Dean Girardot Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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TRACI DRUMMOND: Good morning, this is Traci Drummond. I’m here with Dean Girardot and we are going to be, um, doing an oral history interview for the archives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which is housed at the Southern Labor Archives in Atlanta. Today is, uh, the 13th of August, 2012 and we are in Lady Lake, Florida. Good morning.

DEAN GIRARDOT: Good morning.

DRUMMOND: How are you today?

GIRARDOT: I’m fine, thank you.

DRUMMOND: Good. Thank you for agreeing to participate in the retirees’ oral history project. Um, I will get started by asking you where were you born? Where are you from?

GIRARDOT: I was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1934. I’m a product of the Depression.


GIRARDOT: And, uh, had a great childhood. Uh, um, my folks, uh, um, during the 1:00winter we would winter in Colorado. And then, uh, in the early spring we went out to Oregon, where my dad worked as a lumberjack and my sister and I and my moth-- we all lived in the, in the uh, camp which was a one-room shack on skids so they could move it (laughs) from place to place. We did that for a couple -- we’d be there for a couple of months, and then we’d go down to the hop fields, where my mom would pick hops and my dad would spray them with DDT, which is another story.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: But, uh -- uh, my sister and I loved that, because we had a tent to live in then, but the tents had wood floors and wood all around the side, and, and while my folks were in the hop fields we’d be in day care. And we had fresh orange juice and chocolate chip cookies, so I was in heaven at that point.

DRUMMOND: So how many years --

GIRARDOT: We did that up until --

DRUMMOND: -- did you do that?

GIRARDOT: -- World War II --


GIRARDOT: --- and then my dad, uh, of course went off to the war. And uh, uh, 2:00then that, that, after the war, uh, he got jobs in, uh, in the, in the Denver area and that’s where we stayed and that’s where I grew up. In fact, I didn’t know anything about a union until he came back from uh, the service and his first job was, uh, delivering beer around Denver, he worked for a beer distributor. And the Teamsters tried to organize the distributorship and he signed one of their cards, and uh, went to work one day and a couple of hours later he was back because he got fired, uh, they fired all of those that uh -- they must had a -- someone that squealed on them --

DRUMMOND: Right. Right.

GIRARDOT: Because they fired all the -- those that signed cards. Uh, course we were devastated, no job, no money, was living in a housing project and we were hopeful we’d get out of that pretty soon. But fortunately he found another job, and --


GIRARDOT: -- right quick.


DRUMMOND: Okay. Well, let’s step back a second. Um, what kind of education were you getting, moving back and forth? And then living there --

GIRARDOT: Well, we always schooled in Denver.


GIRARDOT: Uh, because we’d be back in time for school --

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay.

GIRARDOT: -- to start, we wouldn’t leave ’til after school was out.

DRUMMOND: And were your parents able to find work when they came back to Denver for the winters?

GIRARDOT: My mom never worked much, but except during the war she worked at, uh, a rubber plant. But uh, my dad always was able to find odd jobs, he’d drive a cab, or be a bellhop or things like that.


GIRARDOT: Uh, ’til after the war. But yeah, he was always able to find something to do.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Well in general in Denver, um, what were the -- what were the feelings about unions? Because once your dad had tried to, um, join the Teamsters and was fired, and fortunately was able to find another job pretty quickly, um, what did that sort of wake up the family to sort of overall 4:00sentiment toward unions? Or --

GIRARDOT: Well, I think he always leaned, uh, somewhat toward them. But um, until I was in junior high school, he always -- the jobs he had were non-union. He drove truck around Colorado, delivering gas, and oil and that sort of thing. And then he got a job with Denver in Chicago Trucking, which was organized by the Teamsters. And for the first time, we were able to have uh, health and welfare, which we’d never had insurance before. We had that, and he also had a pension. And so, uh, that really kinda -- and then I would work during the summers, uh, when I got a little older. Um, and I -- this one job I remember, in fact I joined the Laborers -- they must not of had any age limit because I was only about 15 years old. But working curb and gutter, and uh, streets really, but I was on the curb and gutter, and I decided I really needed to find a better 5:00union job than that. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: Laboring wasn’t my, my idea. So uh, when I graduated from high school, uh, there was a brewery just west of where we lived, Coors Brewery, that was unionized. And uh, so I got a job there and that’s where I got -- became associated with the Brewery Workers.


GIRARDOT: Uh, and they were also one of the better paying jobs --

DRUMMOND: Oh, nice.

GIRARDOT: -- around.

DRUMMOND: Well, let me you ask you -- and you said your mom worked during the war.

GIRARDOT: She worked at Gates Rubber Company, uh, which, uh, made tires, and any rubber product for the war --

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And --

GIRARDOT: -- industry. And we lived in a, uh, by that time my youngest sister had come around too so there was three of us, and she would work the swing shift from three to midnight, so that my older sister could kinda watch over us until she got home.


DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And y’all were still in school during this time?

GIRARDOT: Oh yeah.


GIRARDOT: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: And, so what was expected of a young man growing up in Denver to working class parents -- in terms of your education. What was school like for you?

GIRARDOT: Well, I had a great time. Uh, I wasn’t the greatest student because I had too much fun, but, um, uh, my folks expected us to, you know, finish high school. And, of course they would’ve liked us, liked us to go on to college. Uh, it didn’t work out, uh, even though I had scholarships, not because of my (laughs) study ability, but my athletic ability. But uh, for whatever reason, chose to enter the workforce. But they, they wanted us to do better than them as far as -- neither one of them graduated from high school. My mother got through the 10th grade. My dad graduated from what they call “opportunity school” 7:00and that’s -- they, he got a trade. I’m not sure what trade he got, I think a mechanic, because he was a wonderful mechanic, but, uh, uh, yeah, they, they expected us to go to school each day and get a decent education.


GIRARDOT: And become a part of America’s middle class, because at that point, uh, by the time I got to high school, we finally did get out of the projects. My dad was able to buy a, a house on the GI Bill. The only house that they ever owned, they both lived in it, and died in it. But uh, it was a -- I’ll never forget, 900 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath, had a living room and a kitchen. And we thought we were in heaven. That was a castle to us.

DRUMMOND: And um, how long was your dad gone?

GIRARDOT: He was, um, three years.

DRUMMOND: Three years?

GIRARDOT: Mm-hmm. He was in the Pacific, uh, uh, in fact they were getting ready 8:00for the invasion of Japan when Truman dropped the atomic bomb.


GIRARDOT: So they unloaded the ships and not long after that he was back home.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Do you know that machinists made the bomb? Did you know that --

GIRARDOT: I did not know --

DRUMMOND: -- in Oak Ridge, Tennessee --

GIRARDOT: -- then.

DRUMMOND: Well, ah, um, in, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Local Lodge 480, they were responsible for making components that then--

GIRARDOT: Right, right.

DRUMMOND: -- ah, went somewhere else, and, and the bomb was put together, so.

GIRARDOT: Yeah. In fact when I, uh, worked for the machinists I used to have to go out to uh, Pantex, which is in Amarillo, Texas, that’s where all of our nuclear stuff is. The final -- the final assembly of it is there.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Okay. Okay. Um, so high school’s over, for you, you’ve graduated, and, what -- what -- can I ask, just, just, cur -- out of curiosity, for your sisters, was it expected that they would go to school? Or that they would become homemakers, or --

GIRADOT: Well, that they would certainly finish high school. And uh, my, my oldest sister actually enrolled at Regis College, uh, in Denver, but for 9:00whatever reason she decided she was going to join the Navy, which she did. And, uh, uh, she went to Great Lakes Training Center in uh, outside of Chicago. And uh, so, she was in the Navy about four years, married while she was in the Navy, and uh, just stayed that area, really.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And your other sister?

GIRARDOT: My other sister graduated high school, stayed in Denver, still in Denver.

DRUMMOND: Still in Denver?

GIRARDOT: Uh, uh, didn’t go any further. Uh, she married, and had, uh, uh, three children, and she’s still in Denver.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So this gets us up to the point where you get your first job. You’ve graduated, and you get your first job with the brewery.

GIRARDOT: Right. Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado.

DRUMMOND: Right. And um, what were some of your duties when -- going into that job?

GIRARDOT: Well, I started out on the clean-up crew, which is terrible. (laughs) You have to crawl inside a coasted -- caustic [lead?] soaker and clean all the 10:00glass out of it. But I soon graduated from that, and I really, uh, uh, ended up working in what they call the malt house. Uh, beer is made of actually three ingredients. Uh, barley, which is the grain, hops, and yeast, and water. That’s it, that’s what beer is made of. And um, Coors owned a bunch of uh, barley farms in the Dakotas, and in that area up in there, and uh, so that would come down to the brewery. And then you have to convert it from -- let me get this straight -- it’s, it’s a, it’s originally a grain - starch or sugar, 11:00I can’t remember. But anyhow, you convert it from one to the other, and then when they boil it, and uh -- to make a long story short, when the beer is made, before you put the yeast in, it’s real sweet because of the sugar content that’s in it. And then you put it into the, uh, fermenting cellars, you injected yeast into it. And that’s -- the yeast digest the sugar and makes the -- puts the alcohol in the beer.

DRUMMOND: Ah, ah, okay.

GIRARDOT: And then it sets for awhile, and uh, and they bottle it, can it, keg it, whatever --

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

GIRARDOT: -- they wanna do with it. And uh, so that’s where I worked, and I actually got to know Adolph Coors II, uh, because I had to work weekends, and uh, he would come in, and he was an interesting old man. But he, he liked to talk. And uh, uh, at that time Coors was only in like about 13 states. And I ask him one day, you know, you know, (tapping noise) “Why don’t you -- everybody likes your beer, why don’t you go national?” He said, “(raspberry noise), 12:00beer drinkers are fickle.” He said, “If I can’t flood market I won’t go to it, because if they can’t get my -- they like my beer and they can’t get it one day, they’ll just switch to another one and stay with that one,” he said, “so I’ll never go until I have the capacity to be able to get enough beer to where I go.”


GIRARDOT: And uh, and there’s a big of a -- that family was his -- I don’t know what descent you are, but a typical German family. Very strong-willed. And, uh, Adolph II was getting ready to retire, and it was all family owned at that time. Now, it’s, it’s public. But it was family owned, and it -- the oldest son, Adolph III, was taking over. And he had a terrible speech impediment. If he got excited, he just couldn’t talk, I mean, he’d just “dut-dut-dut-dut” you know, come out, but um, so there’s a guy that escaped from a New Mexico prison, kidnapped him. And eventually murdered him, which was pretty tragic for 13:00that family. But um, at about that time, the pattern in the contract -- by then I’d become a shop steward, and was pretty active in the Brewery Workers. And the pattern had been, in negotiations, a quarter over two years in wages. Um, 10 cents first year, 15 cents the second year. That’d been the pattern. And this year we were going to break that pattern. It was going to be 15 (laughs) and 15. Well, anyone that knew the Coors family, uh, you know, they, they were pretty tough. But uh, so we went on a long strike, about 117 day strike, and --

DRUMMOND: Do you know about what year that was?

GIRARDOT: Uh, yeah, it would’ve been, um --

DRUMMOND: Maybe around ’52?

GIRARDOT: Nineteen sixty --

DRUMMOND: Oh! That’s, that was --


GIRARDOT: No, no, no, it would’ve been -- wait a minute -- ’52, ’53, ’54, it’d be about 1956.


GIRARDOT: And um, when we settled the strike, we settled for 10 and 15. (laughs) But we did get some, a little better health and welfare, and a little better pension --


GIRARDOT: -- out of the deal. But we also lost a bunch of jobs out of it, the Denver warehouse, they closed it, and subbed it out. But I didn’t go back to work at Coors after that. I, uh, I went to work for the International at that point. And they sent me to Atlanta, Georgia, to organize a Carling Brewery there.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Well, let’s back up a little, before we get to Atlanta. So, how soon after you started at the brewery did you join the union? Was it already in place, was it already --

GIRARDOT: The union was already --

DRUMMOND: -- established there?

GIRARDOT: -- yeah, the union was already there.


GIRARDOT: Soon as, soon as my probationary period was up, I joined.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And it was the Brewery, Brewery Workers --

GIRARDOT: Brewery Workers --

DRUMMOND: International Union --


GIRARDOT: Local Lod -- International Union, it was Local 366.

DRUMMOND: Who did they eventually merge with? Because I --

GIRARDOT: Teamsters.

DRUMMOND: Teamsters. Okay. Okay, ’cause I know that the Brewery Workers are no longer an active --

GIRARDOT: Yeah, they’re no longer in existence.

DRUMMOND: -- an active union.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, they’re the Teamsters now.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And, um, so, your dad had briefly joined the union -- I -- before he -- but then was fired almost immediately. Um, but did you get support from your, your parents when you, when you joined the union?

GIRARDOT: Oh yeah. Sure. Yeah, they were happy for me. Happy, one, that I got a decent job, and two, that, uh, you know, that I was becoming active in the union.

DRUMMOND: Good. And what were -- what was, um, just in general in Denver at that time, because um, you know, some parts of the country it’s more difficult to -- to organize, and, um, and in some places there’s very strong anti-union sentiment, depending --

GIRARDOT: Right, right.

DRUMMOND: -- depending on where you are. So, so just in general in Den -- in 16:00Denver, was it a more progressive city in terms of...

GIRARDOT: It was more progressive, yes, it, it um, it wasn’t bad. In fact, Colorado of course did not have right to work laws, so you could have union shops --


GIRARDOT: -- in Colorado, and uh, you know, Colorado’s where the Ludlow Massacre happened.


GIRARDOT: Um, that was -- you know, coal mining. Such a fact there’s still -- there’s a plaque in Ludlow, not a plaque but a memorial about the massacre. But uh, they were pretty open-minded, uh, about unions, after that.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. Okay. Um, and you started out cleaning, you said --

GIRARDOT: Yeah, was on the clean-up crew. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: -- and quickly moved up, you said, to the hop house?

GIRARDOT: Uh no, the -- the uh, malt house.

DRUMMOND: The malt house, sorry. Sorry.

GIRARDOT: They called it, that’s where the grain, uh, where you would uh, germinate the grain, turn it from starch to sugar, or from -- I’m sorry, from sugar to starch. Now why they go through that process, I don’t have any idea, because once you boil it, you turn it back to sugar.



GIRARDOT: But I think you get more sugar out of it that way and that’s why they did it.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And how long did you take you to become active in the union?

GIRARDOT: Oh, I was there probably a year before I became a shop steward.

DRUMMOND: Okay, so pretty quickly after, after joining.


DRUMMOND: And was there good turnout at the meetings at that point? Did you have --

GIRARDOT: Pretty good.

DRUMMOND: -- when you’d have a, just a regular, at like a general meeting, you’d have a lot of folks come?

GIRARDOT: They, uh, at our regular monthly meetings, uh, we’d have -- you know, you never have great turnouts, they have too many --


DRUMMOND: Although at that time there wasn’t a lot going on. We didn’t have television even at that time, yeah. Well, we may have had television, may have just gotten there, but, um, we had pretty good turnouts. I’d say, you know, 30, 40 percent of the membership would show up at local lodge meetings. Uh, because they’d always have a little beer afterwards as well. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Right. Right. (laughs)

GIRARDOT: Play a little cards.

DRUMMOND: And, uh, so what were some of the issues that you would get, as shop 18:00steward? Like, uh, what were some of the common issues at the brewery?

GIRARDOT: Well, let me think back, it’s been a long time ago. And actually, it was a pretty smooth operation. Uh, uh, most of the issues were issues between employees, really. Uh, or if they, if they thought maybe the company wasn’t living up to the certain items in the contract. Not pay, or that sort of thing, but maybe, uh, uh, overtime issues. Or maybe, way, ways of progression. Getting from one job to the other, uh -- you had a job bidding process. And that usually was more, what we had more problems with was -- guy would -- company may disqualify you because they didn’t think you was qualified for the job.


GIRARDOT: That would always be an issue.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And -- when -- out of curiosity, was it a closed shop or an open shop?

GIRARDOT: Well, it was a union shop.



GIRARDOT: It wasn’t clo -- the difference between closed shop, you know, closed shop, you have to, uh, have to join.


GIRARDOT: A union shop, you do join, but you don’t have to become a member.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: But the closed shop, you actually have to be a member before you go to work.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And what percentage of the, the pl -- the brewery do you think was organized?

GIRARDOT: Oh, it was a hundred percent.

DRUMMOND: A hundred percent? Okay. Okay.

GIRARDOT: I mean, it was a union shop.


GIRARDOT: But I mean, they, we didn’t have any that would pay their dues and not join.


GIRARDOT: They would all join.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: But under a union shop, you can pay your dues, but you don’t have to join the union.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, so, in 1956 -- you went to work in ’54, and two years later is when you had the big strike.



GIRARDOT: Well, actually went to work there in ’52.

DRUMMOND: Oh, in ’52? Okay.

GIRARDOT: Did I put ’54?

DRUMMOND: Yes, yes.

GIRARDOT: I’m sorry.


DRUMMOND: Yes, yes -- that’s fine. Fifty-two and then --

GIRARDOT: After I got outta high school.

DRUMMOND: -- and four years later, the big strike.


DRUMMOND: So what was it like being on the -- how long did the strike last?

GIRARDOT: One hundred and nineteen days.

DRUMMOND: A hundred and nineteen days, so. Gosh, almost three whole months.


DRUMMOND: No, four months.


DRUMMOND: Wow. So, um, what was it like being on strike?

GIRARDOT: Well, for me, it was -- it was interesting, because, um, the sheriff of Jefferson County, which is where Golden is, was -- in fact, there’s a couple of books about him, his name is Art Wermuth, and he was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. In fact, he was a hero of it, supposedly killed 118 Japs by himself --


GIRARDOT: -- which, he was a little bitty guy. I told him only way he’d killed that number of people, he talked them to death. Because he was the talkinest fool I’ve ever seen. But uh, Coors actually pretty much owned Golden, 21:00Colorado, that’s the town they were in.


GIRARDOT: There was two things there -- Colorado School of Mines, which, the Coors was on the Board of Regents, and the brewery.

DRUMMOND: What’s the School of Mines?

GIRARDOT: It’s -- it’s one of the better-known -- Colorado School of Mines, it’s a -- it’s a college where it turns out mining engineers.


GIRARDOT: And it’s one of the better-known engineering schools for that, for mines, that you can find.

DRUMMOND: That’s fascinating. I had no idea that there would be schools devoted solely to mining --

GIRARDOT: Yeah, strictly for mining engineering.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay.

GIRARDOT: And uh, they passed a no picketing ordinance in Golden, which of course is not constitutional. And of course we tested it, and every time I went down on the picket line, the old sheriff nailed me. And would give me a summons. And had the Supreme Court not overruled that I probably would have been prison for about (laughs) ten years.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: Because I could just walk near there and he’d get me.

DRUMMOND: And, and how do you -- you said his last name was Wermuth?


GIRARDOT: Yeah, let’s see if I know -- I think I know how to sp -- Wermuth. W-O-R-M-A-T-H, I think. But, just look up the Bataan Death March, and you’ll find Art Wermuth --

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: He’s uh --

DRUMMOND: Sure thing.

GIRARDOT: -- yeah, he was the hero of it.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, but not of your -- but not of Golden.

GIRARDOT: Well, actually, I kinda liked the guy, and he liked me. It was just that -- it was like a game, really.


GIRARDOT: And he -- I think he knew nothing was going to come of any of this. And I knew I wasn’t going to jail, uh, at least I had faith in our Constitution that I had the right to assemble. (laughs)


GIRARDOT: And uh, but uh, and... Even in the court system there, I know one day -- well, I was sent out to California to, to uh, for the boy -- to boycott, get the locals in California. Because that was one of Coors’ biggest sales, to boycott Coors as long as we were on strike.



GIRARDOT: And uh, I know you never heard this guy either, Joe Pine. He was probably the Howard Stern of radio and television before Howard Stern ever came around. But he was a real, loved unions, and while I was out there he wanted me to c -- he had a half-hour program, it was on ABC in Burbank there, uh, each Sunday. And it was a talk, talk show type thing. And so, I appeared on his show. I had 15 minutes and then, and Joe Pine was Jewish, and the next 15 minutes -- I’m glad they were the next, so I could get out of there --

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: It was, um, uh, uh, oh, it was an anti-Jewish group, I can’t even recall who they were now. But uh, uh, so, and it was scripted really. He gave me the questions that he wanted, that he was going to ask, and I could come up with 24:00my answers. But uh, the funniest part was, I was like, maybe 20, 21 years old at that time, and was pretty young, looked pretty young. And he didn’t want a young-looking guy on his show. So I told -- he told me to show up, it was like an hour before. And they take me in the makeup studio, and they put all this glonk on me --

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: -- and I got gray hair, and I had a lot of hair then, and now I’ve got gray in my sideburns, and uh, really I did look like I was in my 40s after that. But, we go on the air and we get through the program and everything’s fine. Now I think at least they’re going to take me back in there and get all this stuff off. Wrong, they dump you out the door. Uh, but anyhow, that’s just an aside, and I came back and they had a court case where one of the uh -- we had a few scabs that went in, and one guy came out, and he tried to run over one 25:00of our pickets. And so we were in this court. And I’m not even involved, I’m just setting there in the cour -- in the court. In the courtroom, and I noticed this old judge keeps looking at me. And I’m just setting there. Pretty soon he’s banging his gavel and he’s pointing his finger and says, “You young man, if you make one more gesture in this court, I’m going to cite you for contempt of court.” And I’m thinking, “I’m not doing anything, I’m just sitting here.” You know, it’s my right to sit here, but --


GIRARDOT: And uh, to make a long story short, this went on and finally he throws me out of the courtroom after about the third time, saying that I’m making gestures, which I was doing nothing, believe me. (laughs) And uh, so, the sheriff, and I say (clicking noise) -- I went outside, and was out there for awhile. And he came and he says, “you better get out of here, that guy’s going to put you in jail.” I said, “I was doing nothing, I have no reason to leave.” And he said, “Well, I’m just warning you.” I said, “Okay.” So after the trial, then the sheriff comes back out, he says, “Judge wants me 26:00to bring you back in.” So, okay. Of course our attorney was there. And so the judge says, “I’m going to give you one chance, you apologize and I’ll let you go.” And I said, “I’m not -- I don’t owe you an apology.” “Okay, you’re going to jail.” So our attorney says, “Fine, we’ll put up bond.” And the guy can’t find the form, he keeps, he keeps telling me, “Just apologize.” The last thing he says, “Just apologize,” and I started to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t owe you an apology” and I said, “I’m sorry --” uh, “Case dismissed.” Case dismissed. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: So it was a funny atmosphere.


GIRARDOT: It was serious, but there was also some, some funny times with it.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Were y’all prepared with a strike fund?

GIRARDOT: Uh, we did have --

DRUMMOND: Because that’s a long time to be on strike.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, the International, uh, and I can’t -- uh, at that time was like maybe about 25 bucks, uh, a week or something like that, but they’re -- had a food bank where strikers could come and get food. And also they could 27:00bring like their utility bills, and uh, we’d pay their utility bills.


GIRARDOT: I don’t think there were any arrangements for mortgage payments or rent payments or that sort of thing. But we would also go to uh, you know, uh, uh, places and try to get them to defer, various banks and stuff, try to get them to defer payments until after the strike was over.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And did your, did your efforts to get um, uh, boycotts, or to have people boycott, did that effect Coors? Could they, could they f -- was it enough, were, did enough people support the strike that it sort of made the compa -- made the company feel some pressure?

GIRARDOT: Well, I think it made -- it, it made them feel pressure, there’s no question about that. Did it make them, you know, change their mind too much, probably not. (laughs) They were pretty hard-headed people. But yeah, it, it certainly affected the bottom line. And I think that’s probably why, uh, it 28:00was a face-saving thing for them to do something on, uh, health and welfare and pension to get us back, they were never going to cave on the wages because they -- they made that a public thing and they just, once they did that they weren’t going to cave.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. Um, so after the strike was settled and everybody went back to work, what was -- did the -- had the, um, had the enviro-- had the atmosphere changed? Was it different going back in, or did it get back to normal pretty quickly, or?

GIRARDOT: Well, uh, it was, there was tension. And that tension remained, uh, in fact there’s more to the story. Uh, after I left. But, um, but things kinda calmed down and it was workable and everybody was, was back working. And uh, that went on for, oh, into the ’60s, uh, uh, sometime into the ’60s. And 29:00the, well it went on until after the -- the Brewery Workers finally merged with the Teamsters, which was their bitter enemy, but they merged with them. But this Local, Local 366, wouldn’t merge. They pulled out and became what they call a DALU [Directly Affiliated Local Union], directly affiliated with the AFL-CIO.


GIRARDOT: And, uh, uh, it was a -- because I know that I was working for the AFL-CIO when -- and the AFL-CIO was uh, uh servicing these people. And they had uh, they were getting ready to have another strike. And I told the regional director at that time, I said, “You’re crazy.” I said, uh -- because the issue was, the issue was really, it was, it was more of a civil rights issue 30:00than a, than an issue that really pertained to all of the folks, folks there. I mean it was a, it was a good issue, but it really wasn’t an issue to strike that brewery over. And I told him, I said, “They’re not going to -- you know, you’re going to end up losing.” Which they did, they lost the union. And I don’t know whether Coors is, is organized now or not.


GIRARDOT: But uh, they de-certified after that, and everyone in that strike. So Coors ended up non-union.

DRUMMOND: Okay. But before that, the, um-- the Brewery Workers became a -- you said, a DALU?

GIRARDOT: Well, the Local, just that --

DRUMMOND: Just that Local.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, because they --

DRUMMOND: Okay. Because they didn’t want to join the Teamsters.

GIRARDOT: They wouldn’t join the Teamsters, so they AFL-CIO said, “Okay, we’ll give you a charter.” A directly-affiliated local union, is what it’s called.

DRUMMOND: And, you can sp -- is it, how you spell DALU?

GIRARDOT: Well, it -- that’s the initials for “directly-affiliated local union.” D-A-L-U.


DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay, I see.

GIRARDOT: It’s just initials, it’s an acronym, of just -- stands for directly-affiliated local union.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, and even after the strike you were there for six more years --

GIRARDOT: Well, no, I, I, not at Coors.

DRUMMOND: Not at Coors.

GIRARDOT: Not at Coors after the strike. I went to work for the International at that point.


GIRARDOT: And then I -- they moved me to Atlanta, Georgia, to organize a Carling Brewery that the Teamsters were trying to organize as well.

DRUMMOND: But after the strike, did you -- because you, you were shop steward, did you ever move up to be an elected officer of the, of the local while you were still there?



GIRARDOT: Just the shop steward, that was it.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And um, then I guess they saw something in you and so they offered you --


DRUMMOND: The International offered you a job. So tell me, tell me about that. And what year, what year was that?

GIRARDOT: Well, it was, would’ve been -- when was the strike?

DRUMMOND: The strike was ’56.


GIRARDOT: It would’ve been ’56.

DRUMMOND: Mm-kay. So later in ’56.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, it would’ve been, yeah. Um, well, they uh, wanted me to go to Atlanta, and uh, organize the Carling Brewery.

DRUMMOND: And what’s Car -- is Carling a company that’s no longer around?

GIRARDOT: Yeah, yeah. Carling, uh, at that time was the fourth leading brewery in the country. It’s a Canadian operation, uh, and the only reason, I don’t know how they got there, because their beer was the worst. Seven days from the day you ground the, the barley, until it hit the, hit the road. Seven days, that was it.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: And it was terrible beer. But anyhow, uh, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were their advertising folks, and uh, but they were really expanding and they had four breweries then. Their main brewery was in Cleveland. And they just, they were building this one in Atlanta, which only -- the brewery probably 33:00lasted six years there and it closed --


GIRARDOT: -- but my job was to organize it. Which we did.


GIRARDOT: And uh, then --

DRUMMOND: Did y’all get pushback from the Teamsters locally?

GIRARDOT: Uh, it was a new operation --


GIRARDOT: -- we beat the Teamsters in election there.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: And then I organized some other things around Georgia, uh, Canadian Dry drivers. Tried to organize Coca-Cola drivers, but I didn’t -- wasn’t successful on that. Um, and then in 1962 is when the IUD started up.


GIRARDOT: And uh, so, I went to work for the Industrial Union Department at that time, because I knew that the Brewery Workers were about to get gobbled up by the (laughs) Teamsters.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And -- and so was there something, did you just not want to be part of the Teamsters? Was there something specific about them --


GIRARDOT: Well, I’d always been fighting them because of the Brewery Workers --

DRUMMOND: Right, okay.

GIRARDOT: And they -- and really, at that time, the Teamsters’ reputation wasn’t the greatest, uh, there was a pretty good mob element, uh, especially in the New York area.


GIRARDOT: And it -- I guess pretty much everywhere with them, so.

DRUMMOND: Okay. But they -- were they, um, at the time were they -- I know now that they’re not affiliated with AFL-CIO --

GIRARDOT: Right. They were then.

DRUMMOND: They were then. Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: Jimmy Hoffa was uh, that was before he went to prison.


GIRARDOT: Or maybe he went to prison at that time, I can’t recall. It’s been too long ago.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, so, how long did you spend in Atlanta? You were there for maybe six years?


DRUMMOND: Okay. And that’s where you met your wife.

GIRARDOT: That’s where I met my wife.

DRUMMOND: And what was she doing there?

GIRARDOT: Um, she was working for Southern Airways. She was the executive 35:00secretary to the CEO of Southern Airways.


GIRARDOT: Which then became Republic, I don’t know what it is now, US Airways I think finally gobbled them all up.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And, um --

GIRARDOT: But her degree was in education, but she got through college in three years, and she started her practice teaching, and because of our birthdays -- both our birthdays were in October, and so we graduated from high school when we were 17, and so let’s see, 17, 18, 19, so she’s like 20 when she graduated from college. And so she starts practice teaching in high school and (laughs) she decided she didn’t like that because the boys were more interested in dating her than what she had to say.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: So um, yeah, she, she was a secretary at that time.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. So you met her while you were there, and then in 1962 you were approached by the AFL-CIO to work with the IUD.



DRUMMOND: Okay. And did that require um, a move?

GIRARDOT: Yes, we moved from Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: I came through Greenville twice last week.

GIRARDOT: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: It’s -- mmm -- it’s Greenville. (laughs)

GIRARDOT: (laughs) Right. It hasn’t changed, I’m sure.

DRUMMOND: Um, and, you were asked specifically to work, to help with the JP Stevens campaign.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, they, let me try to explain the IUD situation. When they -- Walter Reuther was president of the IUD, this was right after the merger of the AFL and the CIO, and they set up the Industrial Union Department to give Walter Reuther a, a uh, give him something. Anyhow, and, so he was going to organize the South, and they picked North Carolina and South Carolina, and they put up about $4 million, and (clicking noise) the organizations that were affiliated 37:00with the IUD also gave manpower. Like the IAM had grand lodge reps in there, the steelworkers had reps, the autoworkers had reps, and then the IUD hired people of their own, which I was one --


GIRARDOT: -- to go in and work, uh, the area, so. So we must’ve had a staff with probably 60 people when you consider all the other International Unions that put in staff as well as the IUD.

DRUMMOND: That’s, that’s --

GIRARDOT: Pretty good size.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

GIRARDOT: And uh, we took North Carolina and South Carolina, and also we had an operation in Texas, in uh, a grand lodge rep by the name of Steve Williams actually headed up that, that program. Which I ultimately ended up working over there as well.


GIRARDOT: But uh, in the years, in Carolina, my specific duty -- we had a -- the 38:00coordinator was a guy named Jim Pearce, his office was in Charlotte, uh, uh, North Carolina. And my office was in Greenville, South Carolina. And I was the assistant coordinator. Um, and we had not just the JP Stevens, but we’d have like, for the Machinists, we had a grand lodge rep that would work with us on Stevens, but he also had his own campaigns that we would get for the Machinists, and the autoworkers would have theirs, and the steelworkers theirs.


GIRARDOT: Although we’d all work together when we needed to leaflet, or make house calls, or so, we’d have people of all different unions doing so.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And, um, what did you ever find out why or how you were on the AFL-CIO’s radar? Did you know why they asked you to come on board?

GIRARDOT: Well, the Brewery Workers, on, on you mean the IUD?



GIRARDOT: Uh, Carl Feller was uh, on the executive board of the IUD and he recommended me. He was the president of the Brewery Workers International.

DRUMMOND: Okay, I see. Okay. And, what did you do, going into the JP Stevens campaign? Like what -- what did they hire you on to do?

GIRARDOT: Well, to organize them. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: To organize?

GIRARDOT: Yeah. That was basically, uh, our task. And we had to, you know, start from scratch. We had no leads or anything, and we would, you know, hang around the community, find people that worked and uh, go out and make house calls, talk to them, try to sell them on the idea that they’d be much better off if they joined a union. And unfortunately in the first few months of our activity we had like, over a hundred people fired. And uh, so, then it, it got into a situation, you know, with uh, the NLRB, um, and I spent a lot of time gathering evidence 40:00for them, and working with them. And we did it, we had some elections, um, didn’t win many of them, but uh, we got enough to have elections. We had elections at Dunning, Piedmont, (scraping noise), the one up in -- I think it was Rock Hill, where uh, the movie Norma Rae was about. And uh, but I spent more of my time, I think, doing NLRB stuff and coordinating, getting our reps, you know, to all of the different, uh, plants for handbills and that sort of -- and that was a big deal, we were always handbilling.


GIRARDOT: And I can, because that was about the only way we really had to communicate with them.

DRUMMOND: Did you find that people took -- (knocking on door)

DRUMMOND: Okay, so we were talking about handbilling.

GIRARDOT: Right, that was, uh, really our only way to communicate with the majority. We’re talking about thousands and thousands of people. And so, uh, 41:00we may have, and there would be a lot of different entrances to these plants, we may have to have 20 people out to handbill on a particular day. And we’d have to get there, you know, before work, be there after work. Uh, to catch all the shifts.

DRUMMOND: Uh, knowing what I know about the South and unions, I suspect this was probably some of the most difficult work you’ve ever done.

GIRARDOT: Oh yeah, it was very hostile. Uh, in fact, after awhile, it even, Congress got into the act, because so many unfair labor practice charges, and things like, uh, oh, Jess Cud, you know, being fired. I mean, a lot of stories like that. And uh, Adam Clayton Powell was the head of the Labor Committee in Congress, and uh, there was a lot of civil rights stuff too, because if we had a meeting with a black staff to be in their area in town and their restaurant, he 42:00couldn’t co-mingle any of that. And so (laughs), he sent down his administrative assistant, who was a nice young man. Uh, he was black, probably never been any further South than Washington, D.C., and so we’re late at night, driving around, I’m driving him around, the boondocks of South Carolina, and he’s scared to death. Every time a car passes he scrunches down in the seat, I finally told him, I says, “You don’t have to worry about shooting you. It’s me they’re going to shoot. (laughs) Because I’m the white guy, you know, bringing you down here.” You know, but, uh, um, he got a lot of, a lot of good stuff, and --

DRUMMOND: Do you remember his name?


DRUMMOND: Do you remember his name?

GIRARDOT: I do not remember his name --

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: -- but he was the administrative assistant uh, I know --


GIRARDOT: -- of Adam Clayton Powell, Congressman Powell.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. So, um, I imagine people were just too scared to talk to 43:00you. Even the people that thought the union would be a good idea.

GIRARDOT: A lot of them. But we had some pretty, pretty strong-willed folks.


GIRARDOT: But, but it was an interesting place. Because, um, I also worked on the -- there’s a famous case, Darlington, uh, Darlington Mills, versus the Textile Workers, it’s where the textile workers organize a, uh, well, the Darlington Textile Mill, which is a part of JP Millica-- not JP, but Deering Milliken, uh, chain, Roger Milliken was the head of it. And uh, he told the people when they organized, said, “If you organize, Imma close the plant.” And he was a man of his word. They organized, he closed the plant. Well, it went all through the court system and ended up in the Supreme Court. And uh, um, uh, they remanded back, and I, I worked on some of that. But the bottom line was the 44:00Supreme Court ruled that a company can go out of business for any reason, except to chill unionism. And that, that was a monster ruling for organized labor. And I worked on that case. But Deering -- Roger Milliken, there’s a university in Spartanburg, South Carolina, called Wofford University.

DRUMMOND: I’ve heard of Wofford.

GIRARDOT: And, uh, the biggest contributor to that university is Roger Milliken. Very, very conservative school. Well, I got a call one day from a professor, I, I think his -- I don’t know what, Economics or Business or something, I’m not sure what -- and I don’t even remember his name. But he asked me if, if I would come and speak to his class. And I said, “I’ll be glad to come speak to your class.” I don’t think he thought I was going to do it. So I went over there, and course I was a lot younger then, but uh, but they told me, said, 45:00you know, “We’re not trying to censor what you’re going to say or anything, but we just want you to know, that Roger Milliken is our biggest contributor.” And I said, “Well, doesn’t mean anything to me,” but, so I walked in -- first thing I did was open up my coat and say, “As you can see, there’s no knives, guns, or brass knuckles.” (laughs)

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: Because they thought we were all thugs. But it was interesting, I spent about four hours, had some very good questions from -- I don’t think I converted one of them, because they were all mill sons and daughters --


GIRARDOT: Kids, uh, you know, mill supervisors’ daughters and sons, kids, but, um, but I think I neutralized some of the bad feelings towards organized labor. I think they could see that, you know we were people just like them, and we, our ideology may be different from theirs, but all we were trying to do was help, and, and through that help, it could also help the community.



GIRARDOT: As I said, I don’t think I necessarily converted any of them, but they were at least decent to me.


GIRARDOT: So afterwards -- they were a little hostile to begin with, but afterwards, they were really nice. Came up and had some nice comments afterwards.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, so you were there only for four years, you only worked in that position for four years, so --

GIRARDOT: Well, with the IUD in South Carolina --

DRUMMOND: Oh, with the IUD in South Carolina. Right.


DRUMMOND: And at the end of that four years, had you seen any progress, or had you --

GIRARDOT: Well, we, we, they had the one mill organized, but everything was just tied up in the courts. Uh, we hadn’t won, uh, won an election, you know, in South Carolina we hadn’t won an election. It -- at the mill. Now we’d won a lot of elections with the International Unions, uh but, not for the textile workers.

DRUMMOND: Mm-kay. Um, and when you left that specific position to go work as an AFL-CIO rep --

GIRARDOT: Well, I was still with the IUD -- I may not have made it clear --



GIRARDOT: I’m still with the IUD --


GIRARDOT: -- when I left the Carolinas --

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay.

GIRADOT: -- I came to Texas.

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay. So you’re still, okay --

GIRARDOT: And I worked, uh --

DRUMMOND: When would that have been? Sixty-four --

GIRARDOT: Some -- yeah --

DRUMMOND: Sixty-five?

GIRARDOT: Would’ve been about 1964. Yeah.


GIRARDOT: Sixty-three, ’64. Sixty-four, I think. And, uh --

DRUMMOND: What part of Texas?

GIRARDOT: Uh, sent to Houston, and worked there, and we had a great -- that was, I loved that, because after all the failures we had in the Carolinas, we had 20 elections in one year and won 18 of them outright, two of them were tied up with the board.


GIRARDOT: So we had a lot of success.

DRUMMOND: And was it more textile workers or was it different workers?

GIRARDOT: No, no, that was, that was all, it was stuff -- oil and tool industry, and stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. Um, so the next few years in Texas --


DRUMMOND: -- were successful. And then, um, but the question I was trying to get at a minute ago was when you left --

GIRARDOT: Went to the AFL-CIO? Oh, okay.


DRUMMOND: -- the Carolinas. Well, when you left the Carolinas to go down to Texas, did they bring in people to replace you there?

GIRARDOT: No, it --

DRUMMOND: Or did they just --

GIRARDOT: No, the program shut down.

DRUMMOND: -- shut down. Okay. Okay. Um, and anything notable, anything -- other than all of your success -- about your time in Texas?

GIRARDOT: Um, well in Texas, we had some good things, and uh, um, actually with the IUD it was just, you know, matter of continuing to organize, but then the IUD was beginning to kind of phase itself out, because they were running out of money.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Okay.

GIRARDOT: And uh, um, that’s when the AFL-CIO asked me to come to work for them as a rep.


GIRARDOT: On their national staff, and uh, eventually the IUD just completely went out of the business of organizing.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And so in ’66, you, you became an outright AFL-CIO rep.

GIRARDOT: Right, right.


DRUMMOND: And did that move you to D.C.? Did you leave Texas?

GIRARDOT: No, no, I stayed right in Houston --


GIRARDOT: -- and continued to do the same work other -- I also serviced, like the Brewery Workers was a DALU we also had some DALUs and --


GIRARDOT: In Texas. And uh, Imperial Sugar was one, that was my service responsibility as well as organize. In fact, organized, uh, United Gas, and Houston Natural Gas for the OCAW --


GIRARDOT: -- and they became Enron.

DRUMMOND: Okay, so OCAW --

GIRARDOT: Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International --

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

GIRARDOT: -- Union.

DRUMMOND: Okay, and then they eventually became Enron.

GIRARDOT: Yeah. That, that’s uh, that’s, United Gas was Enron’s base, that’s what really started it. But I organized that, uh, and I was pretty happy with that, because the OCAW tried four times in a row and lost each time, and they asked the AFL-CIO if they would assign somebody to try it, and they 50:00assigned me. And -- it, I was successful on that one.


GIRARDOT: And that was a good one. Did that for, uh, a few years, you know, just organized around that area. And then that’s when, uh, the IAM asked me to come and work for them.

DRUMMOND: And had you made prior contact with them or seen them at --


DRUMMOND: -- conventions, or did, who did you know, like, going into it?

GIRARDOT: Actually I knew a lot of IAM reps because Steve Williams was a grand lodge representative that was the IUD coordinator in Texas.


GIRARDOT: And, uh, when I first came to Texas, that’s why I joined the Machinists. I belonged to the Newspaper Guild Local 2, when the IUD, don’t ask me why --

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: -- but that’s, that’s who we belonged to, uh, but uh, he suggested that I join the Machinists, which I did. And uh, um, but I knew, knew Steve, and 51:00as a matter of fact, uh, that’s good and bad. Because uh, while I was with the AFL-CIO I got a call from uh, the director, the Machinists’ non-partisan political league at that time, uh, and he wanted, he asked me if I’d like to come to work for him, come to Washington. And I said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good job, I’d like to do that,” and uh, so, uh, we, he -- in fact he came down to Houston, and uh, interviewed me. And he and Steve were good friends, it’s a good story, but, uh, and he says, “Okay,” he says, “you got the job.” Says, “You’ll have to move to Washington,” and I says, “Yeah, no problem.” So I go home, tell my wife, said, “Well, we’re going to be moving to Washington.” And she’s a good trooper, really. And uh, okay, and he told me before he left, he says, “Okay, now I’ll be back in touch with you in a couple of weeks.” And, okay. Well, couple of weeks came and I 52:00didn’t hear from him. Couple more weeks came (laugh), and I didn’t hear. So I finally realized, you’re not going to Washington, you’re just staying down here.

DRUMMOND: (laugh)

GIRARDOT: I never did hear back from Don. And uh, finally I found out what had happened. Uh, the president at that time was a guy named Roy Siemiller.


GIRARDOT: And Roy hated Steve Williams.


GIRARDOT: And uh, so, Don went and told, told Roy, said, “Well, I found a guy to be my assistant,” and he said, “Yeah, where’s he from?” And he told him, and he said, “Well, that all sounds good,” said, “How in the world you’d find a guy working, you know, for the AFL-CIO?” Says, “Well, he’s a good friend of Steve’s.” “Uh-uh, he’s not coming up here.” (laughs)


GIRARDOT: So that’s why I say, it’s good and bad knowing Steve, but actually, uh, there were other people that were working on the IUD that were from the Machinists too, that uh, that I got along with very well.



GIRARDOT: And, uh, so that’s, that’s how the Machinists came to know who I was.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay.

DRUMMOND: Okay, so the IAM knows who you are, and you’ve finally got past what -- so, was, um, President Siemiller, did he, did, was his presidency just over? Or --

GIRARDOT: It -- when, uh, when, the IAM actually hired me --


GIRARDOT: -- Roy had retired and uh, a guy named Red Smith --

DRUMMOND: Okay, yeah.

GIRARDOT: -- became the International President then, and Red and Steve were, they were uh, okay.

DRUMMOND: Were they both Texas guys? Do I remember that --

GIRARDOT: No, Red I think was uh, he was from the West --

DRUMMOND: -- correctly?

GIRARDOT: -- I think out in uh, well, he may have been from Texas, I’m not sure.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay.

GIRARDOT: I’m not sure, but, uh, actually Red was like myself. He did -- he wasn’t a Machinist to begin with, he came out of the building trades and somehow ended up with the Machinists and ended up becoming the International President.


DRUMMOND: Okay. Um, so, it was 1970, when you were hired on, to be --

GIRARDOT: Right. George Watkins was the uh, general vice president for the Southern territory, and it had just -- Southern territory had just been revamped, and uh, he was moved from Atlanta to Dallas to uh, uh, and he was the General Vice President. He called me and asked me if I’d like to come to work for the Machinists. And I told him I would like to.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And um, as special rep, did they keep you in Houston, or did they move you up to Dallas, or...

GIRARDOT: No, I -- they actually moved me to -- I had my -- I could have gone either to New Orleans or Baton Rouge and I chose Baton Rouge.

DRUMMOND: And that is why you joined the Lake Charles -- no?

GIRARDOT: No, I was already, I was already a member long before that. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay, so did you, were you a member of different unions at the same time?




GIRARDOT: -- once I joined the uh, um, the IAM, I could drop my, uh, no -- I was, I belonged to the IAM and the Newspaper Guild until I went to work for the AFL-CIO.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And, and so, how was Lake Charles chosen?

GIRARDOT: It just happened to be -- I don’t know, it was just the Local Lodge that uh, that we decided to join. There was no, no particular reason really.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And you ended up in Baton Rouge instead of New Orleans?

GIRARDOT: Yeah, we chose --

DRUMMOND: Why did you, why did you --

GIRARDOT: -- Baton Rouge.

DRUMMOND: -- prefer Baton Rouge to New Orleans?

GIRARDOT: Well, I had two young kids --


GIRARDOT: -- and I just thought that Baton Rouge may be a little better place to --

DRUMMOND: Oh, certainly.

GIRARDOT: -- try to raise them.

DRUMMOND: Certainly.

GIRARDOT: And, uh, so that’s why we uh, we landed there, and my assignment was the Gulf Coast. Actually, Lake Charles was a part of it. From Lake Charles to uh, Pascagoula, Mississippi. And uh, uh, I would service, organize, and uh, that 56:00sort of thing.


GIRARDOT: And that’s how I got involved with the, with the Litten, uh, because that was part of my service assignment. It -- it’s under a metal trades contract, I know it gets confusing, but um, the me-- the contract’s in the name of the metal trades. But each craft, which the IAM is a part of, and all the other -- I think there was 13 different crafts -- have their own jurisdiction. And they’re responsible to service that group of people, like the Machinists service all the machine shop and the maintenance people, the Painters service all the painters, that sort of --


GIRARDOT: But, the dues came right to those locals. Uh, but the contract itself was in the name of the metal trades, and uh, but I would service our local down there, and uh, and we didn’t have any problems for awhile. But then the 57:00shipyard, they built a new, they had what they called the East Bank --


GIRARDOT: -- which was the old Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation. Litten bought Ingalls, and they decide -- and they got a giant contract, billion-dollar contract to build destroyers. So they were going to build a new shipyard on the West Bank, and that was going to be the West Bank. And uh, uh, everything going along pretty good during construction, but then the company notified the Metal Trades Council that they -- because the contracts said that they had to recognize the metal trades, the whole thing, and that’s from the -- the company said we recognize the recognition clause and the no strike clause, everything else is open for negotiations. Which created a big, big mess. Uh, and uh, so in the meantime, they named me as coordinator of the metal trades as well, which meant that now I had the responsibility of all of the Locals as well 58:00as my own Local there, too. And they, and I was the spokesman for, for the metal trades with Litten. And uh, we were getting nowhere, so, uh, we ended up having a wildcat strike on the, it was supposed to be (laughs) only on the West Bank, but, and uh, so we shut the West Bank down. But we, and I told them, under no circumstances close the East Bank. I wanted (laughs) to continue --


GIRARDOT: -- because we had a valid contract that, the, well, I was out of town, went home one weekend. And so some of my business reps decided they’d take matters into their own hands, shut the East Bank down as well. Which, I did not want, because now, we’ve got some legal issues, because we had a legitimate contract --


GIRARDOT: -- there. The company broke the contract on the other side, but, but anyhow, finally got that, that worked out. And, and, uh, it, it was a (laughs) 59:00-- it was some process, uh, but uh, and that’s when that one, the big book -- yeah, that’s all about that.


GIRARDOT: Um, we had them shut down for awhile, and then, but we finally got what we wanted, uh, they recognized all of the crafts and all of the -- what, what they didn’t want, because this is an entirely different shipyard, it was a module construction. The old shipyard, you go in, you lay a key, you come up with the side plates, and it looks like a ship when they get it into the water, but it’s only about 40 percent complete. Then they have to go in and put everything else in it. This process, you was putting everything in it as you was building it, it’d start out, it was on like rail cars, where it could be moved from here and there and finally together. And it, uh, it starts -- it starts out as a small piece, it just keeps getting bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, but you 60:00got it all together. And now when the ship actually -- they don’t even slide off the way, it’s on a dry dock, they sink it, the ship floats off, and it’s about 90 percent complete. Wonder -- in fact, that’s the way ships are built today. It really is a tremendous concept. But uh, and requires, instead of the strict craft lines, it requires like an electrician, a shipfitter, a machinist, and uh, a laborer, and other people all working together. Uh, they do their work, but they, they’re composite crews.


GIRARDOT: And that was the big issue, because the craft unions didn’t want to have anything to do with that, and uh, uh, so it took a lot of work to -- in fact, even to get the Metal Trades Council, the International Presidents that sat on it, to agree to, uh, this, this concept. Was really novel. Uh, and it -- 61:00that shipyard’s still thriving today because of it, uh, what we did. And uh --

DRUMMOND: It’s still got, it’s still organized there?

GIRARDOT: (clears throat) Oh yeah. Oh absolutely, it’s very strong.

DRUMMOND: Hmm. Um, what were the repercussions of the wildcat strike, and was it just Machinists in those locations, or was it --

GIRARDOT: No, it was all --

DRUMMOND: It was everybody.

GIRARDOT: -- the whole, whole group. Yeah, it was all of -- yeah, it was the 13 locals that made up the Metal Trades Council. They were all on strike.

DRUMMOND: And the 13 locals were in both place -- were on the East Bank and the West Bank.

GIRARDOT: The metal trades, yeah.


GIRARDOT: The contract’s in the name of the metal trades.


GIRARDOT: Yeah. Uh, repercussions could’ve been tremendous, but uh, fortunately we were able to work out where there were no repercussions.


GIRARDOT: Now there were some lawsuits, frivolous lawsuits that finally got thrown out. But, it was uh -- in fact, the day the company finally agreed with us on our terms to the contract, I called the chairman of the board, uh, 62:00what’s his name -- it wasn’t Ash, he’d moved on to United Technology -- I’ll think of it in a minute. Oh, it’s probably in there.


GIRARDOT: But um, I told him, I said, “On six o’clock Sunday night is your deadline,” because that was the last flight I could get out of Pascagoula to Washington, D.C., and on Monday I had a meeting with the Metal Trades Council, um, their Executive Board, which was all the International Union presidents, that, or, uh, pardon, the Metal Trades Council. And I said, “If, if we don’t have a contract by then, if you don’t agree to these terms, then we’re going straight to Congress, and we’re going to see if we can get them to get rid of your billion-dollar contract and give it to a good shipyard.” And he said, “Well, you know, we’ll think about it.” So about three o’clock that 63:00afternoon I got a call from the local guy, name is Ben Borne, he was the IR guy, uh, and all of the spelling and all is in that, you’ll see all of that stuff --


GIRARDOT: B-O-R-N-E, I think’s uh, the way he spells his name. Uh, he was head of, uh, Industrial Relations, but uh, he said, “We can’t have an answer by six o’clock” and I said, “Well, that’s your problem.” And he said, “No,” he said, “we can have one by” -- because of the time difference between Mississippi and California, he said, “by about 10 or 11 o’clock,” I said, “Well, it’s too late.” He said, “No, we’ll give you the company plane, it’s at your disposal. We’ll get you to Washington (laughs) in time for your meeting.”

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: “Uh, well, you’d better not be messing with me” --

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: -- “or you’re in big trouble.” He said, “No, seriously.” Said, “Well, okay.” And about, uh, 9:30 that night they call and said, “Okay, we got a deal.” And so we all got to get on their plane and go up to 64:00Washington and the next day I presented to the Metal Trades Executive Council and they accepted it. Because it, it was somewhat unique, because we did have to have the composite crews, and uh, most of the craft unions, that’s a no-no to them.


GIRARDOT: But uh, they, they agreed with it. Worked out. We came back, got the strike settled, still going strong today.

DRUMMOND: How long were you in, um, how long were you in -- a special rep --

GIRARDOT: Special rep?


GIRARDOT: Well, you have a progress in the Machinists, you start out as a special rep, and then four years, you automatically go to a grand lodge rep, but I was --

DRUMMOND: Oh, I see.

GIRARDOT: -- but I was on special rep for two years, and then I went, they made me a grand lodge rep.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And did, um, the work you just describe take up pretty much all of your -- was that pretty much the work you did when you were the special rep, or --

GIRARDOT: Special reps --

DRUMMOND: -- was there anything else on top?


GIRARDOT: -- and grand lodge reps all do the same thing, it’s just --


GIRARDOT: -- the amount of money you get and a title. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. (laughs)

GIRARDOT: But the job’s the same. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Okay, so you stayed, um, in that part of Lou, Louisi --

GIRARDOT: No, in 19 -- let’s see, went to work for them in ’70, ’72 became a -- do you remember when Roe Spencer became the vice president? I know you interviewed him, I --

DRUMMOND: I did, um, but I --

GIRARDOT: Well, anyhow --

DRUMMOND: -- I don’t remember.

GIRARDOT: -- when he became the vice president --


GIRARDOT: -- which I think was, well, we had a convention this year, uh, let’s see, probably would’ve been 1972...

DRUMMOND: Eighty, ’76, ’72 there was a Grand Lodge Convent -- if I’m counting backwards from ’88, right --

GIRARDOT: Seventy-two was?


GIRARDOT: Okay, then um, in 1972 --


GIRARDOT: Uh, I took his -- he became general vice president, and I took his 66:00place handling the board work, uh, in the Dallas office.


GIRARDOT: And was moved from Baton Rouge to Dallas.


GIRARDOT: And um, I did board work for about six months. When I say board work, we have a rep that’s assigned to do nothing but handle NLRB cases, uh, all their hearings and that sort of thing. And I did that, and then I became his administrative assistant after that.

DRUMMOND: And, administrative assistant to the general vice president --


DRUMMOND: -- Roe Spencer.

GIRARDOT: Roe Spencer.

DRUMMOND: And was that a year later, two years later?

GIRARDOT: Was it what?

DRUMMOND: Do you remember, how -- how long did it take for you to become, uh --

GIRARDOT: The vice president? Not in the --

DRUMMOND: -- well the, um, the administrative assistant?

GIRARDOT: Oh, it was only -- after I got, uh, after I came to Dallas?


GIRARDOT: About six months.


DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. Um, and so your work as grand lodge rep, and you move to Dallas. It’s essentially dealing with NLRB cases for the Southern territory?


DRUMMOND: All over the Southern --

GIRARDOT: Southern Territory.

DRUMMOND: And did that involve more travel than maybe you had seen previous to that?

GIRARDOT: Um, travel wasn’t that much more.

DRUMMOND: Mm-kay, okay. And, how did your, um, duties change as administrative assistant?

GIRARDOT: Well, the administrative assistant is, one, you’re not dealing with the, you know, you don’t have a specific territory, you don’t have uh, you’re not, generally you’re not negotiating contracts and that sort of thing. Although I did -- as the administrative assistant I was also the General Dynamics coordinator. And so, I continued to negotiate their contracts and that sort of thing. But generally you’re just doing the administrative duties of 68:00the office, uh. You’re, um, you’re making sure your grand lodge reps and special reps are where they’re supposed to be and that sort of thing. Another way -- you’re doing what the general vice president doesn’t want to do, is what it amounts to. (laughs)


GIRARDOT: But, ah, it’s just administer -- it’s more administrative work rather than being out in the field, hands-on work --


GIRARDOT: -- is what it really is.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And was that as satisfying for you, or more, or less satisfying, or --

GIRARDOT: Well -- I enjoyed more really being out in the field, uh, that’s why I kept the General Dynamics, uh, did that. Uh, but it was, it was satisfying. You got uh, because you, you were at a different level, really, I know. Uh, if Roe didn’t want to go to a partic-- like, I remember the governor of Texas was then Dolph Briscoe and uh --


DRUMMOND: I know him.

GIRARDOT: -- there was some hearings, and uh, so Roe assigned me to go to those hearings. And then, there was a lunch, and actually I got to have lunch in the governor’s mansion with Dolph Briscoe, that was pretty exciting. But you did more things like that, it was more on a, uh, it was a higher -- I didn’t want to say higher level, but it was --

DRUMMOND: It took you -- but it took you out of the shops and it put you sort of doing more networking, or um --

GIRARDOT: Dealing, um, dealing with the, with the different agencies and bosses rather than down, dealing --


GIRARDOT: -- dealing more with the members. I, I kinda missed dealing with the members, but, it was kinda exciting up at this level too.

DRUMMOND: Okay. I met Governor Briscoe once, when I was --

GIRARDOT: Oh, did you?

DRUMMOND: -- when I was in school in Texas.

GIRARDOT: He’s a nice man.


DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. Um, and, so you were administrative assistant until ’74 --

GIRARDOT: No, in seven --

DRUMMOND: -- oh, you started in ’74 until ’94.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, with a slight break in there --


GIRARDOT: -- uh, uh, Roe, uh, decided, I think in his second term that he wanted a new administrative assistant. So I went back out into the field as a grand lodge rep.


GIRARDOT: And I was, basically uh, over aerospace at that time.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Aerospace in the Southern territory?

GIRARDOT: Mm-hmm. And uh, General Dynamics was the big issue. Lockheed was not that big of an issue, but GD -- that’s when, I don’t know who decided that astronauts were great businesspeople, but that’s when William Anders became the chairman of the board of General Dynamics. And uh, his whole claim to fame 71:00is that he destroyed the company, because it was the physical assets, were worth more to the shareholders than the company itself. So he, he just dismantled, uh, that’s when Lockheed bought the corporate --


GIRARDOT: -- division of General Dynamics.


GIRARDOT: He just, they had a big facility in San Diego, uh, they had facilities all over. And then big facility in Fort Worth, Texas. And uh, he just got rid of all of them.

DRUMMOND: Was that in the ’80s?


DRUMMOND: Well the one is also reminded, perhaps, of um, Frank Borman and Eastern Airlines.

GIRARDOT: Yeah. Frank Borman and Eastern. That’s why I say, I don’t know why everyone thought a astronaut, was (laughs) good for business. Because all they did was put them out of business. Although Borman, we had the strike, you know, with Borman. But then Frank Lorenzo --

DRUMMOND: Who had been in charge of Texas Air.


DRUMMOND: Did y’all ever deal with him when he was --

GIRARDOT: Oh yes, absolutely.

DRUMMOND: -- in Texas?


GIRARDOT: And um, but then he, you know, he bought Eastern and that was the end of it.


GIRARDOT: They dismantled it, Eastern.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. So, um, being in charge of aerospace in the Southern territory, you did have dealings with Frank Lorenzo. Can you talk a little --

GIRARDOT: Have what?

DRUMMOND: Or did you ever deal with Frank Lorenzo as --

GIRARDOT: I did not, that was air transport --

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay.

GIRARDOT: -- which is a different thing, that’s like John Peterpaul you’re going to talk to, and William Scheri.


GIRARDOT: That was under theirs, although I did work for Peterpaul, uh, in, uh, uh, for whatever reason, I guess he thought I was a good judge, we -- if they had prob -- (laughs) have a hearing, or something, I got to, uh, conduct those. But, and I also did some contracts for them down in the Caribbean, but, uh, but the uh, aerospace, the manufacturing is under one set of vice presidents --


GIRARDOT: -- the air transportation is under another set. And that’s like John Peterpaul and Bill Scheri.


DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. Um, and during the ’80s too, can you -- I -- I’m wondering, I’m always curious about -- because the PATCO strike had such a huge impact on organized labor, uh, the way, they way things ended with the Reagan administration.


DRUMMOND: What, what were sort of -- in the Southern territory, or with, with, you know, with DFW being right there, and it, and it being such a, did y’all have any interaction with the PATCO strikers, or --

GIRARDOT: No, it -- obviously we supported them, but, uh, uh, you know, the best we could. But that was about it.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Okay. And, did, um, the Eastern strike have an effect?

GIRARDOT: Eastern?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, the -- like later in the ’80s, in ’89, with the --

GIRARDOT: Yeah, you know, Eastern --

DRUMMOND: -- Eastern strike?

GIRARDOT: -- was ours --

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah, so --

GIRARDOT: -- was all our membership.

DRUMMOND: -- how did y’all feel the effects of that, in, in the Southern territory?

GIRARDOT: Well, it was, it was, you know, pretty big. Because, you know, Miami 74:00was a, uh, a big operation, and we had a lot of members there. And uh, in fact some of those, you know, that we found jobs for in other industries, but it was a big effect. A big effect on us. Uh, even thought that membership wasn’t directly charged to the Southern territory, that was, that was membership in those numbers went to the air transportation group --


GIRARDOT: -- but it’s, we had a lot of residual stuff around there that it certainly did affect. Big time.

DRUMMOND: Um, anything else -- so you had the break in administrative assistant and went back to being a grand lodge rep.

GIRARDOT: Yeah, and then when Ed House became the, uh, vice president for the Southern territory --


GIRARDOT: -- he asked me to come back as the administrative assistant.


GIRARDOT: And I did.



GIRARDOT: And I stayed here, uh, as the administrative assistant with Ed House until, uh, uh, George Kourpias asked me to come be his executive assistant at headquarters.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And under, um, Ed House, were you doing the same kinds of things that you’d been doing previously, or were there any pre -- um, any new, um, sort of issues of note? Or, or --

GIRARDOT: Well, I can --

DRUMMOND: -- responsibilities?

GIRARDOT: -- I continued, you know, the aerospace stuff, but Ed and I were pretty close as a team, and we, uh, you know, we scoured the Southern territory, uh, pretty much, and uh, wherever there were problems we’d uh, show up, and if there wasn’t a problem, we’d show up. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: We worked really good as a team, Ed and I did. Uh, and uh, Ed was a good man.

DRUMMOND: You know, he’s sort of how we got these, um, interviews started, 76:00because I know his niece’s husband through, uh, my archives time in Texas.

GIRARDOT: Oh, is that right?

DRUMMOND: And my friend John suggested that I interview, when I got this job, that I interview Ed House, and I mentioned it to Charlie Micallef, I’m sure you know Charlie --

GIRARDOT: Yeah, sure.

DRUMMOND: -- and he was like, “Well, why don’t we interview everybody?” So, Ed House is sort of, um, how --

GIRARDOT: He got it all started, huh?

DRUMMOND: -- all of this got started. Yeah. He was not directly responsible, but --

GIRARDOT: Yeah. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- he got it all started. And so it was in ’94 that you moved on up to D.C., finally.


DRUMMOND: To work with President Kourpias.


DRUMMOND: Okay, and --

GIRARDOT: And then --

DRUMMOND: -- and you were, um, executive assistant to him?

GIRARDOT: Yeah, they changed the title to chief of staff, now.


GIRARDOT: But they’re all the same. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Yeah. And, and you were there until your retirement.


DRUMMOND: So what was that work like?

GIRARDOT: Oh, it was great. Uh, uh, it was --

DRUMMOND: What were --

GIRARDOT: -- well, it was a different level.


GIRARDOT: You’re now dealing with uh, uh, more government, uh, I know, you know, setting in with meetings with cabinet members, the president’s cabinet, 77:00you know, and trying to tell them, you know, what they ought to be doing (laughs), you know, what they’re doing wrong.


GIRARDOT: You know, it was really exciting, uh, uh --

DRUMMOND: And ’94 to 2000 would’ve been the Clinton years.

GIRARDOT: Clinton, right.


GIRARDOT: It sure was, uh, in fact, uh, we got to go to his inauguration, and uh, uh, all of that. But uh, yeah, a lot of meeting with government and high business, uh, people, uh, a lot of international travel too. Uh, Japan, China, Europe, several times.

DRUMMOND: And it was on behalf of --


DRUMMOND: -- the IAM to do outreach to --

GIRARDOT: Well, uh, the, the China trip was an aerospace situation with Boeing, it was a joint Boeing-IAM trip because we were constantly beating Boeing up 78:00because of the outsourcing they were doing to China.


GIRARDOT: And they want -- and they kept telling us, “it’s just low-tech work, it’s nothing that means anything to us, it’s just --” you know, something, and Boeing is China -- Boeing set up all of China’s aerospace industry. Uh, or air transportation industry. And uh, it was a big deal that they have a little work there. And so they wanted to show us that it was not meaningful stuff. And uh, so there was about oh, it must’ve been about 15 or us, of, like, vice, uh, uh, Robert Thayer, was, uh, vice president went, I went, as representing the International President, uh, Lee Pearson, uh, was another 79:00vice president. And then we had business reps from Boeing, and General Dynamics, and Fort Worth, and Lockheed, various places. I think there were 14 or 15 of us that went on the China trip. And we were there for about two weeks, and we traveled to all the different aerospace facilities that uh, Boeing had subcontracted work to. And that was really, really interesting. Uh, back then, that was probably, 12, 14 years, oh, a bit more than 12, probably about 14, 15 years ago. And that was before the auto revolution really hit China, and it was all bicycles. In fact, we started leaving one of the plants about quitting time, and the, our interpreter said, “We need to wait a minute.” “Why?” Said, “Have you ever seen 14,000 people leave on bicycles?” Said, “No” and what a sight that was. But I’ll tell you, within a few minutes, they were gone.


DRUMMOND: They were gone?

GIRARDOT: Couldn’t see where they went, they were gone. (laughs) But uh, but that was uh, but that was the type of things that that job entailed. And uh, you’d represent, I’d represent the International President at various meetings that he was unable to attend. And when he was out of, out of the uh, office, then everything, then it would be up to me to make sure things continued to run like they should. So.


GIRARDOT: It was an exciting time.

DRUMMOND: And NAFTA, though, was, was, um, one of Clinton’s big projects when he was --

GIRARDOT: Oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- and did y’all, I, have you, were you ever, were y’all ever consulted about NAFTA, or did y’all provide him with feedback at all, what you thought about it? Or --

GIRARDOT: We had --

DRUMMOND: Because I imagine that was a really big deal for you, for unions --

GIRARDOT: -- yeah, in fact, we had, you know, the Space Center, you know, down here in Florida.



GIRARDOT: It was ours, it was organized by us. And uh, we’ve had all kinds of --

DRUMMOND: Bill Usery, I think was involved in that --


DRUMMOND: Bill Usery? Does that name ring a bell to you?

GIRARDOT: Oh yeah. Bill’s a good friend of mine.


GIRARDOT: Bill was one of the guys that, uh, helped organize. Frank E’Dalgo and Bill Usery. Frank E’Dalgo did all the work and Bill got all the credit. (laughs)


GIRARDOT: Frank was --

DRUMMOND: I won’t say that to Mr. Usery the next time I see him.

GIRARDOT: [inaudible] You tell him that. Tell him I said so.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: Yeah, Bill, uh, Bill and I are good friends. But, uh, (clicking noise), uh, yeah, we’ve had, we had so much input with NASA, I just wish they would’ve listened to us more and were still in the business. But, uh. Funny story about, when John Glenn, his last time when he was a senator, went up in space. Well, Tom and I, Tom Buffenbarger, uh, I think it was just Tom and I, and my wife came with us. And the pilots flew us down here and we went to the, to 82:00that liftoff.


GIRARDOT: And we had VIP tickets, which got us in, we were with, and of course Ted Kennedy was there, and, all of, a bunch of people, and I, I told my wife, I said, “I’m sorry we don’t have a ticket for you, I don’t know, you’re just going to have to --” and one of the pilot’s wives came down too.


GIRARDOT: I said, “you guys are going to just have to wait. But you can see it, from --” and you can see it from all over.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

GIRARDOT: And the pilot said, “Don’t worry about it, we’re going to, we’ll take care of things.” So. We go, and we’re there all afternoon, and it was a great lift-off and all, and that was like the third one I’d seen. And so, when we come back, when we meet up with uh, the pilots, and my wife, I say, “Well, what’d you guys do?” Said, “Well, we went with the Clintons to the liftoff.” I said, “Yeah, sure you did.”

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: They said, “Seriously.” I said, “You’re kidding me.” Said, that, the, and we’re down here, and there’s a big tall building where the, 83:00like, president, you know, and other, I don’t know, don’t ask me how they got up there. But they watch it from up on top of that building. But somehow, I don’t know, one of the pilots had some “in,” and they got, they got up on the top, and they were up with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and of course there’s a lot of other people --

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

GIRARDOT: -- but they were watching from up there, while we were down here, way away. (laughs) They had better seats than we did!

DRUMMOND: (laughs) Um...

GIRARDOT: But those were the kinda things that, uh, um, that as an executive assistant or a chief of staff that you do. Um, and you’re, you’re basically the voice of the International President, in that job, when he sent you out to these various areas.

DRUMMOND: Hmm. That must be a lot of pressure.

GIRARDOT: I don’t know.

DRUMMOND: You don’t know?

GIRARDOT: It was a lot of fun, to me.


GIRARDOT: Yeah, yeah.


DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, let’s go back to NAFTA, because I, I had asked you a little bit about that before you told that story. How, how did the IAM approach that? What were, what were -- did you, were you able to provide the president with feedback about what he was trying to do with NAFTA, or, or, were y’all, were unions consulted, or?

GIRARDOT: Yeah, in fact going back, um, uh, a, the Clinton administration was good for NASA. I mean, they, uh, and we, their, they were very progressive. Which is what we liked. And, uh, the, the people at NASA, not necessarily from the administration, but uh, the NASA people themselves, had good dialog with our people. Uh, they were, the ones that were in charge of those areas.



GIRARDOT: And, we had a pretty good relationship with them. Uh, but a lot of people don’t realize, NASA’s, this entity here, the, the, it’s a part of the government, but it subcontracts all the rest of this stuff out.


GIRARDOT: Um, and, that’s where, more problems are with the subcontractors. When, and like, if there’s a strike, it isn’t necessarily against NASA, it’s against, uh, Lockheed, or it’s against McDonald-Douglas, or --


GIRARDOT: -- it’s against one of these subcontractors.


GIRARDOT: But, uh, NASA, we always had a pretty good relationship with NASA.

DRUMMOND: Okay. I’m sorry. NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement.

GIRARDOT: Oh, NAFTA. That’s a little different.

DRUMMOND: I am, I am so sorry. I did --

GIRARDOT: That’s a little different!

DRUMMOND: Because were talking about one, and they sound alike. My apologies. My apologies.

GIRARDOT: No, we had big, big arguments with the Clinton administration on NAFTA. Big arguments. And the arguments are still going on. Yeah.


GIRARDOT: Yeah, we’re not at all in favor of uh, as a matter of fact, we took a group of people down to, uh, uh, just south of San Diego, Tijuana, uh, where 86:00they have the maquiladora program, and that was all a part of NAFTA. Where there was these shops set up right across the border.


GIRARDOT: Uh, it were, like RCA, Bendix, name all the big American companies, they have these beautiful shops set up down there. And to show uh, there’s a, there’s a professor in California, what’s his name, uh, Harley Shaiken, Shankin?

DRUMMOND: I’m not familiar.

GIRARDOT: I’ll think of it in a minute. But anyhow, he deals with, with labor sources at uh, I think it’s university, I think it’s UCLA [UC Berkeley]. Um, and he was sort of our guide. But you go down there, and you look at what these plants have done for these people. And they live in the worst conditions you 87:00could possibly imagine. And all it’s doing is giving, you know, cheap labor to all of these companies, that really don’t need it. But, you know, they’re certainly going to take it. And I don’t know that it, uh, no one’s shown me yet today where NAFTA, or the newest ones, what’s the one they’re coming up with now? PTF? I don’t know, I forget the name of it, but, where we’ve gained by it. We haven’t gained anything that I can see. And so, we, we were at constant odds with uh, but Clinton felt very strongly about it, that uh, you know, and he...I’m sure in his mind he felt that this is going to mean more American jobs, and higher-paying American jobs, because the jobs that we’re sending out are, you know, not necessarily the highest paying jobs in the country. But they’re a whole lot better than what we’ve got now. (laughs) In some places.



GIRARDOT: Yeah, but we, we had continuous battles with he and his cabinet over that.

DRUMMOND: Were they responsive? To a certain degree, or were they just so dead-set on doing everything --

GIRARDOT: No, they were -- they would try to convince us that they were right --


GIRARDOT: -- and that we were wrong, and we would try just as hard to convince them that they were wrong, and we were right.


GIRARDOT: But it was just like going back to the deregulation of the airlines. Uh, and we said --

DRUMMOND: And that was the late ’70s?

GIRARDOT: Yeah. We said back then, it’s going to destroy, you know, the, the flying public, it’s going to cost them through the nose. And you know, look what’s happening today. And it is. And it’s not through yet. And American’s probably going under, it’s going to be US Air and American. They’ll probably keep the name. But uh, and look at all the airlines that have gone by the wayside because of it.


GIRARDOT: And uh --

DRUMMOND: When District Lodge 143 closed, they sent all their records. And they, 89:00they were, they felt the direct effects of all the mergers --


DRUMMOND: -- and things like that.

GIRARDOT: Absolutely.


GIRARDOT: Yeah. I mean, I remember Braniff, around, you know, Texas --


GIRARDOT: -- uh, and when deregulation came, said, “We’re either going to be the biggest or we’re going broke” and they went broke.


GIRARDOT: And, uh --

DRUMMOND: And Eastern went down.


DRUMMOND: And, um, Delta still does okay, I guess.



GIRARDOT: Well, because of all the mergers, yeah.


GIARARDOT: Yeah, yeah. But you’re going to end up just like we said you’re going to end up, with the, uh, you’re going to have three or four major airlines, and that’s it. And, and really, the cities, it doesn’t bother the cities much, other than the cost.


GIRARDOT: But, the people it really hurts are the smaller communities that had air service and now, uh, even the commuters, like American Eagle’s, going out of business now. And they’re losing, so, um, yeah, NAFTA, and deregulation hasn’t, well, same way with deregulation in the trucking industry. When that happened, uh, your major carriers, like one my dad worked for, Denver in 90:00Chicago, they went out of business. Pacific International went out of business, most all of --


GIRARDOT: -- Transcontinental, I think, went out of business. So, uh, you know they can say what they want, but I don’t see where, you know, NAFTA, or all the deregulating all these industries is a good idea. Uh, but then they say I’m a dinosaur too, so, we’ll see.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

GIRARDOT: So far, I think I’ve been right.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, sounds like. Um, are there any other reflections about your time as executive assistant that you’d like to share, or --

GIRARDOT: Well, you know, there’s so much about, you know, organized labor and working for it, uh, titles are great, and being in, in high positions are great, in the fact that you get to meet a lot of really interesting people. But I think the, the, you know the really thing that gives, uh, someone that works for the 91:00labor movement, makes them feel good, is looking back, especially after you retire --


GIRARDOT: -- is being able to look back, and, and see what you’ve been able to do for a lot of people --


GIRARDOT: -- that have, that had a good life because of either your skill at the negotiating table, or you’re able to convince them that they should join a union and participate. Um, I think, anyone from the International President down would tell you that, you know, that’s -- being in the high position is great, you know, uh, and it gives you a lot of prestige, but the knowledge that you’ve been able to make a difference in so many people’s lives I think is 92:00the thing that really keeps people in the labor movement going. And I don’t think you’d get into the labor movement if you’re just looking for, you know, big positions, big pay, and that sort of thing.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

GIRARDOT: I think you have to have it in your heart that, that you really, truly want to help people.


GIRARDOT: And uh, you ought to be able to do something good for people.

DRUMMOND: It probably will not surprise you to hear that every single person we’ve interviewed has said that.

GIRARDOT: Yeah. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Every single Machinist that we’ve interviewed said that.

GIRARDOT: Well, I think people in the labor movement are a unique group. I mean, you have people highly educated, you have people that never even finished high school. Um, uh, but you get a real education with the, you know, when you’re in the labor movement, I know I’ve been to the George Meany Institute and the University of Wisconsin --


GIRARDOT: -- been to our own Placid Harbor, uh, you get a, get a real education. 93:00I remember I wrote the first, or the only white paper for the IAM, the H, the uh, what they call it now, H, or my mind’s losing me. High Performance Work [Organization], we got a department for it at headquarters, I don’t even know what they call it. HPWO, something like that. Yeah, High Performance Work Organization.


GIRARDOT: Back in the, uh, I guess the late ’70s, early ’80s, when all the companies were saying, “Okay, we need this team concept.” Well, the Machinists, to a degree, agreed that we need to make some changes in the old structure of our assembly lines. Because technology was changing, that sort of thing. So, um, George Kourpias then was the International President, he asked, and Ed was his assist -- was the uh, vice president at headquarters, uh, Ed 94:00House, and so they asked me to come up with a, a plan for the IAM, in dealing with the high-performance work organizations. And uh, that’s one of the reasons that I was in Finland, I, after I put together this paper, I, uh, they wanted me to present it to the ILO, International Labor Organization, uh. But again, we’re able, I think people in the labor movement are a lot more progressive than what the public thinks they are.


GIRARDOT: We’re able to look at situations and say, “Well, our old rule here just doesn’t work, it’s time that we make --”

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

GIRARDOT: “-- a little, a little change here.” And uh --

DRUMMOND: Do you still have that paper? By any chance? Do you still have a copy of it laying around?

GIRARDOT: Uh, I’m sure the IAM still has it, uh.


GIRARDOT: I don’t know if I do.

DRUMMOND: Okay. I’ll look around for it at the archives.


GIRARDOT: Yeah. Because it was the original. And from that came our High Performance Work Organization. Which we have right now, ah, I don’t know, uh, Bruce Olsson I think is over that.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Sorry to interrupt you.


DRUMMOND: Sorry to interrupt you.

GIRARDOT: No, no, that’s oh -- that all came about in the late ’70s, early ’80s, it’s when the Deming, everybody was talking about [W. Edwards] Deming, and he’s the guy that during the Second World War, put together our assembly lines for mass production, and, pretty interesting old guy. He’s dead now, but uh, his book was pretty interesting.

DRUMMOND: Um, you’ve talked about a lot of people during your interview. Is there anyone that stands out as being a particularly good mentor, or good friend, or somebody, um, you counted on to help you through tough decisions? 96:00Because I’ve found in a lot of the interviews, there are people who said, “Oh, I came in under this person and they were great because they really showed me what it was about, and, and what we were really working for,” and, are there a few people you’d like to mention, perhaps, that were important? And you, you’ve mentioned some folks along the way --

GIRARDOT: Yeah. Well, I think there were probably a lot. I mean, I think in life, you don’t get anywhere unless you try to tailor yourself after somebody, or you hear somebody, or somebody takes a particular liking to you, and likes what you do, uh. Uh, obviously you know my dad was, uh, you know, probably, uh, the, uh, major, let’s see -- of course, Steve Williams, who’s still alive, 97:00by the way, he’s like 95 years old, uh, still, still kicking. He was a grand lodge rep. Uh, uh, he and I had a lot of discussions and thought a lot alike. Um, but before that, uh, Karl Feller, who was president of the Brewery Workers International Union. Uh, a good guy. Uh, let’s see, obviously, George Kourpias, I thought a lot of him, Tommy Buffenbarger, was executive assistant for both of them. And uh, Ed House, uh, Ed and I kinda grew up together. We were, we came on, he came on, he, the Machinists’ staff a little bit before I did, but Ed was a machinist from -- he came out of a paper mill.



GIRARDOT: And he was a machinist forever. But Ed and I were great friends from the time that uh, you know, we first came on, and uh, but there’s so many it’s hard to tell, uh.


GIRARDOT: Uh, I just had, I was fortunate, had a great career, uh, uh, with -- did some exciting things that most people can only dream of. Uh, you know, met people, that uh, of course doesn’t mean much after you meet them, but you know, just the fact that, you know, you know who they are. Um, it was, it was just a wonderful, wonderful ride. But what I enjoyed the most, I think, in the labor movement was, was the challenge that was presented to you, almost an insurmountable challenge in some cases. It’s just like, at Litten, there were, after we got that contract settled, then the next big issue was to settle the 99:00Department of Justice, the Navy, who else, somebody else, had suits against the Metal Trades Council, Litten, all dealing with, what they call the “affected class.” The affected class, was basically the blacks down there. And I got to tell you, in Southern Mississippi, in the mid-1970s, and early ’70s, they could say what they want, but it was as segregated as you could possibly get. In fact, the only union that the blacks belonged to down there was the Laborers. And uh --

DRUMMOND: Was that like for poultry and fish and stuff?

GIRARDOT: Well, they would do the dirty work in the shipyard --

DRUMMOND: Oh, I see.

GIRARDOT: -- and um, um, all of the craft -- the other crafts, the electricians, the plumbers, the machinists --


GIRARDOT: -- all (clears throat), they were all white. There wasn’t a black member. And, and each craft had their own seniority. So even if they were to 100:00hire a black, he’d be at the bottom of the seniority list. (clears throat) Excuse me. So, as I say, the Department of Justice, all the rest of the people were suing us, because we wouldn’t integrate blacks into the uh, other unions. And uh, so everyone said it’s an impossible situation. Uh, but I, I got the company to agree that, give us a chance to try to find a settlement to this. And uh, so, to make a long story short, I got with all the other organizations, and we sat down, and we worked out a settlement that allowed blacks, the senior blacks from the Laborers, to pick whatever craft they wanted, whether it be the machinists, whether it be pipefitters, electricians, whatever, and we broke down the numbers, and they said, in the suit, it came up that they had to have five 101:00go from Laborers into every other craft. So every other craft, I got them to agree to take five black people. Give them, not only take them, but given them super seniority, so that they wouldn’t be laid off, they wouldn’t be at the bottom of the list. And uh, we pulled it off. And everybody said you can’t, you can’t do it in southern Mississippi. But we did, we got it, uh, and they agreed to it, and today, they’re still living by it. And now the entire, you know, if you’re black and you want a job in a machinist, you got it. And, doesn’t make any difference. And I think that was a remarkable thing to happen in southern Mississippi --


GIRARDOT: -- back in the ’70s.

DRUMMOND: Absolutely.

GIRARDOT: But, uh, you’re able to (knocking on door), you know, do a lot of things like that, uh, in, in, you know when you’re in the labor movement, but 102:00uh, you’re presented with a new challenge every day.


GIRARDOT: And you don’t have a book on how to do it, you got to, you got to, dig down in your own resources, or call somebody that you know that may have had this particular situation, and try to find a, uh, a, a remedy to it. But it’s, it’s amazing.

DRUMMOND: Anything else?

GIRARDOT: Well, there’s a lot else, but it would (laughs) take forever to, to say it. But no, I think that’s, that’s probably about it.

DRUMMOND: Mm-kay. Well, it looks like we’ve got about, a little over two hours of interview this morning, which is very good. And I have really enjoyed this. Thank you so much for agreeing, and for traveling so far to meet me here in Lady Lake, Florida --


GIRARDOT: Yeah. That’s --

DRUMMOND: -- for this interview. Um, I do appreciate your time.

GIRARDOT: Well, I enjoyed it. I’m glad somebody’s interested.

DRUMMOND: Everybody’s interested. These are, this is going to be the best oral history project we’ve done at the archives, so, um, um, thank you for being part of it.