TRACI DRUMMOND: This is Traci Drummond with Bob Keil at Local Lodge 480 inOak Ridge, Tennessee. And we are going to, uh, have an interview today. Thank you for agreeing to do this.
BOB KEIL: Glad to.
DRUMMOND: Uh, the interview will be added to the um, archives of the IAM, the,uh, machinist oral history project which is part of the Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University in Atlanta. And um, I’m really looking forward to the interview today. I’ve known you guys for a couple of years.
DRUMMOND: And I’m glad to be back in Tennessee, uh, getting these interviewsnow. So let’s get started with the beginning. When and where were you born?
KEIL: In Quincy, Illinois, May 9th, 1932.
DRUMMOND: OK. And were you born um, because I know yesterday we talked a little,and you said your parents had a farm.
DRUMMOND: Were you born um, in a hospital? Or were you born --
DRUMMOND: You were born in a hospital? OK.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and did you have any brothers or sisters?
KEIL: I had three brothers. They’re all deceased. I was the oldest.
KEIL: They, uh, all three drowned. Accidental drownings.
DRUMMOND: Oh, I’m sorry. Um, were -- were they younger or older or --
KEIL: One was three years younger than me. He was 18 at the time. And I wasoverseas in Korea at the time of that one. And then twin brothers drowned in -- well, he drowned in 1953, and the twins drowned in 1956.
KEIL: In Florida.
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, were your -- were you still living with your parents at thetime? When did you come -- yeah, you didn’t come -- you didn’t join the -- the union until ’59. So --
DRUMMOND: Were you still with them um, in Illinois or had you moved out or --
KEIL: Uh, I’d moved out. I had my own residence. I was married but uh.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, OK um.
KEIL: But it was on the farm.
DRUMMOND: It was on the farm.
KEIL: Uh-huh. We had a second house on the farm.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And so what was it like growing up farming?
KEIL: Hard work.
DRUMMOND: It’s hard -- yeah, it’s hard work.
KEIL: Long hours.
DRUMMOND: Uh, what kind of farm did your parents have?
KEIL: Uh, it was a half section. That’s 320 acres. And, uh, we raised corn andsoybeans, some wheat, and had a herd of cattle that we raised, prime beef, and raised 400 head of hogs a year, fed the corn that we raised mainly through them rather than selling it.
DRUMMOND: And so you were born in ’32. But I expect you were probably working3:00the farm by the time you were five or six, they had little jobs that everybody could do.
KEIL: Right. Yeah, there wasn’t any days off on the farm.
DRUMMOND: No, no, no, no. And were your parents able to make a good living doing that?
DRUMMOND: They were?
DRUMMOND: How many farmhands did they have?
KEIL: Just one.
DRUMMOND: Just one? OK. So, uh, what would a -- what would the day-to-day havebeen like?
DRUMMOND: The day-to-day work on the farm.
KEIL: Uh, usually get up at 5:30 or 6:00 to feed all the livestock. And, uh, ifit was during the farming season when we was raising grain, why, then we’d eat and be in the fields by 7:30 or 8:00. And work pretty much to sundown, then feed the livestock again, and take a shower and pass out. 4:00
DRUMMOND: Yeah, I imagine. But you were able to go to school and all that. You-- you were still --
DRUMMOND: And they still supported you wanting to get an education.
DRUMMOND: Um, what was expected of you when -- I mean you know growing --growing up on a farm. I -- presumably in a smaller town or a very rural area.
KEIL: It was.
DRUMMOND: What -- what -- what was um, expected for -- of you, that you would bethe one to take over the farm? Or did they want you to go to college? Or -- or what were the expectations?
KEIL: No, uh, I didn’t go to college mainly for that reason. I didn’t getany encouragement to do that, uh, it had been a tradition just to hand the farm down from one generation to the next.
DRUMMOND: So your grandfather -- your father’s family had it before you?
KEIL: Right. He was actually the one that acquired it, my grandfather.
DRUMMOND: OK. And it was much the same when your dad had it?
KEIL: Yeah. Right.5:00
DRUMMOND: And um, so when you finished high school, did you go all the waythrough 12th grade?
DRUMMOND: Um, and did you go -- I know that you -- you went to the military fora while.
DRUMMOND: Did you go in right away? Or was that delayed or --
KEIL: Yes, I went in in 1951.
KEIL: And, uh, went to --
DRUMMOND: Was that the first time you ever left home?
KEIL: Uh, for that long. Might have been gone a week or two at a time. But, uh,I was activated and went to California. I had joined the National Guard, Illinois National Guard. And they activated the division during the Korean War. And, uh, I went to Korea and came back in July of ’53. 6:00
DRUMMOND: And what -- on your return did your family want you to come back tothe farm?
KEIL: Yeah, I came back to the farm and farmed for about five years I guess.And, uh, I had an opportunity to get commissioned as an officer in the National Guard. And my father didn’t care much for that and wanted to know why if I got back from Korea, why I wanted to stay in. And, uh, I told him that all it took was an act of Congress, and I could be back anytime anyway. So if I went again I was going to have some rank and privileges, not be a, uh, enlisted man.
KEIL: So then, uh.
DRUMMOND: Well, did you happen to see it as a way to have a different life thanyou had? I mean at that point did you kind of know the farm wasn’t for you or --
DRUMMOND: You did?7:00
KEIL: Yeah, after being around a lot of people in the military, it seemed prettyisolated to be on the farm, yeah.
DRUMMOND: OK. And -- and what was -- actually let me go back and ask you. Whatwas um, I guess basic training, you said that happened in California?
DRUMMOND: What was that like for you for the first time to be gone so long andto be around so many people?
KEIL: Uh, well, being around people was enjoyable. Some of the basic trainingwas pretty rough, because it was at that time infantry basic training.
DRUMMOND: And what specifically? Um, for people who aren’t -- maybe don’tknow a lot about the military, what is infantry basic training?
KEIL: Well, they take you on long marches and, uh, they make you crawl under afield of machine gun fire and set off charges while you’re crawling through and have barricades that you have to crawl over, around. 8:00
DRUMMOND: And that was preferable to the farm?
KEIL: It was exciting. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, all right. And, uh, and how long after that were you sent to Korea?
KEIL: Let’s see. I went in in fall of ’51. Went to Korea in February of’52 I believe. Yeah.
DRUMMOND: You have a great memory. Um, and what was it like in Korea?
KEIL: It’s extremely cold, uh, it was -- we were ill equipped for the coldweather, and, uh, we had a lot of World War II vintage equipment when I first went over there. Later we got better equipment and better clothing. But I was in automotive maintenance, so I never went to the front lines. I was in the back of 9:00the combat zone, but never on the front lines. It was -- they were really primitive at that time. It’s hard to believe that they make cars and electronics today, because they were so backward at that time.
DRUMMOND: Yeah, just a little over half a century ago, yeah.
DRUMMOND: And so you worked in the automotive shop.
KEIL: Yeah, I was the automotive mechanic.
DRUMMOND: And did you um, so it was just day-to-day maintenance and making surethe people who were getting around had what they needed and the --
KEIL: Yeah, we repaired breakdowns. And did preventative maintenance on them.
DRUMMOND: Did that keep you busy? Was that a day --
DRUMMOND: A day at work every day?
DRUMMOND: OK. And how long were you in Korea?10:00
KEIL: Let’s see. From October ’52 to July ’53.
DRUMMOND: OK. So ’52 to ’53, not quite a year.
DRUMMOND: Not quite a year. And then when you came back were you -- were youjust able to return home? Or did you have to go back to California? Or -- or to a base for a while?
KEIL: No, I came back to, uh, Camp Stoneman, California, and was discharged thenat Camp Carson, Colorado.
KEIL: And came back to the farm.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, and spent five more years there.
DRUMMOND: And then that’s kind of where we left off, that you -- you weretelling your dad that you -- if you had to go back in you at least wanted to be, uh, a ranking officer.
DRUMMOND: And what was that process like?
KEIL: Uh, I left the farm then. I was supposed to go to work for the state ofIllinois as a maintenance officer, supervisor. And, uh, prior to that I wanted 11:00to get my educational requirements out for promotion and everything ahead of time. So I went to officer school in Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and was there for six months. And then I left there and came here to Oak Ridge to visit my wife’s parents.
DRUMMOND: But you have a good story about that that you told me yesterday aboutgoing to um, going to -- before the committee who had -- that had questions for you.
KEIL: Oh. When I was commissioned?
KEIL: Yeah, it was, uh, I don’t know if they do that anymore or not. Theycalled it a direct commission where I went before a panel of officers in a 12:00courtroom and they questioned me at length on various things. And most of them were infantry type officers. There was one ordnance officer -- which I was being commissioned as an ordnance officer. But since I went in through the infantry basic training, why, I could answer their questions on infantry tactics. But, uh, it was quite an experience, and grueling questioning period. And then at the end they said, “Congratulations, lieutenant.” So I knew I’d made it.
DRUMMOND: Very good. Very good. But there was a holdup with that, right?
DRUMMOND: There was a holdup because they weren’t sure.
KEIL: Well, it was just a process. Until you -- they questioned you and all, seewhat you knew, and then the ordnance officer asked me a lot of questions on 13:00maintenance, which was my background in the military, so I didn’t have any problem with that. I was confident in that.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And then you came to Oak Ridge.
DRUMMOND: But let’s back up even from that. When did you get married? You gotmarried in --
KEIL: Nineteen fifty-two.
DRUMMOND: Fifty-two. So before you went --
KEIL: To Korea.
DRUMMOND: To Korea. You got married to Harriet Jean.
DRUMMOND: Harriet Jean.
DRUMMOND: And you’re still married to her today.
DRUMMOND: OK. And um, and you met her in Quincy.
KEIL: Uh, actually the little town of Payson where I went to high school.
KEIL: She was a cheerleader and I was an athlete, and --
KEIL: So we went to school together. She was two years younger than me.
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, how many kids -- about how many kids were in that high school?14:00
KEIL: Uh, it was a small high school in a rural area. I don’t remember thetotal number. I think there were 22 in my class.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. So you met her. Did you all get married right after school?No, no, you got married --
KEIL: Two years after I got out of school.
DRUMMOND: Two years. But you all started dating in high school.
DRUMMOND: OK. And you’ve been together ever since.
DRUMMOND: So that means last year you celebrated 60 years together? That’s -- congratulations.
KEIL: Thank you.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. That’s -- that’s excellent. Um, and being married to her iswhat brought you to Oak Ridge because she had family here. Is that right?
DRUMMOND: OK. Tell me a little bit about the first time you came to Oak Ridge.
KEIL: Uh, I wasn’t too impressed because that was shortly after they’d madeit an open city. And, uh, it kind of reminded me of an Army base. And, uh, I had 15:00no --
DRUMMOND: And what do you mean by open city?
KEIL: Well, prior to that it’d been a closed city.
KEIL: If -- they had guard portals at all the entrances to town. Unless you hada pass --
DRUMMOND: So even the residents of Oak Ridge had to have a pass to get -- ifthey went say up to Knoxville for the day. When they came home they --
KEIL: I don’t think they did. But any visitors, any family that came.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, OK.
KEIL: Had to be cleared through the guard gates to even get into the city.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And they had just opened it up. So people could come and goand visit.
KEIL: Yeah. Right.
DRUMMOND: OK. And that was the first time you came to visit.
KEIL: Uh, I don’t know how long it’d been open prior to when I came. Not toolong, but --
DRUMMOND: OK. And you weren’t impressed because it reminded you --
KEIL: No. There wasn’t any of the new housing additions and all there werewere the old Cemesto type homes that had been built for the Manhattan Project. 16:00And so it wasn’t that attractive a city.
DRUMMOND: So Oak Ridge, if I’m understanding this correctly, was kind of notanything until they opened the labs here. And they built housing so they could bring in people.
DRUMMOND: To work on things.
DRUMMOND: So there just wasn’t anything here. Or much of anything here.
DRUMMOND: And so the military really came in and set up homes for people tohouse -- so that they would have --
KEIL: Right. There was a few farms scattered through the region. And thegovernment come in and bought all these acreage, give people a certain time to move out, and then created a city and built the plants.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, and so it had just been -- recently been opened. But it stillhad sort of the look and feel of --
DRUMMOND: -- a military base because --17:00
KEIL: Yeah, there were no improvements on homes or -- residents that were hereat that time got first choice and bought these original homes at a pretty reasonable price. But, uh, there wasn’t any housing additions like you see here today.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and so I guess by the time you came to visit all the work thathad been done as part of the Manhattan Project was wrapping up.
DRUMMOND: Or had -- had been finished for a while.
KEIL: Had been done, yes.
DRUMMOND: It had been done for a while. And -- and, uh, and I know even thoughyou weren’t here at the time, you probably have a very good idea of what had happened, uh, or -- or what kind of Manhattan Project work was done here.
DRUMMOND: Can you talk about that just a little bit?
KEIL: Uh, well, I knew it was under the Atomic Energy Commission at that time.18:00They developed the atomic bombs that were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, uh, at the time I came here, they were heavy into reactor research and -- and a lot of the machine work we did at that time was making reactor parts.
KEIL: And of course there’s three plants here. I worked at the Oak RidgeNational Laboratory, which is primarily research and development. And Y-12 is weapon production plant. And then K-25 was a gaseous diffusion plant. And all total between the three plants I think there was around 16,000 people here at that time.
DRUMMOND: How many?
KEIL: Sixteen thousand.
DRUMMOND: Sixteen thousand. So that’s a lot of people for such a -- I mean Oak19:00Ridge is still a pretty small town today.
DRUMMOND: Or small city I guess.
KEIL: Well, that’s when I came here.
KEIL: During the construction I think there was like 70,000 here.
DRUMMOND: Wow. Yeah I guess to be -- you know be building all the labs and --and stuff like that.
DRUMMOND: Um, do you know -- because I know that they brought in scientists fromother places.
DRUMMOND: From all over the world.
DRUMMOND: That I’ve heard at one point the largest concentration ofwell-trained educated science --
KEIL: Most PhDs of anyplace in the world.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. Most PhDs of anyplace in the world were here in Oak Ridge.
DRUMMOND: Um, but I imagine that the -- the folks who just came in to do thework were largely regional um, you know not the -- not the high-end research stuff but to --
KEIL: They were --
DRUMMOND: -- come in and do the -- the manual labor were more from the area?20:00
KEIL: Well, not necessarily. I know among the machinists they went out andrecruited the best they could find. And they did that nationwide.
DRUMMOND: Oh really.
KEIL: There were local people that worked out there. But there were a lot ofpeople came from all over the United States.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
KEIL: Even in the hourly ranks.
DRUMMOND: OK. And um, the -- the union didn’t come until after the ManhattanProject was over.
DRUMMOND: Till ’47. Is that right? ’47?
DRUMMOND: So um.
KEIL: I think ’46 was the first.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
DRUMMOND: And then you showed up about ten years later.
DRUMMOND: Um, on a visit to your wife’s family.
DRUMMOND: So what was that like with coming in for the first time?21:00
KEIL: Uh, it was just different than anything I’d ever experienced. And like Isaid it didn’t -- it reminded me of a big Army base. Because all the houses, there were just three types of houses that the entire city was built out of. And, uh, so you lived in either A, B, C, D, F houses or in E apartments.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And what, uh, do you remember what type of house her -- herrelatives were in?
KEIL: Uh, they were living in an apartment at the time.
KEIL: Later they moved to a home but --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And um, what made you stay if you didn’t have a veryfavorable impression when you got here? 22:00
KEIL: Well, the two colonels. One I had worked under on active duty. And theother one, I joined the reserves when I came back to Illinois, uh, was my commander at the time. And they got to arguing, they both worked for the state, which one I was going to work for. In the meantime, I didn’t have a job. So my father-in-law said -- we stayed here for a while. And my wife got a job at, uh, East Village homes to give us a little income. And he said, “Why don’t you, uh, see about getting a job out at the plant? They want apprentices.” So my wife, uh, arranged for housing for a lot of the visiting dignitaries. The man in employment at ORNL would call and ask for a rental house. So she said, “How about getting my husband a job?” So he said, “Send him out and, uh, we’ll 23:00interview and test him.” So I didn’t have any idea where ORNL was. Oak Ridge National Lab. So he gave directions. At that time there wasn’t any signs. And, uh, so I went out and drove down this road that was up and down hills out in the country. Today there’s a nice straight road there. But I drove for a ways, and I thought well, I could keep driving here forever, I must be on the wrong road. So I turned around and come home. And I didn’t know at the time, but I was within about a half mile of the plant when I turned around. So he called and said, “What happened to him? He never did show up.” And so she told him. He 24:00said, “Well, tell him just to go a little farther and he’ll be here.” So I went and interviewed. And they had several different apprenticeship openings. Boilermakers, millwrights, pipe fitters. But the machinist required a little higher mechanical aptitude at the time, them and electricians. So he looked at my test scores and he said, “I think you’d be better suited and it’d be more challenging to be a machinist.” So I was wanting a job, and I didn’t argue with him. I said, “That’s fine.”
KEIL: So they hired me, and that’s how I got started there. I went through themachinist apprenticeship.
DRUMMOND: OK. And you were at the um, National Lab.
DRUMMOND: And um, was it an open shop or a closed shop when you started?
DRUMMOND: Open shop, OK.
KEIL: It’s a right-to-work state. There’s no closed shops here.25:00
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. That makes sense. Um, and what -- tell me again what year thatwas that you actually started.
KEIL: Nineteen fifty-eight, September of 1958.
DRUMMOND: OK. And it was Union Carbide at the time.
DRUMMOND: But it looks like just a few years later Martin Marietta came in.
DRUMMOND: And bought out -- or did they -- did they take over? Or did thecontract -- the contract went to a different company.
KEIL: Uh, their contract expired and they didn’t renew it with them. They --Martin Marietta came in then.
DRUMMOND: OK. So what was your first job once you got -- and -- well, how didyou tell the Army you weren’t going to take them up on their offer to be a lieutenant?
KEIL: They called and finally told me that they had a job open, and I wasalready employed at ORNL then. So I told them forget it.
KEIL: And, uh.
DRUMMOND: So you weren’t -- there was no sort of contract? You didn’t get in trouble?26:00
KEIL: Uh, they didn’t like it and tried to take my commission away.
DRUMMOND: Oh, really.
KEIL: And I knew a warrant officer that worked for the adjutant general and Icalled him and he said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” So --
DRUMMOND: Very good. Very good.
KEIL: So then I switched my commission to the Army Reserves.
KEIL: And stayed in till I retired from the Reserves.
DRUMMOND: OK. And what did that require? Uh, what sort of commitment did that require?
KEIL: Uh, monthly meetings and two weeks’ training a year.
DRUMMOND: And you did that until --
KEIL: Uh, I can’t remember what year I retired now. It’s ’78 I believe, yeah.
KEIL: I retired as a lieutenant colonel.
DRUMMOND: OK. And you were able to fulfill that here in Tennessee without --
DRUMMOND: OK. That’s great. But, uh, in the meantime you’d gotten this job,27:00uh, at the National Laboratory.
DRUMMOND: What was your first job there? What were you doing when they broughtyou in?
KEIL: It was just metal -- well, apprenticeship first. You worked for usuallyabout three months in each shop around the plant. And they had one, two, three -- three big general shops and several what they called staff shops that were for a particular division, like chemistry division or metallurgy division. So they rotated you about three months in each one of them to give you varied experience during your apprenticeship. And then when you got out, well, they assigned you to one of the shops.
KEIL: And periodically they’d transfer you to another shop. Usually you’d28:00stay for a year or two at least.
DRUMMOND: So was the apprenticeship structure set up by the union or by --
KEIL: Jointly. It was a joint --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And how long did you work here before you joined the union?
KEIL: Uh, just a short period of time. When I came, I hired in, and two weekslater they went on wildcat strike.
DRUMMOND: OK. Oh, interesting.
KEIL: In 1958. And I don’t -- excuse me -- remember too much of what theissues were. But, uh, they fired some of them. And then they brought them back, some of them, like the officers. They gave longer time off without pay. And they 29:00had them in about three different brackets where they eventually brought them all back but, uh, they couldn’t run the plant with them all fired. So --
KEIL: (laughter) They knew they had to do something.
DRUMMOND: Well, what was it like coming in and maybe not knowing? I mean growingup, if you were on a farm, you probably didn’t hear too much about unions.
KEIL: No, uh, my grandfather and uncle on my mother’s side were -- well, hewas an electrical contractor. And my uncle and cousin belonged to IBEW. But I didn’t know much about unions. The only thing I could ever remember about them at all was um, I went with my dad when I was just a kid to some feed mill to get some feed. And they had a picket line up. And, uh, my dad stopped and he said, 30:00“We can’t go in there.” And I said, “Why not?” And, uh, he said, “It’s a picket line. You don’t cross that.”
DRUMMOND: OK. So your -- so your dad had respect for -- for the workers standingup for themselves.
KEIL: Yeah he -- he never that I recall was pro-union. But he wasn’t going tocross any picket lines.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. So you all had to find the feed somewhere else that day.
KEIL: Right. Yeah.
DRUMMOND: OK. You OK? Do you want to stop for a second?
DRUMMOND: OK, so we had just been talking about the wildcat strike that startedjust a few weeks, and how they -- how they eventually ended up bringing everybody back in because they had to have folks to work. Um, did somebody come around? I’m sorry. What were you going to say?
KEIL: I don’t know whether it was confusion over that or what, but I askedabout joining the union. And, uh, they told me to wait till my probationary 31:00period was over. I never did do that, after I was a union chief steward. I’d always sign them up as soon as they come in the shop. But you had a 90-day probationary period. So after that I kept asking, and finally one of the stewards signed me up.
DRUMMOND: And who -- and who were you asking? Were you asking management? Or didyou know who the stewards were? Or --
KEIL: Yeah, I knew who the steward was.
DRUMMOND: You did. OK.
KEIL: And he really wasn’t doing his job because he should have signed me upearlier. But --
DRUMMOND: Right, right.
KEIL: But anyway so that delayed me till March of ’59 before I actually was amember. And I’d hired in September 28th of ’58. 32:00
DRUMMOND: OK. So about six months. Not -- yeah, or a little over six months. Alittle over six months.
DRUMMOND: Um, uh, and you joined. But if it was, uh, an open shop then therewere folks you worked with who were in the union and folks who were not.
KEIL: Yeah. There wasn’t very many that weren’t but uh..
DRUMMOND: Do you know what some of the reasons were for not being in the union?
KEIL: Just being too tight to join like --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK, so -- so they didn’t want to pay the dues, they didn’twant to do --
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, but so you joined in ’59. And you have been a member ofLocal Lodge 480 since -- since then.
DRUMMOND: OK. And what were your motivations for joining the union?33:00
KEIL: Well, I just knew that they provided benefits and good pay and I didn’twant to be a sponger. I wanted to join, be a part of it.
DRUMMOND: Because I -- I assume that whatever contract they negotiated, everyoneworked under the conditions of that contract.
KEIL: Right, yeah.
DRUMMOND: Even if they weren’t in the union.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so how long were you -- oh, well, I guess let me ask this.After your apprenticeship period where you were in different areas for a couple months, where did you end up?
KEIL: Um, it was -- they call it Building 2525 that was a general machine shop.And there was probably 40 people in there.
DRUMMOND: What were you doing? What -- what were your -- what was your day-to-day?34:00
KEIL: Um, mainly work on a ten-inch Monarch lathe and Bridgeport millingmachines and some -- some heavier work on big milling machines. But it -- they just assigned you different jobs. You never knew what you was going to be working on. There was no production in that plant. It was just strictly one-of-a-kind things mainly.
DRUMMOND: OK. So what were -- because I know that, uh, many top secret projectshere in Oak Ridge over the years. Um, can you tell us now what you were working on? Or what those parts were for?
KEIL: Uh, a lot of just research devices. Uh, different people were working on35:00experiments in labs. And, uh, the only major parts that we made were parts for reactors.
KEIL: They were developing different kinds of reactors. And most of that wasmade out of stainless steel but --
DRUMMOND: Um, so these parts that you were making for experiments. Was that kindof exciting to know that you were making -- you know that it wasn’t necessarily a final product but it was -- you were helping make something that they would be --
DRUMMOND: -- using to do testing to see if they could I guess prove --
KEIL: Yeah, years later sometime I’d walk by and most of the laboratory roomshad windows in the doors and all, and you’d see something you’d made ten years earlier in there they were using. But, uh, and we got to machine practically every known metal to man, uh, I made things out of gold, platinum, silver.
KEIL: All the steels. And the metallurgy division out there made metalsthemselves that there were no machining instructions for or anything. You’d just trial and error till you found out a method of machining it.
KEIL: Some of it would be real hard and had different characteristics. And youwouldn’t know till you tried to machine it. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: Well, what are -- what -- are there – was there anything that wascreated in the metallurgy labs that’s very common today that -- is there anything you can think of?
KEIL: Mainly it was metals used in reactors for -- I don’t know whatproperties necessarily but --
DRUMMOND: And did you all have -- like when you were given an assignment, uh, tocreate something, did you have a good idea of how it was going to be used? Or did they tell you as little as possible or -- or did they just not think it was your business and that they would you know -- and -- and just tell you what to 37:00do and maybe not feel obligated to --
KEIL: Yeah, in the early days they didn’t tell you much about what the overallpicture was, uh, I remember I made some parts for a program at K-25, the sister plant that were secretive. And they didn’t tell you what they did or anything about it. I had a fun experience when I first went to work there. Everybody was Q cleared. And that was, uh, the top clearance. But they started to hiring some under L clearance or limited clearance. And I was hired with limited clearance. 38:00They’d just start -- I was one of the first ones. And they had you on that clearance until you got your Q. And you couldn’t go into certain areas where Q was required. But the rest of the plant you could. So my foreman sent me with this engineer to go look at something or build something for one of the reactors. And he had me in the truck. And he was driving over there. And he’s explaining this project to me in detail, what it was about. And all of a sudden he looked down and he saw that yellow badge. And he said, “What does that mean?”
KEIL: I said, “That means I’m not Q cleared. I’m just on a limitedclearance.” And he shut up and he never said another word about what he was doing. (laughter) 39:00
DRUMMOND: Well, that -- that brings me to the point that so much top secretstuff was happening here. I’m sure that everybody when they were hired on were sent to some sort of training.
DRUMMOND: About -- about keeping secrets and not -- so --
DRUMMOND: Can you talk a little bit about that process? I imagine it was kindof, uh, intimidating.
KEIL: Well, when you first hired in they sent you to these classes before youever went to work. And, uh, lectured you on not talking about what you were doing and, uh, or writing anything down or just talking in general about your work. And what some of the penalties were. And gave some examples of people that had been caught and --
DRUMMOND: And what are some examples?40:00
KEIL: Uh, gosh, I can’t remember now what they did tell. I think they wereprimarily talking about what happened at Los Alamos though with the --
KEIL: Can’t remember those people’s names now but spies, you remember, thattook some of the secrets to Russia. I -- excuse me. But, uh, there were signs up on billboards coming into the plants that like the old three monkeys, hear no evil or so on like --
KEIL: You didn’t hear, speak or talk about secret information.
DRUMMOND: OK. And that was just part of daily life here.
KEIL: Yeah. Right.
DRUMMOND: In Oak Ridge. People didn’t ask. You didn’t talk. And what were --I mean, uh, not just losing your job. But um, but would -- it would have been considered treason if you had given --
KEIL: Yeah, in fact those people at Los Alamos were tried for treason.
DRUMMOND: OK. So that must have been --
KEIL: And sometimes they’d revoke clearances too.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Did that ever happen to anyone here that you knew? I mean werethere ever any incidents here in Oak Ridge that --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. Um, so back to, uh, working -- uh, back to work. You joined.42:00You started working here and in 1959 you joined the union. How long did it take you before you became active in the union?
KEIL: Well, right after I got out of the apprenticeship, uh, I was made a shopsteward. And I worked in the same shop with the chief steward.
KEIL: And he was an elderly guy. But, uh, I worked a short time, and then theychanged chief stewards to another fellow. And he lived in Knoxville and he didn’t like to come over to attend the meetings. We, uh, all the unions out there came under the local metal trades council which was called Atomic Trades and Labor Council. And they -- each union had delegates to that council. So the 43:00chief stewards were usually delegates to the council, and he didn’t like, uh, driving over here to attend the meetings. So he asked me to be a delegate in his stead.
KEIL: And that’s how I got started with the Atomic Trades and Labor Council.
KEIL: And then, uh, later, uh, after -- I don’t know, two or three years, why,then he didn’t want the job anymore. And I ran and was elected as chief steward.
DRUMMOND: OK. That was in 1965.
DRUMMOND: And were you enjoying being part of the union? Like what -- what didthat fulfill for you instead of just being a -- you know, a member? Like being involved. 44:00
KEIL: Well, what I enjoyed mainly, people were afraid of management. Scared todeath, a lot of them, to even talk to the superintendent or anything. And, uh, we had some issues that they were afraid to address the company with. And I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t have any better sense I guess. But I was young and --
DRUMMOND: Well, with all that infantry --
KEIL: -- didn’t worry about, uh, getting fired or anything. So --
DRUMMOND: And with that infantry training you’d seen a lot worse. (laughter)
KEIL: Yeah (laughter) and, uh, I never was afraid to talk to anybody regardlessof where they were but, uh, what rank they were. But what really, uh, started it all, I was filling in for chief steward, and the shop we were in had closed windows, and they wouldn’t let us open them for air. And we didn’t have any 45:00air conditioning except the foreman’s offices were air-conditioned. But the shop where the men worked wasn’t. And we had people getting too hot from heat exhaustion. I know one corner of the shop where the sun come in, it got as high as 110 degrees in there. So the chief steward I was telling you was an elderly guy. He took care of himself. Well, he had one room where jig borers were used. It was high precision. And it was air-conditioned. So he asked to be put in there. But instead of looking out for the people.
DRUMMOND: This was the same guy that didn’t want to come down for the meetings?
KEIL: So I, uh, told guys to start going to medical and reporting it as anoccupational injury. And they did. And I kept after it. He was on vacation or something. I was just temporary in his place. So AEC come in then and put some monitoring devices in there.
KEIL: Atomic Energy Commission.
DRUMMOND: ATC. OK, uh, AEC. OK.
KEIL: And, uh, checking the temperatures and everything. And after a period oftime our division had a taped message that would -- you could call a number. And they’d give a taped message. And one day they announced that so many thousand dollars had been appropriated to air-condition that building. So the men decided I could get things done.
KEIL: So that really launched me on my, uh, union career.
DRUMMOND: For better or worse. (laughter)
KEIL: Right. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: Don’t get -- don’t -- don’t be productive and get stuff done.Because then you’ll be asked to do everything. So you were um, a steward from ’62 to ’65. And then you were elected chief steward in -- and from ’65 to ’73 which is a long time. But right after that you were also -- you also became the job bid officer for the Atomic Trades and Labor Commission.
DRUMMOND: Were you elected to that? Or I mean did you have to run for that?
KEIL: I was first appointed to fill out a term for a fellow that left. And thenlater I was elected.
DRUMMOND: And were those elections every four years or every two years?
KEIL: Every two at that time.48:00
DRUMMOND: And um, tell me about the Atomic Trades and Labor Commission. Uh, itsounds like that --
DRUMMOND: I’m sorry. Council. Council. It sounds like that was um, that wasmade up of different unions. Not just the machinists.
KEIL: Right. Uh, at that time there was 14 international unions and 17 differentlocals. And, uh, the difference in the numbers there was due to the fact that the carpenters had millwrights and carpenters.
KEIL: Locals. And the chemical had two different locals. I can’t remember theothers. But anyway --
DRUMMOND: OK. So -- so some of the um, unions had two -- two different localshere that -- that did two --
KEIL: Right. Right. Right.49:00
DRUMMOND: -- different -- had two different functions. Uh, OK. At the labs. OK.
KEIL: Usually one was in ORNL, one was in Y-12.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
KEIL: Because we had -- we represented -- the Atomic Trades and Labor Council Ishould say represented all the hourly people in two plants, ORNL and Y-12. And we negotiated the contracts concurrently.
DRUMMOND: And so that everybody I guess was getting more equitable treatment across.
DRUMMOND: And -- and equal and fair contracts across.
DRUMMOND: And um, OK. So did that work, did being the job bid officer, did thatwork take away from your day-to-day duties on the shop floor? Or was that something you were able to do --
DRUMMOND: OK. And um, what was that work like? What -- what does a job bidofficer do? 50:00
KEIL: Well, people could bid from a lower classification to a higherclassification for more money. And, uh.
DRUMMOND: Did you have to take into account things like seniority?
KEIL: Right. Seniority, job experience. Sometimes it’d be in-plant experience.Or sometimes it might have been previous experience. They may have hired in as a laborer but been a welder or something else at one time or another, and an opening come, and you’d argue their cases for them or --
DRUMMOND: OK. You did that, wow, from ’66 to ’74.
DRUMMOND: So you were working really closely with people. The -- the work youwere doing then was -- was very -- it was very personal.
KEIL: And it -- right. And it also made you, uh, head of the union part of thegeneral apprenticeship committee. 51:00
DRUMMOND: OK. OK. So those were automatically the -- yeah. Yeah.
KEIL: That’s part of the duties of the job bid officer.
KEIL: So it eventually got to be full-time for me because at that time we had anactive apprenticeship program and I was taking care of job bids and chief steward, all three at the same time. So it became full-time union work.
DRUMMOND: That sounds like more than a full-time job. That sounds like a lot.But I guess you were getting also at this time an increased reputation for helping people and getting things done. Um, did you ever come up against any people who maybe wanted to do your job, or didn’t think you were doing a good job?
KEIL: Uh, I had opposition when I ran for president.
DRUMMOND: OK. But that was president of the local.
KEIL: Yeah. Of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK.52:00
KEIL: But, uh, I don’t believe I ever had any opposition in any office priorto that.
DRUMMOND: OK. So um, you were job bid officer until ’74, at which time youwere elected the vice president of Local Lodge 480.
DRUMMOND: And you were also elected the recording secretary for the ATLC.
DRUMMOND: Um, tell me about those jobs. Let’s start with being recordingsecretary. That sounds like a very different kind of work that you had been doing, uh, than what you had been doing.
KEIL: Right. That was just primarily taking minutes at the meetings.
DRUMMOND: Much easier.
KEIL: Yeah. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: (laughter) It was time for a break.
DRUMMOND: Uh, but -- but between being recording secretary and um, vice53:00president, was that still full-time work at that point? Or --
DRUMMOND: -- were you back on the shop floor?
KEIL: No, I was -- I think I was also chief steward during part of that time.
DRUMMOND: You were. My apologies. OK.
KEIL: So I was still full-time. Prior to that the chief steward had never been afull-time job, or the company wouldn’t allow it. But once I established it, it stayed that way.
DRUMMOND: So you really -- once you became -- there came a time in there maybewhen you were job bid officer and chief steward. Was that really the -- was that the last time you worked on the shop floor? Since then you’ve been in like -- you’ve been an officer or in levels --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. That was a long time ago. I mean that was pretty early in your-- in your career.
DRUMMOND: You had only been working five or six years before that happened.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And -- but it looks like you were only recording secretary forthe ATLC for a year.
DRUMMOND: And then what happened that -- that got you into the vice presidentspot in 1975?
KEIL: The president of the ATLC left to go to be, uh, general representative forthe metal trades in Washington, DC.
KEIL: So when he left, according to the bylaws, the vice president moved up tohis job. And there were two vice presidents. And one was always -- alternated between plants. So the president at that time was from Y-12. So when he left, 55:00the vice president at X-10 moved to president. And I moved from recording secretary to vice president to fill that vacancy.
DRUMMOND: OK, and what was that like? What were your duties as vice president?
KEIL: You, uh, handled all the grievances for the plant.
KEIL: And, uh.
DRUMMOND: And were there a lot?
KEIL: Yeah. With that many different unions. And we had at that time third andfourth steps. The first two steps were handled by the local unions. The first step by the steward, the second step by the chief steward and steward. Then the third step was submitted in writing to the company by the vice president of that plant. And then if it wasn’t settled there, we had a hearing and brought in 56:00the aggrieved employee, the vice president, the president of the ATLC, and met with labor relations and usually a division head or superintendent of the company to try to resolve it. And then if it wasn’t resolved there, it could be appealed to arbitration.
DRUMMOND: OK. About what percentage of the grievances went to third and fourth step?
KEIL: Majority of them.
KEIL: Particularly under Union Carbide. They’d uphold anything and everythingthe company did. The only time we won anything that I remember was through arbitration.
KEIL: Now when Martin Marietta come, they were a little better. They, uh, wouldsettle some things, uh. 57:00
DRUMMOND: And I’m sorry. Did you have a --
KEIL: There was a lot more, uh, adversity when Union Carbide was here betweenthe parties.
DRUMMOND: OK. Was that because of their management style?
KEIL: Partly yeah. And, uh, there wasn’t any trust on either side of the other one.
DRUMMOND: OK. And when you did have to call in the arbitrator, was that handledhere in town? And you’d just call in someone to --
KEIL: Yeah. Most of them were held in plant. Sometimes, uh, union requested aneutral site.
KEIL: And, uh, we had a panel of arbitrators to pick the arbitrator from.Sometimes international reps would present it. Sometimes attorneys, and sometimes, uh, officers of the ATLC did.
DRUMMOND: And -- and were those efforts successful for the union?
KEIL: Uh, I won several cases when I was president, yeah. Of course a lot of itdepends on the grievance. You know some unions appeal those things that are -- they don’t realize what you have to prove to win an arbitration case.
DRUMMOND: Right, right.
KEIL: And I tried when I was president to screen them as closely as possible,because it’s hard enough to win one when you got facts on your side. But uh. 59:00
DRUMMOND: Did any of I guess the third or fourth step grievance hearings orarbitration, did those -- and can you think of anything that might have ever led to a big change in how things were done in the labs or -- or -- or -- and how the contract was awarded? Because I’ve heard the statistic that only about 1% of grievances ever make it to arbitration. And -- and when they do they -- they -- they’re usually a pretty big deal. So I was just -- can you think of anything significant?
KEIL: Uh, the most significant for us was usually discharge cases where weappealed where that -- we felt they were wrongly discharged. And I won a couple of those. I remember one of them with back pay. But, uh, work assignments were 60:00the most difficult ones to try to win and we had a lot of controversy over delineation of work. Uh, scientific personnel would set up a little staff shop. They’d buy a lathe or something and start. Of course what they made didn’t amount to much. But you can imagine the friction that caused. The grievances it brought about. But, uh, you know most of the time arbitrators would rule it was insignificant work or something like that. And, uh, those were difficult cases to win. Most of them were lost.
KEIL: Uh, we had a few successful job bid grievances where they wrongly denied61:00people a promotion on a bid. But most of the pay instances you know they handled properly.
DRUMMOND: What about safety?
KEIL: Yeah that was big in my mind all the time.
KEIL: Usually they would correct that. We had a general safety committee whereit was made up of union and company reps.
DRUMMOND: Did that work -- did they work well together?
DRUMMOND: So you were having to balance being president of the -- vice presidentof the ATLC with being vice president of Local Lodge 480. There was a lot of -- there was over -- a few years of overlap.
DRUMMOND: What -- how -- how were you able to do that? What were the --
KEIL: Well, vice president of the local didn’t require much unless you knowthe president was absent or something like that. 62:00
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
KEIL: Uh, sat in on the E board meetings to make decisions. But, uh, it didn’treally require that much effort or time.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK. And then you became president in 1979.
DRUMMOND: Of the ATLC. And you held that position for 14 years.
DRUMMOND: Um, and I wrote down a few dates. There was a strike in ’63.
DRUMMOND: And you would have been working -- you would have been a steward atthe time.
DRUMMOND: So let’s go -- let’s go back and talk about some of the strikes.And then we’ll lead up to the ones that took place when you were president of the ATLC. So what was the first strike about? I guess Martin Marietta had just come in in ’63.
KEIL: No, that was still under Union Carbide then.63:00
DRUMMOND: Oh it was still under --
DRUMMOND: Union Carbide. OK.
KEIL: Most up until I was president, most of the strikes were over wagereopeners and wage issues for money. Not over contract issues. And, uh, when I became president, the ’81 strike, uh, I remember telling the delegates -- they had a bunch of proposals then -- and I said, “Look. We get these proposals every time. But you settle your contracts based on money. Now if you want changes in the contract language, you’re going to have to stick with it till you get them. Not just settle for money.” And, uh, we had a bunch of, uh, 64:00contract language changes proposed in ’81. And they wouldn’t yield on any of them. And that was Union Carbide. And, uh, so we struck. I think it was for ten weeks. And we gained a lot of new language in the contract at that time. The ’87 strike uh.
DRUMMOND: Well and let -- and let me ask. That wasn’t just machinists. Wasthat -- was that everyone?
KEIL: That was all. The entire unions.
DRUMMOND: It was. And how did you manage that? Were you working closely with thepresidents with each local to do that or --
KEIL: More so with business agents.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.65:00
KEIL: And we set up picket posts around both plants. And, uh, you knowcommunications on progress of the strike and everything were important at that time. And, uh, getting each -- each union had certain posts to man. Some of the smaller unions doubled up on some of the picket posts. But, uh, you know there’s a lot of responsibility when you’re the president.
DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. And how long -- and tell me -- I’m sorry if you’vealready mentioned this. Tell me how long that strike lasted.
KEIL: Ten weeks I think.
DRUMMOND: And when did it start? Do you remember what month it started?
KEIL: At that time the contract expired in April I think, April 15th. So it wasten weeks from that. I can’t remember when we went back.
DRUMMOND: OK. So but it would have been a couple months. But it would have been66:00-- and I just ask because it’s 1981. And that’s the year that PATCO struck against the US government. So you guys were federal employees.
KEIL: Well, we weren’t considered federal employees.
DRUMMOND: Because they were contracted.
DRUMMOND: Because they were -- OK. Contracted to the -- to the -- OK. But stillworking with government. Working with government projects. And -- and if it -- and if the strike had been -- your strike had been after the PATCO strike. I mean I guess I just would have wondered how that affected it. Because I know that that PATCO strike, the way it was handled by Reagan, even affected private sector --
DRUMMOND: -- strikes after that. And I just didn’t know if that would havebeen something that might have --
KEIL: I don’t think it had any bearing on our situation.
DRUMMOND: Yeah because they -- because they didn’t strike till August. So yourstrike would have -- would have been over before then. But you were ultimately successful.
DRUMMOND: What kind of strike provisions did you all have in place?67:00
KEIL: Um, some you know -- our international had, uh, strike benefits. And thenwe, uh, set up strike fund. We got a lot of donations from other unions and, uh, some individuals and --
DRUMMOND: Like regional or area unions like --
DRUMMOND: Knoxville, Nashville.
KEIL: The state.
KEIL: State labor council and --
KEIL: And we set up a fund you know for people that were in hardship to takecare of their needs. And we had a lot of donated food and things of that sort that --
DRUMMOND: And what was the sentiment just in Oak Ridge in general about thestrike? Were people supportive? Did the people who didn’t work -- because I guess by this time Oak Ridge was probably growing a little more than it was when you first got here.
KEIL: Well no, it was usually a pretty supportive community.
KEIL: You always have some that you know write letters of criticism to the68:00editor and so forth. But by and large we got good cooperation from businesses and so forth.
DRUMMOND: Um, since the early ’80s -- I guess that’s about 30 -- a littleover 30 years now um, since we’re just talking about the community support of the unions here um, has union membership overall, not just with the IAM, has it dwindled?
DRUMMOND: Has it gone down considerably?
DRUMMOND: And I expect that -- and maybe I’m wrong. But with that so hascommunity support of unions?
DRUMMOND: Or can you -- can you really tell?
KEIL: I can’t really gauge that. Uh, yeah there’s a time. I think our peak69:00we had, uh, around 4,600 people under the Atomic Trades and Labor Council we represented. And when I was president it was about 4,400. And today it’s less than 2,000.
KEIL: The biggest part of that was, uh, the production area at Y-12, weaponsproduction went down after the peace talks and everything.
KEIL: My first negotiations though in ’79, when I first was president, waswhen we were under those wage guidelines of Carter’s where we were limited on what we could ask for and all. So I was glad when that was over with. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: The negotiations? Or the restrictions?
DRUMMOND: The negotiations? Or the restrictions?70:00
DRUMMOND: The restrictions. And did those lift -- did those just automaticallylift when he was no longer president? Or --
KEIL: You know I don’t really remember what ended that, uh, I know at the timethere was a limit on what you could ask for. Now private industry could bust that. But being under a federal agency you knew they weren’t going to give on those guidelines.
KEIL: And, uh, if you accepted a two-year settlement you could ask for moremoney and get more money. So I went that route, but also negotiated a provision that if the law changes to allow more, that we had the right to go back and 71:00renegotiate for more. And so it so happened that it did. And I got to add on to what we had originally had. So --
DRUMMOND: OK. Were there any big changes while you were president that made yourjob easier or harder? Maybe with federal regulations or with um, management.
KEIL: Um, well, when Martin Marietta came in, we had a pretty rocky relationshipto begin with there. And we had another long strike in ’87 under them. They came here in’ 84. And, uh, that strike was primarily over crossing craft lines. They had what they wanted to call a craft maintenance agreement where 72:00they could assign work from one classification to another. And us being set up under AFL originally, where we went by strict craft lines, that didn’t sit well. And so we had a long bitter strike over that. And then after the strike was settled -- and that one was I think 12 weeks long --
KEIL: After it was settled they made one of those assignments and I arbitrated.And it took me two days of arbitration on the case, but we won it. And that pretty much ended that issue.
KEIL: But, uh, then I didn’t get along with the man that was over laborrelations at all.
DRUMMOND: Labor relations for the companies.
KEIL: Yeah. And the president of -- overall of, uh, Martin Marietta here wasinterfering in the strike. And I called their headquarters in Maryland and told them that I couldn’t settle a contract down here until they got that idiot out of the way, because he was the one that was holding it up. So he made a call, and things come together. And we settled the contract. And then shortly after that, they changed the president of all of Martin Marietta to a fellow that used to work here under Union Carbide and was one of their vice presidents. And, uh, his name was Clyde Hopkins, the new guy. And, uh, I got along great with him. 74:00And they brought in a new man named Mack Wilson over labor relations. And, uh, we jointly with the help of FMCS set up a joint training period, had several sessions where they trained union and management together on getting along and understanding each other’s role and everything. And, uh, relationships improved greatly then.
KEIL: And, uh, there hasn’t been a strike since then.
DRUMMOND: OK. That’s a long time to go without a strike.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, are the -- are the -- well, I guess you retired in ’93.
DRUMMOND: But -- or do you still keep in touch? Do you know if -- if thelabor-management relations are still good?
KEIL: Uh, yeah, I think they’re pretty good. But things have changed a lotsince then. Because all the while I was president the plants were always represented by one company. And what I always feared would happen, they split it up. Where the two plants are under different management. UT-Battelle, that’s a combination of University of Tennessee and Battelle, operates Oak Ridge National Lab. And Babcock Wilcox operates Y-12. And they no longer -- the ATLC no longer 76:00negotiates contracts concurrently like they did when I was there.
KEIL: They’ve got separate negotiations for the two plants.
DRUMMOND: Do you know why they brought in two different companies to -- is itjust because the work became more specialized?
KEIL: No, I don’t think so. I think it was just Department of Energy wantingto go a different route on awarding contracts.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, at one point you said that um, there were 14 unions and 17 locals.
DRUMMOND: Today is that -- is that an accurate -- are those accurate numberstoday? Do you know?
KEIL: Um, no. I don’t know all the particulars because I haven’t kept upwith it that much. But we had, uh, for instance, uh, Service Employees Union 77:00represented the laborers and janitors. And that changed to now where the Laborers Union have them.
KEIL: And the boilermakers changed their local. And then, uh, the carpenters’union was expelled I believe from metal trades. And so the carpenters are represented I believe by the machinists now, and the millwrights. And I don’t -- I don’t know of any other changes there may be. But I don’t -- 78:00
DRUMMOND: Um, when you were with the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, is -- wasthere um, were they sort of the -- the highest end of -- of that work? Or was -- or was there -- were there levels above it maybe? Or -- or did you just sort of act as -- you said um, sort of like the um, building trades. You -- you were just, uh, or -- or like -- or the way like a local labor council would act where you -- was that organization just a way to, uh, sort of an umbrella organization for all the different unions here in town with nothing above it?
KEIL: Uh, well --
DRUMMOND: And I could --
KEIL: We -- Atomic Trades and Labor Council belonged to the Metal Trades Department.
DRUMMOND: The Metal Trades Department of --
KEIL: But other than -- the AFL-CIO.
KEIL: You know the AFL-CIO has building trades, metal trades, uh, industrial union.
DRUMMOND: You still have -- yeah. OK.
KEIL: And for the most part ours was metal trades, although some unions were --had joint affiliation, like IBEW for instance belonged to building trades and metal trades.
KEIL: But, uh, the metal trades had bylaws that we abided by. But, uh, you knowwe handled all the negotiations, grievances, stuff like that. They didn’t, uh, we could call in a representative to -- or help in negotiations or arbitration if we wanted to. But that wasn’t mandatory. 80:00
DRUMMOND: Did um, did you all ever need help from them on anything?
KEIL: Uh, no.
DRUMMOND: Or did they ever have a presence here in Oak Ridge or --
KEIL: One time, uh, the delegates made a motion to ask a representative to comedown during I guess it was ’87 strike.
KEIL: But you know he could suggest, but he had no official -- we -- we --company still had to deal through me. And I think, uh, I can remember one arbitration case that they came down and handled.
DRUMMOND: OK. So you really didn’t hear from them that much.
DRUMMOND: I mean I guess they were there if you needed something but --
DRUMMOND: For the most part you were really able to handle --
DRUMMOND: Everything on your own. Well, what about the um, the international?The machinists’ international? Did -- did they ever need to be -- 81:00
KEIL: Well, a lot of the international reps would come in during the contractnegotiations. And they’d give some advice sometimes. But, uh, where they came in primarily was on arbitration cases. Say the machinists were arbitrating. Why, usually they’d have their international rep come and handle the case. But, uh, it varied. Sometimes it was handled by us or sometimes by attorney.
DRUMMOND: Were you ever -- did you ever um, participate um, were you ever chosenas I guess delegate to any of the grand lodge conventions? Or did you ever do 82:00anything with the union at a higher level than being vice president of the local?
KEIL: Not any elected thing. I went to, uh, the ’72 machinists’ conventionand the ’88 convention. And I went to three or four metal trades conventions, uh, at one of them I know I was escort to one of the astronauts that spoke at the convention and gave the invocation at one of the conventions. But that was about the extent of my participation other than general delegate. 83:00
DRUMMOND: Let’s talk more about some of the different projects you -- youeither worked on or you represented people who worked on here at the labs. Is there anything -- because I know there are some things that are still to this day considered top secret or that you can’t -- or they can’t be talked about. But are there any other things that stick out to you as being important? Well, I guess it was all important. But anything really significant that -- that meant a lot to you or -- or that um, you sort of saw an -- because you said earlier how you would make something and maybe ten years later you’d walk by a lab and look in the window and see there. But was there anything maybe that made a greater impact that -- that sticks out? Because you came in after the Manhattan Project. Um, which a lot of people know what that is and things like that. But after that, what were some of the projects here?
KEIL: I don’t remember the exact year. But you know AEC went and changed to84:00ERDA for a while, which was Energy Research and Development Agency. And, uh, when the plants were under AEC, all they could work on was nuclear work. And later that -- when they no longer were under the Atomic Energy Act, they opened it up to where we did work for others, other government agencies and all. And, uh, particularly at the lab some of that funding then was from other government agencies to do research for them and all. And, uh, like the metallurgy division at ORNL developed high strength carbons. And I think out here at the industrial 85:00park it brought in industry now that’s you know going to start making products from that. And, uh, it opened up to industry as well as other government agencies. But the work is a lot more varied now than it was back then. There’s Y-12. They started doing some work for others too.
DRUMMOND: Other government agencies?
KEIL: Yeah. Uh, I can’t describe some of that. But some of that was formilitary agencies. And they’re funded different than ORNL. Theirs comes -- the money funds through Albuquerque.
KEIL: And, uh, their work, some of it is in conjunction with Amarillo.
KEIL: Uh-huh. And in fact --
DRUMMOND: What -- what -- what’s in Amarillo, Texas?
KEIL: Pantex and, uh, what they did was assemble the weapons parts that weremanufactured at Y-12.
KEIL: But now they’re, uh, my understanding is the next contract with theplants, they’re going to incorporate Pantex under the Y-12 contract. And there’ll be one company in charge of both places.
KEIL: And I don’t know. It’s still up in the air the last time I talked tothe current ATLC president how that’s going to affect the bargaining unit and 87:00their contract. So it’s changing times.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. And to be such a sleepy little town.
DRUMMOND: Oak Ridge has had a lot of really important stuff happen here over theyears. Um, and you know I talk to people. You know I’ll say, “I’m going you know to Oak Ridge to do some oral history.” “OK.” You know and then I sort of explain some of the projects that were done here. And people are really surprised that it happened in you know down here in the South in a small town in the mountains. And, uh, I have to say the -- the first time I drove here I was surprised, because you drive in and you don’t see any of the labs. You don’t see any of that.
DRUMMOND: You just see the quaint little downtown area with the shops and restaurants.
DRUMMOND: And -- and stuff like that. So um, but I guess the city was built tokeep that a secret to --
DRUMMOND: To sort of make that stuff not so obvious.88:00
KEIL: Yeah. And I think there was -- it was more or less isolated and then therewas natural barriers between the places too. You know like Y-12 is over the ridge from, uh, Oak Ridge. And ORNL is over the next ridge.
KEIL: A lot of people nearby didn’t know what was going on here. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: Right. Yeah. I’m not surprised to hear that, uh, at all. Andespecially I guess in the days when there wasn’t as much communication.
DRUMMOND: If you lived in a town, that’s kind of where you spent your wholelife for the most part.
DRUMMOND: And you didn’t -- you didn’t go too many other places. Um, wedidn’t talk any -- much about your sort of continuing education. Um, but I 89:00wanted to ask you about maybe some other educational opportunities you had. I see that you have, uh, leadership one and two. Are you --
KEIL: That -- that was with the machinists’ union.
DRUMMOND: OK. And -- and they -- and so they sent you to different places. Whatdid you um, so was this before they had the Winpisinger Center to sort of for the --
DRUMMOND: Concentrated education. OK. So um, do you remember, uh, when you gotto take these classes? Or, uh, uh, if not the year then maybe what they did.
KEIL: It was, uh, leadership one was in the early ’60s.
KEIL: Let’s see. No, I’d say later ’60s.
KEIL: That was University of South in Sewanee. And, uh, and, uh, the leadership90:00two was in Alabama. And I think that was in the ’70s. I think one of the pictures that I gave you for the archives has got the class.
DRUMMOND: Right. Uh-huh, I know what you’re talking about.
KEIL: Class picture.
KEIL: And I, uh, that’s about the only -- well, I had, uh, command generalstaff college training early on in my military career. Other than that, that’s about it.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, well, can you talk a little bit about what being a unionmember, a machinist, has been able to allow you to do? Without -- that you might 91:00not have had if you’d stayed a farmer. Or if you’d become a farmer. Or if you had even, uh, gone into the military.
KEIL: Well, it’s increased my knowledge a lot just by interacting with thescientific people out there Uh, I’ve heard comment different times about people going to these rural areas and, uh, they’re talking to people, and they say, “You must work at Oak Ridge.” And they say, “I wonder why that is.” And I say, “Just because your vocabulary changes, being around those scientific people, and you use terms that they’re not used to.” But, uh, it’s been enlightening to work there. And I remember one, uh, of the scientific people that came and talked to our apprenticeship class when I was 92:00out there. Some of them are so wrapped up in their field that they’re hard to communicate with. Others can talk to you just like anybody else. This particular fellow was great. And he could speak seven different languages.
KEIL: And, uh, he went and explained one of the processes out there in laymanterms, so simple you could understand it. But the next guy would be completely over your head if you was trying to listen to. But yeah, just the interaction with people has been an experience in itself.
DRUMMOND: Well, were there any, uh, mentors you had along the way or -- or93:00people you looked up to or sort of helped guide you through um, different parts of your --
KEIL: Yeah, there was a machinist named Castleman that, uh, taught me a lot.And, uh, me being from Illinois and going to work out there, in the beginning everybody called me Yankee. And he -- he would say -- I remember I made a part. And, uh, he miked it and he said, uh, “Yankee, you can do better than that.” And I said, “Well, it’s within tolerance.” He said, “I don’t care. You make it as close to the specs as possible.” It was a job we had to assemble. And he said, “Then when we go putting it together we don’t have to take a little off here or put a little on there.” He said, “It’ll fit together 94:00like a glove.” And it’s good advice. From that point on. And you get, uh, identified by management too on your ability that way. Type -- you get into type work. And so I got to do a lot of small close tolerance work, which I liked. I didn’t like the big milling machines where you took off an inch of material at a time. And some people like that. They’re better suited for that kind of work. But I liked the small intricate work.
DRUMMOND: Did you ever -- I mean I guess since you came out of the shop so earlyto do um, more management and administrative type things that you really haven’t been able to do that kind of work for many years. Do you have a little workshop at home where you -- 95:00
KEIL: No. But occasionally, uh, I’d go over to the shop and do something just-- just to keep --
DRUMMOND: Oh OK.
KEIL: Uh, in practice. As far as other role models, uh, I guess I could say oneof the business agents we had here when I first hired in was named Tally Livingston and --
DRUMMOND: Tattly T-A-T-T?
KEIL: Tally T-A-L-L-Y.
KEIL: And he later, uh, went on to the Federal Mediation Service -- in fact, gotto be regional director out of Atlanta, and for a short time filled in as the second in command out of Washington. But, uh.
DRUMMOND: Is Tally Livingston still with us today?
KEIL: No, he passed away back several years ago.
DRUMMOND: No. OK. I want to say that I’ve heard that name. But just you knowin my comings and goings with the -- with the labor archive.
KEIL: I’m sure you have. Because --96:00
DRUMMOND: I -- I believe I’ve heard that name before.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK. Um, uh, it looks like you’ve also served as vice presidentfor the -- because you officially retired from the ATLC in ’93.
DRUMMOND: Um, and you’ve had other roles with the state council of machinists,the United Way. Is that local? Is that here in Oak Ridge?
DRUMMOND: United Way? Um, the Coalition of Oak Ridge Retired Employees. And the-- and the Oak Ridge Labor Council. Um, and some of those -- we’ll talk a little bit about those -- happened concurrently with your work. Um, I see that you were trustee of the Oak Ridge Labor Council in the ’80s.
DRUMMOND: And what did that -- OK. That’s the only time you were a trustee. Sothat’s different than some of the, uh, the -- the other work you’ve done.
DRUMMOND: Um, what did that entail? What did that work entail?
KEIL: Well, just primarily responsible for property and, uh, E-boardparticipation. I guess the biggest thing that I ever did, we, uh, the ATLC and the Oak Ridge Central Labor Union both were housed in a former dormitory building here at one time. And during, uh, the ’87, uh, see, ’80 -- can’t remember if it was the ’87 strike I guess. Lightning struck and run in on the electrical service in that building and it burned down. And so we had, uh, to 98:00find a new home for the ATLC. So we met here at the machinists’ hall for a while. And, uh, Larry Washam was the president of the CLU at that time. And I was president of the ATLC and a trustee of the CLU. So we talked about different options. And, uh, we got insurance settlement from the, uh, building down there. And we purchased a former church building for the ATLC. And, uh, then shortly after that, I don’t know, we’d been in there a couple years, and the AFL-CIO 99:00wanted to merge us with Knoxville. And they didn’t give us the choice. That was an ultimatum. So --
DRUMMOND: Was it because the numbers of union members here had diminished? Orwhen it was just easier for them management-wise to --
KEIL: I guess they just thought it was more efficient to manage, uh, but itreally hurt us because we were really active politically here in -- in, uh, Oak Ridge. And, uh, you know the metal trades is one department, but the CLUs are -- deal with the legislative side of things and are not involved in union contracts or anything like that. But it was important to elect people favorable to unions, 100:00and we got out and worked hard. And we lost a lot of that when it merged with Knoxville because they had different interests and different representatives over there.
DRUMMOND: Did they have a bigger -- a bigger pool of --
KEIL: Bigger draw, yeah.
DRUMMOND: OK. And the meetings I guess were held there, not here.
DRUMMOND: So -- so it really was no longer Oak -- like Oak Ridge was thrown inbut everything was really happening there.
KEIL: And the building trades headquarters in Knoxville too. So it made it moreconvenient for them but it hurt us. So, uh, that was a major, uh, accomplishment for us to buy that building. That gave not only the ATLC a home but some of the 101:00smaller local unions rented space in that building that burned down too, and we, uh, rented them small rooms up there for their offices. So it worked out to everybody’s benefit. As vice president of the state council of machinists, that was an area vice president they called it. And that was back -- I don’t remember the exact dates I held office but it was in the ’70s. And, uh, we mainly reported to the council on what type of grievances we were handling, arbitration cases, the negotiations and any organizing campaigns going on. 102:00
DRUMMOND: The state machinists’ council is still pretty active today too. Um,and United Way here locally. I assume that that was something sort of done outside of the um, confines of what --
KEIL: Well, we, uh, always supported that heavily in the plants.
KEIL: Um, in fact at one time I would arrange meetings in the plant and speak tothe hourly employees about the benefits of the United Way and solicit there. Uh, there was some history to that too. Uh, in the ’70s the Magnet Mills textile union in Clinton, nearby city, was on strike. And they were asking for support. 103:00So the president at that time said, “Well, send some of those girls. Get the best-looking ones, and send them down here at shift change time. There’s a bucket outside the gates.” And said, “Our members will donate heavily.”
KEIL: So they did for a day or two. And then the company run them off andwouldn’t -- prohibited them from being on the property. So at that time, uh, B.W. Hensley was the ATLC president. He, uh, told the company, said, “Well, if we can’t help our union brothers and sisters, we’re not going to participate in United Way. We do the work and contribute the money and you take the credit. So if you want us to participate we’re going to run our own campaign.” So 104:00that’s how it got started.
KEIL: And from that time on the union always handled the drives in the plant forUnited Way. And, uh, after that started, we usually had a board member on the board and, uh.
DRUMMOND: The union or the ATLC? The machinists or the ATLC?
KEIL: Well, it wasn’t allotted that way. The --
KEIL: Specified. But it was usually the ATLC president.
KEIL: Uh, my predecessor Norman Beeler was there and then when he left I was onthe board two different times. They had a -- I think a four-year term. You wasn’t supposed to succeed yourself. And I was on the first time and was, uh, 105:00recording secretary on the board. And then at a later date they elected me again and I was the treasurer for four years.
DRUMMOND: And did they show increased support for union -- like during yourstrike did they help out with -- with --
DRUMMOND: -- food and stuff like that? And are they still um, does the -- do thelocal unions still have a strong relationship with the local United Way?
KEIL: Yes. As far as I know.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK. Um, and then I see the Coalition of Oak Ridge RetiredEmployees which you -- couldn’t really retire. So you immediately became vice president, uh, the year after you retired from the union, uh, and from the ATLC, uh, to -- to work with the Coalition of Oak Ridge Retired Employees. And you were with them until last year. What was their mission?
KEIL: It all --
DRUMMOND: And had they been established before you started working with them?106:00
KEIL: It all arose over pension benefits.
KEIL: Uh, and that coalition is all three plants. Retired employees from ORNL,Y-12 and K-25, all three. When, uh, Union Carbide was here, they gave periodic, uh, increases in pension. It was never based on cost of living. They’d just -- every so often they gave one. And then Martin Marietta came and they gave one increase I think. And then from that time on it stopped. But they kept giving the salaried employees -- or not salaried -- active employees, kept increasing their benefits. And when, uh, early days, when Union Carbide had it, every time 107:00the active employees got an increase, they gave the same increase to the retired. And that’s pretty much standard I think at other, uh, installations within DOE. But here and I know Savannah River had problems too. So that’s what started the coalition. And, uh, we’ve never been successful but we’ve tried through political means and jawboning with the company to get them to move. They did give one minimum increase. But, uh, you know the cost of living has risen so much over the years that -- well, I can give you an example. My, 108:00uh, mother-in-law, when my -- when my wife’s stepdad passed away, she was eligible for surviving spouse provision of the pension. And it got down to where she’s only getting $168 a month. Well, you know that and Social Security is poverty. So, uh, we were able to get them through the help of one of the congressmen to establish a minimum of $400 a month for surviving spouse and $800 for an active or a primary retiree. But now they’re taking up insurance issues 109:00too because the current trend is to try to take away coverage of insurance. But, uh, I’ve been out of the plant for so long. I no longer knew any of the management. The ones I dealt with, most of them had retired too. So, uh, I got the -- one of the ATLC presidents that had recently retired to take my place on the board.
DRUMMOND: You finally retired last year.
DRUMMOND: So what are you doing to stay busy these days?
KEIL: (laughter) Doing interviews.
DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well, it’s only -- it’s only a couple hours’interview, but it might feel much longer than that by the time we wrap it up completely. Um, is there anything else um, that we didn’t talk about today 110:00that I might have -- that I might have, uh, looked over and not asked about? Anything you think that’s interesting about Oak Ridge? Or the laboratories? Or your work? Or anything important to you that we didn’t cover?
KEIL: I guess you know the most satisfaction I got out of being ATLC presidentwas bringing equality for the bargaining unit people. There were so many differences in the way the salaried and the hourly were treated, uh, bargaining unit people were treated. At one time there was differences in insurance, there was, uh, difference in military leave for people that -- in the bargaining unit that went to, uh, were in the guard or reserves, went to two weeks’ training. 111:00They only got a difference in pay from what they made, where the salaried people got full pay. And I got that equalized, uh, the, uh, hourly people had to be off for three days before they could collect insurance when they were sick where the salaried drew it from day one. And, uh, just various things. Most all of those, with the cooperation of the new president, Clyde Hopkins I was telling you about, we managed to equalize most all of those issues between the management and union. So I was proud of that. Plus increased, uh, safety awareness. The s 112:00afety committees were almost meaningless when I went there. They had one -- one person from the union and three from the company.
KEIL: So the company just did whatever they pleased. And, uh, that was part ofthe ’87 negotiations. Or no, ’84 negotiations, when Martin Marietta first came here. I worked hard on that and got, uh, equal number of people from the union on the safety committee. And that got established as a -- one of them is a full-time safety representative in each plant that looked into concerns the 113:00hourly people had. Safety issues.
DRUMMOND: And when was OSHA made into law?
KEIL: I can’t remember the date on that.
DRUMMOND: I can’t either. I was just going to you know ask if that maybeaffected things. But even if you’ve got these laws, if you don’t really have labor and management working together to make sure things are being done as they should, they’re not --
DRUMMOND: It doesn’t matter.
KEIL: It helped, but even that could be violated and -- but, uh, I had, uh,people in from various places in the Metal Trades Department in too on some health and safety meetings. And, uh, generated interest metal-trades-wide. We 114:00met in Denver and some other places. So that and, uh, too locally got, uh, established with Department of Energy. They’ve got a separate building over here in Oak Ridge where we had a representative from management and one from the union met with Department of Energy representatives on safety matters in the plant too. At the time I was stirring up a stink over some of this, uh, head of, uh, DOE at the time, the manager here, Joe La Grone, called me one day. And he said, uh, “I’ve been reading with interest some of these articles in the paper about your allegations of safety issues out here.” And he said, “I’d 115:00like to have a meeting with you and company representatives.” That was the start of the joint safety committee then between those entities. And then, uh, Department of Energy got interested in that and asked me to come to Washington to speak to some groups up there about how we started the health and safety program here locally. So it was another accomplishment.
DRUMMOND: Sounds like you’ve had a lot.
KEIL: Kept busy for a while.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. I would -- I was -- like I said, I was surprised, uh, when I waslooking this over. To see how long you’ve been at it. Yeah, it’s very impressive. 116:00
KEIL: It was, uh, it was a change I thought about for a while because when I wasconsidering retiring, uh, interacting with so many people, union, company and Department of Energy --
DRUMMOND: Which originally drew you away from the farm, right?
DRUMMOND: If what you liked was that there were all these people to interact with.
KEIL: And, uh, I thought gosh, when I stop all this and don’t talk to allthese people every day, it’s going to -- but I thought it over and conditioned my mind before I ever retired to accepting it.
DRUMMOND: Are -- and are you talking -- are you talking about retiring from --in ’93 when you retired?
DRUMMOND: Or last year when you finally retired?
KEIL: Ninety-three. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: OK (laughter), uh, but I -- I expect you had a nice honey-do listwaiting on you when you --
KEIL: All the time.
DRUMMOND: All the time. Yeah. My dad made the mistake of retiring recently, uh,117:00he just turned 75 and stays busy.
KEIL: I still stay active some with, uh, church. I work, uh, church pantry thatgives food to needy people. And I work there a couple days a week.
DRUMMOND: Well, and it seems like you and Larry stay busy with the IAM retireesbecause --
DRUMMOND: -- you all just started this program last year or the year before?
KEIL: Yeah. Right, ’11, 2011.
DRUMMOND: Yeah. So a little over a year maybe.
KEIL: Yeah, I believe it was September 2011 we had our first meeting of retirees.
DRUMMOND: And you all have a pretty good turnout.
KEIL: Yeah, the high was 72 I think. And the low one winter day this year was 18118:00I think. Normally we’re in the 35-to-50 range. That’s --
DRUMMOND: That’s -- is that how many people are going to be here today, do you think?
KEIL: I never know.
DRUMMOND: No idea? No idea? OK. Um, so what -- what kind of programs are you alltrying to do for the retirees? Why did -- because I know that it was part of a larger initiative with the IAM to really start reaching out to retirees --
DRUMMOND: -- who might not have people checking in on them or might not have anycommunity. Um, so what are -- what are you all doing here that’s maybe filling in some of those spots?
KEIL: Well, you know the government started this, uh, I can’t remember thetechnical name for it. But workers’ health program where people that, uh, had gotten cancer or other illnesses from working with radiation or, uh, chemicals 119:00in the plants could -- could apply and get, uh, monetary settlements. And so we have retired officers working full-time out of the ATLC building along with, uh, forget the university that’s behind it, uh, anyway they work in conjunction with the Department of Labor representatives and, uh, attorneys and all to get -- file these claims for people that’s had these problems. So a lot of our agenda here in our retiree meetings, I brought in, uh, the attorney that handles 120:00a lot of those claims. We’ve had Department of Labor people in – uh -- home health care people. Different ones like that to give our membership information.
DRUMMOND: Have you all had any um, direct support from IAM headquarters?
DRUMMOND: Or do you all -- or do you all go and learn about whether they’redoing and bring it back or is it more like that?
KEIL: Yeah, uh, Larry and myself and Gordon Worley and Steve Passmore went upto, uh, Winpisinger Center and took that uh.
DRUMMOND: The local lodge history project.121:00
KEIL: The local lodge history. And, uh, we come back and explained that. Ofcourse we’re looking forward to you explaining it further to our members. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well, are there um, I sort of see the retirees’ meetings,back to that, as just a way to get people out of the house and have them be social a little too maybe. People who don’t have a lot of company or whatever.
DRUMMOND: So that alone, even you know aside from all the work being done at theum, ATLC headquarters to help people who might have issues.
DRUMMOND: Just sort of provide a sense of community for people.
KEIL: Yeah a lot of them that, uh, enjoy seeing people they worked with again.Get to tell some yarns and some lies to each other.
DRUMMOND: I’m sure you all have a lot of good stories. I, uh, I -- I got tohear some of those. So maybe if we interview all you all together I can get some 122:00of the -- some of the stories. Um, well, anything else?
KEIL: There probably is but I can’t think of it right now.
DRUMMOND: Well, you know if you ever think of it, all you have to do is let meknow. And I’ll come back up and get the rest of it.
KEIL: OK. Well, I enjoyed it.
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, I enjoyed it more. And thank you so much for sitting withme. I think we came in at a little over two hours. So --
DRUMMOND: Not bad. Not bad. Um, but I expect with -- as with all of the OakRidge people I met, there’s always a little more to tell.
DRUMMOND: So thank you, Bob, so much.