephews worked there. Workers' children find summer jobs there.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   19:50
Piece Rate
Scope and Content Note: Workers have different opinions. Some liked system because able to earn more. Bid for jobs based on seniority.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   19:55
Elimination of Men's and Women's Job Classifications
Scope and Content Note: Many women want better paying jobs formerly in men's classifications. But some problems with merged seniority list. To keep jobs, some forced into hard jobs. To keep jobs, some forced to take night work--at times caused family problems.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   23:30
Busy Season
Scope and Content Note: July to Christmas. Worry about layoffs December-January.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   24:45
Her Jobs
Scope and Content Note: Inspector. Sealed battery tops with hot pitch. Bent wires for cells (easy work but arthritis as result). Enjoyed work.
Tape/Side   11/1
Time   27:00
Pay Victories
Scope and Content Note: If machine broke, get down time after certain period. Formerly, company sent workers home if not enough work. With union, company had to pay for at least two hours.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   00:30
Piecework
Scope and Content Note: Majority worked on piece rate. More output, increased production. Some jobs very desirable.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   01:45
Conditions
Scope and Content Note: No air conditioning. Very hot in summer. Some parts of plant cold in winter. Improved over time. Dirty, but a lot better now. Shop aprons to help protect clothes. No dress code but have to be concerned about safety--working with hot pitch, sparks from machines, etc. Some jobs require safety glasses. Finally persuaded management to pay for safety glasses and shoes. Her arthritis from handwork. Pace nerve-wracking for inexperienced workers.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   06:30
Union Activity
Scope and Content Note: Limited involvement at first. Tell others to join. Some reluctant, so stressed benefits they received. Got others involved as steward, etc.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   07:30
Key Issues in Organizing
Scope and Content Note: Seniority. Before that, uncertainty and anxiety. Newer employees let selves be pushed around more.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   09:10
Union Protection
Scope and Content Note: Have rights, able to protect yourself.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   10:00
Importance of Standing Up for Self
Scope and Content Note: Describes experience placing cores. Some workers get on others. Stands up for self--then gets along better. Try to help newer workers.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   13:50
Becoming Active
Scope and Content Note: Worked beside President. Knew his wife. Always attended union meetings. “If I'm going to pay those dues, I'm going to see what they're doing for me.” Asked to do small jobs for union. “I thought it had already helped me by giving me some rights. So I didn't have to be pushed around if I didn't want to, you know.”
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   15:30
Communication
Scope and Content Note: Importance of communication with management. Get issues out in open. At union meetings, get up, express concerns. Make better employees.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   16:50
Steward
Scope and Content Note: Grievance procedure. Talk to boss first, then written grievance. Older workers helped her out. Advised workers.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   20:30
Wartime Grievance on Rates
Scope and Content Note: Stood up to boss when rates cut for job. Stopped line. Brought in AFL representative. Backed by workers in department. Won back pay--really boosted the union.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   24:00
Member Involvement
Scope and Content Note: At first, large attendance at meetings. Newer workers, who came in after made gains, attend less regularly. Election of officers--some campaigned hard. New officers learn it took hard work to make gains--management not give in easily.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   26:00
Other Ray-O-Vac Plants
Scope and Content Note: Form Battery Council. Plants--Lancaster, Ohio, Clinton, Mass., Fond du Lac and Wonewoc. Compare situations, exchange information, get to know officers of other locals. All plants didn't make the same product.
Tape/Side   11/2
Time   28:10
UAW and Federal Labor Union
Scope and Content Note: UAW stronger than FLU. Refers to Federal Labor Union council “As we grew, we grew stronger, I think.”
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   00:30
Support for Closed Shop Elections
Scope and Content Note: Major organizing effort. One worker told her would vote for it because union had proved itself. Key workers who got along well with others were assigned to organize for the votes. Not just stewards.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   03:35
Aid for Stewards
Scope and Content Note: Sometimes workers upset with stewards--expect too much. Important to have other workers help out.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   04:05
Social Activities
Scope and Content Note: Important--help understand each other's situation, help families understand jobs. Strengthened union. Dances, picnics, etc. Now company picnic/party.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   06:55
Retirees
Scope and Content Note: Can attend meetings. Retirees' social hour after meeting. Retirees group--cards, bingo, meetings where learn about union activities, legislation action, etc.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   08:15
Contacts among Madison Unions
Scope and Content Note: Active in Madison Federation of Labor. Worked at COPE Bean Feed and Labor Day. Got Ray-O-Vac members involved at Labor Day. Enjoyed working at Bean Feed. Gave Stewards Labor Day ticket books. Members attend dances, parties with other locals. Once in UAW, ties with Janesville local. Served on UAW State Recreation Committee.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   11:55
Labor's Public Image
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   13:30
Union Involvement in East Side Activities
Scope and Content Note: Co-Op store. President William Skaar stressed importance of cooperatives. Substantial membership from Ray-O-Vac but lack of numbers needed to insure best buy. Other unions involved--Building Trades and Meatcutters Local 538 at Oscar Mayer. Met at different union halls to try to build support.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   16:30
Education
Scope and Content Note: School for Workers. President Skaar stressed educational issues. Some members criticized him for bringing up political and educational issues.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   18:25
William Skaar
Scope and Content Note: Did not always receive credit he deserved. Far-sighted.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   20:45
Education (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Goes over School for Workers ties.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   22:35
Madison Federation of Labor in 1950s
Scope and Content Note: Differences between building trades and industrial unions. Building trades bigger and stronger. Some complain that building trades were too prominent.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   24:15
Labor Temple
Scope and Content Note: Location hotly contested. Plans for expansion--wanted to build bowling lanes to help pay for it. Some wanted the Labor Temple built on East Side because most industries were there. Many building trades members lived on West Side.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   27:25
Madison Federation of Labor Meetings
Scope and Content Note: Good attendance.
Tape/Side   12/1
Time   27:40
Political Activity
Scope and Content Note: Importance of UAW CAP and AFL-CIO COPE--“alerted to issues.” Unions become more involved, stronger politically over the years.
Tape/Side   12/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   12/2
Time   00:30
Political Activity (Continued)
Scope and Content Note: Politics more part of daily life. More aware of impact on personal lives. Her involvement in ward activity. Work on City Council campaigns. East Side union ties. Knew who could depend on.
Tape/Side   12/2
Time   03:30
Lessons
Scope and Content Note: Value of union experience and training. Importance of politics--more involvement and more opportunity. In work place, gain practical experience working with people. “You get your experience by being in a union, you know. I think you find out that you can do all these things. You get kicked and pushed and hollered at and everything and you get so after awhile it don't mean anything, it doesn't hurt you so much.” Some get good jobs through union experience. Charlie Heymann--“he just has lots of ambition and he's applying it where he thinks he can help people.”
End of Interview