Tom Lux Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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TRACI DRUMMOND: This is Traci Drummond, archivist for the Southern Labor Archives, and I am here today with Tom Lux of District Lodge 751 for the IAM. And we are going to be talking about his history, uh, with the union. Today is November 20th, 2013. We are at Bally’s in Las Vegas, and uh, thank you, Tom, for agreeing to, ah, speak with me today --

TOM LUX: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you.

DRUMMOND: -- on the record. Um, so let’s, uh, talk about where and when you were born.

LUX: I was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1946. Um, I lived there my early life, until I was about 18, and then I went away to school.

DRUMMOND: OK. So, um, were your parents -- tell me a little bit about them, and, and growing up there. Were you in a, a part of New York where there were a lot 1:00of labor union members, and would you consider it a labor community that you grew up in?

LUX: Where, where I grew up was just north of, uh, Buffalo. And it was more the suburbs, and it wasn’t a concentration of labor people. Although Buffalo itself was, was very unionized at that time. Um, I didn’t come from a -- my immediate family was not union. Uh, my mother stayed at home, and my father was in management, actually, at Buffalo China. Um, but some of my uncles were, were strong union people, and I learned, uh, some from them. Um, but growing up is -- it was -- it was a really great place to grow up. Uh, we had about an acre of land with the woods behind us, and as a kid, that’s great. But it wasn’t until I was away from home that I really, uh, started to appreciate the labor 2:00movement, and I wanted to be involved in it.

DRUMMOND: And so you said you moved away to go to college, um, from, from that area, and Marquette?

LUX: Well, um --

DRUMMOND: Was that your first experience?

LUX: First, um, I -- being born in ’46, I was at the very front end of the Baby Boom. And so, when it got time to look to go to college, um, there was a lot of competition. A lot of colleges really weren’t ready for this massive amount of people. So I had a -- uh, even though I had a -- went to a good school, and I had good grades, it was still hard to get in. And I ended up at a small college in Niagara Falls called Niagara University. And, uh, I really didn’t like it there, didn’t think I was learning anything. Uh, so I 3:00transferred to Marquette, where my brother had finished his last two years.


LUX: Um, so that’s how I got there.

DRUMMOND: OK, and how -- and where’s Marquette?

LUX: In Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

DRUMMOND: OK. And so that was your first time away from home, too.

LUX: Right, yeah.

DRUMMOND: And so what in general -- so you have an older brother. Any more siblings?

LUX: Uh, I’ve got two, two older brothers. Um, one seven years older, and in fact, he lives in Seattle, now, too. And one that’s four years older, and he’s still back in Buffalo.

DRUMMOND: OK. So what was expected of the kids? Did you -- did your parents expect that you would join the military or go to college, or, or did you find that you sort of had the freedom to choose your own path without any pressure?

LUX: Um, pretty much we -- my, my parents would try to guide us, but you know, not dictate to us.


LUX: Uh, but they did emphasize, uh, they wanted us to go to college. Um, which 4:00at -- in, you know, the ’60s and that, that was the norm for a lot of people. Um, my dad always wanted to go to college, but his older brother had quit school, um, after two, two years of high school. And in those days, whatever the oldest did, the rest of the children had to follow. So he -- he had two years of high school, and then he had to go to work. Uh, he always missed the chance of, of going to college, which he wanted to do. And my mother’s family was, was dirt poor. And, um, so she had to go to work early, as well. So they, um, really encouraged us to, to go to college. And so that was the track that I was on.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what did you study at Marquette?

LUX: I was a philosophy major, which is, uh, you can flip burgers well with that.



LUX: I, I had a minor in political science and, uh, English.

DRUMMOND: OK. And, um, from there, did you head directly to grad school?

LUX: No, I looked at grad school, but, um, you know, I really wasn’t sure just what I wanted to do at that time. And some of my friends had moved back east to Boston, and that sounded like a good idea. And -- which I did, and got a couple, uh, office jobs in architectural firms. Because I was -- I was interested in architecture at the time.


LUX: Well, I still am. But, um, so I spent about a year out there, and realized I wasn’t going to make any money in that type of thing. And, uh, some of my friends back in Milwaukee encouraged me to come back and -- which I did, and that’s when I got a job at -- uh, in the factory at A.O. Smith and learned, 6:00uh, weld-- welding.

DRUMMOND: And -- but it, it says here that you eventually ended up at Waukesha County Technical Institute?

LUX: Waukesha.

DRUMMOND: Waukesha, apologies.

LUX: Yeah. Um, after I was at A.O. Smith for a while, and this was the early ’70s, where, uh, safety and health was, was a, a big issue. I mean, OSHA was coming through, and, and you had, uh -- was it Mazaki from the chemical workers was writing books about safety and health.

DRUMMOND: It was also the time of the J.P. Stevens campaign. I don’t know if you remember that.

LUX: Right -- yes, I do.


LUX: Yeah, you’re right. Um, so that became a, a strong interest of mine. And, uh, Waukesha County Tech, which was about a half hour west of Milwaukee, uh, had 7:00a two-year program in it. So I was able to transfer some of my college credits, and go for about a, a year and a half to get the, the degree. Um, and, and actually, that’s where I met my wife. She was taking the same, same, uh, classes. She, after that, uh, got a job at -- oh, where was it? They make, uh, Johnson batteries, I think it was, in Milwaukee, as a safety director. Um, about that time, or shortly after that, I started doing some traveling around the country. So I never did, uh, actually get a job in that field, although it’s safety and health, uh, has always been a strong interest of mine.


DRUMMOND: Well, would you say that working and learning more about safety and health, that that was maybe your seg-- or, or sort of, uh, sparked your interest in joining a union?

LUX: No, that came well before.


LUX: Um, when I was at Marquette that was in the late ’60s. Um, the Civil Rights Movement was going strong, and, uh, the antiwar movement was building up. And I got involved in both. Um, and by being an activist, and being around other activists, and you know, helping organize demonstrations, and, and what have you, I got to learn a little bit about the, uh, history of the labor movement as, as a force in creating positive change. And that kind of sparked my 9:00interest, and how I kind of, uh, wanted to become more active in the labor movement.

DRUMMOND: So, um, you met your wife, Pamela.

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: Um, when you were going to Waukesha County Technical Institute. And what happened from there? You said you traveled.

LUX: Right. Um, a friend and I -- I had worked at A.O. Smith for about eight years, and he had worked, uh, for the power company as a lineman for, I don’t know, more than that, 10 or 12 years. And we decided -- and in fact, there was a third friend that was going along originally. We decided we needed to see the country, and you know, we’re -- you know, I was 30, 31, and I figured that was 10:00a good time to do it. I was -- I kind of --

DRUMMOND: Had you all seen Easy Rider, by any chance?

LUX: We weren’t riding bikes. (laughter)


LUX: No. Yeah, I did see it. But no. Um, so we, we planned it out. It was one friend of mine and I, Al. And, uh, how we would fit -- or hit all 48 states, taking, uh, two or three years to do it. And we bought a, a ’76 Ford van, new, and we outfitted it so we could camp. Um, that took -- that took close to a year, just to outfit it. But a friend of mine at, at work had a, a garage in the back that we -- we kept it at, and we worked on it. And, uh, so, let’s see. It was, I think, in ’77 that I quit my job, I kind of -- I was politically 11:00involved, uh, for a while, then our coalition kind of split, and um, you know, it wasn’t, wasn’t so good anymore politically there. Um, so Al and I left, and we took about two and a half, not quite three years, traveling around the country. About midway through, or not quite midway through, we decided that this wasn’t the best traveling situation, so we went back to Milwaukee, I worked at Allis-Chalmers as a welder for the summer. He -- I think he went back to working -- climbing poles. And, uh, Pam bought his share of the van out, and he 12:00outfitted his woman friend’s car, and a small trailer, for camping, and we traveled around together that way --

DRUMMOND: With the ladies.

LUX: -- for the rest -- for the rest of the trip.

DRUMMOND: OK. Was that more fun?

LUX: Oh, yeah.

DRUMMOND: Uh, I -- and so, I imagine, though, that was a really amazing experience. Did any -- can you remember anything in particular that happened, that -- I mean, you’ve already sort of had these activist beginnings from your undergrad.

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: Um, did you see anything, or have any impressions, or, or did any of that sort of, um, maybe strengthen your desire to be an activist? Was there -- do you remember any moments, or --

LUX: Well, yeah. Uh, I was an activist, uh, in, in the union all of the time in Milwaukee.


LUX: Um, it was -- it was a fairly large plant, anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 13:00members in the union, depending on layoffs. And, uh, we built automobile frames, because they were still being used at that time. And, uh, the union wasn’t very militant, to say the least. Uh --

DRUMMOND: And which union was that?

LUX: Pardon me?

DRUMMOND: Which union?

LUX: It was a directly affiliated union.


LUX: Um, DALU 19806.


LUX: Smith Steel Workers. But it did not have an international. It was directly affiliated to the AFL-CIO.


LUX: That was -- when the CIO was organizing, and uh, a lot of the organizers were, were in the Communist Party, the Socialist Party was also very strong in 14:00Milwaukee, and they didn’t want to associate with them. And so they would organize -- they believed in industrial organization, but they didn’t want to -- it to be a CIO union. So then they directly affiliated.


LUX: And that’s kind of the history of that union.

DRUMMOND: OK. Interesting.

LUX: But I remember, we used to kid that it was -- the union was kind of like the Elks club, and it -- there was no vision of, of progressiveness, or militancy. And at that time, uh, this was not just there, but all over the country, there’s a lot of young workers entering the workforce. I remember [Lord’s started to?] a strike, and all of that. Um –

DRUMMOND: OK, let’s pick up where we left off.

LUX: So this was the early ’70s, and there was a lot of young workers entering 15:00the workforce, and, um, at that time, the, the labor movement was kind of in a, a bit of a malaise. And George Meany is, is president, and he was proud that he never walked a picket line. Um, so I and a few other, uh, young guys, uh, said, you know, we need our union to be a little more active, a little more progressive. And we formed a small rank and file committee, got out a monthly newsletter. And, uh, it was contract time at that time, and it put forward a lot of, uh, proposals, and, uh, gained a, a strong following in the shop. And then, uh, some other folks, who had kind of been working in a more traditional way -- 16:00you know, they were mainly stewards, and they were -- they had been there longer than most of us young guys -- they, they wanted to see the union, uh, be more active, and confront the company in a better way, and so on. So they formed what they called the stewards’ action committee. And around elections and contract time, we would form a coalition and work together as best we could. And, uh, so that was all through, um, my tenure at A.O. Smith. Um, at one point, the two committees had a bit of a falling out, and, uh, you know, most of the key positions was, was held by the other committee people. So we didn’t fare so well, but we kept going, kept our newsletter going, still had a pretty strong 17:00following. But it was harder to, to win positions, and so on.

DRUMMOND: And that brought a -- with -- and that was --

LUX: That was the early ’70s.

DRUMMOND: That was the early ’70s.

LUX: Or to mid-’70s, yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. And then, you went on your road trip,

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: -- and you came back. Did you go back to Milwaukee at that point?

LUX: No, I actually -- um, the plan was always to kind of end up somewhere in the Northwest.

DRUMMOND: And what appealed to you about the Northwest?

LUX: Um, I don’t know, I guess the mountains and the sea, and just things we knew about it, although none of us had been there yet. And, um -- well, actually, the original plan was to end up in Alaska and sell the van, then come back to the lower 48. But we didn’t make it to Alaska yet. Um, so we, we did end up -- um, Pam and I looked for work in Portland at first. And, uh, Al was 18:00able to get a lineman’s job with City Light in, in Seattle. And Donna got a teaching job in the area. So we ended up -- when we couldn’t find work in Portland, we came up here -- or Seattle, uh, to look for work, and um, I got back in a small shop that, uh, made overhead cranes, as, as a welding inspector, because I had some history with that.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh. And that’s Ederer?

LUX: That’s Ederer Cranes.


LUX: Mmm-hm.


LUX: And, uh, Pam got temporary work, temporary secretarial type work, and so 19:00on. So, uh, Ederer Cranes was a -- a Local 79 shop.


LUX: So I -- at that point, I, I got involved again in the unions, this time the machinists.

DRUMMOND: Was there, like, a six-month probationary period before you could join, or could you join right away, or...?

LUX: As I recall, um, if there was any probation, it was just for like 30 days.


LUX: I, I don’t recall a, a long one. So I was there for a little while, and, um, there was already, uh, a number of -- or a group of people who were active, trying to, again, make the union a little more progressive --


LUX: -- a little more active. And, uh, so I, I linked up with them, and made a 20:00newsletter, and ran for office. And actually, won offices. And then, uh, they -- District 160 was trying to get Local 79 to join the district. And normally, I, I support the idea of districts. But it was the way they were trying to do it that really ticked us off. Um, you know, the information went to only so many people, and the vote was skewed. A number of things. Uh, so we fought it.


LUX: And – and then when we were forced into District 160 anyway -- and see, at that time, too, the 79 was the biggest local --


DRUMMOND: How many people did you have?

LUX: -- in the state. Um, it was -- it was a multi-employer local.


LUX: Uh, because I forget the word for that, anyway. Um, I think there was about a couple of thousand.


LUX: I, I’m not real sure on that. But it was bigger than any of the other locals in 160. And it was the richest. And --

DRUMMOND: And it’s called the Hope Lodge.

LUX: It’s called the Hope Lodge.

DRUMMOND: Why -- do you know why it’s called the Hope Lodge?

LUX: No.


LUX: I don’t know that history. Um, so anyway. Um, we were forced into the district. We ran for district council. We, we won those races. We fig-- we figured if -- we might as well be there if, if we’re forced in. And uh, we started up bringing up some questions about how funds were being used, and so 22:00on. And before we knew it, we were put in receivership. And, uh --

DRUMMOND: The district or the local?

LUX: The local.


LUX: The local was. Um, so -- um, and so, around that time, I was laid off, and had only six months’ recall rights at that time, with our contract.

DRUMMOND: And explain what that means for people that might not know.

LUX: Um, when you’re laid off, if -- if you have recall rights, you will be called back to the job before they hire somebody else. But after six months, they could go to the street.


LUX: OK, they didn’t have to pull you back in. And, and because I was very active in the union, uh, they never called me back.


DRUMMOND: And was Ederer a harder company to organize, or were they --

LUX: It was already organized. Um --

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh. But I mean, I guess, then, maintain, um, a union presence. Were they anti-union, or were they --

LUX: They didn’t like the union. Um, the -- um, I’m trying to think of what his title was, director or whatever, had been a scab. You know, so -- but the, the guys there were a strong union. And there was no problem there. They weren’t going to get rid of the union. But they could get rid of individuals. Um, so I don’t know, where are we going with that?

DRUMMOND: Oh, um, I don’t know, but while you were at Hope Lodge 79, um, before you were a delegate to District 160, you were, um, on the safety committee.

LUX: We had a safety committee.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh. And -- but also on the bylaws committee. So can you talk a little bit about your role in those two committees?


LUX: The safety committee, I was a member of it. And we would try to gather information on the different shops within Local 79, to -- again, um, let’s see, this was early ’80s, so the industrial safety movement was still growing, um, the awareness. And so we, we were -- tried to get some data that, that would help, uh, us, you know, propose directions, and so on, and things to do to, to make things more safe. And the bylaws committee, I was appointed the chair of that. And, uh, the members at that time, they, they didn’t want to change a lot of things, so it was pretty hard, um, trying to keep that under control, um, and sifting through what would make sense and what, you know, was just 25:00somebody’s whim.

DRUMMOND: And what did you do as delegate to District 160?

LUX: Um, there would be monthly meetings, and you’d, and you’d vote to set policy for the district. Um, that didn’t last long, because we got put into receivership. So.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and then -- so you said you got laid off.

LUX: Right.

DRUMMOND: And they didn’t recall you within six months.

LUX: Right.

DRUMMOND: And in 1988, so you didn’t work for three -- for --

LUX: Well, I had, um, several jobs. Uh, some, uh, nonunion, some union.


LUX: Uh, one of them, I got at Western Gear up in Everett, and that was a, uh, a machinist’s local, as well.



LUX: But I was there only about a year and a half before it closed down.


LUX: You know, it had been bought up, uh, with the intention of just milking it and closing it down. Um, so I did work there until the end, and then, uh, after that I got another job, an inspection job, but again, it was a nonunion shop.


LUX: And, uh, I’d always talk union, but never successfully organized at any of those little places. From there, um, you know, I’d been an inspector at several levels. But, um, when I hired into that nonunion place, this old German guy was working there as an inspector. And he taught me kind of the next level of, uh, machine parts inspecting, a lot of close tolerance and that. So --


DRUMMOND: And what did they make in that shop?

LUX: Uh, well, they made some gears, but they did a lot of work for Boeing.


LUX: Um, smaller parts. And when Schultzy, the old German, uh, got hired on at Boeing, he put in a good word for me, and I got hired on --


LUX: -- about a year later.

DRUMMOND: As an inspector.

LUX: Right, a machine parts inspector.


LUX: And that’s -- was the last shop job I had. But I had that for nine years, and then I, uh -- the union asked me to go to joint programs.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so you were part of District 751 then, and local lodge 751F, when you went back --

LUX: Correct, Mmm-hm.


DRUMMOND: -- to work, and worked at Boeing. Um, and was your work as an inspector there any different than it had been previously? Or was it --

LUX: I had used the skills that I had learned in the small shop in where, you know, Schultzy had mentored me.


LUX: So the skills were the same, and I ended up working next to him, anyway. Well, he was on first shift; I was on second, but, um, same area. So, uh, yeah, the work was -- it was just different parts, you know. And we had -- um, the place I worked was -- emer-- what they call an emerging shop. So you wouldn’t do a long production run. It would be, you know, the assembly area on the factory needed a, a -- this part, but not quite for that drawing, you know. And we’d have to reengineer it, and then we’d make the one-off, or two or three-off, whatever, and then we’d inspect them. So there was a lot of 29:00variety, uh... and…

DRUMMOND: And so, once you -- it looks like you got involved almost immediately with the local.

LUX: Yeah. Um, not -- not as immediately as I would have liked. At that same time, there was stuff happening in the neighborhood. Excuse me. Where we lived -- and I was chairman of our neighborhood committee --


LUX: -- that -- we lived right by a little lake. And the developers had pushed 30:00through a zoning re-change, and they were building these massive, um, apartment complexes with no regard for what it’s going to do to the lake or the neighborhood. So we fought that and had some successes. So my first two or three years -- excuse me -- at Boeing, um, I was really involved with that. But the first chance I got to be a steward, I took it, and kind of handed off the neighborhood group to some other folks --


LUX: -- to, uh, chair, and got more involved in the union at that point.

DRUMMOND: OK. And you were a local lodge auditor?

LUX: Then -- yeah. And then, in the ’95 strike, um, they made me, um, one of the, uh, picket captains. I basically -- for my shift, which I think was -- it 31:00was either a four or an eight-hour shift, I think eight -- I would make sure that everything inside the hall was being run right and smoothly, so that people could be sent out to the line, and so on.

DRUMMOND: You were also --

LUX: And then, um, I think it was just after that strike that they asked me to be auditor, and there was an opening.


LUX: Excuse me.

DRUMMOND: Was that --

LUX: And then --


LUX: -- after -- it wasn’t two -- well, it was a year or two after that, they asked me to run for district council.



LUX: Which I did, and I won an alternate spot on the district council.

DRUMMOND: Well, was that the first strike you had ever been through, the ’95 strike?

LUX: No. Actually, going back to A.O. Smith, which had never had a strike, um, what year would it be? It would have been maybe ’74 or ’75, somewhere in there. The contract was up, and the militancy of the membership was up, and we had our first strike ever. It was organized in 1935, and this was their first strike ever. It lasted a couple of weeks, and we made some gains and people accepted it. So that was my first strike.



LUX: Eighty-nine was my first strike at Boeing. So ’95 would have been the next one.

DRUMMOND: OK. So can you tell me a little bit about the ’89 strike at Boeing?

LUX: I had been at Boeing only a year, so I hadn’t had much money saved up. Um, so basically I just pulled my picket duty, but I had to find work elsewhere. Um, which I did. Um, so I wasn’t real active other than picketing. In ’95, I was very active in it.

DRUMMOND: And what were some of the issues on the table for the ’95 strike?

LUX: Hmm. Gonna to test my memory here. Um, I know on the ’89 strike, it was the overtime.


LUX: I mean, they were working people out on the assembly lines week after week 34:00after week with no letup. Walking around like zombies. So overtime rules were the key issue. In ’95, health care was a big issue. I don’t remember if we got any pension improvements. I’d have to actually look at that.


LUX: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And you were a picket captain. What are some of the responsibilities that come with that?

LUX: OK. In the setup we had, is that we’d have volunteers, maybe four to six volunteers, who would come in, sit at -- sit at the table, where members would come, and they’d assign them a picket duty. There was, like, a dozen different, uh, gates or picket lines around the Everett plant, that’s where I 35:00pulled duty. Um, and we’d have van, other volunteers driving the vans, making sure they got out to their location. So I’d have to coordinate the vans, had to coordinate the, uh, people who were assigned to the locations. And, uh, just, you know what I’m saying, if something wasn’t going right, I had to try to fix it.


LUX: You know, so --

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and how long was that strike?

LUX: Um, I think that one was 89 days. They came back with an offer that the union somewhat reluctantly, uh, recommended acceptance. And the membership said 36:00no, uh, very loudly. And so that one went quite a long time. Um, it was pretty interesting.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so also during this time, um, you were on other committees, district staff, and retiree club treasurer. Was that something more recent, since you’ve been retired?

LUX: That’s -- you’re right, I was just, just elected to that.


LUX: OK, so I was on district council starting in ’97, ’98, somewhere around there.


LUX: And I was on there for four years. And then, at that same time, they had, uh, put me and a few other people in the joint programs. What that is, is Boeing 37:00and, and our union, in ’89, uh, negotiated a joint training program, and a joint safety program. And they had -- in, uh, ’97, yeah, it was ’97, uh, they had me and two other people, uh, appointed from the union to work on a project at the training section of joint programs, quality through training, to take all the hourly jobs -- and there was about 500 of them -- and not really write a job description, because we already had those, but to write a guide, a 38:00-- what we called career guides. And this was mainly to, to aid, um, the career advisors that we hired and had in the different offices and plants and so on, who would help our members figure out, how do I get a better job, you know, for instance. So since those people never really worked in the factory, they, they needed a little help. So we were going to write these career guides to tell them, OK, what the job consists of, what skills you need, um, what are some of the safety issues, and what would be some basic training, just to help you get that job. So we started that project, and actually, there were four of us, but 39:00there was one program coordinator that had -- headed it -- was heading it up. The three of us were kind of working for him. Well, the company saw it, what we’re doing, and they realized that what we’re doing would help them out, too. Because they had this employee transfer request system, which at that time, you just fill out a little slip of paper, and say, you know, this is my name and social security number, and this is the job I’d like to get. And some of those lists were, like, a thousand names long, or at least a few hundred. And so you’re a hiring manager, and you don’t know anybody on that list from whoever. And you know, what they know, or if they can do the job. So by creating 40:00these career guides, not only would the employee know more about the job, see if it’s something that he or she wants, and what training might be necessary, but they built a system where, once you got that agreed upon basic training, the company and we agreed on, that you would be put into a, a pool. And I think it was the following contract, we, we got it put in, seniority had some points on there. So seniority had some count. So -- and that was put online. And the career advisor could pull it up on the computer right there, and give the, the employee some advice, and you know, see, you know, what direction they want to 41:00go, which of those 500 jobs they might be suited for or have any interest in. And that smoothed things out for the company, too, because they actually got people who knew something about the job, and took a little training for it first. So that’s what I did at first when we went to joint programs.

DRUMMOND: OK. And do you feel like it, overall, helped you get in better candidates for the jobs?

LUX: Absolutely.

DRUMMOND: Um, and during this time, or maybe a little earlier, you and your wife had two kids.

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: So you -- well, it sounds like you were very active in the union, you maybe didn’t have to travel the way a grand lodge rep --

LUX: No.

DRUMMOND: -- might have. But did any of this work keep you from home for any length or time, or --

LUX: No, not really.



LUX: Um, you know, with the -- they would send me to Placid Harbor, but that would be for a week.


LUX: And, um, at that time, that -- that was probably the extent, and maybe a conference. You know, I was on the machinist council for a few years, so those would be quarterly conferences. So it wasn’t away from home a whole lot.


LUX: What was worse was working second shift, because there’s a lot of things that kids would do in school that I couldn’t attend.

DRUMMOND: So is the county you’re in MLK?

LUX: Martin Luther King?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, is that the county you’re in?

LUX: Uh-huh. The only county in the United States named after Martin Luther King.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, I, I didn’t even know that existed. OK.


LUX: Well, it’s -- it was always King County, but it was named after a pro-slave vice president, I think Vice President, the, Pierce, maybe. And so that stuck in everybody’s craw, and um, one of our county councilmen brought forward that, well, we should change that. And it -- after a number of years, it finally was.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and in addition to that, you’ve also been a member of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association.

LUX: Right. And, um --

DRUMMOND: Do you have any activity on their board, or anything like that?

LUX: Well, um, yes.


LUX: OK. The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association takes in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. And there’s not a lot of activity, as much 44:00as, uh, we have a yearly conference, and we rotate that among the states and province. Last year it was down in Portland; next year, it’s going to be up in BC; and the following year, it will come back to Washington. And we put out a, a calendar, a labor history calendar, every year. Um, and then we, you know, go to different events like state labor council conventions, and then have our literature table, and we try to promote the study of labor history. And I’m the Washington vice president.


LUX: There’s a vice president for each, uh, state or province, and -- as well as, some trust -- each grouping has some trustees to promote labor history.


DRUMMOND: So, um, I imagine there are labor union members, but also maybe historians, that it’s a --

LUX: There, there --

DRUMMOND: -- a mix of people?

LUX: You’re, you’re right, there, there is a mix. It’s some academics and some labor people. Uh, we try to keep the leadership, as far as vice presidents, labor people. But the historians, or the academics, are very important, too. And we built, uh, a real good, uh, rapport in working together.

DRUMMOND: Um, as a labor archivist, I sometimes find it hard to be the person between the historians and the -- and the union members. And I don’t always feel like they interact in a way that is -- that they should, that would be beneficial --

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: -- to them, but have you experienced any of that?


LUX: Um, I, I’d say generally no.


LUX: Not that it doesn’t happen, but I mean, generally, since it’s, uh, like a one-year conference, uh, we -- you know, we work together, and they have different workshops. Some are more academic; some are more hands-on. So I think it works out pretty well. Plus in Seattle, anyway, we have the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, um, which, again, some of the same people are involved with. And I’m on the visiting committee for them. And you know, some of the people are out of the shop, and some are retired like myself. Others are academics. Um, a state labor council president is on the 47:00committee. Um, so we, we try really hard to utilize all of the resources that we have.


LUX: And it was the Harry Bridges Center that put forward -- and the ILWU, who put forward the idea of having a labor archive. Because a lot of -- a lot of the stuff in the UW archives related to labor, but nobody organized it as such. And ILWU put in a big chunk of, of money to support that, and then other unions put in money as well, including the machinists. And we’ve been supporting that right along. And it’s -- it’s a great archive of -- Conor -- Conor Casey --

DRUMMOND: I know Conor.

LUX: -- who is doing a very good job there.


DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, excellent. Um, since 2010, you’ve been part of the joint -- the aerospace joint apprenticeship committee. So if it’s aerospace joint apprenticeship, which is that -- is that coming from different unions?

LUX: Um, actually that was pushed by the machinists’ union.


LUX: Our political director, Larry Brown, did a lot of lobbying down in Olympia, the capital, um, to get some money to establish, uh, an aerospace apprenticeship program, the reason being, is you have Boeing, which is so big, and Boeing had its joint apprenticeship committee meeting; labor and management sat on the committee. But there’s nothing for the 600 suppliers in the state, uh, and we 49:00see the need to not only keep up the skills to keep aerospace in Washington State, but, but to improve them. And so the legislature, uh, agreed to that, and gave a stipend every year through the college system that goes to, um, the aerospace joint apprenticeship committee is just that. It just deals with the apprentices. There’s also the aerospace-machinist joint training committee, and that is the nonprofit that funnels that money, not only to the 50:00apprenticeship committee, but to other training programs that we’re developing, uh, that relate to aerospace and the community colleges.

DRUMMOND: Is this the first apprenticeship committee you have ever participated on?

LUX: No, I was also on the -- the Boeing, on Boeing, uh, apprenticeship committee, for a number of years before I retired.


LUX: And that was one of the reasons they asked me to serve on this one as well.

DRUMMOND: How many participants do you all usually have?

LUX: On what?

DRUMMOND: Well, how many apprentices do you all usually --

LUX: Um, that’s growing all the time. Right now, I think it’s close to 200. And it’s, it’s been steadily growing, and actually, uh, kind of snowballing, 51:00because as, as these smaller companies realize the, the value of having an apprenticeship, they, they sign on to do that. And the people we’ve hired to, to run that program are just doing a great job. Um, fantastic. And things like -- that go beyond apprenticeships. Like, there are five community colleges throughout Washington that have some sort of an, uh, A&P program, that’s air -- airframe and powerplant.


LUX: Which is a certification -- a two-year certification that the FAA requires for certain people to work on airplanes. In fact, Boeing now requires that people on the flight line have an A&P license. Well, they all have different 52:00programs. It was not interchangeable. And the director of Amjack that we hired was able to sit them all down in that room several times to finally get some commonality, and then work with the FAA to accept the program, because that’s another slow-moving wheel. And now, you know, also the A&P program is kind of an American thing. Over in Europe, they have, I’m forgetting the acronym, but it’s another program that’s actually, um, I don’t know if it’s better, but for certain things, it would be necessary, because, uh, some require the 53:00European, uh, license. She has been able to, uh, interest the community colleges, and also dealing with that training.

DRUMMOND: Do you all see the apprenticeship program as kind of also a mentoring program, to sort of support younger workers, and --

LUX: It’s --

DRUMMOND: Or I guess it’s maybe not just younger workers, but mainly younger.

LUX: It, it definitely is. Um, and you’re right, it’s not always younger workers, but I’d say 90% of the time it is. And what we’re also trying to do is -- is get more people of color and women involved in that industry, which is -- which is hard, because it’s not a traditional -- especially for women, it’s not a traditional industry. But the apprenticeship program tries to, uh, 54:00promote that as much as possible. And they -- they’re, they’re working -- we’re working on other things, too. By making connection with the high schools, we help build up their shops, so that they can train their kids during the day, and then we can use it at night with the apprentices. And as you know, you know, a lot of high schools gave up their shops years ago. And -- because everybody was going to four-year colleges. Well, that didn’t work out so well. So --


DRUMMOND: So, in 2011, you joined -- or were elected to the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action.

LUX: Uh-huh.

DRUMMOND: And is that sort of a group that only works with union groups, or is that for retirees in general? Because you retired in 2011.

LUX: Correct. Um, I’d say retirees in general, although it -- it’s connected with the national ARA, Alliance for Retired Americans. And, although we can’t use the Alliance name, because we’re a local community group, but we’re an -- affiliated with the Washington State Alliance. OK.


LUX: OK? So it’s got the same philosophy. It’s got the connection with the AFL/CIO. Um, we are recognized by the King County labor council, as well as the 56:00state labor council. But not everybody who works with PUSARA, Puget Sound Advocates, um, is a union member. So we have -- we have some community folks as well, but it’s heavily union, yes.

DRUMMOND: And what do you do?

LUX: We’re a real activist group, um, much more than the ARA itself.


LUX: Um, we, we not only fight around issues around Social Security and Medicare, which is kind of a core, but we lent our weight to, to get, uh, sick days for all workers in Seattle. That passed. Um, I’m trying to think of some of the other act -- I mean, we’re always -- weekly, we’re at some 57:00demonstration. We support the Walmart workers. We support anybody on strike. We, um -- you know, we support any progressive thing, uh, going on. Um, we support the gay pride, uh, parade. You know, what -- whatever is going on in town that’s progressive --


LUX: -- then we’re there.


LUX: As with -- and we have the reputation of always showing up with our banner.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well, and I think that’s a good seg into one of the things we came here specifically to talk about, which is, um, going to Ohio this year with -- representing the machinists, and knocking on doors, um, and, and in a state where, I understand, that, uh, Barack Obama was down by 10 points. It’s a swing state, that y’all helped, um, win Ohio for the Democrats. Can you talk a 58:00little bit about that experience?

LUX: Yes, but can I get some water first?


DRUMMOND: OK, so you were just about to tell me a little bit about, um, going to Ohio, and why you wanted to be part of that.

LUX: Well, um, the election was coming up. And Charlie, uh, talked to me, and told me about his idea of, of having some retirees in Ohio to help out with a campaign. And being from Seattle, uh, my area was fairly safe. We weren’t worried so much about our elections, but they were worried about Ohio. So I thought about it for a while, and talked to Pam, because it was going to be for 59:00about a month or better. And the only -- the only time I had really taken that much time away from home before was when we went to, uh, South Carolina to try to stop the de-certification there.

DRUMMOND: At the Boeing plant.

LUX: Yeah.


LUX: And that, that was about a month as well. But anyway, um, after thinking about it, and I thought it would be an experience, um, and something worthwhile to do, to -- if you can help out, and wanted to. Um, so I decided to do it. Um, got out there, and we started in Toledo, I believe. And we would spend the day, uh, knocking on doors. We’d get a list in the morning that was already figured 60:00out, and mainly union members. Um, and we’d do that all day. They got a few staff people from DC -- not DC, uh, from headquarters, who would drive us around, and we’d pop out of the car, go up to the door, see if people were home. And if they weren’t, we’d leave literature. And then, if we got in, uh, a little early, they, they might want us to do some phone calling, which I hate. I don’t mind knocking on doors; I hate bothering people on the phone.


LUX: But you do it. Um, we were there for about a week, and then they said AKRON 61:00needed help. So they took us all over there. And the Toledo people were -- hated to see us go, because we were a big help to them. You know, it was about close to ten of us at the time. But, uh, we did the same thing in, in Akron. And at one point, they, they took about half the group and sent them back to Toledo, so they split us up. But we were going gangbusters, I mean, going through the lists, you know, like other people there had never seen. So everybody kind of liked us for that. But it, it was -- it was quite the experience.

DRUMMOND: And were you reaching out mainly to former union -- retired union members, or active union members, or whoever might be in a neighborhood?


LUX: It was, uh, mainly active union members that they had a list for. Um, I don’t recall if they separated the retirees out, but it was -- it was mainly people who were working.


LUX: Um, let me -- let me think on that for a minute. I’m not really sure anymore. But anyway, I, I think it was a mix.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, did you have any encounters with people who were not interested in hearing what you had to say?

LUX: Actually, surprisingly, uh, not that much.


LUX: My experience was, um, if they weren’t interested, they didn’t show it. They, they were just polite and --


LUX: -- took the literature, and listened to you. Um, did -- I didn’t have any really bad experiences. Um --



LUX: -- um, people were, were friendly, and -- and, um, many people were, were on our side. So it was good getting them the information, encouraging them to vote, and so on. It was, for the most part, a positive experience.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and so, talking about that, and all -- and some of the other things we’ve discussed, advocacy is clearly very important to you, whether it’s in your community or for the union. Um, can you talk a little bit about how that’s benefited you? Or a lot about how that’s benefited you over the years?

LUX: Um, I don’t know. I, I don’t always --

DRUMMOND: Or why it’s been important to you.


LUX: Yeah, it’s, it’s important because I -- I feel strongly that change is necessary, that, uh, labor is -- and people in general are, are under attack constantly. And unless you fight back, you know, you’re sunk. So it’s better to fight back and try to win some battles. Um, I -- I’m not one to just sit on the sidelines and watch that happen, because I’d rather, rather be in there doing what I can to change it.


LUX: So, I guess what it does for me, I, I guess it just fulfills that, that need not to watch everything, you know, go down, and not, not have a say in it.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, with the machinists starting the young machinist program, where there are mentoring relationship between older or retired machinists and 65:00incoming people, that seems to be filling a gap, where maybe there wasn’t that kind of encouragement for a while. Did you see that in the places you worked, where maybe younger folks were coming in, and they weren’t as aware of what it took to get the contract that they worked under? Maybe there was apathy?

LUX: Well, yes, um, especially when I started. You know, um, there was a, a generational divide, uh, of how -- how to -- how you view things. And that was what I described before about the young workers coming in, in the early ’70s, and being more militant, or at least more willing to be militant. And the older workers just kind of -- uh, not so much. And I think that’s changed quite a bit. It’s -- um, and I think the program we’re starting with the -- with the 66:00young machinists is, is definitely a -- in the right direction, because it’s -- it’s not enough to just assume that they’ll get involved. I think it’s -- it’s good to, um, show them the ropes. Because, you know, when I was starting out, nobody really showed me the ropes. I, you know, had to trip, and fall, and stumble, and -- and, uh, still get where I was going. But you know, there’s, uh, a lot to be said about learning from, from others, and moving forward that way.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, one of the other things you have listed here is that you were recently appointed to the board of trustees for the Shoreline --


LUX: Community College.

DRUMMOND: -- Community College. Tell me about your role in that.

LUX: OK. Again, uh, I just got that appointment. So I won’t be at my first meeting until, I think it’s December 4th. Um, but a number of people had called me up and said, “Do you know that Shoreline has a position open, and we think that your experience would bode well for taking that position?” And I kind of grumbled at first, but then, I figured, well, if I don’t do it -- you know, because they wanted somebody from labor --


LUX: -- on the committee. So I, I decided to apply for it. And, uh, after quite a while the, the governor did appoint me. I’ve still got to be approved by the 68:00Senate, but I guess that is -- sometimes takes a long time. In the meantime, I will be serving. So, um, and I -- I think it’s important for, you know, with, with my experiences with the community colleges, and -- and the job I had at joint programs, and machinists, um, I see the community college system that we have as, as a good one, but also very important for, again, keeping the skill base up, uh, and you know, training, training young folks into a job that would be worthwhile, something they would like. Um, and so, I decided to take it. I think it’s an important role that labor can, can play, try to help the 69:00community colleges actually reflect those in the community.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh. Um, so you’ve talked a lot about helping people in the community, apprentices, things like that. Um, can you think of any mentors that have been important to you in your growth as a machinist and as a person?

LUX: Hmmm.

DRUMMOND: You mentioned Schultzy earlier.

LUX: Yeah, yeah. Schultzy for sure. And that was a funny old guy. Um, yeah, he helped -- he helped me a lot. Um, you know, when, when I was at A.O. Smith, there were -- there were a number of people, you know, um, who helped me with this or that. Um, in the machinists, uh, a number of people. Uh, Sue Palmer has 70:00helped me. Uh, Larry Brown has helped me. Uh, you know, a number of -- Mark, Mark Blondon, you know, with one thing or another.


LUX: And not so much as a mentor all the way through, as, uh, at one point. You know, why don’t you do this, and it would be good? Or here’s how -- here’s how to do this, and I...

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, has -- have your kids picked up this sort of desire to be activist?

LUX: No, I really failed on that one. (laughter) Um, my daughter Katie works at Boeing. And we’re still trying to get her active. Um, you know, there’s still hope for her.


LUX: Um --


DRUMMOND: And it says she, she was born in Korea?

LUX: Right.


LUX: Yeah, both, both of our children are adopted.

DRUMMOND: Oh, OK. Oh, I see. So in -- but she works there as a union member. She just hasn’t really become active at that. OK.

LUX: She -- yeah, she’s, she’s a machinist member, yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what does John do?

LUX: Uh, right now he’s driving a tow truck.


LUX: So it’s a nonunion job.


LUX: It’s paying the bills, kind of.


LUX: Because he’s still trying to find his way.

DRUMMOND: OK. And, um, I, I think we’re about done. Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t cover, or anything, um, that you want to say about being in the union, or what it’s done for you, or -- ?

LUX: Oh, well, I mean, that’s, that’s big. Um, you know, the union has been my life. Uh, it’s gotten, gotten me everything I have now. I -- you know, I, I 72:00firmly believe that any worker, all workers, need a union, uh, regardless of what their job is. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out. Um, but yeah, it’s, uh -- it’s, uh, it’s been my life.


LUX: It still is.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh. Well, thank you very much for agreeing to sit with me today for this interview. I am pleased that we were able to get this on, on digital file, I guess not on tape, which is what I almost said. Um, so thank you very much.

LUX: Well, thank you.