Thomas Hurd Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search This Transcript

TRACI DRUMMOND: Good morning, this is Traci Drummond, archivist for the Labor Collections at Georgia State University Library. I am at the Winpisinger Center for Education and Technology in -- um, on Placid Harbor, in Hollywood, Maryland, and today I’m here with Thomas Hurd, who is going to be talking to us today about his time with the machinists, and -- and his life, and his work. Um, good morning -- oh, today is Wednesday, the Seventh of December, 2011. Good morning.

THOMAS HURD: Good morning.

DRUMMOND: Thank you for joining us today. Um --

HURD: Thank you for having me.

DRUMMOND: Um, I’m going to get started with some uh background information about your family. Can you tell me about your mom and dad, and where they were from, and what -- what kind of work they did?

HURD: Well, my mother uh was from Kansas, and my father was from Kansas. And my father did all kinds of work, he was a manager for one of the Smart & Final 1:00groceries when he moved out to California, in Los Angeles. And he worked, believe it or not, in the carnivals, he traveled with a carnival for a while, running a concession. And uh, that was always in his blood I think, because when we finally wound up in San Diego, there’s a place that was called the Mission Beach Amusement Center, it was quite large with a roller coaster and rides, and all kinds of concessions and restaurants and so on. And he uh, bought the -- one third of the lease from the city of San Diego, and he had two partners, one run the -- the uh, the rides and one run the games, and my father had the ballroom and all the concessions. And then he bought both of them out, so he had the whole thing. And he did quite well there, and uh, the lease -- when the lease was up, they changed over and they tore everything down and made a new modern type park there.



HURD: Uh, and so he went into the bar business of all things. And so he had -- he had three bars, and one restaurant.

DRUMMOND: At the same time?

HURD: Yes.


HURD: And uh, he died young, he -- my father passed away when he was 53 years old. And my mother was about five years younger, I believe, than him, and she was left with all of that, and she just couldn’t handle it, and uh -- so she moved to Lancaster, California, the high desert, and she still had one liquor license, that’s in the days when you had movable liquor license and they were worth about 20 or $30,000, something like that.


HURD: That’s changed since then. And so she set up a bar and it was a restaurant, in a town called Little Rock, California, in the high desert. And it was called Villa Capri, and it was the only place around, and it did real good 3:00business. And uh, so she ran that for like three years, got in an automobile accident, was hospitalized and couldn’t walk for years. And uh, the -- she had a bartender in charge while she was going through all this stuff, and the bar burnt down, there was no insurance on the interiors, it was a leased building and so she lost everything. So I actually helped -- my brother and I helped my mom exist until she passed uh, away, and that was probably eight years ago that she passed away.


HURD: And that’s about what they did.


HURD: Uh --

DRUMMOND: That sounds fascinating. How many brothers and sisters do you have?

HURD: I have one brother.

DRUMMOND: Just one, you and one brother? So what was it like as a kid growing up at a -- at a fair, or at a carnival?

HURD: Well you know, it -- it wasn’t bad. It was --


DRUMMOND: Did you all have to work, were you -- did you start helping out at an early age?

HURD: No, no, we were too young.


HURD: And -- and that was right -- that was like in 1948 [1946]. And it was right after the second World War, or a couple of years after it. And this all -- it was just thousands of sailors in San Diego, because all the Navy -- there was a lot of Navy bases there, and there’s a big place where they kept their boats and all that, their big battleships and so on. So that amusement center made a fortune for my parents, really. It was just full of people, and they had big time bands in the ballroom, you know like they had Nat King Cole --


HURD: -- and -- and uh, even Bing Crosby. And that’s -- I don’t even know if you remember that name at your age, but --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HURD: -- at any rate, they made a good living there. And it was fun for us too, but they unfortunately, it took all of their time to run that place, so my brother and I wound up in Browns Military Academy. And we boarded there, and --


DRUMMOND: And -- and what -- how old were you when you went there?

HURD: I was in the fourth [fifth] grade and the fifth [sixth] grade.

DRUMMOND: And how old was your brother?

HURD: He was in the fifth [sixth] grade and the sixth [seventh] grade.

DRUMMOND: So he’s about a year older than you.

HURD: He’s actually almost two years older.


HURD: He started school later than I did.


HURD: And uh, that was kind of tough, we were homesick for a while.

DRUMMOND: And how far away was that from where your parents were?

HURD: It wasn’t far, it was only about ten miles --

DRUMMOND: But still you were isolated.

HURD: Yeah, we were isolated. You know that was a seven day proposition, that amusement center, and it opened early and it closed at 1 o’clock in the morning. And my mother did all the book keeping for that place, and my dad just was going crazy, you know picking the rentals, uh money up, and all that kind of stuff. And uh, don’t misunderstand me, my parents loved us, and they took good care of us.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.


HURD: And that’s the decision they made, and uh I don’t think it hurt me really. It -- at the time I thought it did, you know we were homesick for what -- you get over that.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: To the extent that you tease other kids when they come there, and you --


HURD: -- and you make them feel bad if you can. That’s how kids are, isn’t it?

DRUMMOND: That’s how kids are.

HURD: We used to stand by the swings out back, my brother and I, when this one kid just come in, and uh, my brother would set there and sing the song “Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair”, and I’d say yeah, that’s what your mother’s doing right now. Wondering about her little boy.


HURD: And he’d cry, and then when we got older we said how cruel can you be?

DRUMMOND: Kids can be horrible.

HURD: But they did that to us --

DRUMMOND: Yeah, I’m sure.

HURD: -- so we thought that’s the way you do it, so.

DRUMMOND: Right, right, right. Well what -- what made them leave Kansas and go to California?

HURD: There was nothing in Kansas.


HURD: I mean the work was bad back then. And uh, you know the Dust Bowl’s times and all that was not too many years before that, and -- and uh, everybody 7:00I guess always wanted to come west back in the -- in the ’40s.


HURD: And they came west [in the 1930s].

DRUMMOND: And they thought it was this magical place that had jobs and prosperity.

HURD: Yeah, but my mother always wanted to go back to Kansas, and I says mom if you went back there, you wouldn’t like it. You just think you would.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Did you ever have a relationship with your grandparents on either side of the family?

HURD: Yep. Both sides.


HURD: They were both in California, too.

DRUMMOND: Oh, they came out when you all went out?

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Did they um, were they sort of -- were they in the same area, did you see them regularly?

HURD: Yep. Well we were San Diego, they were Los Angeles, and at that time to get from San Diego to Los Angeles was like it’s 120 miles.


HURD: You had to go the coast route, and it was -- it would take you three hours to get there.


HURD: But we’d go like once every two months to see them.



HURD: And uh, yeah, and my great -- my -- my grandmother on my mother’s side was -- she was a quarter blood Cherokee Indian, and her brother was a uh, a -- my great uncle, he was a judge in Los Angeles. And prior to being a judge, he taught school in Spain, and he was a Texas Ranger when he was younger.


HURD: Yeah, so when he died, and I got the article at home, there was a big write-up in the Los Angeles paper about his life, and -- and being a judge in the Superior Court.

DRUMMOND: He must have seemed magical when you were a kid, to hear all his tales of being overseas, or -- or with the Rangers.

HURD: Yeah, it was interesting. And my grandmother was a union member.

DRUMMOND: Oh she was? So, so --

HURD: She worked at -- she worked at this -- as a uh -- in the cafeteria at the steel worker’s plant in Los Angeles, and she believed strongly in the unions.



HURD: Now this is a weird relationship, because my mother -- because her brother [uncle] the judge was a dyed in the wool Republican, and he was part -- he was head of the Republican Party in Los Angeles, and all that stuff. And my mother just loved her uncle, and she just was so far to the right I couldn’t believe it, and her mother was so far to the left, you know? My grandmother.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: And my grandfather was a coal miner, and -- turned plumber, he -- when he come to California and he already had black lung disease then, he didn’t lay down to sleep, he sat up to sleep, and when he passed away, I got his little purse that he kept in his pocket, and it had a little rolled up piece of wire, and a little key, and it had his union pin in it, and I’ve still got that.

DRUMMOND: So was he in the union -- did they even -- did he eventually have a union with the miners, or was -- did he only join a union when he was a plumber?


HURD: You know I never knew whether he was in the coal miner’s union or not.


HURD: I imagine he was, because he believed strongly in unions, but I didn’t know if he was, so I can’t really tell you. My other grandparents [father’s parents] were Democrats. Uh, and he was quite wealthy at one time, he had a big uh, uh flour mill where he had a deal with Pillsbury and stuff, and he produced a lot of flour for Pillsbury, and the Depression, when it hit and all that, he lost everything. And -- but he was a Democrat when he was wealthy.


HURD: And he remained a Democrat when he was not wealthy. And uh, my grandmother on that side, my father’s side, she I don’t think ever worked, she was just a housewife. And there was my father, and two brothers, and a sister.


DRUMMOND: OK. So four kids.

HURD: So she -- yeah, four children.

DRUMMOND: OK. So your grandmother on your mom’s side, the one who was in the -- worked in the cafeteria for the steelworkers, was that a job she held in Kansas, or was that a job she held once she got to California?

HURD: California.

DRUMMOND: And um, was she a steelworker, or did a different union organize the cafeteria workers at the steelworker’s place?

HURD: I can’t answer -- no, I think she was in the steelworkers union.


HURD: I think they did organize the cafeteria, and she became the head person of the cafeteria, she worked her way up to that, but she was still a union member.

DRUMMOND: OK. Did -- do you ever remember her talking about the union, or, or what she said about the union? Like did she -- or did you just know that she was in the union?

HURD: No, she spoke well of the union.

DRUMMOND: She did?

HURD: Yeah, because my mother hated unions. Because her uncle did.


HURD: Her mother’s brother of all -- it’s just, it’s a weird deal.

DRUMMOND: I know. Family dynamics.

HURD: And uh -- and so with my grandmother talking -- my grandmother didn’t 12:00really want to talk about unions around my mother, because it’s her daughter.


HURD: And they loved each other.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: But they just didn’t agree on anything. We used to go, when we went to that house, probably one out of five times, my grandmother couldn’t make my grandfather shut up, and we’d go there and he’d start on well, it was Roosevelt that did this for the people, and Roosevelt -- and my mother would say Roosevelt didn’t do anything for this -- and it would start, and my mother says you kids get in the car, we’re leaving, and bang. Back to San Diego we’d go after --


HURD: -- after 30 minutes.

DRUMMOND: That sounds contentious. Wow.

HURD: Oh yeah, it was -- it was, we didn’t like seeing that really, but.


HURD: There is -- was a love hate deal with the grandfather.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Well um, had you already started school before you left Kansas?

HURD: I did -- I never was in Kansas. We were --

DRUMMOND: Oh. Oh you were born --

HURD: We were born in -- in California.

DRUMMOND: So they met, and they had moved before -- OK, OK.

HURD: Right, and then brother was born in -- in Los Angeles, and I was born in Los Angeles.


DRUMMOND: OK, OK. So um, what was your early schooling like, including the military academy? What was -- what were the early years like?

HURD: I want -- you know, as much as I remember, they were OK.


HURD: Uh, I went to kindergarten in Los Angeles, and we moved to San Diego and I spent the rest of my school time in San Diego. After Brown Military Academy, I went to St. Bridgette’s Academy, which was a Catholic school. And after that I went to public school, and I didn’t fit in really well in public school because the military academy, it was tougher than you think. My brother joined the Coast Guard, and he’d come home and he’d say -- and he went through boot camp in the Coast Guard and he said Tom, it’s a cake walk compared to Brown Military Academy. Because I mean I can remember at Brown Military Academy, when a kid stole something from somebody and the uh bugle started going off at like 14:0012 o’clock at night, and they -- they told us to fall out in uniform in the back --


HURD: -- and we -- at that age, we had M1 -- M1 rifles, but they cut the clip down half so that when you would release it with your thumb, it wouldn’t mess your thumb up because you know they had quite a bit of power.


HURD: But we had M1 rifles we marched with, and there was a mountain called Saddleback Mountain, and it was raining, and they double timed us clear up that mountain until somebody would tell who stole that, whatever it was.

DRUMMOND: Wow, that sounds very stressful.

HURD: It was tough.

DRUMMOND: And kind of like a horrible --

HURD: It was --

DRUMMOND: I mean --

HURD: It was tough.


HURD: And you know, you would get a demerit for nothing, and a demerit was one hour of walking around the quad with an M1 on your shoulder at that age. And you didn’t have to do anything hardly to get a demerit, because they’d inspect your rooms without you even knowing they were going to be there. And you’d 15:00have to stand at attention in your room, and they’d come through and they’d flip a coin and see if it bounced off the bed and all that stuff, and if it didn’t you were in trouble. (laughter) And you know stuff like that, but you know what? In retrospect, it was a good experience.


HURD: Yeah, it really was. I mean if you could take it, and my brother and I could take it, so it was a good experience for us. I mean we learned from that, we really did. My parents couldn’t believe it because after two months there, we come home for a visit, and uh my dad was yes sir, and my mother was yes ma’am, and that’s the way it was.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Um, well after you came out and went to Catholic school, did your brother also join you there?

HURD: He went to St. Bridgette’s --


HURD: -- and then he went straight to public school because he was a year ahead of me.



HURD: And uh, I stayed at St. Bridgette’s, and then for one more year, and then I went to public school, and then my senior year I went to St. Augustine High School.


HURD: Another Catholic school. I wanted to finish at a Catholic high school.

DRUMMOND: Did -- tell me about the neighborhood you lived in, once you left the military academy and you moved back to San Diego to live uh with your parents, tell me about the neighborhood you lived in. What kind of families were there, what kind of --

HURD: Well when we first -- well, I could go back and tell you when we first moved there, we lived in a little shack in San Diego. It wasn’t in a bad part of town, it was just a little dinky -- a little dinky house. They paid $4,000 for it. You know that’s what it was like then. And we moved from there to a bigger house, it was pretty nice, in a decent neighborhood. But then when they got into the amusement center, we bought an ocean beach [a home in Ocean Beach] overlooking the ocean.



HURD: And you know that would cost you probably 900 or a million today, and then from there we moved to Mission Beach, right on Santa Clara Point [Santa Clara Place], where the -- there was a recreation center there, and they had all the boat races out there. And we owned a home there uh, with a vacant lot next to it. And so I checked on that here about four years ago, and I went and knocked on the door, and it’s a --

DRUMMOND: The house is still standing?

HURD: No, the house is down and it’s a -- it’s a hotel [apartments].


HURD: And so I ask them that -- if they could tell me when they bought this, who owns the hotel and all that, and they told me as much as they could. But they said they paid a whole bunch of money for that property.

DRUMMOND: So would you say that um owning the um -- you have a special term for it, the amusement park, the entertainment park, what do you call --

HURD: It was Mission Beach Amusement Center --

DRUMMOND: Amusement Center.

HURD: -- but it had a ballroom, and it had all the rides like they would, and a big roller coaster.



HURD: The roller coaster’s pretty famous, because it’s a wooden roller coaster that was born in -- born. (laughter) That was built in the late ’20s, and it’s still there. And it’s still working.

DRUMMOND: Oh really?

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Oh wow. Um so but -- but did like owning, or running the amusement center allow your parents to have a certain affluence?

HURD: Yeah, it did.

DRUMMOND: So, so you didn’t necessarily grow up in working class neighborhoods?

HURD: Uh, not really.

DRUMMOND: Not really? So more middle class, or would you say?

HURD: High middle.

DRUMMOND: High middle, high middle?

HURD: Yeah, because we moved from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach, and from Pacific Beach we moved to a place called Mount Helix. And it was mostly millionaires that lived there. We weren’t millionaires but we lived there.

DRUMMOND: OK. But you said your father passed at a very young age.

HURD: Fifty-three years old.

DRUMMOND: And so were they able to maintain that lifestyle leading up to that?


HURD: My mother lost just about everything except that liquor license, she opened up that restaurant, bar I told you about the Villa Capri, it was called. And it did a good business, but it burnt down, and she lost everything.

DRUMMOND: Everything, OK. And was she ever able to return to work?

HURD: Never was. She was crippled.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And you and your brother took care of her?

HURD: Well we -- as much as we could. She got -- she got Social Security from my father when he used to work, and which was something, but we’d help out, of course, it’s -- you know, it’s your mother.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, of course.

HURD: You’ve got the money, you help her. And I was doing all right.

DRUMMOND: So um, being in high school, what was expected of you? Were you ex -- or did you have expectations? Um, were there expectations that you would join the military, say, or get a job, or go to college? What -- what were you looking at doing when you graduated?

HURD: Well you know that’s kind of sad too, because when you’re young, now you think different than your parents. I mean it’s like two different brains 20:00in people, the kids think on one level and one line, and the parents are -- because they’ve seen all of this stuff that we haven’t seen yet, so my mother already had it fixed with a senator that was going to get us into -- depending on our grades, and she used to tell us that, you stay in the military school and you’ll go to West Point and you can come out with you know a commission in the service and do quite well. And then ended up --

DRUMMOND: It didn’t appeal.

HURD: -- so what, I’m here at this thing, you know, and --


HURD: -- I don’t want a complete -- I mean I don’t mind it here, but I don’t want a life of this.

DRUMMOND: Right, right, right.

HURD: You know I’d rather get out with Levis on, like regular kids, instead of gray pants with a black stripe down the side of them.


HURD: And putting a tie on every day.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, OK. So the military route was not the route for you.

HURD: Oh I didn’t really think it was for me.



HURD: Now I look back and to be honest with you, I wish I had joined the Coast Guard like my brother did and made a career out of the Coast Guard, and then start something after I got out, but then when I say that I say well wait a minute, I had a good life as a business rep and a Grand Lodge rep, and an administrative assistant.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: So why am I saying that? And I just can’t answer that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Well then um, what did you do when you graduated high school?

HURD: When I graduated from high school, I went immediately to a place called Convair.

DRUMMOND: Oh so, first -- your first job.

HURD: They -- yes. They built airplanes. They built the 880s, the 990s, and during the war, the Second World War, they built all them B-52s I think it was, bombers and stuff. Don’t quote me on that --


HURD: -- but it was a military plane.


HURD: And I went there, and --

DRUMMOND: That would have been 1956?

HURD: Yeah, and they had so much work you couldn’t believe it. They had San Diego State College kids that would work four hour shifts, that’s all they 22:00would work, just to get heads in there. And this is -- you find, you think about this later, in those days they gave what was called cost plus contracts. The cost of the contract they would pay, plus 10% for the company’s profit. Well if a company, if you think about this, can just shove people in that place like crazy and work them 12 hours a day like they were doing, they run the cost way up, don’t they? Well 10% of that cost is a lot more money than 10% of running it the way they could have run it. And I really think that that’s why they stopped [most] cost plus contracts, is because of the -- the way companies took advantage of it.


HURD: So they just had more people than they needed there. I mean you didn’t even have to -- you could stand there and not even work because there’s somebody doing your job for you.



HURD: It seemed like, you know? But I was -- they sent me to assembler’s school, Convair did. And that was 80 hours I believe, I think it was two weeks I went to that, and then when I got out they put me in the -- on an assembly line, and it was F102 aircrafts.

DRUMMOND: And you would assemble --

HURD: I would lay back under a fuselage section and I’d drill these little holes through the ribs, and into the skin, that’s the covering of the plane. And that’s what I did every day, that same thing. And the chips would fall down on me, I’d be covered with magnesium chips, and it was terrible. At eight months, I said this ain’t for me.

DRUMMOND: But you -- but before you talk about quitting, you joined the -- a -- the union there.

HURD: I had a guy that came up to -- that was an open shop.

DRUMMOND: It was an open shop.


HURD: I had this uh big giant individual come up to me, and a nice guy. He was -- he was black. Very nice. And an -- an excellent steward, shop steward. And he comes up to me and he says how are you doing, young man? And I says fine, and I’m looking up at him. Because I was 17 --


HURD: -- I was with the work permit from city schools because you -- I wasn’t 18 yet. And he says you know, I’m sure they told you this is an open shop, that you didn’t have to join the union. That’s for all the rest of this place. But when you’re in my area where I’m the representative, it’s a closed shop. You need to join the union. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: And I understood what he said -- and I said well I was going to wait to join the union anyway. [not true]


HURD: And so he gave me the thing and I said wait a minute, I’ll just sign my name and you can fill the stuff out there, and he said no, you go ahead and do that. So I did, and I joined the machinists union, it was a machinists union then, and that was in 1956, and --

DRUMMOND: Local lodge 1112.


HURD: Yeah, and I uh, I -- when I quit after eight months, I didn’t know you needed to go down and get a withdrawal slip and all that stuff, so I -- I’ve got two numbers in the machinists union --


HURD: -- because I actually had lost my -- anything I had coming from the union when I did what I did, I didn’t get a withdrawal card.


HURD: And I went to work at uh Rohr, and that was in Chula Vista, that’s probably 15 miles from Convair.


HURD: And that -- well let me go back.

DRUMMOND: But -- yeah, but you have a -- yeah.

HURD: Yeah, that’s why I was going to do it.

DRUMMOND: So when you quit, um, Convair, you -- what did you do next?

HURD: OK, that’s what I was going to say. I -- I should have told you, my senior year of high school I joined the Retail Clerks, before Convair.

DRUMMOND: OK. So your first job.

HURD: Yeah, and I worked at Mayfair Market as a box boy, just boxing groceries for the people. They called them box boys. Girls do that now, but back then no girls did that, boys did that work.



HURD: Women have come a long way.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Yeah.

HURD: They took those jobs from the boys. (laughter) At any rate, so when I quit, uh, and I joined the union there, the -- it was the Retail Clerks then, it’s not the United Food Commercial Workers. And that was a good union I thought too, quite frankly.


HURD: Because one time, they was in a rush, and they said could you put this box of green beans up on this shelf? Well that wasn’t in my classification, and I went -- but they -- I understood, and the guy was nice, and I just put that one box there and that’s all I ever did. And I was learning something, you know --


HURD: -- and I’m just -- I’m young. And so I go to the union hall to pay my dues, and the lady there, a nice lady, I said yeah, they had me put a box of cans up on the shelf. They did what? And I said yeah, and she says well we’ll file a grievance on that, they need to pay you for stocker’s pay. And I said 27:00I’d rather you didn’t because I didn’t object to it, and I just won’t do it no more. And so she said I won’t, but if you do it again, you need paid for it.


HURD: And she was right.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: Quite frankly, but you know, I didn’t -- I thought well they’ll fire me, you know I didn’t know how -- what I could get away with and what I couldn’t. So at any rate, I went back there and I stayed there for my high school year, and that’s when I went to Convair.


HURD: And then after I quit Convair, I had -- there wasn’t many jobs around, so I went to Food Basket Market, and I got a job until I could get a better job. And I boxed groceries again, and it’s like 18 years old, man.

DRUMMOND: And you rejoined the Retails Clerks when you --

HURD: I rejoined yeah, oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- when you did that. But you also had took some junior college classes.


HURD: Yeah I did. I went one semester to junior college, and I started off with I think it was 18 units, which is quite a bit, a pretty big load to carry.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: And so then I just started getting out of classes, and I wound up finishing physiological psychology, because that interested me. And uh, what was the other? Oh, oral interpretation, and uh one other, I had three classes.

DRUMMOND: What is oral interpretation? What was that?

HURD: It was speaking basically, and there was --

DRUMMOND: Oh OK. Public speaking.

HURD: Yeah it -- yeah, and it was like your interpretation of what you’re reading, basically, is what it was. Like you were supposed to interpret with your voice change what you were reading. You used to have teachers didn’t you when you were a little kid --


HURD: -- that would say and the little boy came in the door, wow the dog barked! 29:00And you know they’d go (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

DRUMMOND: Yeah, OK. Oh, interesting. Fascinating.

HURD: Yeah, so.


HURD: And that was enough of college for me, you know, so uh -- that -- that’s -- I went back to boxing groceries, and I did that just for a few months, and then I went to uh, Rohr Industries.


HURD: Well actually it was Rohr Aircraft then it was called.

DRUMMOND: OK, 1958 you went to work at Rohr.

HURD: Nineteen-fifty-eight. October 20th, 1958.


HURD: And I hired in. Let me tell you how I did that, because this is very interesting. I needed a job. And I didn’t want my parents to give me money at that age, I wanted to get my own.

DRUMMOND: You were about 20?

HURD: I was 19.

DRUMMOND: Nineteen, OK.

HURD: Yeah, just ready to turn 20. Matter of fact I think when I hired in I was 20, but when I was getting ready to go there I wasn’t. At any rate, I go there, and I filled out an app -- I put a suit and tie on, and I filled out an 30:00application, and I set there, and I got in -- well I got in the line and I turned the application in. Well I heard the interviewer talking to the person two in front of me, and they says yeah, well you be seated and we’ll have somebody call you in for an interview. I heard that. To the guy in front of me they said well we’re sorry, we don’t have nothing in this line right now, but we’ll keep your application on file, and if something comes up we’ll call you. And so he leaves. So I know he’s never getting a job, what that meant.

DRUMMOND: Right, yeah.

HURD: So when I get up there, he told me well we don’t have nothing in -- the same thing, I went and sat down. And I stayed there all day, and everybody was leaving, and everybody’s -- they’re ready to close the employment office, and they says have you been helped? And I says yeah, and they told me to come sit down over here and they’d interview me.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)


HURD: And so they took me back for an interview, and they hired me as a dispatcher.

DRUMMOND: Excellent. A little perseverance.

HURD: And I sat in the -- later on in life when I was a business rep, instead of negotiations I said uh, and I still have seniority rights to go back, that was in the contract, it always had been and the people taking a full time job with the union, if for any reason they lost that job, they had their rights back, seniority --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HURD: -- going along with them. They even give us pension all the time, we were business reps.


HURD: But I was set in the negotiations, and they angered me, and then he says how did you ever get hired here in the first place? And I said you want to know how I got hired here?

DRUMMOND: (laughter) I tricked you.

HURD: Yeah, I says your -- the way you people handle it, because they looked for my application, and it wasn't filed anywhere, it was right in the trash can, the guy found it. And they said what do you mean? And I says because I cheated a little bit, and I told them what I did, and they said well you were a good 32:00employee. And I said of course I was a good employee. You were paying me. But you know, I --


HURD: -- made sure the contract was -- you know, you went by the contract when I was a steward in there, too. And they had me angry that day, so at any rate, that's just a side line. But I -- I went in there as a dispatcher, a dispatcher was not covered by the union. It was a technical and office job, they called it. Later on, we brought it into the union, but it wasn't then. So I stayed a dispatcher until like 1961.


HURD: And in 1961, I became a steel rule die fabricator.


HURD: And I joined the union.

DRUMMOND: Well let's step back a second. What does a dispatcher do? What would your day to day --

HURD: A dispatcher moves the product from one -- like I was a dispatcher in cutting, that's where they first started cutting the materials in big sheets, and all that stuff.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.


HURD: And it would have folders with them that tell -- told you what the next operation was going to be on that metal that you picked up on that shear. And it would say take it to trim and drill, so I'd pack all the trim and drill stuff on one big flat, and I'd drag it over to trim and drill, and other stuff would go to drop hammer, and some stuff would go to punch press, and different places. And they had dispatchers in their area, and when they did their work on it, it would go to different places. You know, and so on, and that gets the product down to where it is -- then turns into an assembly.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. So everything happened at that plant, from the first stages of getting the raw material in, and cutting it, to distributing it, to finishing it as a product that then --

HURD: Went out the door.

DRUMMOND: -- goes out the door. OK. Oh, wow.

HURD: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) that's correct.

DRUMMOND: How many people were in that shop?

HURD: You know when I was there and when I first hired in, was there -- there must have been in the bargaining unit alone, 4,000 people.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. And so then it was an open shop?


HURD: And it was an open shop.


HURD: And uh, they always at Rohr, because they did a lot of uh research work on -- because they did the -- built the power packages around the engine, Fred Rohr that owned the company was -- built the Spirit of St. Louis at Ryan Aeronautical.


HURD: And uh, he was quite, quite bright. And I don't know if you know what honeycomb is, but it's -- he invented honeycomb, which is metal put together that's -- that uh, is up and down, welded together and it's light, and you can build the areas of the wing with it.


HURD: To give it stability, but it weighs nothing.


HURD: And he invented the drop hammers, where you form material by dropping the top of the -- pulling a rope and slamming this weight down on a die, a form die that will mash the metal into the form that you needed it in. And so he was 35:00always doing things to make different products. Which finally hurt the company bad, because they built the BART system in San Francisco, Bay Area Rapid Transit district.


HURD: They built all the trains for that, and they did the WMATA in Washington, D.C., the Washington Area Transit System, and they built modular -- building modular homes, and modular bathrooms, um, antennas that go from one mountain to another, and dish antennas and the ones the phone company uses. And boats, and everything. Diversified so much that they almost went under.


HURD: They -- it really hurt them, and they finally just got back to aircraft, and got rid of all of those, sold them off or just quit on them, whatever they 36:00had to do to get out of that work. So they had some tough times trying to just go too far than they should have went, I guess.


HURD: Getting away from their main product.

DRUMMOND: OK. So um, as a dispatcher you weren’t able to join the union.


DRUMMOND: But when you um started working -- doing steel rule die --

HURD: I joined the union.

DRUMMOND: You joined the union?

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. And that was local lodge 775.

HURD: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK. What -- what was that job like?

HURD: It’s building a die, similar to what a die -- a tool and die maker makes not just dies. And a die is -- will have a male and a female, into a configuration of what the part is supposed to look like.


HURD: I -- it was pretty hard for you to probably understand this, but --

DRUMMOND: No, no, no, I understand.

HURD: -- and the top part, the male part is hooked to a press, it’s called, and the bottom part, the female part, is on the bottom. And the punch press 37:00operator, the die will go to him, and he’ll run the metal through there, and just keep pushing it through, and then he’ll just throw these parts out because the male will enter the female.


HURD: And it will punch holes in that part, and it will cut the periphery out to the figure -- configuration --

DRUMMOND: So it’ll shape it and cut it at the same time?

HURD: It’ll cut the periphery, it leaves it flat.


HURD: And it will punch holes in it.


HURD: And it has what we call a stripper in it, which is hard rubber, so when that rubber will go down and compress, as it cuts that metal and when the top comes up on that press, the rubber will flip that part out.

DRUMMOND: OK. Interesting.

HURD: So, yeah, it is. And --

DRUMMOND: And what did you make? What were you --

HURD: The hourly rate?

DRUMMOND: No, no, no, what -- what -- what part were you creating?

HURD: Well, I -- I probably would make three or four dies a day.


HURD: Or -- or the part that I did to them a day.



HURD: And uh, because there was hundreds and hundreds of steel rule dies to build hundreds and hundreds of different configuration parts with different hole patterns on them and so on.


HURD: Uh --

DRUMMOND: So you weren’t creating a product from the steel that was running through, you were actually making the form. The male and female parts.

HURD: Yeah.


HURD: Yeah. Yeah. No, I didn’t -- we didn’t run the machines, that was for -- they made less money than we did.


HURD: We made the dies. And I actually uh, filed a grievance when I found out that -- you know this is really -- should be tool and die work, because they build dies. The only difference was that the dies we built had hard wood at the -- on the -- it had a metal plate that hard wood was screwed to, and -- and it would route out the configuration of that part, and that router bit was the same size as the steel rule. That’s what we called it, and it was that thick, and 39:00this tall. And that would be bent on a bender, I would push a little thing up and down with different little things on it to make turns, and all that stuff, and it was put down in that -- where that -- where that router had cut that wood, and then the inside of that wood would go down on the inside of it, and the outside of the wood would be on the outside of that rule.


HURD: We’d heat treat that metal till it was hard, the die was solid steel up here, the female part, or the male part was solid steel. And it would come down and go inside of that steel rule and cut the material, because we’d give like a you know, one thousandth per ten thousandths thick, like let’s say aluminum?


HURD: We’d give one thousandth clearance, well that meant half of -- a half of a thousandth’s on this side, and half on that side was the only clearance, and it would just cut it with no burrs or nothing on it.

DRUMMOND: OK. Precision.


HURD: It was pretty precision work.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And did you have any special training to do that?

HURD: No, they taught us there.

DRUMMOND: They taught you on the job?

HURD: On the job.


HURD: But you know, then I started thinking this is tool and die work.


HURD: So I filed a grievance. We’re doing tool and die work, we were labor grade A [8]. Tool and die was labor grade [1A and] 5B work.


HURD: Toolmaker B was -- was five, toolmaker -- an A toolmaker, top of the line, was labor grade one. Our labor grades were one through whatever.


HURD: And a lot of companies --

DRUMMOND: One being the best.

HURD: Yeah. A lot of companies were inverted, they’re just the opposite of that, but at any rate, I filed that grievance, and that’s the -- my first taste of arbitration, because I went to arbitration on it, and uh, and I watched uh who I always thought was a great labor leader, his name was Al [Bafone?], he was the directing business representative of District 50 there. And I watched 41:00him perform an arbitration, I took notes. And I was a witness, and his questioning was unbelievable. And we didn’t win, though. And the reason we didn’t win is because that work had been -- been done like a year and a half and nobody had said anything until I filed that grievance, and then their company’s argument of course was this has got wood in it, it’s got steel rule, over there there’s male, female, are all steel, there’s tolerances, are closer, and on and on and on. And you can snow an arbitrator, I mean you really can. And uh, at any rate we lost that one. But I got into tool and die.


HURD: Eventually.

DRUMMOND: And was -- and so was the part of the -- of the plant you were working in then, was it more -- were there more union members in that part, was that -- like once you could join the union, was it just expected that anyone working in that section --


DRUMMOND: -- would join the union?



DRUMMOND: But you chose to?

HURD: We had -- yeah, I chose to. Yeah. We -- I had -- my dad believed in unions, my grandfather believed in unions, and the only one that didn’t was my mother and it was because she liked her uncle so much --


HURD: -- she was brainwashed.


HURD: And she was state -- Kansas state champion typist in high school. She won that, and when -- god, what was it, Senator -- it was a senator that became president of the United States, but I can’t think of his name, but he was a senator and they had the Senate Investigating Committee in Los Angeles on something that he was investigating, and my mother was the first woman hired by him, temporarily while he was -- six months she was with him. And I said well didn’t you like him? And she says no. I says why? She said Tom, he was a Democrat. We don’t think the same, I worked for him, and I did my job. So when she died, I was cleaning out her stuff, and I seen a letter from that guy, 43:00I’ve got it at home. And a whole bunch of stationary, and I -- well I said I wish my mom was alive, I’d say you stole these, didn’t you?

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: Because this says -- it says uh, it was his -- Senator you know so and so’s [Harry Truman] stationary from the White House [Senate], and it says White House [Senate] on it and all that. And she had a stack of them about that big.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: And I said -- I -- oh, I wish -- I said I wish my mom was alive. I’d say you Republicans steal?

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: From Democrats.

DRUMMOND: Wow. (laughter)

HURD: (laughter)

DRUMMOND: So how long were you working in that part of the plant before you became active in the union?

HURD: I became really -- started to be active in the union as steel rule die.

DRUMMOND: So, pretty much from the get go.

HURD: Uh, a year into it.

DRUMMOND: A year into it?

HURD: Yeah, the contract was up, and I wanted to know what was happening, so I 44:00went to the union hall for the first time, and watched people yell and scream at each other, well why are you saying you did -- can’t get this, and you got that? And all this kind of stuff, and you know I said well, and I’d listen to what this guy said, and I says well that doesn’t make sense.


HURD: This guy’s trying to tell him why they did that, and it makes sense. And uh, I got interested in it, so when I went and left -- what really made me like the union was, there was a layoff. And when they started laying people off in steel rule die, I could go back to dispatch, you know I had a place to go.


HURD: Some of these -- them people didn’t, or they -- or they did.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HURD: But I was the first one laid off, so I went here. The following week they took five more people on the layoff out of there and instead of sending them back to where they went, they moved them up to form blocks, which is a step into tool and die.



HURD: So they -- then they said would I -- would you like to go there, Tom? And I says yeah, I sure would. So they moved me there at the same rate that I was making just like them guys was, but now I was a dispatcher. One week.

DRUMMOND: One week.

HURD: So I get -- but they still put my pay at that, so I get over there and uh the boss comes to me, and he says they want to see you in the office. I went in the office, and a human resources guy, and he says we brought you over here at the wrong rate of pay. And I says “Why is that?” And he says well, “you went back to dispatcher, you come over here from a dispatcher and the other guys come over here as steel rule die fabricators. And they made 38 cents more an hour than you did as a dispatcher.” And I says, “I was there for a week.”


HURD: I was the first one laid off, and they needed to lay more off, and they laid five off and they sent them over there. I said “You really think that’s fair?” And he said “That’s the way it is. Now if you want to go back to dispatching, I’ll put you back there right now.” And he was mean. And I says “No, I don’t want to do that. But I think this is unfair.” And so I went 46:00out there to work, and I worked hard, and that foreman come up to me and he says “You know, you’re one of the best workers I’ve got. And I want to show you what I’ve done. I put you in for a 45 cent merit raise.”

DRUMMOND: Fantastic.

HURD: Well, wait a minute.


HURD: So I said “Well I appreciate that, I really do.” And he says “You deserve it.” So he comes back to me two weeks later and he says “They give you ten cents.” And I said “Who give me ten cents?” He says, “Human resources, they go through these things before -- and approve them, and they cut them down.” I says “Really?” And he says “Yeah.” He said “Tom, I tried.” And he did. And then I found out that the foreman who knows best who should get raises and who shouldn’t, they go to another person that don’t even know you that cuts it down to a different rate. And that further said that you know, this union needs some help.



HURD: And so I really started getting active, and it wasn’t long after that that I started running for positions in the union.


HURD: Actually it wasn’t until I went to tool and die, which was probably a year and a half later, but --


HURD: -- uh, I started getting active in the union, I started going to union meetings, I did that for a couple of years and participated, I’d get up and say what I didn’t like and what we should be trying to do to help those people out there, and all this kind of stuff. And then I just uh, I was -- did make it to tool and die, though. And uh, I did well in tool and die, and they got me up there pretty quick, and I -- we had a foreman at that time who when he retired, I found out that -- that he worked with the machinists union as an organizer, and that’s why he was always so nice, you know, to us, and he used to tell me when I was on the negotiating committee, he’d say “Tom, you better do your best to get these people some more money, and a better pension plan. They 48:00deserve it.” And -- and I -- I knew not to ever say he told me something like that, because he was trying to you know, let me know the way he felt about things.


HURD: And uh, he was a great guy, but he went from my foreman to general foreman, so he was over all the tooling then, and I didn’t see much of him, but things still run smooth, and he had already set up a deal in tool and die, and I became steward in there, that they took the overtime list from the steward. And they took our list as the bible, and that’s how they asked to work, the low man would work the overtime, and as they went down my list, they’d bring it back all marked up, where these people were working, and you know they did it right, and it was much better, there was no grievances then. Because everybody had access, first thing I did Monday morning was update that list, and hang it on the side of my work bench, and everybody come over and see 49:00where they were on that list. They knew that’s the list that’s being used. So there was never, never, never no type of grievance.


HURD: So it worked good. And he’s the guy that come up with that idea. “I’m supposed to keep the overtime,” he said.


HURD: “I’m the supervisor.”


HURD: “I’m supposed to keep it, the records of it, and the whole bit. I’ll keep a record of it, and it’ll match yours, but I’m using your list. And I bet you we don’t have any grievances.”


HURD: And I says “I bet we don’t either.” (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. So um, let me get back -- you said that you um started being more active in the union, and going to meetings. What were -- what were the meetings like then? Did a -- did a large percentage of membership show up?


DRUMMOND: For meetings?

HURD: No, we -- when we had -- at one time, we got up, this is a few years later, but we got up to uh, almost 5,000 in the bargaining unit there.


HURD: And --

DRUMMOND: And how big do you think the -- the whole plant was?


HURD: Well I'm talking about the whole plant.


HURD: There was 5,000 union members.

DRUMMOND: OK. But it was an open shop?

HURD: No, this is after --

DRUMMOND: It was a closed shop?

HURD: -- we got the union shop.


HURD: There was 5,000 -- everybody that -- but see, that company always had probably 500 [3,000] more out of the bargaining unit classifications than they had in it. You know, because they had then -- time key punch operators, and you know that's when you still used a key punch -- key punch cards and stuff for timekeeping, and all that kind of stuff. And they had engineers that were not in the union, and they had -- we -- just a whole bunch of people, and we organized all of technical and office at one time, and uh, that's where I had a big argument with the business rep at the time, because I was in the negotiations over their agreement, and the company offered a sane – [them the same thing](inaudible) the business rep would say well wait a minute, I checked out 51:00at this other company that's -- and they pay this much more for that same job. And they looked at him and they says, “And how long have they been in the union over there?” And he says “Well probably 30 or 40 years.” And he says “Well maybe in 30, 40 years, they'll make it here too. They didn't start off at that.”

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: You don't start off with the moon with the first agreement.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: You know, and -- and it got to union shop in there, and he says no. They'll get it the same way you workers got it. And I told him I got -- we had a caucus, and I said “You know I've got to tell you, I don't know if I'd go the direction you're going, because we're not going to get them under. We're not going to get them if we don't do something to get the -- that group in, and then we can improve upon the stuff.” And he says “I can't take this back to them, and I'm not going to take it back to them,” and he didn't. He refused to take the contract back, he signed off and got rid of them.


HURD: He was a good guy, don't --



HURD: -- misunderstand me. He was not taking that pile of junk back to those people, he said “I sai-- told them that we were going to do our best to get them this, this, this [a good contract].” I said “Well maybe you shouldn't have said all that then.”


HURD: But he did, and he just wouldn't do it. And he'd rather they just stay where they are than take a cut in some cases even to come in the union.

DRUMMOND: So you um --

HURD: But we could have picked up a lot of new members then.


HURD: And we could have improved upon their status in that company over the years. They would have come right along.

DRUMMOND: So you started out as steward. Did you -- and how -- what was your next --

HURD: Actually no, I didn't.

DRUMMOND: You didn't start out as a steward then?

HURD: No, I started out as the conductor.

DRUMMOND: Conductor.

HURD: Conductor sentinel at the union hall.

DRUMMOND: Conductor sentinel at the union hall?

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And what did that position entail?


HURD: Well that you -- if a guy got out of hand, you'd throw him out of the place, and you'd check their books when they come in to make sure they were union members.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And how long did you do that?

HURD: A year.

DRUMMOND: A year. And then what was your next?

HURD: Uh, my next step would have been uh, recording secretary.

DRUMMOND: Recording secretary. So um, because a -- because a -- which was an elected position.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK, and did you run on tickets with people?

HURD: Oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: How were you approached about running for that?

HURD: Uh, the incumbents that were in there, that were pretty decent people at the time, they -- they'd look, and they'd see who's coming into the union meetings, and who's standing up and talking at the union meetings, who's making motions at the union meeting. And they said well why don't -- when an opening comes up, well why don't we ask that Tom guy --



HURD: -- if he wants to go on our ticket. And so that's how that worked, so I was recording secretary for 1970 and '71.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what -- and what does that entail?

HURD: I sat on the dais, at the podium, and I took the minutes.

DRUMMOND: The -- of each meeting.

HURD: Yeah, each meeting.

DRUMMOND: OK. And you did that for about a year, you said?

HURD: Uh, two years.

DRUMMOND: Two years.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And what was your next?

HURD: My next step was vice president of local lodge 755.

DRUMMOND: And what did your duties entail?

HURD: I sat next to the president and if a -- if a -- somebody would challenge the decision, the chair or something, I'd take the meeting over. And the president would have an opportunity to say why he denied the motion, or approved the motion, whatever, and the person out there would say why he should have did just the opposite of what did, and then I'd slam the gavel down and I'd say we're going to take a vote now. And they'd vote on which one -- which is the -- 55:00I've always thought was a poor way to do it, because you could vote against the Robert rules of order, you can vote against anything you want to vote against --


HURD: -- but you technically can't do that, but that's our procedure.

DRUMMOND: And did you ever um, run for president of local 775?

HURD: I was elected president of 755 four terms.


HURD: They were one year terms back then.


HURD: So I was a president of the local for four terms. And that was when there was a lot of politics in my union --


HURD: -- and you walk in that hall, and it was -- there was a lot of people then going to meetings, because we --

DRUMMOND: There was a lot of infighting, you mean?

HURD: -- we'd be getting our side out, they -- and man, you could -- there was a -- a road, a walkway down the middle of the chairs over here, and the chairs over there, and that was them, and this was us. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: OK. That must have been a pretty contentious period then.


HURD: Well you know what? It --

DRUMMOND: But what were some of the -- oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.

HURD: You know what? That was healthy for the union.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, you think so?

HURD: In retrospect, and I'll tell you why. Because the side over here was out, and my side was in. But they were coming up with so many demands and [for] negotiations, this other side, that it kept us going. I mean it -- it -- it -- if nobody's there to say you're nothing but just beautiful people, the incentive to go out there and really tear into that company leaves you, I would think. But it kept us on our toes, and kept us going. So we took a lot of things that they wanted and said look it, that's what these people want out there, in negotiations. You know, it don't hurt you, it doesn't cost nothing, and we want it in the contract. And we were successful in getting a lot of those little things, you know?

DRUMMOND: Well through that success, did it sort of um, um, maybe make -- maybe 57:00reduce the -- the internal issues? Or were there --

HURD: Over time.

DRUMMOND: Over time, OK.

HURD: Over time it did, and now there's just peace and tranquility at those meetings. I still go to my meetings --

DRUMMOND: Oh really?

HURD: -- (inaudible) I'm retired, yeah. Well I try to get up and talk to them about outside politics, and where we're sitting on our duffs and not doing nothing, we're not saying anything to the members out there, we're letting them shoot Obama down when he inherited a mess that he never could have got out of, I don't think. (coughs) And I said that uh, well I'm -- (inaudible) in a meeting, I'm up on the floor, and I'm telling them that uh they're -- they opened up a plant in Mexico again, you know I ought to get into that, too, a little bit, and talk about trade readjustment assistance, and what we did.

DRUMMOND: What -- what year was the plant opened in Mexico?

HURD: Uh, that was uh -- that would have been --


DRUMMOND: I guess I'm just asking -- I'm asking to find out if that happened later, maybe we could --

HURD: No, it didn't.

DRUMMOND: Oh, it happened -- because the question I have, and it's something I'm interested in knowing is during your time at local 755, were there ever any strikes or any --

HURD: Yes.

DRUMMOND: -- particularly contentious um, negotiations or whatever? Tell me about some strikes you guys had there?

HURD: We had a strike in I believe it was 19 (pause) probably 1970. Or close to that.


HURD: And that's when -- the business rep at the time's name was Ray Bryant, and he had been in quite a while, and he was a good business rep, but you build up um thousands of good grievance settlements, but you also build up five or 600 59:00bad grievance settlements, that the employee would bank, but you know a lot of people think they have a grievance when they don't have a grievance.


HURD: And so history, uh normally, it's hard to stay in the -- in a business rep's position forever. Because the history of your -- of what you did in there keeps going and building. And uh, he got defeated, and when he got defeated, they just kind of overturned everybody on that ticket, I didn't get a -- I kept my job, I kept my job in the negotiating committee and whatever else I was doing at the time, and I don't even remember one of the positions so, and I was the only guy re-elected to the negotiating committee, and I sat with them and he was 60:00-- the business rep, his name was Ashley Williams, he wanted the moon, and he wasn't going to settle for less than the moon, and he was obnoxious with the company, and uh he wore sunglasses all through negotiations, and finally they told him “If you want to talk to us, take the sunglasses off. It's not sunny in here.”


HURD: And he said “I like wearing sunglasses.” And they got up and walked out. And I got them, and I said “You know, that's an unfair labor charge, don't -- what are you guys, you're smarter than that. You can't walk out of negotiations.”


HURD: So they come back in, and they ask him to please take your glasses off. Well I don't -- they're -- the guy with the company's name was Don Bronson, we wasn't a bad guy, he was fair. Firm, but fair, and he'd take what he could get if you let him take it. And so finally Ashley Williams took his glasses off, but he just didn't like looking them -- letting them see his eyes, because he knows 61:00the stuff he was demanding -- well I'll give you an example. He demanded that people be give -- granted a personal leave of absence when they asked for it. Well the company says why would we have a no strike, no lockout clause then? All you've got to do is go say everybody put in for a personal leave of absence and shut the plant down on us.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: “I don't care, that's what we want.” That would -- that is one of the things that put us on strike. (laughter) If you can believe that. But at any rate, we struck, and we struck in November, we was out November, December, and went back in January. And we always had Christmas shut down that we got paid for, but of course the contract had terminated, we already had the Christmas shutdown from the last agreement.


HURD: And then this is -- the guy wasn't that bright. So when we settled in January, he said “Well how about the Christmas shutdown?” I said “We got 62:00it in there for next year. Because you'll be working under the contract, and we give you that again.” He said “Well how about the last one?” He said “You were on strike!” “Well that doesn't make any difference, you always give us that, we should get paid for that.”


HURD: And you know I as -- I said I can't show on this side of the table that I'm not happy with what --


HURD: -- my side's doing, and he's the business rep. But I got out of there, when I got out and we met, I said “You know what, you -- I've got to tell you something, you're the biggest idiot that I've ever seen.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: “What are you asking for these things? Do you realize what you're asking for? You're asking for Christmas shutdown when we was on strike. And this is a strike issue with you, you're saying. And you're asking for personal leaves of absence, upon request, so you can shut the plant down if you want, as far as they know.”


HURD: He said “Well you -- the -- we're strong, you people were weak.” And I 63:00says “OK, well have your way, but I'll tell you what, when they give you the last, final, and best agreement that they got, I want to see how you act in front of the people.” And so he got up there and he says “I want first of all, my negotiating committee to make a recommendation one at a time.” So -- and he had the people all charged up, so they get up there, and the first one says “I recommend we strike this company. We deserve that Christmas pay, and all the” -- just junk.


HURD: And so he left me for the last, said to me, now I call Tom Hurd. So I go up there, and I said “I'm going to ask you to ratify the agreement.” And I says “You didn't deserve the Christmas pay, we were on strike. Why would the company pay us Christmas pay when we were out there on strike with picket signs?” And I seen people looking at each other out there. (laughter) You 64:00know, but not enough. And I talked about the other one, the -- the personal leave of absence, and uh, and it was just a -- there was things left on the table just because of his attitude that we could have got.


HURD: I didn't tell them that, because that wouldn't serve a -- any good purpose to tell them that. But we struck, and the elections come up, and two years after that, he was defeated, all of that negotiating committee that he had there was defeated, because the people finally figured it out. “Why did we strike?”

DRUMMOND: Right, and you said it was a two month strike.

HURD: It was a little over two months.

DRUMMOND: A little over two months. What kind of strike benefits were you all getting?

HURD: Uh, I -- back then, when we was on that strike, I think we weren't getting -- but like (pause) I think we only got like -- well maybe it was $40, but I thought it was less than that even then, but --


DRUMMOND: Did you get money from the um local, from the district, from the territory? Did you maybe get different amounts from?

HURD: No, it was international strike fund --


HURD: -- the district didn't have one, and the local didn't have one at the time.

DRUMMOND: OK. So it would have been $40 a week from international.

HURD: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so you were in the job there, you were in the job there from '58 to '78, for 20 years. Um, at what point in your career did you start working with the um district lodge? District lodge 50, right?

HURD: I worked for district lodge 50 when I was elected business rep, the business reps come under district lodge 50, and they were assigned to the place that they were elected from. So if 755 elected their business reps, but the business reps belonged to district lodge 50.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, OK. And did the work with the district lodge 50 overlap with any of your work?


HURD: No. I --


HURD: -- simply -- my -- my work was representing those employees at Rohr Company.


HURD: Now it changed a little bit later on, and there was some problems at General Dynamics Electronics, and so the grand lodge rep that was assigned there, named -- at that time his name was uh Bob Carter. He wanted me to go and service the people at General Dynamics Electronics as well as the people at Rohr, and I did. That didn't last long, that assignment, I settled a bunch of grievances there and got out of there. They had a business rep that just wouldn't settle grievances, I think.


HURD: I mean some of them were like two or three years old, and they -- they (inaudible) [were still unsettled]

DRUMMOND: Wow, yeah. Well --

HURD: Well, and they had had offers to settle, but they -- they wouldn't take the offers.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Um, so you -- let me jump back just a second. So while you 67:00were at Rohr, you had moved up, and you served four terms as president.

HURD: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: Were -- were there any other positions you held that we haven't already discussed?

HURD: Uh, only outside, like I was a delegate to the California Conference of Machinists, and I went to many uh conventions as delegate.


HURD: Uh, but when I was elected business rep, you want to -- we might as well get into that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. So you were elected by?

HURD: The -- in -- the members of local lodge 755.

DRUMMOND: To be your business rep at the district level? To be their --

HURD: And -- yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- business rep.

HURD: And I had a terrible uh auto accident in uh, October. And the election would be in December.


HURD: And I was in the hospital for two and a half months.


HURD: And some literature had come out on me by the opponent, saying that I 68:00would never walk again, and I wouldn't have access to the plant. And I wouldn’t be able to service them, Tom's a good guy, but Tom doesn't belong in a job that he couldn't perform, and you would suffer because of it. And that type of stuff, and it wasn't true. So, I did what anybody else would do. I was on my hospital bed, and I flipped that leaflet over, and on the back of it, I wrote a letter. And that letter was from my doctor. And it's -- the doctor was given the leaflet by me --


HURD: -- and he – “It is -- it is chock full of lies.”


HURD: “I'm Tom Hurd's doctor, not the writer of this leaflet.”


HURD: “He -- and he will be able to walk like anybody else is, and he'll be able to perform his tasks,” and so on. And then I signed a name at the bottom. 69:00And that was leafleted, because they put theirs out three days before the election.


HURD: Mine went out the day of the election, it was put out at the gates when the people left to go vote, and it was put out 100 feet or 50 feet, whatever you had to stay away from the union hall.


HURD: I had hand billers all around there, handing out leaflets, said you need to read that. And I won.

DRUMMOND: So -- so you had friends or people who thought you would do a better job than your opponent out there doing like -- doing that for you.

HURD: All of them did. When election time comes, they have leafleters leafleting for them, and we have leaflets for us.

DRUMMOND: Excellent.

HURD: And it's not that anybody's a bad guy, it's just that politics can get a little nasty, and --


HURD: -- and everybody thinks well look at union politics, they should look at the US politics that we've got going, and that's where we learned some of our things, quite frankly, and not near as dirty as they are.


DRUMMOND: Right, right, right. All politics have -- have a -- the potential for getting really dirty.

HURD: Yeah, yeah. So at any rate, yeah I was elected business rep, and uh that was in '77, I was elected and I took office in '78, January '78.


HURD: But going back if I could --


HURD: -- I would like to get into that trade readjustment assistance, that was done when I was president for the local.


HURD: And uh, there was a bill passed in Congress, and it was called the trade readjustment assistance, and it provided extra money above unemployment and training for available jobs for people who was laid off or affected by work leaving the country. And that bill didn't stay in effect very long, because it -- it -- it cost employers too much money. They paid out of the TRA funds, and 71:00all that stuff to pay these things, and I didn't know exactly -- I had no way of knowing how much it was paid off, and I didn't know who to ask, so I tried to roughly figure it myself, and I figured in cash it paid off over a million. But I had somebody call the other day and uh, ask a friend in the company if they could research and see what it paid, and it paid off they say in excess of a million and a half. And it retrained people, and the best thing that it done was it burdened them a little bit, plus we got a permit to hold a parade in Chula Vista, and we went down the whole main street of Chula Vista with signs, we pushed people in wheelchairs that lived in the community, and we had bundles of 72:00people there, a lot of them wasn't even employees of Rohr, but they were uh members of the community.


HURD: And they wanted the work out of Mexico. Well Rohr, I think was in a position to -- they wanted it out too maybe at that time, because they were getting back some work that wasn’t good, they were having to redo it there. But I think we had an effect on them too. And let me tell you why. Way back in the ’40s, early ’40s, they wanted Rohr out of there because they were on the waterfront in the bay of Chula Vista, and they wanted to dredge that out and put big hotels in there, and recreational centers and all that stuff, the city did. So Rohr come up with the idea, they got bags and bags of silver dollars, silver dollars were nothing then, they were a dollar then.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HURD: And they paid everybody in a little bag of silver dollars. Everybody got paid in that bag of silver dollars. And when them silver dollars hit the 73:00community, and the grocery stores and all that other stuff, they seen what effect Rohr employees financially had --

DRUMMOND: I see, interesting, yeah, yeah.

HURD: -- on that city. So I think our thing kind of worked that way, because it was the same people in Chula Vista that wanted that work out of Mexico. Now I don’t think that was the weighing factor that did it, but I think that was in their discussions when they brought that work back. Now since then, Rohr’s changed hands, it went to BF Goodrich, Aerospace, and then it went to Pratt Whitney, I’m told now. And uh, they’re back in Mexico, big time. We went from a big bargaining unit to we got just over 400 members there now.


HURD: That is sad.

DRUMMOND: So let me ask then. The um -- and I think that that was very clever to pay everyone in silver dollars.

HURD: It was.


DRUMMOND: So -- so they could really see the impact of the people who worked there. Um, and of that industry on the town. So would you say that at the time, Rohr was probably the biggest employer of people in -- in Chula Vista?

HURD: Oh, in Chula Vista absolutely.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, OK. I mean they --

HURD: Oh, without a -- without a doubt.

DRUMMOND: -- were sort of like a community anchor.

HURD: Without a doubt.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. OK. And -- and maybe that’s changed over the years?

HURD: It’s changed now, probably yeah. Because we’re just over 400 people in there. I mean bargaining unit people. You still have --


HURD: -- technical and office people in there that’s probably up around 600 or 700.

DRUMMOND: OK. And um what kind of work were they having done in Mexico at the time?

HURD: That’s the part that bothered me, and I uh, I had a paper debate that -- that the newspaper in San Diego called me and asked if I’d do a paper debate with another person --

DRUMMOND: When -- while you were -- while you were working at Rohr? OK.

HURD: Yeah. Well I was the president of the local --



HURD: -- on -- on work going out of the country, and uh I should have brought that article for you to read. It was pretty good, and I quoted that to start my article off, I talked about work going out of this country, and I said a good example is right here in Chula Vista, in the county of San Diego, and I told what they did, and then I went into all kinds of stats on how work going out of the country affects the economy adversely here, really. And on and on and on, and then that other guy had his say so on why it should go out of the country. And uh, that’s about it on that. But at any rate I was shocked that this, when it’s all over with, and I forgot to bring -- I didn’t even know I brought this, because I laid them aside, but this is a letter from at that time Congressman Van Deerlin that says “Dear Tom, I don’t want to let you -- this opportunity pass without recognizing the efforts your local put forth in obtaining Labor Department certification for additional unemployment benefit for 76:00those Rohr employees laid off because of Rohr’s policy of farming contract work to Mexico. And uh, please express my congrat -— “ well he says “I understand that you, Ray Bryant, Pete Puente, and Al Bafone did major research on this project. Please express my congratulations to them as well, sincerely Lionel Van Deerlin.” And I got one from Senator Alan Cranston, just out of -- just they heard about this, because I’ve been told since then that we were --

DRUMMOND: And what’s the date on that letter?

HURD: Uh, 1975.


HURD: July 25th, 1975. And I was told, and I don’t know if this is true, but I was told there was a little -- a small shoe manufacturing place here that got TRA, and -- and us, and that was about it before they got rid of it, I was told. And I never checked that out to find out if it was true of false.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, I asked what kind of work were they sending to Mexico?

HURD: Yes.


DRUMMOND: Or -- or --

HURD: You did. That I put in the article.


HURD: I said that they sent uh, um F102 [F14] fighter jet work there.

DRUMMOND: OK. Like what part of it? The engine, or --

HURD: The nacelle work.


HURD: That’s -- that’s the thing that covers the engine.


HURD: They -- they put sub-assemblies they would make, they’d make detailed parts that maybe we’d assemble in Chula Vista, or some small assembly little things that they’d make, and they’d send uh back. They went across, back and forth across that border.


HURD: They were in -- they had Transisco in Rosarita Beach that was computer work.


HURD: They had uh Parfabco, which was in -- I think that was in Tijuana. And Transisco which was in Mexicali. Now Transisco could have been the one in Tijuana, and Parfabco could have been the one in Mexicali, I’m not sure of 78:00which way that was, you know? I don’t retain all that stuff.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Um, so let’s jump back forward to um being business rep for district lodge 50. What were your duties?

HURD: My duties then were arbitrating cases, handling the grievance procedures, uh going out and seeing the members. I used to kind of like --

DRUMMOND: And how big was the district? Like how much area did it cover?

HURD: The district, the district itself represented quite a few companies. They had General Dynamics, which was quite large. They had Solar Turbines, which was quite large. They had the uh, the naval base there that was uh where they repaired the aircraft and all that stuff for the Navy. That was pretty large. 79:00They had National Steel and Ship Building, uh, which hired a lot of people. And then we had a whole bunch of smaller areas and don’t ask me to give you all the names of them, because I never been in some of them, because other reps handled all that stuff.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. So you -- you did work for several different locals in your district?

HURD: Yeah, we had a lot of locals.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. And it was um, but it -- was it like a 50 mile radius, 100 mile radius?

HURD: Fifty or 60. Well we even went up to -- we had uh Kier Fott that was like in -- there’s another company, Kier Fott, and I think they were in Fallbrook, and that was a good 50 miles, I’d say. So it was a 50 mile radius at least, or maybe more than that.


HURD: I could be missing something. But I know that Nasco, Solar, General Dynamics, and Rohr were pretty well together.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.


HURD: You know probably a 20 mile radius for them, the big ones.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK. Um, did you enjoy this work? Did it -- was it --

HURD: No, I loved it.

DRUMMOND: You did?

HURD: Yeah, I did.

DRUMMOND: Yeah? Yeah.

HURD: It don’t bother me, and you know my son’s a rep for the Teamsters union. He’s a business rep.


HURD: And uh, I don’t think that he enjoys it that much. He’s new at it of course, and he didn’t have the background leading into being a business rep that I had. So I was prepared, when --

DRUMMOND: OK. You were prepared.

HURD: -- when I was elected business rep, I had already been in several arbitration cases, and I knew the process, and I’d listen closely, and I took notes down on how they were doing this thing, and so when I was -- and I’ll never forget this either, when I was elected business rep, uh the grand lodge rep assigned, Bob Carter was there, and I started looking at what I inherited, and I looked at these grievances that I inherited, because the guy had left, or got defeated, and uh, I had one that was scheduled for arbitration so I went to 81:00Bob Carter and I says hey, there’s a grievance that’s scheduled in two weeks from now for arbitration, what do you want me to do? And he said I didn’t run for the job, you did Tom. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: So I handled the case myself.


HURD: And -- and I knew how to do an opening statement, and I knew how to put witnesses on, and -- and how to challenge the company when they would introduce evidence and all that stuff, and cross examine, and the whole bit. And when you want your witnesses in, and when you want to start it off by saying I want all witnesses from the company sequestered for this hearing, you know, and stuff like that. And so I was prepared to go, and I don’t think that my son was, because the Teamsters are different.


HURD: They elect a secretary treasurer, and he appoints the staff. His business reps, and my son was active as far as being a steward, and that’s about as far as it went. But he helped get the secretary treasurer elected, I mean he thought 82:00he was a worthy person, and so he was appointed business rep, one of the business reps, and so he stepped into something that’s probably a little bit over his head right now, but he’s working at it, and he’s spending 12 hours a day working at it, he stays there late and goes in early.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Well let me ask you, were -- you were probably married by this time, by the time you became district lodge rep.

HURD: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: And how -- what -- when did you get married?

HURD: I got married in 1959.

DRUMMOND: 1959. So right after you started at Rohr.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And was she in the union?

HURD: No, my wife never worked.

DRUMMOND: No. Never? Never worked?

HURD: No. No, never.


HURD: She was a housewife.


HURD: For my one son.

DRUMMOND: For your one son?

HURD: Don’t get me going, I’ll go home and beat her up. She should have worked.


HURD: She should have worked. (laughter)


HURD: No, I didn’t want her to work.

DRUMMOND: No, I’m sure she made a good home for you.

HURD: She didn’t need to. Yeah, she did. She -- she really did.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and so you did -- you were the district lodge business rep for 83:00ten years, or did you move -- like within the district, did you move offices?

HURD: OK, I was a -- I -- I was elected for ten years.


HURD: And after nine years, I got a call from the regional office. It was in Oakland, California then.


HURD: And --

DRUMMOND: The western territory.

HURD: The western territory.


HURD: Vice president’s office.

DRUMMOND: OK. And who was vice president at the time?

HURD: Justin Ostro.


HURD: And his secretary said “Mr. Hurd?” and I said “Yes?” And she said “This is so and so, secretary to general vice president Ostro,” and I said “Yes?” And she said “He’s going to be in San Diego tomorrow night and he’d like to have dinner with you.”


HURD: And I says “Sure, that’ll be fine,” and I (inaudible)[ask?] “Where’s he want to have dinner,” and she told me, and I said “Then I’ll meet him there, just tell me the time,” so she did. So I met him there. And he had an application in an envelope.



HURD: And he said that they had been looking to hire another grand lodge representative, and that uh, he says “Quite frankly, you were being considered several years ago, but I was told by Bob Carter, who -- that you may like to drink a little too much. And I just didn’t want to get you up here and find out that it’s not going to work out for you.”


HURD: “But I heard that you had quit drinking.” And I said “Yeah, I had -- I haven’t drank in over two years, I said. And I even quit smoking.” He said “Yeah, I know, Bob Carter is -- highly recommends you, and he recommended you back then, but he said -- he wanted me to know that he thought you may have a drinking problem.” (coughs) And I said -- he said, “Or you’d have been hired long ago.”


HURD: Based upon what we saw you doing. And I said “Well that’s good to know, I mean it’s always nice to get a pat on the back, because there’s so 85:00many times you can walk through a shop, and somebody says hey, why did you sign my grievance off, you know?”

DRUMMOND: Right, right, right.

HURD: It’s for every one guy that says thanks a lot for helping me, you get two guys that say you’re a bum, you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: Because -- and I told my son by the way that you’re going to find out that probably most companies try to abide by the collective bargaining agreement. They slip a lot, because for their own need, they slip a lot. But I would say that probably 65 to 70% of the grievances you get, they don’t have merit to them.


HURD: Probably 35 to 30% do have merit to them. And I say that because I’ve had grievances where the guy said the supervisor hates me.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: And I told him, “But he can hate you, does -- has he broke the contract? I mean does he work you overtime when you’re -- yeah, does he do this? Does he do that? Yeah. I said well he can hate you, you can hate him.” And he said 86:00“Well I do.” And I said “You see, he’s not coming to me saying you hate him.”

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: I mean you can hate people if you want to, I choose not to. There’s people I dislike --


HURD: -- but I don’t hate anybody.


HURD: I used to, but I got over that.

DRUMMOND: OK. So um, what was it like being asked to apply for um, the -- it was a special grand lodge rep?

HURD: Yeah, that’s what they hire you as, a special -- special rep --

DRUMMOND: Yeah, for a year, for a year.

HURD: For a year, and then you’re made -- and --

DRUMMOND: And did you --

HURD: -- and Lee Pearson --


HURD: -- my friend. Him and I worked together a lot, he was a grand lodge representative too when I was.


HURD: And so one time we were in a -- we were on an assignment together at a strike, and we were at a meeting with the people, and somebody’s up talking, and we’d heard it a thousand times what he was saying so I says “Hey Lee, do you think I’m going to get past the probationary period?” And he says 87:00“Well Justin Ostro talked to me, and he says you do this good, and you do this good, but there’s one little thing.” And I said “Well what’s that?” He says “Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s nothing.” And he knows how I am.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HURD: I was on him for days, please tell me what it is.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: (laughter) It was nothing.

DRUMMOND: And he was just giving you a hard time?

HURD: Oh yeah, he didn’t... No, Ostro gave me the -- he -- there was a death in his family, or his wife’s family, I always forgot which. And he couldn’t make it out here to my retirement, but he sent me the most beautiful letter I’ve ever read, of what he thought of me.


HURD: You know, he said I could depend on you for anything we sent you to do, I knew it was going to get done, and done right. And he says they need more grand lodge representatives like Tom Hurd, and all that stuff. It was good, it brought tears to my eyes.


DRUMMOND: Yeah, we had asked him to come for this project, and he wasn’t able to make it.

HURD: I called him and he told me -- he said “Tom, are you going?” And I said “Yeah, I’m going.” He said “Well that’s made up my mind, I’ll go too then.” He said “I think I’ll drive, it’ll be a nice, pretty drive.” I heard he got sick or something. And I --

DRUMMOND: I’m not exactly sure what happened.

HURD: And when he gets that way, he don’t complain, and he don’t call people and say I can’t go because I’m sick, he don’t do that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: He’s not that kind of guy.

DRUMMOND: Um well let’s --

HURD: He -- but he’s up there in years now, see.


HURD: I’m 74 my next birthday, and uh he’s in his 80s, I’m sure.


HURD: Oh yeah, he’s got to be.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well let’s get back to your -- your first year as special um, grand lodge representative, because I suspect that that in -- what -- what were all the states in the western territory?


HURD: Oh, they’ve got Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, how many am I missing?

DRUMMOND: Isn’t -- is Nevada part of that?

HURD: Nevada’s part of it.

DRUMMOND: OK, yeah. OK. I don’t --

HURD: The whole west --

DRUMMOND: -- yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know how many total there were.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: But that sounds about right, I mean that’s a -- yeah.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Um and so -- so then I expect that you went from you know your district was pretty small as districts go, like you said about 60 miles.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Um, to a huge like the western third, pretty much, of the United States.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And so then that entailed a lot more travel.

HURD: It did.

DRUMMOND: And what was it -- what was it like making that transition from --

HURD: Well, let me start off by this. I put in my application, he brought the application, I filled it out and I gave it to him. He said “I -- I’ll get back with you in a couple of weeks.” He said “Are you going to the California conference of machinists?” And “I said yeah, I’ll be there.” 90:00And he says “Well I will too, and I’ll talk to you there.” So when I got there, he called me up to his room, and the first thing that Justin gives me was the collective bargaining agreement between the reps association and the machinists union. And he said “Read this over, because this is your -- your book, and we’re supposed to abide by this.” And I tried to, but sometimes I could slip.


HURD: And uh, I said well thank you. And he says “Uh, another business rep [Grand Lodge Rep] is waiting for you downstairs. You’re going to have to leave this conference and go home, and make reservations, and I want you in Roswell, New Mexico. And I want you to go there, I want you to meet those people, and he said they’re a tough group, he said they’re Hispanic-Americans, but they -- they -- they’re -- they’ve got their own way of doing things,” and he said “I went to meetings there when nobody sits in the chair, they just stand around the hall to have their meeting like, and it’s –- “ he said 91:00“it’s different.”


HURD: “And uh, their meetings don’t run properly or anything, and you know you’ve got to help them out. Now what I want you to do, they’re trying to get work from -- they bought a -- god, what -- General Motors bus building facility. They bought that, and they want to move it, and they’re getting offers from down south that they’ll give them free land and free taxes, and all that stuff, and it’s pretty inviting to them, and we’ve -- I want -- they want to open the collective bargaining agreement up, and if they can change it enough to keep it here, because that’s where they’re building the rest of their buses, in Roswell New Mexico, they’ll bring the work there. So I -- he -- you need to negotiate a labor agreement for them. And don’t give away the school, but listen to their problems, and see what the rest of them -- tell them you want them to share with you what their offers are down south, and see what 92:00you can do.” So I did, and we got a contract. And they moved the work there. And it increased that membership by hundreds of people, they went over 1,000 people, and they did have, I don’t know, around four or 500 there before that. So it did increase their workforce and increased our membership, of course.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

HURD: And so then he says “Well you got that many members, we’re going to put a directing business rep there, because in a local lodge where it’s just a local lodge and there’s none around –- “


HURD: -- else, clear to Albuquerque you’d have to go to the next one, I guess.” And he says “We want to put a directing business representative on, so I want you to get the bylaws and rewrite the bylaws, and if you see other things in those bylaws you don’t like, rewrite the thing. Give them to me, and I’ll critique the thing, and we’ll get that done and then stay there long enough to get nominations and election for a directing business rep.” So I 93:00wound up, my first assignment was two years in Roswell, New Mexico. (laughter)


HURD: Yeah, it was. But he had me servicing uh Albuquerque, too.


HURD: So I went to Albu -- and I went to Alamogordo, that’s down there, and we have some people there too. And that was my first assignment, but I went everywhere, and as an administrative assistant, because Lee Pearson was always busy, too, I’d be flying everywhere, and you know and I’d go to Hawaii, and he’d tell me “In in the morning, out in the afternoon Tom.” And I says “Not in in the morning, and out the next evening?” And he says “In in the morning, out in the afternoon.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: That’s how he was. And I’d get up early and I’d take the earliest flight that I can get, and get over there, and I’d take the latest flight I can get at night and get out of there. So ask me about Hawaii.

DRUMMOND: What about Hawaii?

HURD: I know nothing about Hawaii, other than the inside of a union hall. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Because you went there, you worked, and you left.


HURD: I went in, and I went out.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. The whole time? And you never made it back?

HURD: I went back --

DRUMMOND: For leisure?

HURD: I went back for two or three times --


HURD: -- and one time I did, because I got to go visit some of the places we represent there --


HURD: -- which got me around the island somewhat.


HURD: And – well, but then I serviced it in just about all of them. I helped organize a group with Gary Allen, he’s the new general vice president down in Alamogordo in New Mexico, and we did good there at that air base. And we got a contract with a bunch of people there. And uh, I’ve just been everywhere. Oregon, Washington, Montana. Everywhere we got in the western terri -- the only place I didn’t go was Alaska.


HURD: And I never really tried to go there, but you know what?


HURD: I would have liked to have went there.

DRUMMOND: You think so?

HURD: Yeah, I’d like to have been in Anchorage and see what it’s all about.


DRUMMOND: Yeah. Well but this -- this extreme amount of travel, because you said your first assignment was Roswell and it was two years. And you were grand lodge rep from pretty much ’88 to ’96, so that’s eight years. Um, what -- did that -- did that introduce a strain on your home life, because you were just gone all the time? Was there -- were there –- ?



HURD: Because my wife knew that that’s what I was doing.

DRUMMOND: She knew that’s what you had to do, she was very understanding? OK.

HURD: Yeah, I had been involved in the union for years already. And she knew that the only place to go is up.

DRUMMOND: Right. But up sometimes means away.

HURD: Or, or -- yeah, that’s right.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Um, what was the most rewarding part of coming on the international for you at that time?

HURD: You mean on the staff of the international staff?

DRUMMOND: On the staff -- yeah, on the staff of the international, yeah.


HURD: Well I number one, that was -- I felt highly complimented that they would ask me. I really did, and I said -- because it’s nice to get report cards, and you know I didn’t tell you this, but I probably should have, I was elected by one vote when I -- my -- when I was in the hospital and running for business rep.

DRUMMOND: Oh really? Really.

HURD: One vote, and they counted them three times. So the second time, I got elected on the first ballot, the first time I had was a run off, too, election, and I won by one. The second time I won on the first ballot, and I won -- I beat everybody running for business rep. Every one of them, and they were electing two business reps then.


HURD: And the third time, I got more votes than I got the second time, so I would say to myself these things are report cards.


HURD: Every time you get one, you do better than the last one, you must be doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

DRUMMOND: And -- and helping a lot of people.

HURD: And I tried -- yeah, and I tried to do that. And -- and -- and so it made me feel good. And like when I went on the international staff, I felt like you 97:00know that was a compliment to me, you know, and I told Justin that, I said you know, this is -- you work for things like this all your life. I don’t have a college education, and he said well neither do I. And I said, but -- and I says, I feel that you know, that the -- the -- what I decided to do in life, that I’m moving up that ladder at least, and -- and somebody’s recognizing, it makes me feel good, and I appreciate that, I told him. He said we don’t pick them because we don’t like them.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: We pick them to do what we want them to do.


HURD: And we felt you would do that. And I never let him down, and -- and during the time I was a grand lodge representative, uh, I -- Ostro would recommend me to the uh -- Winpisinger at the time, well Winpisinger really hired me, Justin’s the one that puts your name in, but --

DRUMMOND: Right, right.


HURD: And uh, they gave me -- I was coordinator, aerospace coordinator for Rohr.


HURD: Aerojet, and then when Lee Pearson went to uh, vice president, I took his job over as McDonnell Douglas coordinator, and I had McDonnell Douglas Long Beach, McDonnell Douglas uh Huntington Beach, McDonnell Douglas St. Louis, McDonnell Douglas St. Charles, and McDonnell Douglas at the Cape.


HURD: And I [helped] negotiate those labor agreements. Now they’re Boeing, they’re no longer McDonnell Douglas, they -- Boeing bought them out. And I didn’t get along very well with Mr. Weber, who was uh vice president of human resources with McDonnell Douglas, we just didn’t operate on the same track.


HURD: And uh, there was rumors that -- there was talks about Boeing, it was even in the paper, Boeing talking to McDonnell Douglas, and he said “That is so much baloney, they’re not going to sell. McDonnell Douglas will never sell 99:00McDonnell Douglas.” And at the guide dog’s dinner, they show up, all of them from companies, they donate to the guide dogs, and we have a guide dog dinner, you know, and I was at that dinner, and there I see Weber, and he’s walking with two of his partners, and Boeing had bought them out. And he come up to me and he says “Hello Mr. Hurd.” And I said “Hi, Mr. Weber.” Can you say Boeing? (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: And he just turned and walked away, and that did that.


HURD: So I saw him later on and I says “Can’t you take a joke? I was kidding you.”

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: And he says “Not those kind, I can’t.


HURD: And I said “Well you big baby.” And I walked away then.


HURD: But I tried to get along with these company people.

DRUMMOND: Oh sure.

HURD: To -- because you -- you know, you can get more -- what is it, you can get more sugar with -- or --

DRUMMOND: You can get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

HURD: Yeah, yeah.


DRUMMOND: OK uh Tom, let’s pick up with the um time period, was it ’96 when you became the administrative assistant to general vice president of the western territory.

HURD: Yes, yes.

DRUMMOND: And who -- and who was the general vice president then?

HURD: Justin Ostro. [Lee Pearson]

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. OK. And how did that work change from having been grand lodge rep?

HURD: The type of work?


HURD: Well the type of work changed dramatically really, because a lot of the work that a grand lodge rep will do will go into a local lodge that’s got problems, and -- and sometimes we have to take trusteeship and --


HURD: -- dismiss the officers and take over the local. Uh, that happens. Sometimes we have to run out and help out an organizing drive, especially when they request us. And uh, it’s a large group of people, you know, and we’ll do that. Uh, we’ll help, I’ve helped in arbitration cases, uh, I did three 101:00in New Mexico against an attorney that does them all for -- all of the unions in New Mexico, and I won every one of them.

DRUMMOND: Excellent.

HURD: And uh, they had another one scheduled for arbitration and that attorney told them that they should be able to settle that one themselves.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: And that was another thing that made me feel -- feel kind of good.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: But, we know more about the union than they do, really.


HURD: They don’t realize that, they think they know everything, but actually when it comes to arbitrating a case, a labor case in front of an attorney, and we’ve grown up in the trades and all that stuff, we know how to do it, and they don’t know how to do it.

DRUMMOND: So there’s a lot of trouble shooting.

HURD: Yeah.


HURD: A lot of trouble shooting.

DRUMMOND: A lot of trouble shooting.

HURD: We got maybe a member that will file a complaint that their business rep did this, or did that, and we go check that out, and we have to write a letter 102:00to the general vice president stating we completed our assignment on this and that, and here’s -- here’s how we settled it, or here’s our position in the case, whatever.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and -- I’m not going to ask you to name names, or -- or point any fingers, can you tell me a little bit about the process of taking trusteeship over -- over -- and what that’s like, and -- and what that -- and you know like dealing with the membership, and what morale is like there, and --

HURD: Well you know, I learned from uh, a grand lodge representative by the name of Bob Carter, he’s an old-time uh grand lodge representative, and he was a good representative. And he was smart, you’d never know it, that -- when I first met him, that he was as smart as he was, but it didn’t take long until I knew that he knew everything.



HURD: And that’s where I learned a little bit about uh, taking over local lodges, because he came to San Diego, and that’s when I met him, and just a little side line, he joined my local lodge when he came to San Diego, 755, we -- we became friends, and -- but he didn’t know anybody on the ballot when there was an election, and so when I ran for business rep, that’s when he was there. And when I won by one vote, I says “Did you vote?” and he says “No, I didn’t know anybody on that ballot.” And I says “Bob, if you had voted for me, I’d have won by two votes.” And he says “No Tom, you’d have tied.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: (laughter) But he was kidding.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. (laughter)

HURD: But at any rate, he took over trusteeship of National Steel and Shipbuilding’s local lodge there. And he walked in, and he called a meeting of all the officers, and the members that wanted to go.



HURD: And he asked me to go and sit in the back and watch what happens. So I said “OK,” he said “Because this is a tough group, the shipyard guys down there.” And -- but he didn’t worry about that, either.


HURD: He got up on that podium, and took -- and he took that gavel, he hit it down, and he says “This local lodge will start running by Robert’s rules of order. And in case you don’t know, I’m Robert.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

HURD: (laughter) And he went on to say “I’m now suspending all of your officers in this local lodge, I’m asking for the secretary treasury to turn the books over to me, and I want to set down with him, and we’re going to go through those books,” and uh, basically that’s what they -- that’s what happens. You stay there at that local lodge, there’s -- I forgot the period of time you can stay until you’ve got to cut him out, the trusteeship, or do something else.



HURD: And uh, but he whipped it into shape down there. And uh, and he was a unique person though, and he can get -- he could take something under trusteeship and get it out of trusteeship quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen, because he whipped them into line. I mean his -- although he didn’t look like he was tough, he was a big guy --


HURD: -- but he was thin, and he was older looking, and he smoked a lot and all that stuff, and you know, people would look at him like I’d knock him out.


HURD: And -- but when he would come to you, he’d say “Don’t talk to me that way,” and he’d look you in the eyes, and he was threatening, you know?


HURD: So all of those workers out there that thought they were tough, they were afraid of Bob Carter. I’ll tell you. And -- but that’s not all a trusteeship is.


HURD: You take a -- you take a local over, you take a district over, we’ve taken districts over, too.

DRUMMOND: OK. But do you find -- do you think the membership’s often surprised when this happened, or is it kind of nobody’s surprised, like everybody kind of sees it coming, and nobody wants to deal with it.


HURD: Well sometimes it’s brought on by the membership.


HURD: Of complaints, but --

DRUMMOND: Oh, they’ll complain higher up?

HURD: -- but -- but normally, it’s not. Normally, it’s trusteeships are taken over because the -- the thing is not running right.


HURD: And we know it’s not, the reports are not getting sent in on time, uh, you know there’s financial things that we’re not getting full information on, and just all kinds of stuff like that, and we’re losing members out of it, and you know, you can -- all the telltale signs of there’s a problem down there, let’s see what it is. So you go down there, and you reckon -- you come back and say “I think we should take them over. There’s some real problems,” and that’s basically how it happens.

DRUMMOND: About how many locals or districts fall into trusteeship in a given year?

HURD: Not many.

DRUMMOND: A handful in your territory?

HURD: I -- in our -- not even a handful.



DRUMMOND: OK. Um, you also mentioned uh, you help out with a lot of organizing drives.

HURD: Yeah, quite a few.


DRUMMOND: Um, during this time. And I’ve talked to a few folks who have said that organizing is the hardest job in the union, it is the most difficult thing you can do, and it is often the most disappointing because for every win, there are several losses.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Can you speak to that?

HURD: Yeah, normally when I -- when I was a business rep, I didn’t do much any organizing, but when I was on the grand lodge staff as a grand lodge representative, a lot of times, Justin would call me and say Tom, they’ve requested help down there, the grand lodge rep has, too. He needs help. And uh, I’ve helped Gary Allen that’s now the general vice president, I went down with him and we ran one in Alamogordo, I think I mentioned that earlier. Uh, organizing drive that worked out into a contract for those people on the base there, on that uh Air Force base in Alamogordo, and I’ve helped out on a lot of organizing drives when I was asked to do so but normally, we assign, if it’s a big group, we assign a organ -- a grand lodge representative that’s 108:00assigned to organizing. That’s what they’re assigned to, we put them down in those things. Now there’s some smaller companies that are being organized that the local lodges or the district lodges have organizers on staff that we -- they do it. Because we can’t do all of that --


HURD: -- you know? There’s other things that the grand lodge reps have to do besides just organizing. We assign certain ones to full-time organizing. And that’s that.


HURD: Do you like that ending? And that’s that?

DRUMMOND: Well, if -- if you’re -- if you’re --

HURD: I could have said and that’s all, folks.

DRUMMOND: You could have. I mean but if you’re done talking about it, there’s -- um so, so you’re under the general vice president. Um, talk a little more about that time.

HURD: What’s that?

DRUMMOND: Um, when you were administrative assistant to the general vice president of the western territory?

HURD: OK. That’s exactly what that means, really. The administrative assistant to the general vice president assists the vice president in administrating the 109:00duties and everything to the people assigned to him, and -- and getting the job done. He can’t be there all the time, the --


HURD: -- the general vice president sometimes is back at headquarters in meetings, he’s at uh the pension plan in meetings and stuff like that, and he can’t be there, so you do what you can do of his work to get it done, and there’s some work that you don’t do, and you say look, this come in, you give him a call, uh, they want a reply, do you want me to reply on this, or do you want to? And you kind of know what those are.

DRUMMOND: Um, are there any particular sort of events, or campaigns, or just anything that happened during your time as administrative assistant that you can um talk about that were significant for you?


HURD: Uh, negotiations maybe that he’s assigned me to, to sit in on and uh --

DRUMMOND: Was it harder and harder to negotiate? Because this was um in the ’90s, and I --

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- and my understanding is that union membership dropped significantly starting in the ’80s.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Um, and um --

HURD: Well it’s really dropped.

DRUMMOND: Really, really, really dropping. So negotiations were I guess especially intense, and -- and perhaps to a certain degree worrisome because --

HURD: They’re even worse now. I mean (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

DRUMMOND: They’re worse now?

HURD: Yeah, I mean well my god, I mean companies now say we’ve got these workers on the run.


HURD: They’re afraid that they’re going to get without work, because of the -- of the economy and everything.


HURD: And uh so they just think that we’re -- that we’re running now. I mean we’ll take anything that they lay in front of us, and that’s not the case. Uh, you have places that in my opinion like Boeing and the workers at Boeing, uh, because that was in our territory, and that was probably the largest in our 111:00territory. Well I know it was. And uh they know that they’re big, too, there’s --


HURD: -- a lot of workers, so they’ll -- you know they’ll still, I think, stand up to them, but I’m fearful that some of these other smaller locals and stuff are -- their members are saying “God, I’m just happy I’ve got a job now.” And who makes them think that way? The newspapers, listening to the Republicans talk about unions killing this nation, that’s why everything’s going overseas. And that’s not true. But that’s what they’re reading and unfortunately our members believe a lot of that stuff. But they don’t at Boeing, and they’re in China.


HURD: But they’re still a bunch of Boeing workers. If they say “Well they can’t take this work down there,” they’ll be surprised someday, they will.

DRUMMOND: Really? You think so?

HURD: Yeah, I think so. I hope not, because we’ve lost air -- we’ve lost 112:00aircraft business. We used to have Lockheed, Convair, McDonnell Douglas, uh, and others really, I just can’t think of them right offhand, that build airliners, you know? Now you’ve got one US company producing airliners, that’s Boeing. The rest of them don’t produce airliners at all.

DRUMMOND: You retired --

HURD: Yes.

DRUMMOND: -- as administrative assistant. That was your -- your last position.

HURD: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: In 2003. Um, have you stayed active with your retirees?

HURD: I stay active at my union meetings, I go to every union meeting that I can. And that’s normally all of them. Like I’m missing this one because I’m here.


HURD: Uh as far as going to retiree meetings I don’t, because my local don’t have a retiree’s club.



HURD: And every time I ask them to get one, and the president of the local’s a nice guy, but he said “The district’s got one. They can go join the one in the district.” And I’ve gone to the one in the district, and it’s mostly people who want to go to the uh, the gambling halls that the Indians have --


HURD: -- and you know, bet money, or go on picnics, or something like that. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but my -- what I think a retiree’s club should do, and what they’re doing, I think they should do some of the fun stuff, but I think they should get involved in -- in the politics, too.


HURD: And I think they should be doing phone calling for us, and precinct walking and stuff like that. And it’s hard to get them to do that. It really is, I mean you may not think it is, but it is. They don’t come to those retiree clubs to do that, they come there to meet their old friends and to have somebody to talk to, and to play bingo, and to have potluck lunches and all that stuff.



HURD: I know we need retiree clubs, but I’m just not the kind of guy that’s at this point ready to get involved in it.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK. Um, through the years, what have you found most satisfying about your work with the union, and being a union member?

HURD: Everything that I’ve done that -- that -- that affects the membership in a good way is satisfying to me. And there’s none that I would rate higher than the other. If I win an arbitration case, that’s satisfying. If I get a contract that the people are happy with, that’s satisfying. If I get somebody his job back because he deserved it back, but he’s real happy that he got it back, that’s satisfying.


HURD: So I can’t rate one over the other, and that’s what I did all this work for.


HURD: I like making people happy, quite frankly. I really do.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: It’s -- because it makes me happy.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

HURD: I do it for a selfish reason.



HURD: You know, as sad as that sounds. I do it to make me feel better.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um you know at the beginning of the interview, you made a comment that you wish maybe you had joined the Coast Guard like your brother, and had that um career. But it sounds like you really are happy with it.

HURD: Oh I am, I am.


HURD: Yeah.


HURD: I -- I should have probably reworded that a little bit.


HURD: I felt that way for a long time, but actually when I look back at what I’ve done, there’s not many people that can sit and say that they had a job like I had, although it was tough at times, really tough. It was very rewarding, very rewarding.

DRUMMOND: And um, and I heard you talk about a few people during the interview. Um, can you maybe name some of the role models you had?

HURD: Yeah. Bob Carter, was one of them.

DRUMMOND: Bob Carter, mm-hmm.

HURD: Justin Ostro was one of them. Uh, Lee Pearson was one of them. Uh, 116:00Winpisinger was one of them. Uh, I had a lot of them. Kourpias was a role model for me, too.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what role did they play? I mean I guess maybe they sort of helped you in different ways.

HURD: They did. Well I would -- like I went to a lot of conventions and conferences where the international presidents would speak. And I listened intently whenever Winpisinger spoke. Every international president that this union has had has brought their own thing to the table. Winpisinger’s thing was we’ve got to step out of the union, somebody does, and start looking at politics in this country, and start looking at the things this country’s doing, and you remember when they had the -- what did they call it, where they give the oil companies their tax money back if they would go look for more oil instead of paying the tax?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, I’m not sure what that’s called.

HURD: Yeah but at any rate, I remember when that come out, and Winpisinger gave 117:00this speech on that, and he said “And they’re supposed to drill for new oil, and them son of a bitches bought every copper mine up in the world, they bought up the coal mines, they’ll build solar energy with the copper -- the copper, they’ll burn the coal for energy, and if they can put a -- a fence around the sun, they’d sell you the sunbeams back.” You know, I mean -- so he was an outsider, he would go outside, he did his union business too, don’t misunderstand me.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

HURD: But he thought we had to get involved in politics to stop some of that stuff, and man, he used to try to do it. And that was refreshing, but everyone’s brought their thing to the table.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, OK. Um, are there any further experiences that you would like to share? Things about your work history, or your time with the union, or the 118:00union that we didn’t cover?

HURD: I don’t believe so, I think we covered everything.

DRUMMOND: You don’t think so?

HURD: When I leave here I’ll think of a bunch of stuff.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well maybe we can have a follow up interview.

HURD: This was very interesting, I mean you -- it’s the questions you’ve asked made me think about a lot of things that it made me remember a lot of things that I you know swept aside, I guess.


HURD: And some of that makes me feel good.

DRUMMOND: Good, good. Well thank you so much for participating in our oral --

HURD: Thank you.

DRUMMOND: -- history project.

HURD: You did a good job.

DRUMMOND: Well you did a great job.

HURD: We’ll bring you back again.

DRUMMOND: Oh, well good. And if you think of anything else --

HURD: (laughter)

DRUMMOND: -- we’ll -- we’ll find a way to have another follow up interview -- interview with you.


DRUMMOND: Thank you so much.

HURD: OK, you take care of yourself.