William Engler Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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RACHEL BERNSTEIN: We'll wait for the green light, OK. Welcome, I'm Rachel Bernstein. We're at Placid Harbor on December 8th. I'm with Bill Engler. Bill say -- I'm going to ask you to say your name and then start off by telling me where you were born and when and what you know about what your parents were doing in that era.

BILL ENGLER: Um, I'm Bill Engler. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, February 22nd, 1940. Uh, my parents August Engler and Sophie [Weckman?] emigrated separately to the United States. I know my dad in the late '20s, I think my mom got here before 1930, but they didn't know each other before they came, and then they got married in 1932. I had a brother born in 1933, again I was born in 1940.

BERNSTEIN: And what were they doing, they were immigrants, what did they do when they arrived?

ENGLER: My mom basically did domestic work. My dad --


BERNSTEIN: At home or outside the house --

ENGLER: Outside the home. She did, she was you know a maid for various people. My dad in order to come to this country, from what I understood back then, you had to have a sponsor and my dad had an aunt living here and he had to have a job. So he went to work for I think it's called [Deitson?] Instruments, which was a German-owned company, so probably somebody, you know, knew the owners or something, because I think it was a small place, and my dad went to work there for a short time. Then went worked for a company called the National Tea Company and basically worked there until he retired uh, at age 65.

BERNSTEIN: And was he in a union?

ENGLER: No, he was never in the union. Dad had a, as a boy fell off the barn roof as you know, on the farm he lived at in Germany and had a uh, leg injury that was never treated properly, so he always had a limp. So he was unable to do the physical work so he was hired as a foreman at National Tea and it was there 2:00at the time when the Teamsters uh, organized that company back in the '30s.

BERNSTEIN: What did he tell you about that?

ENGLER: Well, he just told me, he knew, he had nothing bad to say about the union. He knew all the union leadership and vice versa. And when I later went to work for uh, that same company after high school, uh, he told me that, you know, didn't introduce me to the union people, but when I met my business rep and the secretary-treasurer of my union, they knew him, because they were all old-timers, you know so. Uh --

BERNSTEIN: So they had a working relationship that was respectful --

ENGLER: They had a pretty good working relationship, as far as I understand, there never was a strike against National Tea. There could've been, but in the eight years I went there, and I was involved in negotiating one labor agreement while I was there, uh, we had a good relationship with them.


BERNSTEIN: So he worked there. Your mom did work and you grew up in the same neighborhood you were born?

ENGLER: I grew up uh, a little bit west of where I was actually born. Uh, when, when I was born, I had the one brother, but it was evidently too small apartment for two kids. So they moved to another apartment just a little further north and west of where we'd lived. So I lived in the same neighborhood in Chicago until I got married in 1962 and still lived in the same neighborhood for a few months until my wife got pregnant, then we bought a home.

BERNSTEIN: No kidding. And so was that a neighborhood of a lot of German immigrants or a lot of immigrants from all over --

ENGLER: It was a neighborhood of all kinds of European immigrants. Uh, everything. We had Scandinavians, all other northern Europeans, some who immigrated most before the war, and some immigrated right after the war with the 4:00displacement of uh, so many people in Europe uh, they came to the States. So it was a real mixed bag. I think everybody I grew up with was either first or second generation Americans.

BERNSTEIN: Did you share foods and --

ENGLER: Not with the neighbors but --

BERNSTEIN: Alex was telling me he would go to work and they would bring the Greek food and the Mexican, they would switch off dishes, the burritos and the spanakopita--

ENGLER: No, we pretty much ate German ethnic food. My family uh, you know we had a lot of family that uh, immigrated to the States, uh, both sides, mother's and father's side of the family, although some stayed in Europe. Uh, so you know we really didn't have much to do with neighbors. It was all family, you know, extended family. So it was mostly German food. It was neat. I had a lot of cousins.

BERNSTEIN: And they all lived in the community or the general area--

ENGLER: General area, yeah, you know my dad used to say if you lived in Chicago you never had to leave after school because there was always work in Chicago. 5:00You know, and it was a good city for finding work, so you know, I knew I could make a living in Chicago if I chose to.

BERNSTEIN: That's a good thing to know.


BERNSTEIN: So you grow up in the same neighborhood and you have brothers and sisters.

ENGLER: I have one, had one brother. Six-and-a-half years older than me. He died just uh, three years ago now, going on three, just over three years ago now.

BERNSTEIN: And when you were in high school, did you have any idea what, did you or your parents have any vision of your future?

ENGLER: Abs-- you know as I recall, none at all. I was uh, again, my, I'm sure my mother and father you know I know never finished secondary, never finished high school. My mom, she had a whole bunch of kids in her family. And as soon as uh, you got old enough to get out of the house basically you were thrown out of the house and told make a living. In my mom's case, uh, she went from Germany to 6:00Holland to, to do domestic work. She was basically told to leave, so they could make another baby frankly. That's how, just what it was you know. And uh, uh, my dad grew up on a farm so it was a different atmosphere. But he immigrated, because their depression in Germany came right after the First World War, so times were worse there and they, and they were good in the States so that's why he immigrated you know. As soon as he could, uh, from what he told me, you left when your permit came up, and they only gave you X amount of time to get out, out of the country and get onto ships. So he and his brother came. You know, so basically that's the background, but no, they never encouraged me to go to college. I went to a high school, at that time it was all boys, a city school but all boys. And the idea behind that school was to tr-- to teach you a trade. 7:00You could get out of that high school and find a job any place in the city. That high school had such a reputation that if you could do mechanical drawing, if you could be a machinist, if you could be an auto mechanic, even an airline mechanic back then, they taught all of that at the high school level in this school.


ENGLER: Yeah. Wood shop, wood working.

BERNSTEIN: So was it hard to get into? The high school.

ENGLER: Your grades, they had two of these schools in the city, and it was divided geographically by an east-west, a north-south dividing line. But yes, you had to have good grades to get in there. But the downer was at that point, it was all boys. So I left all the girls in my uh, grammar school graduating class went to the, they had no choice where to go, but there was one third choice, because we had a sizeable Jewish population also in my neighborhood, those kids had a third option. There was uh, a high school that basically had most of the Jewish kids went to. Uh, --


BERNSTEIN: (clears throat) A public high school but it just was --

ENGLER: A public high school also yeah. And so they would go to that school. I think without exception all the Jewish kids went there, both boys and girls, rather than go to the, you had no choice in Chicago. You went to your district school, except for Lane Tech on the north side where we lived and I think it was Chicago Vocational School on the south side for... And I don't know if that was coed or not, I don't remember.

BERNSTEIN: Mmm, so you wanted to go to the technical school or your dad wanted you to?

ENGLER: Yeah, my brother went there. My brother went there and yes I wanted to go there, and I don't know why. Really, supposedly uh, it was a higher class school. You know, I don't know if it was or not you know. But uh...

BERNSTEIN: Learning a trade is nothing to --

ENGLER: Yeah, well I, I never did learn a trade frankly. I never was good working with my hands. And only thing I could do was do mechanical drawing, which in retrospect I'm glad I didn't because that would've been uh, replaced 9:00with machines much more quickly than other trades would.

BERNSTEIN: Good point.

ENGLER: I was bad at machine shop. I was not very good at wood shop. I wasn't good at electrical shop or any of that kind of stuff. I was good at the academic subjects, but I never went to college.

BERNSTEIN: And nobody, what did they tell you, did they have some kind of counselor that said this is what we think, they do these aptitude tests or aptitude evaluations or anything?

ENGLER: No, they helped me find work, uh, but they did refer me to the University of Illinois, had it was called the, it was at Navy Pier at that time, now there is a city, University of Illinois has a city campus in Chicago. At that time, they were at a facility called Navy Pier which was something that the government built during World War Two for, for the Navy for whatever. So I went down there, and did go through all their battery of tests. And uh, they said, hey you should go, of course they were recruiting for the University of Illinois. They said, "You should go to University of Illinois, because of your 10:00skill sets, you should try to become an attorney." Well, I went home and told my parents that and I guess they chuckled all the way (laughs) you know said no, you're going to go out and get a job. So that's how it is. I don't know what, how things would've turned out had I become an attorney, you know.

BERNSTEIN: So how'd you get your first job?

ENGLER: I got my first job through the high school, and it was as a lab technician in a small uh, spring company. They took Gibson Spring. They took steel from manufacturers and then turned it into springs. And my job was to test these springs and see if they were springy enough, and if they were coated with a particular coating, that the coating was thick enough so I would do acid tests and things like that. It was a pretty neat job. Uh, and it was funny, it was a non-union job in a union facility.


ENGLER: Yeah. It was, it was a Steelworker shop, but particular position I was in was not organized. And uh, but that job only lasted two-and-a-half months and 11:00the company was having financial difficulty so I was the last hired so I was the first laid off.

BERNSTEIN: Off you go.


BERNSTEIN: So what'd you do?

ENGLER: I used to lie to my parents about going looking for work, and I'd go hang out at Wrigley Field and watch the baseball game, watch the Cubs play, and just uh, tell them every afternoon, well I went to three places, there was no unemployment because I wasn't working there long enough, and I was living at home so I would tell them, well, I went looking for work. I did look for a few jobs, was discouraged, and uh, finally went to, applied at the Post Office, which I was always told as a young person that it was, you can't miss going to work for the federal government, because the benefits are good and you got a job for life. So I went there and applied for a job. And uh, then my father I think had enough of seeing me hanging around the house, so he come to me one day and 12:00says, "I found you a job where I'm at, and it'll be a clerical position." So and it's funny, they hired me right away, but then I got the letter from the Post Office saying we got a job for you. And I also got recalled by the spring company.

BERNSTEIN: Oh, no kidding.

ENGLER: Yeah, so I had my choice of three places. I wasn't going to go back to the spring company because I figured it was iffy. Uh, and since my dad went through the trouble of finding me the work at the National Tea Company, I wouldn't go to the Post Office because National Tea paid better. And again, it paid better because uh, that was a position that had a union contract, a Teamster contract.

BERNSTEIN: This is the clerical one you started --

ENGLER: Yeah, it was a clerical position, but it was under uh, the Teamsters had the entire shop organized wall-to-wall, with the exception, oddly enough, of the 13:00mechanic positions which were Machinists. So I was in a minority machinist job, shop, but majority Teamster shop, and I was a Teamster. So I joined the Teamsters at 18 years of age and been a union member since.

BERNSTEIN: And how long did you stick, did you get involved in the union?

ENGLER: I, I did for almost right away. Uh, the Teamsters are different than the Machinists union. Uh, they appoint, their stewards where for the most part the Machinists elect their stewards. Uh, we rarely saw our business rep between contracts, especially since I worked nights to start with at least. And uh, I always felt, nobody saw a contract, at least in our Teamster agreement, nobody saw a contract. You never even knew it existed. The only contract was held by the shop steward and I think that they probably told their shop stewards don't share that information.


ENGLER: Well, I had a lot of time on my hands working nights in the office. So I 14:00used to go snooping around and found a copy of the contract and started reading it. And uh, found out that uh, I was not making near as much money as if I went out and worked doing manual work out on the shop floor. And that I had the right to bid to one of those jobs. So I started getting active in the union and had the union eventually filed a grievance on my behalf to get me out of the office, because I was excluded from working overtime in any of the positions outside of the clerical side. And they paid their clerical help less than they paid their skilled or unskilled labor out on the shop floor.

BERNSTEIN: Really, so you put in a bid but it didn't work and then you had a grievance? Is that what happened?

ENGLER: I put, I put a bid in. The company told me, you don't have to write the bid out of this position. And I said, oh yes I do. So I went to the union, that was the first real contact I had with them except for joining, and told them I wanted them to file a grievance on my behalf, which they eventually did, and we 15:00won. Then they still didn't let me leave. They says, well, we can't let you leave until we find a replacement for you. I said, so then you can pay me the difference in salary while I'm sitting in this job, and the union went to bat for me then and uh... So after that, I started seeing that I had to speak out for myself. So I became active in the union. In fact, over the, then was involved in the negotiating team, never was a shop steward, uh, because I, I just, never was an opening. But I finagled, when it came time to negotiate a contract while I was there. This was a few years later when I really started getting uh, more thinking I could do some good for people. Uh, we had a meeting to go over contract proposals. And as part of that meeting, they just said they had representatives on the organizing team for various shifts. When it came time 16:00for my shift, I was there with a friend. I said, nominate me to be on the negotiating committee. And I caught everybody unawares, I was nominated, there was no opposition because the, the guy that they wanted on the negotiating committee uh, didn't realize that he should have nominated himself, so I was --only ones that could vote were the people on my shift, there were only two of us there, or three of us there, so I won, I became, got on the negotiating committee. And uh, and uh, you know, was involved and got to be known around the shop uh, as an agitator who got on, both on the company's bad side and the union's bad side, because they didn't want to rock the boat.

BERNSTEIN: The union didn’t?

ENGLER: I didn't realize it at the time, the truck drivers where we worked had all the benefits. It was a different local, we were in an inside local, they were an outside local. Uh, basically the better benefits and everything went to the truck drivers and we were like an afterthought, at least that's the way I felt. So I got uh, on the bad side of both sides, for a number of years, had a 17:00couple kids and my dad finally came to me and says why don't you quit this company before you find yourself getting hurt by somebody, because you're just... and I guess his friends from the Teamsters advised that maybe I should go look for work elsewhere, which I ended up doing. And uh, never looked back. That's when I went United Airlines, immediately made as a matter of fact less money but much better benefits. Got active right away with the union there.

BERNSTEIN: And that was the IAM?

ENGLER: That was the IAM, yeah.

BERNSTEIN: Was it easy to get a job?

ENGLER: This was 1966, the airlines, this was the year that the IAM struck all the major airlines. And I hired on after the strike, so I didn't have to go through what you know the members on all the airlines, the IAM represented 18:00airlines, airlines went through. But uh, those were good times for the airlines. After the strike, the wages were going to go up, health and welfare was much improved from what it was before. And I had my choice living in Chicago, there were ads in the, in the newspaper for United Airlines, American Airlines, and Trans World, all of which were, American Airlines was not an IAM carrier but Trans World and United were. So I had my choice of any one of three carriers. And uh, the only one I was familiar with, because it was the hometown airline was United Airlines, and my brother had flown them when he was in the service a few years before. So I knew the airline. So I took a chance on going to work for them. And uh, went through a very intricate hiring process, because I applied for a ramp service position, which was loading and unloading the airplanes. And 19:00they put me through a whole, these were times before frankly for any position that had any skills at all, they would only hire Whites, you know, because they could. They were not hiring women for these positions. So they gave me a whole battery of tests and they says, you know, you don't want to be a ramp serviceman. We got another position that you're qualified for, and that is as a, they called it a storekeeper. I said what the heck is a storekeeper. Basically you work in the stockroom with the airplane parts and all that good stuff, and it takes more skills, but it's the same money as a ramp serviceman, why don't you take that. I says, well that's fine. They introduced me to the superintendent of that department. Then they wanted to do a background check, because we all had to be bonded at that point to work for an airline, and I'm sure it's even worse now, but so you know they had to go through a background check and uh, I think it was about three, four weeks later I got a notice that 20:00the job was there for me. So I gave a week's notice and went to work for the 3rd of October of 1966.

BERNSTEIN: Good timing, right?

ENGLER: Yeah, exactly.

BERNSTEIN: Then you joined Local 148--

ENGLER: I joined Local 1487 in December, you know as soon as the contract provided that I should join, that's when I joined.

BERNSTEIN: And you get involved right away?

ENGLER: Pretty much. Uh, there was, yeah, I think almost right away, you know we had, those were good times. So the union used to, the shop steward was the first guy you'd meet. If they were doing their job and I met the shop steward, I had a one-week orientation on day shift and then I worked, went right away to afternoon shift, and the shop steward introduced themselves, says hey you know, if you're interested, this is after I joined, uh, there's assistant shop steward 21:00position. And on United back then, we did not uh, elect shop stewards. They were appointed. So he says, "If you'd like the job, we'll appoint you, and we'll see if you know you like doing it. When I'm off, then you'll be the shop steward. You don't have to do anything when I'm not around, and uh, when I'm not here, you'll represent the people on your shift." Sounded neat to me. And, uh, so I became a shop steward immediately. And then uh, at some point, it wasn't exactly right away, but I went to a union meeting and was obligated the old fashioned way, there's a ritual that we use in the Machinists union, and yeah, basically got active right away.

BERNSTEIN: And was there a lot to be done? Or was it all, that you had a new contract which was pretty decent in a lot of ways --

ENGLER: We had a new contract that was wonderful. So I mean there were no problems as far as the benefits. But just like any company, the company would... 22:00Most of our problems if it wasn't disciplinary for somebody not coming to work regularly or something like that... The problems we had at work were somebody else trying to do your work, your job, because it was all spelled out, I couldn't do mechanic work. I couldn't load an airplane. But they couldn't come in and handle aircraft parts. But they'd screw up overtime once in a while, because there was a way it was supposed to be done and handled, and uh, when they'd make a mistake, I'd call them on it, as did the other shop stewards. So, you know, that's basically the only problems we had. And then we had an occasional person that would get in trouble for uh, drinking before work, you know, no different than it is today. Uh, same kind of problems, then you tried to because the company would right away try to terminate somebody and we'd say, you know you should be using progressive discipline, I mean unless he did something really bad. Things like that. So there were always problems. The more 23:00I handled those, the more I got involved with the nitty gritty of going to a union meeting and uh, then once you start going to a union meeting because there's really not that many people that go, even though we had a big local, 5,000 people back then --

BERNSTEIN: How many people would go to meetings?

ENGLER: I'd say we had about 40 or 50. And so you know, I could always find something to do and get on a committee, that kind of thing, so I got active right away.

BERNSTEIN: And did, was there any crossover, your experience with the Teamsters in your previous job?

ENGLER: Really none at all, except uh, I got to be comfortable talking to management, and dealing with my coworkers. And so that was really the only crossover. Uh, it was entirely different. A different atmosphere in the two shops. Uh, United Airlines was not a, a place of unskilled people, where...When 24:00I worked at National Tea, it was basically all unskilled labor force. Different kind of folks. So while at the United, the only women in my department were women, they were our -- we had something called leads. They were union people that leaded and directed you. So mostly the supervisors would tell the leads and then the leads would tell the workers. And the women that we had were all I'd say, and I was only in my 20s, so they were at least in their 40s and they had been hired during World War Two when all the men were gone --

BERNSTEIN: And not all of them had lost their jobs. Most of them did, but not all of them --

ENGLER: And stayed, they didn't leave, so then with their seniority, they were in leadership positions now. Those were the only women. And the only blacks, now when I worked at National Tea, it was a mix, maybe there were 30% people of color. United, the only blacks we had in our department, there were no 25:00Hispanics, and the only blacks we had in our department were people that used to be aircraft fuelers and maybe got hurt on the job so they had to do something that wasn't as strenuous as getting on top of a wing of an airplane to fuel an airplane, which when I started work, the airplanes you fueled from on top of the wing rather than underneath the wing. So they couldn't do that work, and an occasional aircraft cleaner the same way, that became hurt because it wasn't till much later when the United Airlines as well as the IAM were sued over discrimination, and uh, blacks and more women started coming into the department. They weren't sued by the, over the women hiring, but they were sued over minority hiring.

BERNSTEIN: Although I thought that IAM made significant changes after, after the Civil Rights Act? At least in its constitution.


ENGLER: Well, we did as far as membership, there was no discrimination in that regard. And when we were, when the Machinists union and United Airlines were sued, and I don't remember when this was anymore, well, it was in the '70s I think. I think I was still working before I went to work for my local, uh, the union tried to get out of the contract, out of the lawsuit by saying, “Wait a minute now, the company sets those standards.” And I believe the judge ruled something to the effect that the union didn't do enough to change that language to collective bargaining.

BERNSTEIN: No kidding? That's interesting.

ENGLER: Yeah. That was my understanding. And then significant legal fees you know had to be paid. And uh, I'm sure I was still working there when that happened, because they had a just seniority list. They brought black people in. And they gave them back seniority also, because everything in that industry was 27:00based on seniority in your craft. So it didn't matter, company seniority didn't really matter that much, it was how long you were in that particular trade or craft. And they changed all that in that lawsuit. So there were a lot of changes, a lot of hard feelings. And there were some white people that benefited because they had asked to move from a clerical non-union position into a union position and were denied also. In fact, I remember there was one gentleman that I worked with, a black guy, he used to clean the office of the uh, guy's name was Patterson was the owner of, he was the owner and the head person of United Airlines back when it was a family company. He used to clean this guy's office and he'd go to him, this cleaner and say, “You know, I'd really like to work someplace else.” Oh you do a good job, someday you'll get this job. But he never did. And they finally, he was one that benefited from this suit, and he 28:00told me his story, and I, made me really feel that you know you really got, this guy got screwed. Maybe we should've done more. But you know, wasn't, the position to take back then because all of my friends were affected by that, we all moved down in the seniority list you know. But that, you know that was progress I guess.

BERNSTEIN: So you worked in the stockroom.

ENGLER: I worked in the stockroom.


ENGLER: Actually nine years, and as I became active in the union, I became the conductor. The conductor in the Machinists union now that position's been combined, they call it conductor sentinel. But my job was basically to, when you came to a union meeting, you had to sign in and show proof that you were a union member and that meant you had to carry your dues book with you, stamped up-to-date, or else you couldn't get into the union meeting, or if we chose to let you in as a visitor, we could. But you had to be a member. And the local I 29:00belonged to, we had our own building. So our union hall was set up, there was only one door that was unlocked during a meeting. I mean you could get out, but you couldn't get in. So you had to come in one door, and I sat at that door, and had people sign in and looked at their credential. And that was what I did. And I did that uh, until I was elected as the financial secretary.

BERNSTEIN: Let me just, when was, when did the building date from, how long had the local had the building --

ENGLER: Our building was built in 1966, and that's the same year I joined. The building was completed before I uh, joined the union. But there was a unique, our building uh, very nice building, but there's a story there. Our building housed at that time the General Vice President of the Midwestern Territory. Even though we were a transportation lodge, uh, that, offices in the building besides 30:00our own offices and meeting room held the office of the General Vice President of the Midwest Territory. And from what I'm told when they were going to build the building, they needed financing. So in order for a bank to loan them the money to build the building, uh, the International union guaranteed the loan from what I'm told, and said “Hey, we'll rent from you and you'll be getting this rent, that will help you pay off the mortgage.”

BERNSTEIN: So they rented from your local.

ENGLER: They rented from the local. So when I became the financial secretary I was in fact the landlord, we used to kid about it, for the International union. But it was a real partnership there. And my union, my local was unique in another way. And I found this out later, as I got to know more people, higher ups in the union. Transportation, air transportation, most of the locals were 31:00set up by carrier. And somebody in our higher ups in the international union decided that in Chicago, let's try putting all the carriers in one local together, and we'll make them get along. Whether you had X amount of members from United Airlines, X amount of members from TWA and some smaller carriers, Eastern Airlines, they're going to get along. Let's see how they get along. And that was an experiment. And that made our local very powerful in its own way because we were very large, one of the largest air transport unions, locals, and uh, took us a number of years to, to get along, because when I started we didn't cooperate all that well amongst the carriers. But we sorted it all out and gave every carrier a little piece of whatever action there was if we were going to go someplace or be an officer. So we got along pretty darn well and learned from each other. So it was a good experience for me, and -- I found once I became an 32:00officer, full-time officer in my local, that it was so handy to have the International right there if I needed the resource. I didn't have to make a phone call to Washington, even though it wasn't my vice president they would talk to me. And I could get problems solved right there. I got to know a lot of people that way too.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, sure.

ENGLER: Which was good.

BERNSTEIN: Being on the spot makes a difference.

ENGLER: Yeah. Exactly.

BERNSTEIN: So when you made the, how did it happen that you became a full-time union --

ENGLER: Well, it's, that's, it's, it's another actually a funny story, funny but sad in its own way. Back in 1974 I was an officer and I got a call to come to the office that uh, there was going to be, we had some problems. And I go in, and there was a Grand Lodge auditor sitting in the office with our, and our whole executive board was going to have a meeting. And that time, well we had a 33:00mid, a split financial office. The lodge, the locals back then had a choice, you could have a secretary treasurer, or you could have a treasurer and a financial secretary. You had your choice. Our lodge had a treasurer and a financial secretary. The financial secretary took the money in. The treasurer dispersed the checks. It was supposed to be a check and balance. And uh, we come to this meeting and we're told that uh, the International union was removing our financial secretary.

BERNSTEIN: Which was you?

ENGLER: No, which, no, I was the conductor.

BERNSTEIN: Oh right.

ENGLER: And uh, who was a full-time person. They were going to remove him because there was some money missing. The, the financial secretary says he didn't do anything wrong, but the records indicated there was money missing. And he was going to be removed because under our constitution, it's automatic you're removed and you, you can't, you're --

BERNSTEIN: You’re banned.


ENGLER: You’re banned for life, you know for serving office. And uh, the trea -- the president, we had some infighting going on at the local at that time. The president wanted me to take the job, and he was going to appoint me. And uh, the group I ran with, the United Airlines group said, no, we don't want Bill Engler in that job. We've got somebody else we want in that job. And so uh, I stepped back because this guy had been active a lot longer than me. And this guy got put in the job. And uh, less than a year later, he had, he, I don't think he was in a year, but he uh, resigned, abruptly. He just couldn't handle the job. And our president then, our bylaws were written back then, could appoint by himself without any uh, the executive board didn't have a say. And so he appointed a 35:00gentleman that we had just defeated in an election for a general chairman, which is a higher up position in our district. So this guy needed a job, so our president appointed him. Just happened to be that we were going to have an election fall of that year. So I ran against this guy uh, and beat him. And that's how I got in. And uh --

BERNSTEIN: And you wanted it because you wanted the full-time union job? Or? What did you --

ENGLER: I wanted a full-time union job. I didn't want to do that. My goal when I was active in the union was to be something called a committeeman. On United Airlines in the contract a committeeman was a full-time position paid by the company but doing only union work. And I figured, well this sounds pretty good. I can represent people all day long, don't have to really work for, and I never considered representing people a job, work. I considered that --



ENGLER: Neat. That was, that was, that was an occupation that was not a job. It wasn't a chore. And that's what I wanted to do, but uh, I rep, I came from a small group in a large, in a large group. So I was never going to get that job. You know, I could run for it, but I would lose an election. Uh, so they said to me, “Bill, you're not going to get this. We're not going to back you. But we don't want this guy as our financial secretary, we'll back you 100% for that.” And we had the numbers. So that's how I got started. And uh, with no experience and so I took it because it, it paid more than I was making on the shop, even though there was no, it was a salary so there was no overtime or anything like that, you know, didn't realize at the time it was more than a 40-hour job. But it was something that I just fell into and loved it from the get-go.

BERNSTEIN: So it had to be a lot of accounting, numbers? You were comfortable with that or not so much?


ENGLER: Well our accounting since, well I've been comfortable with it because our accounting is very simple. You know, for the most part you're a part-time person. And I had clerical help. Uh, so it was simple math. It wasn't that you needed to be an accountant. All you needed to do was keep a set of books. And all you had to do was be able to add and subtract and you had adding machines that would help you with that and not calculators back then. I mean you had, not a calculator like we know it today but something. It was a job I fell into and enjoyed. So you know, so I did that. Once you started working full-time, uh, I became more ambitious. And I, you know, then I decided -- the, the gentleman that trained me as a financial officer, his name was Dave Hamilton. He's passed away. Uh, he was my, the auditor of that zone, because the auditors had zones, so he trained me as a financial officer. Right after he trained me, he went to 38:00headquarters uh, to assume the position of the as-- administrative assistant to the then secretary treasurer and assistant secretary. So you know he trained me, went to Washington. And it didn't take me too long. I went to the headquarters to help learn my craft, what I was doing, talk to him again, and I said geez, what he's doing looks pretty good too. Pays more, much more money than what I was going to make. So it didn't take me long to start getting even more ambitious and saying geez, I'd like to move up in the organization, work for the International union. So I finally got the chance about six years later, and went to work --

BERNSTEIN: But that whole time you were interested?

ENGLER: I was a full-time financial secretary. Those were interesting times. We had uh, United went on strike twice when I was the full-time financial officer. 39:00The 1966 strike, the airlines after that never again uh, bargained together --

BERNSTEIN: Across the board.

ENGLER: -- yeah, with everybody. That taught uh, the companies a lesson and it taught basically the unions a lesson. So United went on a couple strikes. Northwest always would go on strike over the years. That was, they were a company that had terrible labor relations. I don't remember who else, there were other strikes because there were other unions that went on strike too over those years. But United had two strikes that I was involved in over those years before I left.

BERNSTEIN: And what was your involvement?

ENGLER: Well, my involvement basically was get the records together to see who would get paid, who was eligible. You had to be a member in good standing --

BERNSTEIN: You mean for strike benefits.

ENGLER: For strike benefits, and you had to have certain amount of time in the union to get strike benefits. Uh, and those were times, those were good times for the airlines, when they were regulated. They were regularly hiring. So there 40:00was a lot besides the day-to-day work of the job uh, when you went on strike, there were a lot of preparations, to get the records together, so because the International issued the strike checks. They sent them back to us, we had to issue them. And the way it worked was, there was a stub that they signed, you'd send the stub back. When they got that stub, they'd send the next batch of checks. Because you got paid as I remember weekly. But you had to turn those checks around using overnight mail, get them back and forth to the international union, and uh, so those were busy times. But for the most part, it was good work. Uh, all of the labor agreements in the airline industry back then, they were all union shop agreements. So uh, you either joined the union or you didn't work. It was that simple. So that was easy part of it.

BERNSTEIN: You didn't have to do organizing every day.


ENGLER: No, I did not organize any day. Everybody was on check-off with, unless he didn't want to be, and then you had to pay your dues monthly. But, uh, so it was a good job. I had competent help, and uh, good support you know.

BERNSTEIN: And during that time, did you, did it matter to you who your international president was, did it have a big impact on your life? Or your consciousness?

ENGLER: No, you know, I never had, I never had occasion to meet the international president. Uh, let's see, when I, when I hired on, it was Roy Siemiller and then it was Red Smith. I never met either of them, I saw Red Smith in action at a Grand Lodge Convention, the first one I went to, but no, it didn't, you dealt with your general vice president. And the only general vice president that I remember back in those years uh, was Bill Winpisinger was our general vice president for a while, at transportation. I never met him, but John Peterpaul you'd see on occasion, you know, or his AA would come to uh, at -- 42:00Frank Waldner was the AA back then and uh, he would come to our, our union once in a while for a social event or something like that. So, but the deal with the International president, no, there was no need at my level to do that.


ENGLER: Nor was the secretary treasurer, who basically I would've fallen under his jurisdiction, but never saw him.

BERNSTEIN: And what about political, were you involved in Chicago politics in any way? Any labor council coalitions?

ENGLER: We were. We were not actually in the City of Chicago. We were in Des Plaines which is a suburb. But most of our members lived in the city, so indirectly we were involved in city politics. Uh, once in a while a politician from the city would uh, ask to speak at our hall, and we used our union hall for, that's how I met a lot of people too, the other unions, IAM unions in town, locals in town, if their shop was located near us, they would meet in our 43:00building for shop meetings or strike votes or ratification votes and things of that nature. Uh, we were not as involved in retrospect in -- in politics as we should be, uh, I think. Uh, we were, we were in the State Council of Machinists. We were in the Chicago Central Labor Body. We never sent delegates to those meetings. We paid our per capita, but we never sent delegates. No, nobody was interested in that kind of stuff, back, early on.

BERNSTEIN: I mean this is during the late '60s, early '70s, there couldn't be a more tumultuous time in national politics.

ENGLER: No, you're right.

BERNSTEIN: And were you all --

ENGLER: No, we got involved in national politics with MNPL by uh, uh, there was no check-off then. So you would uh, sell pins or there was always a theme. So we did all of that. But local politics --

BERNSTEIN: So Machinist Non-Partisan Political League--


ENGLER: Yes, Machinist Non-partisan Political, they always had, there was a card one year, “Take back the White House” or whatever it was, and there were pins. So you'd, you'd… Before I became a full-time officer, when I went to leadership school, I met a gentleman named Bill Holayter who was the head of our political action department back then. And this had to be about 1973. I went to the University of Wisconsin for a week. And he was up there and I don't know how they would pick people, but he says to me, you're going to be at this school. You're going to be our head of our fundraising committee. Like I said, I don't know how he picked me. He says, and you're going to -- I got a wristwatch here and I've got a couple other little trinkets that you're going to sell for MNPL, raffle for MNPL, raise money while you're here. So I did that. I got to know him 45:00very well, Bill uh, Holayter over the years, but back then I was, geez, something else I'd like to do. I like to hustle money for the union, for our political action committee. So I did that. I thought it was over the years, I used that, I used to go to work early when I was working at United, and I talk union all the time. I was always talking union. I was always selling whatever MNPL might be trying to peddle. And I, I thought I was pretty good at it. Back then, you know like I said, there was no check off so you had to beg for money, and that was the only way we could get it.

BERNSTEIN: So you'd go in before your shift started and talk for an hour or so --

ENGLER: Absolutely, and I bothered the hell out of my coworkers --

BERNSTEIN: People coming and going.

ENGLER: Yeah, well, not, if they were in the break room busy coming to work, you couldn't talk to them during the day, you know during the workday. Only at break or before. So I would just bother the dickens out of anybody I was with, you know talk about politics, mostly talk about fundraising. And I'd also talk about what was going on with the union, so they knew. I'm sure I bothered a lot of 46:00people, but you know, I enjoyed. But then when I went to full-time, we found there were better opportunities for raising money because we did everything from selling linens uh, you know people would come to the building and say, we've got uh, a whole truckload of linens that we're going to bring and sell out of your union hall and you're going to make a percentage of that. And then it was one time it was various cookware, uh, not pots and pans, but mixing bowls and things like that, different sizes, glasses, all kinds of stuff. And you'll make a percentage of this just by letting us use your union hall. And the deal then, we used all that, anything we made, we never kept it, we gave it all to MNPL. Now you know, you had --

BERNSTEIN: Good for you.

ENGLER: The fliers we used, you had a stamp on there you know that the money was 47:00going to go to our action, political action committee. But we'd hand-bill the neighborhoods and we had a sign out in front, you know, housewares for sale, stuff like that. And so we made a lot of money. That was good for us, it was good for me, because it got my name out, but it was good for our political arm too.

BERNSTEIN: Did anybody wish that the money had gone to the local instead of the political --

ENGLER: No, not really, because we were pretty much upfront, if you bought the stuff, you knew where the money was going to go. So no, my local didn't need the money. We, we had a lot of money because we had a good dues rate. We invested it well. And you know with the rent we were getting from the International union, we were doing well. We could do anything we wanted back then. We could send delegates all over. Times were good, in those days. So you know, I got to meet a lot of people and got involved with politics, went to you know, two Grand Lodge 48:00Conventions while I was a full-time officer. Uh, and then --

BERNSTEIN: Do you remember the first convention?

ENGLER: The first convention I went to was 1976 in Hollywood, Florida. I was a delegate there. And then went again in Cincinnati in 1980. Uh, '76 was a tumultuous convention, terribly tumultuous. Red Smith was the International President, uh, suffered from emphysema, and if he got exc-- having trouble breathing in good times, but when he got himself excited uh, it was even worse. And these were, this was the year that they called it the Program for Progress. They were going to uh, change their per capita formula, to, so Grand Lodge wouldn't have to go back every convention and beg for money for the delegates. They were going to put a formula in place that was going to work. And this was going to change everything. So it was going to be hotly debated. And uh, it was. It took, we had roll-call votes, which the way the rules were, once you started, 49:00you couldn't stop, every delegate, say there were 2,500 delegates, you had to poll them individually to vote.

BERNSTEIN: That's a long process.

ENGLER: Yeah, and so it took a tremendous, there was no automation, so it took a long, long time. And I think we went through a couple of these during the course, before we could get this issue settled. Uh, the International president got so rattled he had to give up the chair and turn it over to Bill Winpisinger who was the, his assistant, he was the vice president, the resident vice president at that point uh, who you know had to handle it. Sitting in the audience and not knowing either of these gentlemen, you couldn't help but feel for Red Smith. He was close to retirement, sick, and was just being dumped on by everybody on the convention floor you know. But it was an interesting convention. Jimmy Carter came there. He was going, he was the nominee at that 50:00point of the Democratic party. So back then we still had uh, the Democratic nominee would come to our convention, and he was there. And uh --

BERNSTEIN: Did he have support?

ENGLER: Yeah. In '76.

BERNSTEIN: I was going to, not --

ENGLER: Yeah this was his first term. And, and being in my position too, I had the chance to meet Jimmy Carter when he was running for President. When he first got started, Jimmy Carter came to Chicago as the Governor of Georgia with one aide, sort of a bodyguard. I guess he was a trooper but he was in plain clothes. And he came in to -- he was just introducing himself around, and we had another professional football team in Chicago, not the Bears, but it was a different league. I, forget, Chi -- Chicago Firebirds or whatever they were called. And he, we went to a football game with him that night. It was a fundraiser kind of 51:00a thing. And so I got a chance to meet him when he was, you know, just getting started. And uh, uh, so that was something else you know, you know when you're full-time, you meet people, you know. Now that you mention it, I did get a chance to meet Bill Winpisinger while I was a full-time officer. Bill Winpisinger was filming a 60 Minutes segment. They were doing a segment on Bill Winpisinger. And I got a call from George --

BERNSTEIN: This is right when he comes in or when?

ENGLER: No, he had been in. But you know Bill Winpisinger was very controversial International president and very outspoken. And uh, always was meeting with the press. So they decided, 60 Minutes was going to do a piece on him. And I got a call from George Kourpias who was his executive assistant back then. And since I was in the office, they must've looked up when we had our union meetings, and George Kourpias introduced himself to me over the phone and said, you know, can 52:00you get a crowd at your union meeting if we asked you to. And I says, well, you want a hostile crowd, you want a supportive crowd? Tell me what you need and we'll do what we want. He says, no, they can be just ordinary members, but we want the house to be loaded because we're going to be filming 60 Minutes, you know, at your union hall at your union meeting. So can you, can you fill the hall? I says, we'll have the hall filled.

BERNSTEIN: You didn't know who was going to --

ENGLER: No, he told me, yeah he told me 60 Minutes was going to be the International president. And so they came and so I got a chance to meet Bill Winpisinger and watch a portion of that. And, and we had told him you can ask him any question that comes to your mind, you know, basically but that's what 60 Minutes was looking for. It wasn't, it wasn't rehearsed or anything like that, just to show how he handled himself in front of a group, the interaction. So I, I did have a chance to meet him personally when he was the International – It 53:00couldn't have been long after he was, because he came in in I think '77 and I left that position at the end of '80. But you know, so I got a chance to interact with him and uh, at that point, so I knew him, you know. Later I got a chance to work for him too.

BERNSTEIN: So in the late '70s, you went to your first convention in '76.

ENGLER: '76 yup. And I used to go also to my district conventions, District 141 was the district that had United and some other carriers too. And then, I don't know, maybe around 1978 when I decided I'd really like to start, you know try to be a Grand Lodge Auditor. And started lobbying for the position anybody I could talk to that might help me you know I'd start lobbying and at the '76 convention, we, they, they had, I knew there was an opening for a Grand Lodge 54:00Auditor. Somebody had, the auditor in the zone that I eventually would end up going to, uh, was up on his roof shoveling snow off his roof, fell off his roof, and passed away. And they didn't fill the position. So at the 1976 convention, which was in September of '76, I, sorry, 1980 convention I sought out Gene Glover was general secretary of the treasury at the convention, introduced myself, and I said, boy, really like to come to work for you if I could. He says, you and a lot of other people. I never heard another word. And uh, I ran for election in December of 1980, was up for election.

BERNSTEIN: Re-election.

ENGLER: Re-election. Ran and won, unopposed. And I don't think I had been, I wasn't yet sworn in for my new term, because that would've been the first meeting after the first of the year, I got a call from Gene Glover, and says I 55:00want you to come work for me the first of the year. You know, so I says, well, you going to come to Chicago and interview me? Oh yeah, I'm going to come talk to you. Calls me back the next day, says, I'm not coming to Chicago. He says, you want the job, I want to see you in headquarters the first work day after January 1st. I says, wait a minute, we haven't even talked. You don't know me. He says, other people know you. It's all he said. So I had to go back to my local, just been elected, and say uh, I'm leaving.

BERNSTEIN: I didn't plan this but --

ENGLER: No, I didn't plan this but I'm leaving and uh, we need a replacement. By that time, we had changed our bylaws. Uh, our president was on the outs and had been on the outs. We had replaced him. So we changed our bylaws so the president could appoint to fill a position with the acquiescence of the executive board. 56:00So we changed our bylaws. And that was actually in the model bylaws at the International used to, so it wasn't like we were doing something sneaky.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, that makes more sense. Honestly.

ENGLER: It does make more sense.

BERNSTEIN: The groups I've been in, it makes more sense.

ENGLER: And so I was able to get somebody I wanted appointed to fill my position that I knew I could work with, and uh, so I went to work for the International first of the year.

BERNSTEIN: So did your family mind moving?

ENGLER: No, my wife, my daughter was supposed to graduate from high school in June of '81. But we found out when I said I have to move to Minneapolis area, the first of the year, we found out from my daughter's high school that she had enough credits. And she just, she really didn't like high school terribly, very much. So she was ready to go and she said, this is great. And both our daughters, my other daughter was in, just starting high school or in the middle of high school, whatever it was, so she was looking forward to going to a new 57:00town also. And my wife was always had been supportive of anything I wanted to do career-wise. So it was a real adventure going up there. You know, the deal I made with my wife, my wife worked to help support my habits of owning a boat and stuff like that, you know all my expensive habits, she had to help support and --

BERNSTEIN: What did she work at?

ENGLER: She worked at, she was in, that called a Retail Clerk's Union, she worked in a food store as a checker, union agitator also with that (laughs). But the deal was I cut with my wife was she would be able to retire then and never work again.

BERNSTEIN: When you moved to Minneapolis?

ENGLER: When, when I moved to Minneapolis, I was going to make enough money that uh, she would never need to work, you know.

BERNSTEIN: Sweeten the offer just significantly.

ENGLER: Yeah, she was very supportive. And I went up there and, and thought uh, 58:00well I got my career now. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to work in Minneapolis uh, you know living in Minneapolis, even though I service I think five states. And this is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my career. That, that was my thought at that time.

BERNSTEIN: And so you started off smoothly?

ENGLER: Yeah, it was a different experience. I came from a shop that was all union, all 100 union shop agreements, and uh, should've known it was going to be different because the Administrative Assistant to the General Vice President was Tom Ducy in the Midwest Territory called me in the office and said, I'm going to give you some facts of life about where you're going. And I was going to be servicing Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. With the exception of Minnesota, they're all right to work states. So he said, it's going 59:00to be different. You're going to be working with people and training people that don't have to belong to the union. They want to belong to the union. So you have to treat them a little differently than, because when somebody would come to work for one the airlines, and they'd say well do I have to join the union, they'd say no, you don't have to join the union. You can get fired. (laughs) You know, it's that simple you know. Doesn't work that way. You schmooze people more. And so it was entirely different atmosphere, but they prepared me well. The administrative assistant to Tom Ducy at that time saw to it at his first staff conference that I met every business representative in the Midwest Territory, and he put me at a place where I had to meet them. They had to come by me, so they, I don't know why they treated me so well. But uh, they put me in a position that I couldn't fail unless I was a complete dummy. And you know I always loved them for it but uh, so it went relatively smoothly. It was, you 60:00know, I can remember my first assignment was I had to go to uh, a I think someplace in either South Dakota or Iowa, wherever it was, Nebraska it was, small town, small shop, small town. And somebody had told me I thought, you dressed formally. So I went to this little town to a union meeting wearing a suit and tie, and I, I come in and the Grand Lodge rep that serviced that area uh, sees me and he's in looked like a farmer basically because that's all people in that area were, some of them were part-time farmers. He says, you got to be the Grand Lodge Auditor. He says, kid, you ain't going to make it dressed like that. I chucked that, chucked the tie, chucked the jacket, you know, got a Machinist jacket or whatever so I could fit in with the crowd, because they wouldn't talk to you. They were scared. They said, geez, this guy's here to do something bad to me you know. But you learn quickly, and I met so, you know 61:00servicing in that area for four-and-a-half years and --

BERNSTEIN: Now the job of auditor, you get sent where there are issues to investigate is that mostly what you do?

ENGLER: No, not always. As a matter of fact, you mostly just looked over the shoulders and helped where necessary. I used to teach at uh, state councils of the five states that I serviced, because they would bring the financial officers there and I would give them a couple hours in between political speeches and that, uh, I would teach them a little bit about their job or I would visit them and teach about their job. Later, one of the Grand Lodge reps had a relationship uh, in Iowa with the University of Iowa, and they were looking for uh, somebody to teach how to do LM reports and 990 reports. And uh, he volunteered my name to 62:00the university and had them contact the General Vice President in that territory who contacted my boss. So I think for last two years before I left for headquarters, uh, I taught a course at the University of Iowa just all the labor organizations in the state, that wanted to come and pay whatever they charged them, to have me teach them how to do that work. So I met more people that way. But uh, yes, there, I'd go in where there were shortages on occasion. You know, uh, but it was mostly training people, and just help them do their jobs. So I met so many nice people doing that. Because our officers, everybody was part, there was only part, well there were a few full-time people in Minneapolis area. Other than that, everybody's part-time, which most of our officers are part-time people.

BERNSTEIN: Meaning they do it after work or they get --

ENGLER: They do it after work, before work, on weekends. You know, that's, but they were small local so the work wasn't overwhelming. But with the government 63:00relations, government regulations, you know you had to be uh, dedicated to do, be a financial officer in a local. Because nobody had money, even then when times were better. But then as, this was, when I went to work for the International, Ronald Reagan had just taken office, you know, was just taking office in January of '81. And that started another recession, so I go to work and you know, there started to be layoffs and things like that. So our shops were affected. And the time I was out in the field, I merged a lot of shops, a lot of railroad shops, because with technology they needed less locals. You know the trains, locomotives didn't break down as much, so they needed fewer shops. And shops were closing where I serviced in these small towns, small manufacturing shops were closing up even back then. So there was a lot of mergers, disbandments, and contraction.


BERNSTEIN: And were you involved in the PATCO?

ENGLER: PATCO, I was only involved to the, to the extent that uh, I wasn't involved at all because I didn't fly. I had, you know we all had lease cars. Uh, so I had no occasion to fly. So I was not involved in it because I didn't have to fly. Our International told all the reps you don't fly in that period of time. Well I wasn't flying anyhow, I had a car. So I was not affected. Yes, I was saddened by it but not directly affected by it.

BERNSTEIN: And did, did your, did your local I guess you weren't in the local anymore?

ENGLER: I'm still, I was still in the local but not active, no, no. And I wasn't, I never could go to union meetings because I was physically not there anymore, you know.

BERNSTEIN: Right, right, right. So you're an auditor for the whole early '80s, in the Midwest.


ENGLER: Early 1980s. In those five Midwest states. They were all under the same general vice president. I did not answer to that general vice president. I'd run into him at his, and you know, I saw him maybe at Christmastime when I used to go, because I used to go home every Christmas. Because my mom and dad were there, and my wife's mom and dad were in the Chicago area. So we'd go home for Christmas. That was the only time we'd go back to Chicago. And I'd pop into his office and say hello, you know. But so I never saw him, except at his staff conferences and occasionally at, at a state council meeting. Because I was assigned every state council in every state that I went to, you know, so I'd run into those people, and I'd run into my boss once in a while, Gene Glover, at those same state councils. Other than that, uh, I didn't see anybody, except starting in '82, in '82 and '83 I went back to headquarters to teach the financial officers at our headquarters for a week. They used to bring in 66:00auditors from the field to work with --

BERNSTEIN: In Washington.

ENGLER: In DC. And then '84 when they opened Placid Harbor, I taught here also. For, you know, the first time.

BERNSTEIN: And then you get drafted to come?

ENGLER: No, well, again --

BERNSTEIN: East? How does that work?

ENGLER: I found myself in the right place at the right time. Uh, back in '83, the assistant secretary at that time got himself on the wrong sides of the International president and the General Secretary Treasurer, uh, for various reasons.

BERNSTEIN: Political reasons?

ENGLER: No, not political, it was really uh, things, the way he was running his 67:00office. Uh, the General Secretary Treasurer did not want to fire him, but he was under pressure to remove him from the position. So what they did was pay him the same salary he was making as the assistant secretary, put him in an office with no windows, and gave him basically nothing to do. And uh, told Dave Hamilton who was the AA you are now the acting Assistant Secretary. And right after this happened, I was going to DC, uh, to drop my daughter off at college.

BERNSTEIN: At Gallaudet.

ENGLER: At Gallaudet, yeah she was attending Gallaudet then. And I just dropped in to say hello and Dave Hamilton who I knew, as I said trained me as an auditor and I knew very well, hands me a letter that basically told Milo Holt who was the Assistant Secretary that he was moving to another position, didn't say he 68:00had no duties, but if you read no duties, but if you read between the lines, you knew what was happening. And uh, I, I looked at Dave and I said, geez, Dave, you're taking that position. Yeah, he says, we don't know when he's ever going to, what they're going to do if they're going to fire him at some point or if he'll retire. I says, well I'd sure like to have your job. You know, and Dave says, you want my job? He says, Gene Glover's right in this next office, why don't you go tell him that.

BERNSTEIN: Boy, you really were in the right place at the right time. That’s amazing.

ENGLER: Well, not just that, but I was -- you know, I guess I was ambitious. So I went in --

BERNSTEIN: And you already knew Glover too.

ENGLER: Oh, I knew Glover. And my wife was downstairs in the car with our daugh-- or maybe we had dropped my daughter off. While my wife is downstairs, because we had to get home from Washington, and as I went in, I told Gene, I'd really like to come to headquarters whenever this job, it shakes itself out. And I told him, I says, I really don't want Dave's job necessarily, because I knew 69:00he was older than me, I says, when he retires I'd really like to be Assistant Secretary, or else I wouldn't come. There really wasn't that much of a difference in salary or anything like that, and expenses were higher in DC than Minnesota. And Gene says, well, I wouldn't think much of you if you didn't have that ambition to come to headquarters. You know, so, uh, I told him that. Then I ran into my first obstacle, because I went downstairs, told my wife what I wanted to do, and she says, you're crazy. She says, you got the best job in the world, why would you want to go to, you know and she, you know had talking to people and all that, she figured it was going to be a pressure-packed place to work, infighting, political, all that kind of stuff you know, that goes on in a large organization. She says, you're nuts. You don't want to do that. I said oh yes I do. You know, so I never heard another word, uh, a year later, '84 when 70:00the Grand Lodge was going to have their convention, and they send out a bunch of auditors and staff to work on the convention, I get a letter saying you're coming to headquarters just to babysit the building. All the GSTs, departments while they're all gone.

BERNSTEIN: Oh I see, they all go down to work on the convention, do the preliminary --

ENGLER: They go down and this, and this time it was going to be Seattle, so they sent me to Washington DC just to oversee the operation, you had no authority, but they, they needed a father-figure down there to get the work done. So I did that. And I still never heard. And then in '85, uh --

BERNSTEIN: Did you go to that convention?

ENGLER: No, in '84, no I was at headquarters.

BERNSTEIN: Because you had to say home.

ENGLER: I had to stay home, not home, but at headquarters. And uh, you know I don't know if they figured well he did a decent enough job when he was here, I don't know if that entered into it, but in '85, uh, I got the call and says we'd like you to come to headquarters to be the administrative assistant. So I packed up the family, sold the house in Minnesota, and went to Washington. So that's 71:00how I got to Washington, you know.

BERNSTEIN: Right. So what was your uh, what was your main charge once you arrived?

ENGLER: Well, I was the administrative assistant, basically, in our department you were in charge of the stockroom, uh, at headquarters. And here I was the storekeeper, but now I'm in charge of the stockroom, and personnel. So I basically did personnel matters uh, uh, and, and the funny thing was I come, I come to headquarters, my first assignment at headquarters, we had, we used to own a whole block of property where the Machinist building is. We had our building and we had other properties right up the street next door and all that. And we were going to close down and sell uh, they called it the DuPont Circle Building, which was right at DuPont Circle and Connecticut Avenue, we were 72:00selling that. And we had janitorial help there to clean the building. So I get there and they said, and I -- they put me in a hotel because I had no home or anything like that, so I was in a hotel behind the building. They said, your first assignment is give everybody in the building all the cler -- all the janitorial help this letter, one evening. And that was laying them all off. I knew nobody, I knew none of these people, and their boss was going to come from the, this building and manage our property. So he had a job but we were letting everybody else go, you know. There was nothing for them to do because we had our own janitorial service in the building. So my first job when I come to headquarters --

BERNSTEIN: Is to fire the whole janitorial staff.

ENGLER: -- let them all go, you know, and some, some were old enough to take early retirement. Mostly they were just put on the street, you know. Later, a couple of them were, as openings occurred, were able to come back to work in our building. But that was my first assignment, I said, oh I was so scared. They 73:00were all blacks that I was dealing with, you know, and I had never supervised anybody except some clerical help in Chicago. And (laughs) you know, that was my first assignment, so I got my feet wet real quick. But, you know, for the most part it was --

BERNSTEIN: Did you do it well?

ENGLER: I guess I did. You know, nobody punched me in the nose or anything like that. I think they must've known it was coming. But that was my job. And there was some severance that they got and all that. And we were as generous as anybody could be at that point I'm sure, although I don't know you know what they gave ‘em, but we were as generous as people were back then. Because they were all union but it was just the way it was. But uh, that was the first thing, and then almost right away I got involved with uh, part of that position was planning uh, the Grand Lodge Conventions. So this was '85 and they were already 74:00planning for the centennial convention in Atlanta in 1988. And so I hadn't been there very long, and the assistant secretary Dave Hamilton, Don Wharton, Gene Glover, and uh, uh, I think George Kourpias might've been Winpisinger since he was still there. We flew to Atlanta on our plane to start the process of uh, planning the convention. And so I got to go along when they picked the hotels, picked out what suites they wanted in these hotels for the officers of the organization, and then found out that the Assistant Secretary is going to do all the grunt work -- I'm sorry. The AA, me, is going to do all the grunt work and then somebody else is going to get all the credit. You know that's just the way things are. So I, you know, so and that was an exciting time. It was a very special convention for us. The gifts we picked out, and that was in, I didn't 75:00make the decisions but I was involved in you know the process uh, we gave a beautiful railroad watch, you know a pocket watch to all the gentleman delegates. The ladies got a miniature pocket watch that they could wear on a pin on their lapel. We had really neat gifts for that convention, all on the theme of our 100th anniversary. And that was our home was Atlanta. So, you know we went to visit the railroad pit where the Machinist union started. All this was leading up to the uh, this convention. So I spent a lot of time between '85 and '88 going to and from Atlanta.

BERNSTEIN: Did you look into the history as part of the preparation for the convention?

ENGLER: Other people did the history part of it.

BERNSTEIN: That wasn't your piece.

ENGLER: That wasn't my piece. But I helped arrange that... We had a train set up that would take people on a little excursion through Atlanta, you know regular steam locomotive, got to visit the pit where the Machinist union started and all that good stuff. But you know it was working with the hotel people and the 76:00convention center people. So I was involved in it. It's a very big logistic thing for us having a Grand Lodge Convention, we bring a lot of staff down.

BERNSTEIN: It's a couple thousand delegates, and then when you add on the staff --

ENGLER: Yes, over a couple thousand delegates back then. And the staff and then the logistics of bringing equipment down, renting equipment, office equipment, uh, finding a stationery store to --

BERNSTEIN: Did you have union hotels?

ENGLER: Yes, we had uh, three union hotels that we used in Atlanta, and we found basically we didn't, somebody else found a union printer, because there are other people involved, printing the minutes and all that had to be done union. But I didn't have to look for that. Our printer in DC had to arrange that kind of stuff. That was part of his contract. But all the logistics, renting cars to get delegates, to get guests to and from the hotels and convention center, and 77:00all that good stuff. So it was valuable experience, but, but so I did that and mostly I said personnel work uh, helped negotiate a couple labor agreements with --

BERNSTEIN: Wait, stick to the convention a little while longer.


BERNSTEIN: She said something about a banner? Did I miss that? Is that the same convention?

ENGLER: This convention, yeah, this was when we were getting close to the point of going on strike against Eastern Airlines. So very tumultuous times, terrible labor relations with Eastern Airlines. And we're at Atlanta, Georgia, which is one of the main hubs for Eastern. It wasn't their home, but it was a major hub. And in the headquarters hotel which was the Hyatt Regency, in the lobby of this hotel is the Eastern Airlines ticket office that's unmanned except in the daytime. So every night, uh, during the course of this convention, our delegates 78:00would attack this ticket office with stickers, anti-Lorenzo stickers and uh, and basically desecrate this office. And then what they also did was, because feelings were running so high, the Hyatt was a hotel with a high atrium, as tall as the building inside, and it square, house square. And somehow the delegates figured a way to run a cable from one of those balconies across this whole thing, to the other side with anti-Lorenzo stuff on it, anti-Eastern Airlines stuff on it, and the hotel discovered it the next morning. Uh, and since I was the one to contact, they come to me and say uh, we had to hire a human fly kind of a guy to get this stuff down, and you're paying for it. And so I go back to my boss, Gene Glover had retired in between, so at this time it was Tom Ducy. He says, we're not paying for that and you're going to tell them that. You know 79:00(laughs). I'm not telling them that, you're telling them that. So we worked it out and we told our delegates don't do it anymore. It was resolved but this was a very tumultuous convention because of what was going on. We did a march through downtown uh, Atlanta, anti-Eastern Airlines march through Atlanta during the course of the convention.

BERNSTEIN: This is all right before the strike? Or during?

ENGLER: I don't recall now when the strike actually started so it might've been a year before the strike actually. But this was a long time coming, these negotiations and the sale and all that stuff, was a long-time coming. We tried to delay the strike, over and over. But President -- oh the first President Bush uh, would not delay the strike. We can never go on strike anymore, you know, but this one, we wanted to delay it, because we knew we could not win this strike. But the President said let commerce run its course or whatever he said, and we 80:00ended up going on strike. But this was before, when feelings were running terribly high. So, but it was a wonderful convention that we had, because it was our anniversary. It was wonderful experience to be involved in it as I was, you know, doing the grunt work, so. Uh, but it was nice, those were good times. But it was mostly, the work I did at headquarters was pretty much routine work. Uh, didn't prepare me terribly well uh, in retrospect for being the Assistant Secretary. But uh, that's OK, I got to meet everybody and you know I learned my craft there, you know.

BERNSTEIN: So then after the convention, you get a promotion?

ENGLER: This was '88. In '89, Dave Hamilton oh, oh first I should go back, in '87 Gene Glover retired and uh, Tom Ducy took his place. So in '89 Dave Hamilton 81:00decided to retire. And Tom Ducy called me up to his office and said he'd like me to become the Assistant Secretary. So that's when I took the position in '89 when Dave left. So uh, and that's what, the position I held from '89 through uh, June of 2002. So you know, that's how I got there. Naturally the job, that job was much more interesting. Uh, some travel, because basically I ran the auditing staff in that job. But at that position, I don't remember when it was, I became on the board of Guide Dogs of America also. And uh, it's written into the bylaws of I think the Guide Dogs of America that that position among others are 82:00actually get a board position with Guide Dogs, I think that's what it says. But I used to, you know, I went to the dinners and I also went to the meetings at some time in that period, and then through you know now presently I go out to that. But I got to do a little bit of travel, you know, went to the executive council meetings as a, I had a presence but no vote. But I went to the meetings, got to interact with the whole executive council, and uh, you know, so that was exciting. Then got to go to three conventions, yeah, '92, '96, and 2000, where I got to basically take some of the credit but didn't have to do near as much of the grunt work. By that time it was turned over to Mike Dorsey who had to do the grunt work and uh, I would go in with the Executive Council just a couple weeks 83:00ahead of time. And sometime, I don't remember which convention, they used to have, we used to have two-week convention. And you'd get the weekend off in between. Well that got so terribly expensive, they decided, because every department used to make a report, and do maybe sometimes a video or long written or oral report. And it got to be so expensive they went to one-week convention they tried to shrink it down and save a lot of money, which they did. So you didn't have to go in too long. But the Executive Council goes in a couple weeks early. The law committee comes in early, the resolution committee comes in a little bit early. So you know you spend some time, but so you know I got to go to three Grand Lodge conventions, sit on the dais, and at every one of those conventions meet so many wonderful people, politicians or other leaders, and uh, you know future presidents. Because at some point we stopped inviting uh, it was terribly disruptive to have a presidential candidate come to your convention, 84:00worse if he's a sitting president, because of the security. You know, and so you blow a whole day with security checks and all that stuff. So that stopped and they started appearing via video, which was not near as neat, but much smarter I guess--

BERNSTEIN: More practical.

ENGLER: -- much more practical yeah, yeah. But the job was, you know, always something different, you know, very exciting over the years. Lot of good experiences, you know, met a lot of wonderful people, worked with a lot of wonderful people. Had a good staff.

BERNSTEIN: And you were um, you had some Democratic party involvement along the way?

ENGLER: Well, I was I'd been an active Democrat, but in the position I held with 85:00the IAM, uh, especially after the federal government started scrutinizing unions as it related to how dues were spent, uh, I could no longer could do anything while on the payroll that was remotely concerned with political. I could, I could be sitting on a dais and meet somebody because they were at a meeting I was at. But I couldn't do political things. I couldn't go out and help in a campaign or any of that stuff. Nobody in my department could, uh, with the exception of general secretary treasurer who could because of the reporting requirements. Uh, so uh, but you know I saw what was going on around me. And uh, that got me to where I would stay uh, was something I felt I wanted to do after I retired was to get active again with the Democratic party, you know, which I 86:00did. Something else before we get to that, what was exciting, the time that I was secretary, uh, I thought, and I don't know actually why it failed, we were going to merge with the UAW [United Auto Workers] and the Steelworkers. And I got the occasion to work closely with the Secretary Treasurers and their assistants, of both the Steelworkers and the UAW, got a chance to visit their educational facilities and meet much of their staff. And, you know, I was telling Charlie this morning how saddened I was that it really didn't happen, because I think what the future of the three organizations might've been had they been able to get together, but it didn't work out.

BERNSTEIN: Did you think at the time that it would?

ENGLER: Oh, absolutely. I felt that uh, we knew there was going to be some redundancies of staff. And I figured well, I'm going to get an early retirement and there'll be a buyout of some sort to get rid of me, among others. And I 87:00thought, well, I didn't want to go, but I didn't care if I went because it was for the good of the organization and for our members. So it didn't really matter to me, because I ended up retiring early anyhow. But uh, you know it didn't work out, but I met so many good people, saw their schools and how they all operated and uh, very saddened by it. Because I never really found out exactly what happened. There was a lot of finger-pointing. It was your fault, it was your fault. Because it was supposed to fall in place. All three International presidents were close to the same age, all going to retire. This is really going to work. We found that the three organizations were totally unlike in, in the way they did business. You know so it was difficult. It would've been difficult, I think it could've been done if everybody really wanted to, you know, but it didn't work out, you know it's too bad. Too bad.


BERNSTEIN: Yeah, that's a shame. I'm going to go back to when you first get married.


BERNSTEIN: And your wife is working --

ENGLER: She was working off and on between kids and all that. She was working when we got married and then --

BERNSTEIN: And belongs to a different, to the store workers I guess.

ENGLER: Yeah, she, she was in a Retail Clerks and now the United Food Commercial Workers, off and on, that's the only place she worked, you know, was in, in, all the grocery stores, the chains in Chicago were unions, so she had a union job the whole time, you know. So she's got a small pension too. But yeah, she worked off and on. Never, never full-time, part-time, you know, when she had the kids she'd stop for a period. And we needed a little extra money so she'd go back to work for a while, I quit for a while, you know. Near the end she was working close to full-time, but maybe 30 hours a week or so. Uh, but the kids were older 89:00already so, you know, didn't need for her to be home.

BERNSTEIN: So was your family involved in the union at all?


BERNSTEIN: Do you think, I mean talk a little bit about the relationship.

ENGLER: Not, not really. You know, as I told you yesterday, my kids were deaf and visually impaired --

BERNSTEIN: Both from birth.

ENGLER: From birth. So they really never, they knew what I did, because you know they sh-- we must've raised them right, because I know they're both Democrats. My youngest daughter who lives in Seattle uh, has gotten, she's, she's a real advocate now for deaf and visually impaired. She lobbies her state legislature, she's gone to Washington more than once to lobby her uh, senator and, senators 90:00and U.S. representative and sits on like the public transit board uh, to see that, they got a light rail system, streetcar whatever it is, to see that they complied with all the requirements.

BERNSTEIN: ADA requirements.

ENGLER: Yeah, yeah. So she's done all that. The daughter that lives with us now, because she became totally disabled uh, got her first real job out of college through something called IAM Cares, which was uh, a subsidiary of us, funded by, partially by us, mostly federal government, that found jobs for uh, handicapped. And they got her a good job at uh, Bechtel Industries.


ENGLER: Yeah. And there was Bechtel was very supportive and very good.

BERNSTEIN: What did she do, when she first got this --

ENGLER: Working with computers. I don't know exactly what she did but, data 91:00input probably. And that...Bechtel decided to farm that out to EDS, a company. So uh, they farmed it out, but she stayed at her same desk, the same place, just worked for another company who did that function, you know. And then when they decided then to move that function out of suburban Washington, she lost her job, then couldn't find a job. The IAM tried to help her with the federal government, who's supposed to be good for hiring disabled. And finally she went to work for the IAM at Grand Lodge, you know, in their reports department, while I was still there. But -- so working with the Machinists, she saw you know she got, I think she contributed to her own unions PAC, because she was in the OPEIU. And uh, got, knew what I was doing at all that, so she got politically active, well I 92:00shouldn't say politically active, she became aware of the issues and votes Democratic too. But they were never involved like going out into picket line --

BERNSTEIN: Like, when they were growing up in those years when they were kids, there wasn't much union, I mean some places there, you know, there are family picnics or sort of ways in which people's families are getting involved.

ENGLER: No, we didn't have picnics. My union didn't have picnics. We, we used to have a New Year’s party for the adults, and that kind of stuff. United Airlines when I was still, before I went to work for the union, they'd have open houses where you'd bring your kids and a kids’ Christmas party and stuff like that. But uh, not that. You know, my involvement with my kids was more trying to get them a quality education and getting active with the school districts and all that, you know just to watch what was going on to see to it that they got as good an education as they were going to get. So, but that was divorced from the 93:00union. So they really didn't get involved in that uh, you know.

BERNSTEIN: Did you spend a lot of time, you and your wife both on advocating?

ENGLER: Abs -- as much free time as we could, advocating for the kids. You know we left Chicago because we felt the schools would be better in the suburbs. Found out they weren't a whole lot better, unless you pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. And which we did. And uh, so that, I mean they ended up getting you know a decent education I think, but it was because the two of us pushed, my wife pushed me and I was the vocal one, so I did the talking basically and, and the organizing of the other parents. You know, so we weren't acting on our own, it was concerted effort when we felt we had problems. But uh, but as far as the union goes, no, I didn't take them to picket lines or anything like that. Something that they didn't get involved in.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, but you used your organizing talents --


ENGLER: As much as I could.

BERNSTEIN: -- on the educational front I guess.

ENGLER: Yeah. Oh yes. Oh yeah.

BERNSTEIN: That's amazing. What did I forget to ask you?

ENGLER: Well, if, if you want, what, what I've done afterwards.

BERNSTEIN: Of course, do you want a break first or are you good?

ENGLER: I'm fine.


ENGLER: I'm fine, if you are, OK, I'm fine.

BERNSTEIN: So you, you become the Assistant Secretary in 1989.

ENGLER: Yup. So I, so I served under as the Assistant Secretary, two different General Secretary Treasurers. Three International presidents, you know, so you know, from Bill Winpisinger, George Kourpias, Tom Buffenbarger, and then Tom Ducy, I worked for three GSTs you know, Glover, Don Wharton, before him Tom Ducy. Learned a lot from each, each one of them, they were all different. Each 95:00International president was different, but I really didn't work directly for them, but got to know them all. Uh, in fact George Kourpias uh, when I, we had strict rules when we used to move from one assignment to another. You had X amount of days to find a place to live. They'd give you extra per diem while you were doing that, and pay your hotel. And you had, I forget if it was 60 or 90 days to relocate. After that, you were out of luck. Well, we couldn't sell our house in uh, Minnesota, had trouble selling the house. My wife stayed back while I was in a hotel here in DC. And after the time, I couldn't, I could buy a house, I bought a house here that they were going to build, and on a contingency that I could sell my other house. So I wouldn't start the home. They were holding this spot for me, but they wouldn't start the home. So I run out of 96:00time. And I was really worried and I was going to go to Gene Glover and say, geez, is there going to be an extra room at the dorm here where I could at least bunk, you know, if he wanted me to pay room and board, I can do that. Uh, but George Kourpias, uh, who was, he was the resident vice president that heard about my problem and said, uh, I’m, I just bought a new home and I can't sell my old home. So it's sitting vacant. Would you and your wife and uh, daughters, daughter, one was at college, the other one was finished, would you uh, want to move in here while your house is, while your house is being built and everything. And you know. Oh that was a Godsend. So he was so nice, and really didn't know me. I mean he knew me to see me, but he offered me his house. Boy, and I had, since I saw him here earlier in the week, I thanked him again for that. You know, you don't forget that kind of stuff. So we moved in there, the 97:00house sold. You know, my wife and family came out. We basically stored all the furniture, unused rooms in George Kourpias' home, because it was a good-sized home, and then moved in I think about December we moved to the new place when it was finished. You know, but uh, yeah, that's, it's you know... Then, when I came to headquarters, it was a real family kind of atmosphere. Our wives, the staff wives were friends. Uh, they got together and did things. We got together like there might be, George Kourpias was very open and easygoing guy. So you get to go to his house and play cards, and the wives, if the wives wanted to play cards they could, the wives would visit. I remember my wife making a couple trips to Atlantic City with some of the other wives, just the women would go. My wife 98:00bowled with Gene Glover's wife and a couple other staff wives in a bowling league. She bowled in a bowling league, those people some dropped out, Gene Glover's retired. But she bowled and she stayed in that same bowling league until we left in 2002 you know.


ENGLER: Yeah. And there was nobody left from Grand Lodge, but some of that changed over the years, that closeness, people change you know. But yeah, it was a very nice family kind of atmosphere. So you know, but it was --

BERNSTEIN: Good place to work.

ENGLER: It was a good place to work, yeah, yeah. It was stressful. I ended up, caused myself, you know, a near heart attack, just because I uh, it was a stress, I thought in my mind more driving to and from work, because the traffic was terrible. Once I learned to relax a little bit, you know, the chest pains went away and uh, never really had a heart attack or anything like that, just 99:00close to it I guess. But yeah, it was a good place to work. I got nothing but positive things to say about the whole experience really.

BERNSTEIN: So you retired when you --

ENGLER: I retired, you know I had, in 2001, there were a couple reasons. I, I knew Mike Dorsey was going to take my place, and there was only a couple years difference. I wanted him to have a little bit of a longer period to uh, earn that, because there was quite a difference in our salary. Make that extra money before he retired. And he was ready for a good job, deserved the job. And then, I pretty much made up my mind, but I wasn't sure, and then 9/11 happened. And uh, I was caught as was the Executive, most, some of the Executive Council, maybe the whole Executive Council, I was caught in Vancouver when it happened. Uh, there was a Western Territory and Canadian Territory staff conference 100:00combined in Vancouver, uh, right when it happened. And uh, we couldn't get home, none of us could get home. Tom Buffenbarger had his airplane there. We had flown commercial, and my wife was there. And just, you know, from that perspective seeing it, the fear and all that, we couldn't get home till the following Saturday, I forget which day, maybe it was a Tuesday or it was a Wednesday --

BERNSTEIN: It was a Tuesday morning.

ENGLER: Was it Tuesday?


ENGLER: OK, well that happened on Tuesday, we couldn't get out of Vancouver until Saturday. And uh, so the difficulty getting home, the trauma, and those people were so nice to us, in the hotel, because you couldn't get out, and that was a cruise ship destination, so cruise ships had come in, couldn't leave again, because passengers couldn't get there. So all those people had to find hotel rooms, and everybody was so nice. But just the trauma of flying, which 101:00wasn't great before that, became just scary. You know, and uh, I decided you know, this is just time to hang it up.

BERNSTEIN: Well, and the time it took to get through the airports really changed.

ENGLER: Yes, yeah, we were supposed to go, there was going to be a big conference in Sidney, Australia, that the whole Executive Council were going to go, and it was a setup that we could bring our spouses along. And Carol and I had, my wife's name's Carol, we decided to see a little of Australia. We're not going to go that far without spending some time. So I had made arrangements to do some inter-- uh, country air travel, see some parts of Australia, maybe even go to New Zealand. And after this happened, they weren't going to cancel the conference because it was the IMF, International Metalworkers Federation, was going to have this conference. But Tom Buffenbarger said look, if you don't want to go, you don't have to and your spouses don't have to go. So I think, almost 102:00without exception, the spouses said no, and, and most of the guys said they didn't want to go either. You know, so I didn't go. And I, I know I traveled after that, uh, domestically, but it, it wasn't fun. It just, it was time. So I decided at age 62 and a couple months that I'm going to get out early and uh, just --

BERNSTEIN: Pass the torch.

ENGLER: Yeah, pass the torch, yeah. You know, haven't, haven't regretted going early. It didn't matter that much money wise frankly, because we have a good pension. But uh, so you know, and we decided to go to Arizona because uh, all the places my wife followed me, I says you get to pick. And her sister had been out there a number of years, her mom and dad had retired out there, we tried to retire before they would pass away, but one died 2000 and my father-in-law died, 103:00father-in-law died 2000, my mother-in-law died in 2001, the end of the year. So they didn't make it for our retirement, but uh, uh, Carol's mind was made up that this was where she wanted to go, because she hadn't been close to her sister anymore, since her sister had been out here in Arizona for a number of years. So we decided to come out here, move close by family.

BERNSTEIN: So you looked around for something to get involved in when you got there?

ENGLER: Yeah, well Maria Cordone who was the head of our retiree department --

BERNSTEIN: Who I've known for a long time.

ENGLER: Said, said you're going to have an assignment, I'm going to give you six months or so to settle in, and I'm going to want you to organize all the retirees in Arizona. And uh --

BERNSTEIN: She didn't start small. She didn't start with the town, she started with the state (laughs).

ENGLER: No, no, and George Kourpias, who, well he had been retired, but was in 104:00charge of the uh, Alliance of Retired Americans, called me up one day and says, you're going to get to work in Arizona, as soon as you can and see what we can do out there, build an organization. There was no organization in Arizona of the Alliance. This what you're going to do. You know, and so I did. (laughs) You know, never been terribly successful with uh, the Machinists portion of it, but I forget which year it was, but we chartered the Arizona Alliance, and I've been active in that, helped them write the bylaws, uh, get the, the charter.

BERNSTEIN: That's exciting.

ENGLER: Oh yeah, it was wonderful. Had help from the Alliance, had help from our International, Maria was supportive. So that started it, but that wasn't enough. So I got active in the Democratic Party too, basically goes hand-in-hand. I wanted to do something else. I had been a member of my local for a long time. 105:00And for the most part when people --

BERNSTEIN: This is your original local --

ENGLER: In Chicago. And for the most part, I owed them a lot of allegiance. I would never have been where I was without them. They helped me pay for some labor education courses, et cetera, but and pushed me along. A lot of mentors there. But I wanted to participate in my local union when I moved. I didn't want to go there as a guest and just listen to what was going on. I wanted to be part of it. So there's an air transport lodge in Phoenix, and that's the industry I came out of, so I wanted to transfer my membership, which I did.

BERNSTEIN: And that's allowed?

ENGLER: That's allowed, yeah. So I transferred my membership uh, never stopped paying dues, never thought I'd be anything more than a, a member that would go to meetings, listen, and uh, if anybody asked for some advice, uh, I would give it, but never offer it, you know unless asked. And out of the clear blue sky 106:00they had a resignation. And they asked me if I wanted to step in and be an officer in the local that they'd like to you know pick my brain, you know, more formally. And I was flattered. So, so I took them up on it for about four years, and then felt, you know, was time for me to move on, time for them. But I wanted to be active in my union, and still am, still go to the union meetings.

BERNSTEIN: Still go to the meetings.

ENGLER: As much as I can, which is almost every month. But it's fun because you keep up with what's going on in the organi -- what's going on in the industry, you know, and see people once in a while that I worked with over the years. But uh, it got, uh, they were, I, I live, I moved, if I had my druthers, I would've not moved to where we moved, because it's terribly heavy Republican area. I would've moved some place, probably moved into the city of Phoenix, which is 107:00much more Democratic. I moved to an area, I didn't know. A lot of retired military, very affluent. You move where your economics tell you to go too. And uh, saw uh, ad in a local paper, want to form a local Democratic club. You know, and I couldn't even talk to my neighbors they were so right-wing and really in my mind nutcases. All they want to talk about was their guns and how many guns they got. I grew up in cities so you didn't have a need for a gun, or want a gun. But uh, you couldn't talk politics with them, you get angry with each other. So I saw that, it was right locally in my little community, you know. So I found this lady, and uh, she had just trying to get this club started, uh, and 108:00helped her with that and got ourselves a club, which had no real affiliation, but it was a Democratic club where you could exchange ideas and bring in a speaker and try to grow, we tried to grow, we never did terribly well with it, but uh, that's got me started, and then she knew a few more people than I did, so she says, hey, let's go, the way it's set up in Arizona and maybe this is the way over, it's set up by legislative districts. Each legislative district in the urban areas is, is, has their own setup. So our legislative district, we started going to the meetings. Uh, it's just like being in the union. Didn't like the, the chairperson because of the way she ran the meetings. And uh, didn't think she was doing enough. And uh, I'm sure she was doing all she could, because it's a Republican area, even by legislative district. Uh, so we decided to take all the officers out. I got myself a slate together, I wasn't going to be the chair, I didn't want to chair it, but I was going to be an officer, so we got a slate 109:00together, just like if you're running a union. You know, that's probably you learn these things and you got to put them to use for good or bad you know. So we took out all the officers, we were going to do it our way. You know, and then well that led to -- gee, this is pretty neat. Uh, uh, we also have a state committee, in order to, in order to do any of this, you have to be a precinct committee first, committeeman, you know some places they call it a precinct captain, and Arizona you're a precinct committeeman. Not committeeperson, the statute says committeeman, so if you're a lady you're a committeeman. Archaic language, but it's the way it is. So uh, I had to become a PC. I talked my wife into being a PC also, so uh, we could go together to house call and stuff like that, because she wasn't going to do it on her own. So I said, well come along, I’ll give you a little courage. And you know if it's a lady, I'll introduce you and you do the schmoozing them and I'll schmooze the men. So she went along with it too. She's always been supportive. So uh, that was pretty neat. So I 110:00decided geez, I want to go to the state meetings and represent my district at a state meeting. You know, okay, so got myself elected to do that. Uh, I was the first vice chair and all the sudden our chair, we had two chairs, one didn't want to run against, I still didn't want to be the, the, the one to do all the work you know. So (laughs) the, the chair resigns. So the way our bylaws are written, it's my job. So I inherited the job, cut a deal with the first, the new first vice chair. I says, she says, I don't want to chair meetings. I said, well I got no trouble talking, love to chair a meeting. I said, I don't want to have to get a speaker for these meetings and do that kind of work, I says, but you want somebody to chair a meeting and run a professional meeting, I can do that, you know. So same partnership and it's been about four years now that working 111:00together, and it works. You know, and so now I've gotten active with the county party, with the state party, through the union, with our state because I'm a delegate to the State Council of Machinists from my local, uh, and there when we endorse state-wide candidates on behalf of the AF of L, you know, and I can tip off a candidate both on senior issues now and on what's important to the union. I said, you come to us for an endorsement, this is what your position has to be on certain issues you know. So, and I find that I'm liking all this stuff, you know. That's what I was telling Charlie, I says, I never spoke except with somebody, like if Don Wharton couldn't make something, I taught a lot, so I could teach in front of group, I had no problem with group speaking, but not that kind, formal, our schools are informal. But I says, I couldn't do that, I says, but I really enjoyed it. And so now I can chair a meeting, can be a 112:00dictator, but I can meet, it's nice meeting politicians, getting into -- Arizona's a small state, not like New York. I know every one of my U.S. representatives, whether they're Democrat or Republican, because I've either lobbied them for something or hounded them for something, you know. Because we only have now nine, we had eight. You know so it's a much different atmosphere. The state legislature's smaller. So you can get to do this stuff, and uh, influence some people too. Boy, it's really nice. They put it in here uh, when we had a Democratic governor, I got on the Arizona Alliance thought it would be nice to have somebody on the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging. I said that sounds pretty neat, you know. So I did that. Loved it, just loved it. It was independents, Republicans, and Democrats equal. You couldn't talk politics and you were just advocating for senior issues. Loved it. We'd argue once in a while 113:00some political things. Appointed by the Democratic Governor who was then Janet Napolitano who went to become head of Homeland Security, the Republican Governor made a mistake in not throwing me off the commission and let me stay, but after she uh, signed that Senate Bill 1070, the anti-immigration bill, up until that time, I was just gagging over her cutting funding for things. I couldn't take it anymore, so I just out-and-out resigned. And uh, I felt like in a way like I was a coward, but I couldn't, I just couldn't stomach the policies. She never came to our meetings like the Democratic governor used to. So I said I don't need this. And the way she was treating the help at the state capitol, cutting their hours, giving them furlough days, I just, didn't matter if you were union or non-union, you're just punishing these people because of the state's budget 114:00problems, you know. So I resigned. You know, I've regretted it on occasion, but I just, I couldn't stomach it anymore. But that was a neat job too. That really kept me busy, even though it was you only met once a month. But I got to where I was the chair of their Public Policy Committee on that too. So state department heads, if they dealt with would come to our meetings and all that, so I could really advocate for senior issues then. And department heads were all very good, I would imagine secretly they were all --

BERNSTEIN: In spite of the governors?

ENGLER: Yeah, oh yeah, well some of them were civil servants and they couldn't get rid of them, you know. And they all, they all cared. I don't care, I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat, if you're the head of an agency that deals with elderly issues you care. You wouldn't be in that position, you know. So you know, I'd be advocating for them too, and uh, you know they were cutting the funding. Gee, cut someplace else, you know. I gave that up. But yeah, keeping really busy with that stuff, you know. And it's fun. We're going through 115:00re-districting, so I won't be a chair after a couple months, but we're all going to have to move into new districts, just because of population shift, for the legislative districts. But I'll probably end up as a chair at least until November when we have to, after the elections we reorganize. Then I'll be looking for somebody younger, you know, I just don't have the wherewithal to be doing all this stuff anymore, you know, just, I'd like to do some relaxing. But it's fun. You don't do this stuff all your life. I don't know how some of them can walk away from, so many of the people, not the people you met the last few days, but so many people in like positions don't do anything when they retire, as it relates to the union. And that's too bad. Now we all, one thing about the Machinists, they don't want, you can't mess with what's going on now, present day. If you find something with senior issues or something like that, you know, 116:00because nobody wants you looking over their shoulder that's doing the work now, that's understandable. But to just walk away, not give back when you've made you know done so well over the years, you just can't do, or shouldn't do it, at least in my mind, you know. And so many people have come to Arizona.

BERNSTEIN: That's where people go --

ENGLER: Yeah, that's where they go, and people that work for headquarters, you call them up, you want to go out and picket in front of governor's thing? I'm retired. (inaudible) (laughs) Nobody's asking you to, only thing I haven't done, I'd like to get arrested once or twice, but I haven’t. I mean I'm not crazy. I'm not going to do anything crazy, but you know, just want to get me for civil disobedience, that's OK. You know, but I go to anything the AFL-CIO puts on about when they have rallies, if I can. So --


BERNSTEIN: Is there any, is there, is there any occupying going on in Arizona?

ENGLER: Yeah, oh yeah, it's going on. Jesse Jackson was just there last weekend and met with them, and uh, AFL-CIO was rallying at the same time on their behalf. Yeah, so sure you do all that good stuff.

BERNSTEIN: Did you go?

ENGLER: Sure. I mean it was just for a couple hours, just to show support. No, I'm not going to camp out, that's something young people can do. Some of those young people that were doing that helped us with the senior picket uh, uh, who the hell was having a fundraiser... uh, the guy that's, we got one representative running for the senate, he was doing a fundraiser. So we went out there picketing that. And some of those young people that were --

BERNSTEIN: Joined the senior picket?

ENGLER: Yeah, they joined us.

BERNSTEIN: That's excellent.

ENGLER: It's a two-way street.

BERNSTEIN: That's great.

ENGLER: Yeah, it's fun. So I'm enjoying myself doing this stuff too you know. It's great.


BERNSTEIN: Fantastic. Guide Dogs?

ENGLER: Guide Dogs.

BERNSTEIN: Still in, I know you stuck with that after you retired.

ENGLER: Oh yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that, it's really one of the joys of my life. When I joined Guide Dogs at a time when they, Guide Dogs has gone through some good times and some bad times money-wise, they were hurting. And uh, there were some concern some years back that of the direction that Guide Dogs was in before Jay Bormann was the director. And Tom Buffenbarger felt, or maybe it was George Kourpias still, probably was before Tom took office, that we should add some people on the Board of Guide Dogs directly, had some direct connection to the organization, a lot of retirees on the Board. They want some active people. So I was one of those that was put on the Board, and I took it seriously. I started going out quarterly, flying from DC, staying overnight one night and then flying --

BERNSTEIN: Where are they?


ENGLER: They're in Sylmar, California, which is a suburb of Los Angeles.

BERNSTEIN: I know exactly where Sylmar is. I grew up near there.

ENGLER: So I'd go to the meetings, and when I retired, I think the only thing I asked for from Tom was, I says I don't live that far. Tom, I'd like to stay on the Board if you let me stay. And he says, I’d love to have you. So before that, because I'd go to the dinners, because a lot of us from headquarters would go to the dinners. But I was going to the quarterly meetings, and uh, started going soon as I retired uh, started, I think I drove maybe once or twice, it was too long a drive in a day back and forth. Uh, so I decided uh, I'm going to, I just fly out on Southwest, get the cheapest fare, and fly there for the day and come home. So I go to the meetings, and now I'm a trustee, so I review the bills and all that stuff. So stuck with it, because uh, that was, we didn't, when I 120:00was in the shop, you didn't fundraise much for Guide Dogs, that was our charity then, but we also pushed City of Hope and did a lot of fundraising for City of Hope until they had labor problems, so the whole state, I mean the national AFL-CIO and all the unions cut them off, you know. But uh, so I've been pushing Guide Dogs for years and years. And been out, you know had gone to visit and all that stuff. So I stayed with that, and still go, just love it. You know they do a lot of good, and uh, it's our charity. And uh, so you know I was thrilled when Jay got the job, we worked together before he took that job. I was his, actually his supervisor when he was an auditor, so knew him well, was thrilled when he got the job. We kept up that close relationship, even though I only see him now 121:00since he retired, I only see him normally once a year unless I get to Vegas and go out to dinner with him and his wife you know, and my wife. But yeah, I love Guide Dogs. I'm hoping that I can continue doing that, and I never uh, Tom Buffenbarger whatever next International President would ever see the need to remove me, I want to do that as long as I'm physically able. Because it's, I had my first time this year earlier this year, went to a graduation. Never, never had been. I don't think I'll ever do it again. I had to drag my wife, but what a tear-evoking experience that is.


ENGLER: There were nine people. They bring them on stage with their dog, and then the puppy trainer, who trained that dog before he got, the person gets the dog sitting there with him, and uh, they tell their story and the person that raised the dog tells the story, how many dogs they've raised and all that good 122:00stuff. And then these people go out with this guide dog. You know it just, and it's a big crowd. It's terribly touching, terribly touching, how the dog changes their lives, you know. So that's you know, that's something else I wanted to do. So you know --

BERNSTEIN: That's very impressive. Can I ask you, did you learn sign language? I know you told me your daughters were raised [orally?].

ENGLER: I never learned sign language. I learned sign language terribly poorly. I finger spell. Now with my kids losing their vision, we do what they call tactile signing, so I uh, I finger spell into their palm, and they do it that way. I've never been good at sign language. I'm ashamed of that. And uh, but, but now I've gotten really sloppy with it, because except when our daughter comes to our house, everything we do is by email. My daughter in Seattle, so we talk via email and then, yeah, and then we've got TDD telephones, so we use 123:00that. Uh, but it's mostly you know via computer except when they're visiting us. And uh, you know but I, I never signed, well I've taken I think a couple or three sign-language classes, both of us, my wife and I. She's much better than I am, so I've just given up on it, I keep saying I'm going to try it again, but I never have. But now I wouldn't even do me any good to learn sign language, I'd have to learn directly tactile which is a whole other game, because when we need an, like when -- the law provides, when the kids have to go to a doctor, the doctor has to provide an interpreter. And a lot of doctors still don't know that, or they claim they don't, they pay for it too. It comes out of all our pockets and our own medical insurance and all that, but that's the law. So uh, I 124:00watched those people work and they're all, they have to tell them, not just a regular interpreter, it's got to be a tactile interpreter. And that's hard on these people, so they usually have to send two if it's going to be any more than a couple of hours, so they can relieve each other, you know. But so we see the tactile, that's a whole other trade. I mean first you learn sign language and then you got to learn that, it's very difficult. But yeah, no I never did learn. If I were to encounter a deaf person, I would finger spell with them, because I can do that. But they have to go slow for me to, to read it, to catch it. But signing, except for some basic signs, I don't know anything. And I'm embarrassed by that, and my wife scolds me about it all the time, you know but.

BERNSTEIN: I think it comes a lot more naturally to some people than others honestly.

ENGLER: Yeah. Well it was, frankly was easier for me to walk away from it and be 125:00busy, you know, and just dumped it all on my wife, you know. So over the years, she was there, especially after you know when she stopped working, when she had more time, you know, so I might be out of town for two weeks. But they both seemed to turn out OK, you know (laughs).

BERNSTEIN: Yup. And both be advocates, very impressive. Seems to run in the family.

ENGLER: Yeah, I'm terribly proud of my youngest one, because we were in DC living and all the sudden we get a phone call saying, hey, I'm coming in. I'm going to be, didn't want to stay at the house, because she was with somebody, you know, come in, I'm going to be at this hotel in downtown DC. Come and say hello and maybe join us for dinner, and uh, but I'm going to be visiting with Patty Murray and my other senator, you know. Holy smokes, she's doing this on her own. Now what she does, she, she got carpel tunnel problems and fibromyalgia 126:00for a while. So she had to stop work for, she was working for the City of Seattle. And so she went off on workman's comp and she started working for this uh, an advocacy, a non-profit out there. And she like teaches firefighters how to deal with uh, disabled, deaf, and blind people, like in an emergency situation. So she teaches groups of them, and she's doing all this without you know all by sign language. You know, so she does that, and uh, advocate for aid funding, so she goes to the state legislature, quit cutting or city government, quit cutting funding for this kind of stuff you know. And begging for money. So she's been doing all this for since she's been out there. And she, she left Maryland, no job in Seattle, just said, maybe I told you that, she says, uh, 127:00I've been told that there's good services for visually impaired blind people -- deaf people in Seattle, in the State of Washington. So I'm moving there.

BERNSTEIN: That’s why she went? OK.

ENGLER: She had a friend from college that was going to go out there, says I'm going out there. No job, what are you going to do? I'll figure it out. And she did, you know. And never looked, never once, well she, she, the weather sucks out there, you know that dampness and all that and then rain. And in the winter she gets depr-- they say there's a real problem in the Seattle area, people commit suicide in the wintertime because it can be depressing. So I just got an email from her about, you know, I'm ready to come visit again, weather's getting crappy out there, come visit for a week or two. But we'd hoped that she'd come down, she could help with her sister, because the youngest one's married. So I figure oh maybe she'll have to help care for her older sister, you know. We're looking for some help along the way too with that, but uh, no she's doing real 128:00well. And, and the oldest one would be if, she, she wants to go back to work but can't. And uh, hopes someday that you know her other problems, because she's got dystonia so she's liked hunched over, neck goes weird ways. If that would ever stop, uh, she'd go back to work if she could, you know. We've got I think it's USAA, it’s a big insurance for military people. There's a big office out there, and I know they're good about hiring disabled. So maybe there'd be, you know, she could get a job, you know some sort of data input kind of job, you know. Because she's kept up with some of her computer skills. But like the IAM, she had a big screen, so they accommodated her, you know, they were pretty good about that, you know. I was there, so you know, I could, I could see to it that they (laughs) were good about that.

BERNSTEIN: Still, they get some credit.


ENGLER: Oh yeah, that's right, I wanted her hired. She wasn't the first one. We hired I told you that, a, a kid that was mildly retarded we hired. Problem was he would say whatever came to his mind. You know, he'd call uh, George Kourpias, he'd say, hey Georgie! You know, rather than Mr. Kourpias, and we could never break him of that. And that was when he was on his medication. If he ever got off his medication, he'd really do weird things. But we would watch his medication and in the beginning he had some problems, but they would never give him a job where he could be seen by anybody, which was too bad. Because I think he could've handled more than we ever gave him. So he ended up in the stockroom, which was too bad, but I did the best I could. You know, but he bid to do a job in the IPs department and they come, that ain't going to happen. You know, you know, we're not going to have him saying embarrassing things. Well, I could understand that, didn't agree but I could understand it. And then you know, but 130:00then we hired, before Laura we hired, my daughter, we hired a deaf young man. And he does a credible job, you know, and I tried to encourage employees to learn sign language, because he signs. And uh, some did, not as many as I would've liked. We never did get them to uh, of course knock on wood, we never had disciplinary problems with either my daughter or this other young man, because they never brought interpreters in for any that kind of stuff, which they would've had to do. And I never pushed it because they didn't complain. If they ever would've complained, we didn't do everything right, but we did a pretty good job you know.

BERNSTEIN: You know, I think it just one person in a building makes such a difference in terms of --

ENGLER: Oh sure.

BERNSTEIN: -- raising awareness and --

ENGLER: Yeah --


BERNSTEIN: And that's one of the reasons to want the guy in the stockroom to be in a public position.

ENGLER: Oh yeah, that's right, that's right. Well he happens to be a very outgoing person, so he'll go up and say you know, he'll sign to somebody how are you doing this morning, good morning to somebody. He's very outgoing young man. He's not so young anymore, I've been gone nine years, but he was just a, just a, I don't think he was even married when I hired him, he is now. So you know, I've taken up, I've taken up a lot of your time.

BERNSTEIN: It seems you’ve had a lot of influence on...On a lot of fronts you did a good --