John Peterpaul oral history interview, 2012-08-14

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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TRACI DRUMMOND: This is Traci Drummond. I am in Lady Lake, Florida, with John Peterpaul. He has agreed to be interviewed for the IAM Oral History Project. Today is August 14, 2012. And it is the afternoon. And welcome, Mr. Peterpaul, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the oral history project.

JOHN PETERPAUL: You’re very welcome.

DRUMMOND: Let’s start with some basic background information. Where were you born and when?

PETERPAUL: Rome, New York, 1935.

DRUMMOND: And what were your parents doing?

PETERPAUL: My father was a factory worker. My mother was a housewife all her life because there were seven children.

DRUMMOND: Seven children.

PETERPAUL: Six boys and one girl.


PETERPAUL: The oldest was the girl, who is still around. She’s just had -- August 9 -- just had her ninety-third birthday.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Well happy birthday!


PETERPAUL: And my mother came from Krems, Austria. That’s where she was born and raised. She immigrated into New York and joined her sister, where she met my father, who came from Italy. He fought during the First World War for the Allies. So those that fought for the Allies -- they had to -- they could get naturalized. They had a choice of four or five countries. And he chose the United States because he had a sister up in Utica, New York. And that’s where they met. They got married and raised a family.

DRUMMOND: So Peterpaul doesn’t sound like a very Italian name.

PETERPAUL: Well it’s not. The real name is Pietropaulo.


PETERPAUL: But for some reason, you know, and nobody can spell that -- the P-I-E-T-R-O. And there’s a big controversy -- is it P-O-L-I-O; P-O-U-L-I-O. And my father -- something happened. After they were here -- because my sister 2:00and my oldest brother, Pat -- they talked fluent Italian because it was household. They moved to Utica when they got married. They were in Utica, New York -- right in the middle of an Italian community. And so Italian was used all the time. So they became very fluent. Then they moved twenty miles away to Rome, New York, where the rest of us were born, and the other five children. And my father all of a sudden got Americanized; no talking Italian in the house or anything else and --

DRUMMOND: Ironically, you moved to Rome and quit speaking Italian. (laughter)

PETERPAUL: That’s something.

DRUMMOND: Well how -- what is your -- what is your rank in the line-up of kids?

PETERPAUL: I’m the baby.

DRUMMOND: You’re the baby.

PETERPAUL: Mama’s favorite.

DRUMMOND: Mama’s -- of course -- the baby. I am also the baby; always Mama’s favorite.

PETERPAUL: And we’re getting fewer and fewer. The only ones left of the boys 3:00are myself and my brother Eugene; the one next in line to me going up the ladder, and the oldest -- my sister. So we’re going from my oldest down to the bottom. Everybody in between has passed.

DRUMMOND: So your dad was a factory worker.


DRUMMOND: What did he -- in Rome.

PETERPAUL: At the General Cable Corporation. He worked there for -- between forty and forty-five years.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Was he -- was that an organized plant?


DRUMMOND: It was? What union was your dad with?

PETERPAUL: He started out with IUE and then the machinists came in and took them over. And so he was a machinist for years after they ran the IUE out because the guy in charge of it was Mike Jimenez, who had a long reputation for fighting in the Spanish Revolution.

DRUMMOND: Oh really?

PETERPAUL: In Spain. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: I didn’t know about that.

PETERPAUL: And he was president of IUE and --

DRUMMOND: And they were more progressive, right? They were a little more -- because this was before the AFL and the CIO merged?

PETERPAUL: Yeah. It goes back a long time.


DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

PETERPAUL: Because when they -- when they -- a good friend of mine from the machinists organized that General Cable plant. And he went in and took over the IUE offices.


PETERPAUL: And you should see the literature that was in that office. It was really fascinating.

DRUMMOND: And none of it is still around?

PETERPAUL: Really left-wing stuff. I mean, that was way out there.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. No, they were very -- they were very -- they were very left.

PETERPAUL: But interesting.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. So what was that like? Was the -- do you know? Did you ever learn from your dad -- were they happy that the machinists came in and took over?

PETERPAUL: Oh yeah, they were very -- you know, they negotiated some good contracts. Of course initially it was a boon there. They had about 1,800 employees. And then as they started to get it evolved up there and it became the Rust Belt, cut back, cut back, cut back; all the plants up there. It was -- Rome was a great city for light industry. It had General Cable, Rome Cable, Revere 5:00Brass and Copper, Alcoa. You had all these small factories there and slow but sure they -- all of them are gone now except Revere Brass and Copper, which has a very minimal workforce. And I really don’t know what they’re making there, if it’s the pans or [cooping?] division. But it’s one or the other.


PETERPAUL: Because they moved most of their operations to Ohio, too, a long time ago to consolidate it.

DRUMMOND: So your mother moved here from Austria.


DRUMMOND: And did your father move here from Italy or was he first or second generation?

PETERPAUL: No, he moved from Italy.

DRUMMOND: So both of your parents -- immigrants to the United States?


DRUMMOND: And from two, I think, very different parts of Europe. So how did that come together in the household?

PETERPAUL: Well that -- my mother was a very, very intelligent woman. I mean, 6:00when she came here, she could talk, of course, German, English, and French at like seventeen years old. She could talk three languages. And then when she got thrown into that Italian community in Utica, New York she learned very fast how to talk Italian.


PETERPAUL: You had to -- to survive. I mean, you know, that’s all.

DRUMMOND: Right. Well and so she was educated?

PETERPAUL: Very highly so; very highly.

DRUMMOND: And was she from a working class family or maybe a more middle class family?

PETERPAUL: It was more of a middle class family but it was typical European, you know. Especially Austria; it was a very highly educated society even way back then.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So why did she choose to come to America?

PETERPAUL: Well she had a sister here. And beyond that, you know, I can’t 7:00really recall ever having that dialogue of why. I know she had come here once before and visited her aunt in Rockaway, Long Island, for a short period of time and then went back. Then when she came again, she went and stayed with her sister.


PETERPAUL: So she had a little bit -- not a lot -- but she had a little bit of roots here.

DRUMMOND: Do you know how your parents met?



PETERPAUL: (laughter) Hey listen -- I heard all kinds of stories but everybody denies everything, you know?

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Right, right, right. Okay.

PETERPAUL: My only one that probably really recalls is my older sister and she always uses it as a joke, especially with my father, you know, to kid him. So I wouldn’t know what to believe there if I could remember.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So seven kids.

PETERPAUL: Seven kids.

DRUMMOND: Growing up in Rome.


DRUMMOND: Was -- you said there was a lot of industry there? So there were a lot of unions there?

PETERPAUL: A lot -- well, yeah.

DRUMMOND: And was it a very union-friendly neighborhood you grew up in?


PETERPAUL: Yeah, the whole city was pretty union-friendly.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And so what was your education like? And was it important to your parents? Well I’m sure with your mom, definitely --

PETERPAUL: Oh yeah, they --

DRUMMOND: -- that you get an education -- all of you; all seven of you.

PETERPAUL: Well the -- right after high school -- see, I went right in the Navy.


PETERPAUL: So I didn’t have that choice of education beforehand because it was either me joining and going into the Navy or getting drafted. And the Vietnam War. And, in fact, I created a controversy for going into the Navy because --

DRUMMOND: The Korea -- it would have been Korea.

PETERPAUL: Yeah. But I had five brothers -- all Marines. And I was the traitor. I became -- I went to the Navy. And they used to kid me about it. “Are you serious?” I said watch TV. You see all those guys running around in the snow, you know, up to their waist and stuff, cold, freezing over there in Korea? I 9:00said I don’t want that. And so I went in the Navy. And that’s more or less where I got my profession.


PETERPAUL: Because I went to school in the Navy. I was on the seaplane tender and I worked on aircraft and stuff and got my start there really.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Well let’s go back a little, though, to elementary school and high school. What was your -- did you have a pretty ethnically mixed neighborhood in Rome?

PETERPAUL: It all depends which section of the city you live in.


PETERPAUL: If you lived in East Rome, you were an Italian.


PETERPAUL: And if you lived in South Rome, you were Polish.


PETERPAUL: If you lived in West Rome, you were a little bit of a mixture. And West Rome was the Jewish community, middle class, Germans, a little mixture in West Rome. West Rome was really where the people from East Rome and South Rome 10:00sort of, you know, gravitated a little bit because the housing was a little bit better and stuff like that. But if you were in North Rome, you were a WASP.


PETERPAUL: That was the elitist neighborhood.


PETERPAUL: All stone houses and all of that.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And did they own or manage a lot of the industry that was in the area? Was that kind of where the --

PETERPAUL: No, it wasn’t local-owned. Most of the light industry there was major corporations.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. But those would have been maybe lawyers, business people --

PETERPAUL: Oh yeah, like the guy that had the Cadillac Oldsmobile garage -- Scoots was his name. He had a place there and, you know, people like that, the business people that were in the upper class.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And so which part of Rome did y'all live in?

PETERPAUL: We lived in the west side of Rome.

DRUMMOND: The Italian part?

PETERPAUL: No, the -- just over. East Rome was the Italian part.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay.

PETERPAUL: When my mother and father moved from Utica, they moved to East Rome. 11:00And then after a couple of my other brothers were born, we moved to West Rome. And that’s where I was born and raised really was in West Rome.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And growing up, though, you had a diverse mix of kids at your school?

PETERPAUL: Oh, yeah -- oh very much so. You know, it was a different -- different world back then. There was a -- like you take a grammar school, about every third block in the city was -- they all looked alike. There was a big square building, three stories high and that was the grammar school from kindergarten up to, I think, seventh grade. And everybody in the -- because there were no buses or anything. You all walked. So you -- the most you walked was probably three blocks, maybe four blocks in some situations into your neighborhood school. And then they had -- we had a couple Catholic schools. We 12:00had -- Transfiguration was in the Polish part of town, that was a Catholic school. St. Mary’s had a Catholic school. And I don’t know if St. Peter’s had one or not. But they were very small Catholic schools. I mean, the public schools were the big thing.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. And then high school -- same thing? All local?

PETERPAUL: High school -- yeah, there was two junior high schools and one senior high school. Of course that’s all changed now. Now when you go up there, all those schools are all gone. And where we had that big Griffiths Air Base -- they used to employ, you know, twenty-some thousand people. That was a SAC base and after they closed up and everything, then -- now there's a school up there that, when I first saw it, I didn’t believe it; the most monstrous school I’ve ever seen. It’s got to cover several acres.

DRUMMOND: Is it like a high school?

PETERPAUL: It’s a high school -- junior high and senior high. It’s a mixture 13:00of both. And everybody is bused. I mean, there is nobody in this – there's no schools in the city no more. Everybody is bused onto Griffiths Air Base. Well it ain’t that now. They call it some kind of corporate center or something but right at the very fringe and that’s where everybody goes to school.

DRUMMOND: And as a kid, did you get odd jobs in the neighborhood?

PETERPAUL: No, because summertime was baseball time.

DRUMMOND: It was baseball time?

PETERPAUL: Yeah, baseball --

DRUMMOND: Were you up -- did you play baseball at school, like with the --

PETERPAUL: We played baseball at school but the most fun was American Legion.

DRUMMOND: American Legion -- okay.

PETERPAUL: That was the most competitive, state-wide. They played the championship of the state in Lockport, New York down the road. And that was the best of it all.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And you played?

PETERPAUL: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: Through high school?


PETERPAUL: Almost all the way through. The last year in high school I had to pay a little bit more attention to some things because, you know, I thought I was a big athlete, with my football. And the one I really fell in love with was hockey. So I was playing a lot of hockey. And that was tough because I was the only Italian kid that played hockey. Hockey was that sport from North Rome where all the WASPs were playing.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

PETERPAUL: So here comes this little Italian kid from, you know, the downtown area -- West Rome -- and to play their hockey. But that used to be a lot of fun.


PETERPAUL: I used to play every night.


PETERPAUL: Well in that city back then. Now you’ve got these enclosed ice rinks. But back then every park, every recreation facility -- the biggest one, because they had three tennis courts -- so come winter time, they had four 15:00tennis courts, I think it was. Two of them they used to freeze and use them for people to skate on. And the other two, they used to put boards around them and make hockey arenas. And every night they had pick-up hockey there.


PETERPAUL: So you got your stick and your skates and your shin guards and gloves, walked up to Franklin Field and played hockey.

DRUMMOND: Did it have the reputation then that it does now, being a violent sport?

PETERPAUL: They used to control it pretty good.


PETERPAUL: I coached my son when -- back in Maryland when I was in Washington, D.C. And my son was playing hockey for his high school. And that -- I helped. There was one guy coaching and I helped him coach because when I was in town, they used to rent the skate -- the rink -- up the road in Columbia. They used to 16:00rent that rink from like 10:00 to 11:00 at night. And they liked that because the guy that had the Zamboni that cleaned the ice -- he used to let them stay there until 12:00.


PETERPAUL: So they had two hours of ice time to practice.


PETERPAUL: So I used to go up there and help them. And that was some of the most dangerous hockey around.


PETERPAUL: Well because those kids -- and you’re talking about, you know, high teen kids. You’re talking about kids running sixteen, seventeen years old. They really can skate. I mean, now they’re coming into their own. But they’re fearless. And you combine the two -- a kid that can skate so well and he’s fearless -- that’s nothing but trouble in the hockey rink, you know? I played -- I think I played one or two scrimmages with them. I wouldn’t go back in the rink with those kids.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well after -- what was expected in your family after high school? What was expected of the kids? What did your parents expect you to do 17:00once you graduated?

PETERPAUL: Well my mother was always pushing to go to school. My brother Charlie went to college. My brother Gene did. You know, after they got out of the military -- the GI bill. She wanted me to do that but I was fascinated with airplanes.


PETERPAUL: So I had my GI bill and --

DRUMMOND: After the military?

PETERPAUL: After the military.

DRUMMOND: And how long were you in the Navy?

PETERPAUL: Four full years.

DRUMMOND: Four full years. And where were you stationed?

PETERPAUL: Well I -- when I went in, I went to Bainbridge, Maryland to boot camp. After that I went to -- I went on a ship in Little Creek, Virginia. And after that, I was always on a ship. So I was --

DRUMMOND: Okay so just wherever the ship went.

PETERPAUL: Wherever.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, okay.

PETERPAUL: And the most time -- I started out on a repair ship initially for several months and then I went onto the seaplane tender. When I got my grading, I went onto the seaplane tender and I spent most of my time there.

DRUMMOND: Okay. What was expected of your sister? Because you were talking about what all of the boys were doing. What was expected of your sister?


PETERPAUL: I could never answer that. I -- my sister is probably one of the -- she’s a big woman. She’s got a complexion like a baby’s rear end at ninety-three; very boisterous. She is what she had to be with six boys.

DRUMMOND: Right. And being the oldest and getting all the --

PETERPAUL: Being the oldest, yes. She was like a mother. She still thinks she’s my mother. I mean, but she got married at a young age. So I don’t really know what she did when she got out of school and everything else. I can’t go back that far and remember that. But --

DRUMMOND: Okay. So you went into the Navy and you were a mechanic and seaplane tender. What is --

PETERPAUL: On a seaplane tender.

DRUMMOND: On a seaplane tender. So what kind of work did you do? What was your day to day --?

PETERPAUL: I worked on a seaplane. Well -- and a lot of it was on -- for 19:00example, we would get a lot of diversions. Like we went to Charleston, South Carolina one time; we were assigned there three months because the Navy had developed these -- they had a contest going on to develop these patrol boats. There was four of them. I remember Republic Aircraft produced one. I forgot who the others were. But they were four patrol boats, all built different; small plane – 100, 120 feet long. But they all had aircraft engines in them. They had all had Packard engines, Rolls Royce engines. And we were there to keep them going. But they were operating on there. All of the Navy ships -- they used to come down the East Coast. They used to go chase them and fire shoot-up flares if they got one in so many feet. That was a hit and all that kind of, you know, playing games. But we used to have to work on those things. They used to fire up 5 o’clock every morning. It was a wonder you could hear them all of the way to the other side of town. There were four boats, all built different; some riveted, some welded because they were in a contest to see, you know, who could 20:00win the contract to build these boats.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

PETERPAUL: But then when I got out of there, you know, my fascination with the airplanes was something. So that’s when I started flying at Utica or [Pratt?].

DRUMMOND: You started flying? You learned how to fly?


DRUMMOND: Okay. Tell me about that.

PETERPAUL: Well I started flying. I went to work for Mohawk Airlines and then I started flying. And with my GI bill -- well, in fact, I started flying I think be-- I started flying before on a part-time basis and then I took it seriously and I finished up with my commercial license when I was working for Mohawk Airlines. And it was tough doing both at the same time.

DRUMMOND: Learning how to fly and getting your hours in?

PETERPAUL: Getting my hours in and working for Mohawk Airlines -- especially Mohawk Airlines back then.


DRUMMOND: And were you -- you were at the same plant that Bill Scheri was at?



PETERPAUL: Because we used to have rotating shifts and rotating days off, all kind of crazy things; four and three days and then five and two days but you had to make sure you got all your hours in. But the rotation was crazy.

DRUMMOND: And you also started working there before they -- before the IAM came in and --

PETERPAUL: I started there just about when -- I started working before the IAM came.

DRUMMOND: So ’58, ’59?

PETERPAUL: Fifty-eight.


PETERPAUL: Fifty-eight they -- well wait. I think it was almost simultaneous.


PETERPAUL: It was almost -– when I went to work there, it was almost simultaneous when the IAM came in.

DRUMMOND: Okay. That would have been around ’59, ’60.

PETERPAUL: Fifty-nine. I came in in February of ’59 -- February 1, ’59 is when I got there.


PETERPAUL: And I remember them voting on stuff and things like that.


DRUMMOND: And -- but you weren’t really sure what was going on?

PETERPAUL: No, no. Not only that -- initially when I went to work there, I was more occupied with getting my flying done. That was more important to me than actually being a mechanic.


PETERPAUL: I mean, all the mechanic was doing was feeding my flying time.

DRUMMOND: And were you married yet? Had you met someone yet? Let me look.



PETERPAUL: Yeah, when I -- I got married when I was twenty-five years old -- whatever year that was.


PETERPAUL: Fifty-five.


PETERPAUL: I got married in ’55 to Jeannine. She passed away but --

DRUMMOND: So you were learning how to -- and the idea was that you would earn a living at Mohawk until you got a job as a commercial pilot?

PETERPAUL: Well and then things evolved.


PETERPAUL: See I was going to become a commercial pilot. And then I saw so much 23:00-- well we all did -- so much injustice at Mohawk Airlines. The guy that ran the airline back then, Bob Peach, who subsequently killed himself -- he blew his head off with a shotgun right after our strike there, not too long afterwards -- but there was so much injustice that I had a big mouth and before you knew it, I was chief steward. And I set up that system more or less myself -- myself and Bill. I didn’t realize it was going to be so much work but, you know, I was off the clock. I wasn’t doing my mechanics work. I was doing union work. But, you know --

DRUMMOND: And you joined as soon as you could.

PETERPAUL: Yeah, I mean, but I was working eight hours a day and traveling because we set up a system where when we had a grievance procedure, and every time a grievance got into like a third step, I would have to be present as chief steward. And we had so many grievances that I’d find myself in Albany, 24:00Buffalo, down in New York. I’m traveling all over on airplanes.

DRUMMOND: And third step -- so you would be going to wherever the impartial third party would be to meet with the company and the union?



PETERPAUL: Or because what they used to do is that we insisted that, because where the grievance were, were at that point that they take at least a third step in that process and take it to the point of origin. So we can have everybody there. Well we didn’t realize that we were going to be doing all the traveling to all these different places.


PETERPAUL: And it wasn’t no fun because, generally speaking, you had to catch the first airplane bright and early in the morning out of Utica and a lot of times you’d be going in a different direction to get into a city because of the flight schedule. I mean, it was absolutely crazy because -- especially Utica wasn’t a kingpin and a big center for Mohawk Airlines.


DRUMMOND: So as chief steward, you traveled a lot. You weren’t on the shop floor. You weren’t --

PETERPAUL: I was both. I’ve got to say I was both.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And --

PETERPAUL: And chief steward -- that put me right in the middle of negotiations whenever we were negotiating.

DRUMMOND: And chief steward would have been an elected position?


DRUMMOND: So what was your first election like? Did you run unopposed?

PETERPAUL: It wasn’t bad because it was a brand-new job. We created it.


PETERPAUL: We created it -- not for me, because I had a lot of competition.


PETERPAUL: Everybody thought it was going to be a gravy job.

DRUMMOND: An easy job? Yeah, and then it wasn’t.

PETERPAUL: Well it could have been if you wanted to lay back and die. But, you see, back in those days, we were very, very militant. I mean, we did a lot of -- it may seem crazy by today’s standards -- but, I mean, we did a lot of things. Mechanics were very loyal to the union but mainly, like at Mohawk, for self-preservation.


DRUMMOND: And you didn’t have a good relationship with management? They were very --

PETERPAUL: We had -- let’s put it this way -- with one guy back; like back then the industrial relations guy -- he understood us. I’m not going to say we had a good relationship but he understood the labor movement and everything so he could be a little bit tolerant with us. But the other management in that company -- Bob Peach, the president -- I can remember episodes where I can remember like one episode -- I’m sitting in Harvey Barnard’s office talking to him and Bob Peach comes wandering in -- they had these big glass windows, they had these offices. He had his own office but they had glass there for some reason and even in the door. So he saw me sitting there and he runs in there and he says, “That’s Peterpaul, right?” And Harvey says, “Yeah.” He says, “He’s a troublemaker. You fire him right now. You fire him.” And Harvey 27:00says, “Well we can’t fire him. He’s a union guy on leave of absence. He don’t work for us.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

PETERPAUL: He slammed the door and it broke the whole glass in the door.


PETERPAUL: It was fascinating. But a lot of crazy things happened there. But, you know, it followed through. It was a different -- sort of a different type of worker back then. But don’t forget -- we were making ninety-five cents an hour which was pretty good for wages back then but, you know, the thing that used to bother everybody that people in the building trades and every place else was making 50% an hour more. So -- but the militancy of it -- you could take -- like one time I was late for negotiations for some reason in the headquarters. And the parking lot was -- where we parked was down below by the hangar. And I was going to be late. So I pulled into the circle in front of the place. I jumped out of the car and went into Harvey Barnard’s office and I said, “Harvey -- 28:00listen. I’m going to be -- let me park my car. I just want you to know I’m here so you don’t think I was not going to show up or anything,” I said. “I’ll park my car and I’ll be right back.” And he said, “Well wait a minute. I want to talk to you about something.” So he talked about ten minutes. And when I got down below, there was a tow truck that was going to take my car away. And standing up in the window was Bob Peach and Russ Stevenson, the executive vice president. And so I got the tow truck guy and said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “They called me to tow it away.” I said, “You’re not going to tow that away.” I said, “You’re right in the middle here of a labor dispute.” He talked. So he says, “Listen, I’m getting out of here.” So, you know, but before he did, Bill was upstairs because he was with me -- Bill Scheri from Negotiations -- and Bill came out and he said, “What’s going on?” I said, “This guy’s trying to tow my car, Bill. See them up there?” I said, “I was just going to put it down there, you know?” He says -- so he goes back in, calls. All the mechanics from the 29:00hangar came out into the parking lot and were watching my car to see what was going to happen. We had a couple hundred mechanics going out there.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

PETERPAUL: So the guy took off.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, sure! (laughter)

PETERPAUL: He took off, you know, and then I got my car and drove it over and parked. And the mechanics went back to work. And nobody said nothing.


PETERPAUL: Are you going to fire two hundred mechanics?

DRUMMOND: We can’t fire two hundred mechanics.

PETERPAUL: No. But we had all kinds of incidents like that -- one of my -- when Bill was president of the lodge and John Brush, I think, was our chief steward then and he got elected to go to Grand Lodge Convention.

DRUMMOND: John or --

PETERPAUL: John Brush. He went to the convention and the company said -- the company says you can only have a few days or something. He said, “I’m going for a week. That’s the length of the convention.” So he went. When he came back, they fired him. So he gets -- comes to work -- goes into the hangar, goes 30:00to the shop where he’s working. And he says -- the boss of the mechanics, “I’ve got to send you home. They told me I’ve got to fire you.” All the mechanics went home, too. They all went home.

DRUMMOND: Solidarity.

PETERPAUL: See that’s the way things were done back then -- a lot of militancy which, you know, we enjoyed. I mean, as labor leaders you have to get looked at, to get that kind of dedication and support.

DRUMMOND: So you were chief steward but you never ran -- or did you ever run for any other positions at the local level?

PETERPAUL: No, the -- well, I was a steward and stuff like that.


PETERPAUL: Then I came out and made chief steward. When we created that job, I went from steward to chief steward.


PETERPAUL: And then from chief steward, of course, I went to --

DRUMMOND: General --

PETERPAUL: General chairman.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, general chairman of district lodge.

PETERPAUL: Of District 147.

DRUMMOND: One forty-seven -- which, I believe, started out as 141?

PETERPAUL: Well eventually it went to --

DRUMMOND: Oh, eventually it went to 147?


PETERPAUL: Yeah, 147 was Northeast Airlines, Mohawk Airlines, and we had a whole bunch of stuff in the northeast territory.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And was that an elected position or --


DRUMMOND: Elected to -- okay. What was it like running? Do you -- and let’s just talk about that in general. Have you ever faced any real opposition when running or anybody that you were scared you might not --

PETERPAUL: I was never scared.

DRUMMOND: You were never scared you might not --

PETERPAUL: But just that it was -- it made it costly. It meant you had to spend money. You know, and you don’t have a lot of money to make mailings and stuff like that. We never paid our general chairman a lot of money. In fact, when I was general chairman of 147, we had trouble paying expenses and stuff for traveling because we were pretty broke. But you had to make flyers. Of course I always visited stations so that didn’t bother me. But -- and you had to have 32:00some debates, which never bothered me.


PETERPAUL: But it was just a lot of money out of your pocket that you could have, you know, spent on your family but for democracy purposes you’ve got to run.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

PETERPAUL: You’ve got opposition. But I had a lot of opposition for -- had opposition from running for general chairman. I had opposition the first time I ran for vice president. That’s about it, I think. Those two positions I had strong opposition for both of those, I mean, who were then producing circulars like mine and stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: Well did you ever lose any elections or were you always successful?

PETERPAUL: No, never lost one.

DRUMMOND: You never lost. Okay.

PETERPAUL: Been fortunate.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So you were elected general chairman of District Lodge 147. How did -- what were your new duties in that position? What did -- what --?


PETERPAUL: I was the point man for all the negotiations of the District Lodge contracts. You’re responsible to negotiate those contracts, which is --

DRUMMOND: The contracts that were at Mohawk and the other airlines?

PETERPAUL: And the other airlines, you know, which -- you know -- it gets time-consuming. You’ve got to put out a call for proposals, attend meetings, do all the screening and everything. And then you’ve got to negotiate your contracts. And also you’ve got to do all the arbitration. It’s -- it gets pretty involved.

DRUMMOND: Did you travel a lot with that, because it sounds like you were traveling some with chief steward but did your traveling --

PETERPAUL: It was nothing compared to -- I lived -- I think I lived probably almost my whole adult life on an airplane from when I was a chief steward; not as much as when I was a general chairman. General chairman -- I was constantly either on an airplane, arbitration or negotiations. When I moved to Washington 34:00-- as assistant airline coordinator -- I wasn’t there two months and Bill Winpisinger sent me out to California for seven months to work on a rate we had for the mechanics in United Airlines.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So that would have been ’68 to ’70 when you were assistant airline coordinator?


DRUMMOND: And tell me about going to California. What part of California?

PETERPAUL: Most of it was in -- it was more than that -- but most of it was in Burlingame -- the headquarters.


PETERPAUL: We had -- we had over a dozen thousand mechanics on United Airlines that -- that independent union the AMFA [would raid?]. So we had to ward off that raid. But it involved -- I spent a lot of time during that seven months --

DRUMMOND: So you were gone a long time.

PETERPAUL: Well and I still had work to do in the office sometimes. A lot of times I’d catch the flight Sunday night. I’d fly to San Francisco. And then 35:00Thursday night I’d catch the red eye back to Dulles, spend a day in the office -- spend Friday in the office, go home, spend Saturday at home and most of Sunday and then go back to the airport at 6 o’clock and catch a flight.

DRUMMOND: So what was it like -- so --

PETERPAUL: But I was more -- I had to be a lot at the big bases -- Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, a little bit in Los Angeles but all over the system, but mainly the big areas where I can generate a lot of people and we could have meetings and answer questions and all that kind of --

DRUMMOND: So the AMFA was rating IAM shops?


DRUMMOND: Okay. And I assume it’s aerospace -- aerospace or aviation?


PETERPAUL: AMFA? That stands for Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association.



DRUMMOND: And what were the raids like? What’s -- can you talk a little bit about some of their strategies to get in? Do they start by talking?

PETERPAUL: They tried to work from the inside.


PETERPAUL: In other words, these are all mechanics. We’re you, you know? This machinist -- don’t forget -- they represent aerospace and all that. They don’t care about your interests. You know, that was their whole scheme that that’s Big Brother.


PETERPAUL: And our whole scheme was – yes, we are Big Brother. That’s how we protect you. We’ve got all these interests that we can feed in to you. You know, we’ve got a dozen lawyers in our Legal Department. They spend half of their time with the airlines and stuff like that. So we had, you know -- it’s what happens in politics today -- the same thing.

DRUMMOND: Were there any -- were there ever any points where you thought you 37:00were going to lose a shop or you did lose a shop?

PETERPAUL: I wouldn’t allow myself to think that.

DRUMMOND: Okay, you wouldn’t. Okay.

PETERPAUL: I wouldn’t want to.

DRUMMOND: And it didn’t happen?

PETERPAUL: It didn’t happen. Eventually it did happen –- eventually. When I was vice president of Transportation, we had about 23,000 in the railroads. These are that came under my jurisdiction -- 23,000 in the railroads. We had over 100,000 in the airlines; about 70,000 of those were mechanics.


PETERPAUL: The rest were [rampsers?] and other things.

DRUMMOND: And you were general vice president from ’73 to ’94, so almost twenty years or a little more than twenty years.


DRUMMOND: So do you have a time frame for the raid you’re talking about?

PETERPAUL: It was right after I got to Washington.


PETERPAUL: The first raid -- it was fascinating. I did the first raid.



PETERPAUL: Let’s see -- I came in February of ’59 to Washington -- no, ’64.

DRUMMOND: Sixty-four?

PETERPAUL: Sixty-four. At the end of ’64, the raid occurred. We counted the ballots in December. So we started. I came in February and I went out to California in either May or June.


PETERPAUL: And then three years later, I think it was, they came back -- or it could be four or five. I don’t know. I forget with that time period but then I sent Bill Scheri out to do the same job that I did. And he won also.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So for the four years that you were general chairman for District Lodge 147, you spent a lot of time in California.

PETERPAUL: No, not when I was the general chairman -- when I went to Washington 39:00as assistant airline coordinator.

DRUMMOND: Oh okay. I’m sorry -- as assistant airline coordinator. So in two short years, you were gone for a really big part of that.



PETERPAUL: See, we had an airline coordinator, Frank Heisler. So I was like --

DRUMMOND: And how do you spell his last name?

PETERPAUL: H-E-I-S-L-E-R. He was the airline coordinator that, when I went to Washington in ’64, I went as his assistant. And he was a rascal. He -- I still had office work to do, even when I was running around the country, you know? But there used to be a lot of conflict there because my vice president, Winpisinger used to assign me things and Frank used to get mad, "Wimp, I need him here" -- because Wimp was his boss, too. He said, “Wimp, I need him here.” “Well I’ve got to have him over there.” And I was torn between the two of them and I used to have a hell of a time with Frank because he used to take out his scorn on me thinking I was perpetuating this going around. I just wanted to stay home 40:00with my family if I could.

DRUMMOND: Right, but assistant airline coordinator -- that job took you to DC so you had to move from --

PETERPAUL: Yes, the job that took me to DC.

DRUMMOND: -- from -- Okay, okay. And you moved the family down?


DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. No, but I think it would be difficult to have two supervisors who did not agree on what you -- your priorities should be.

PETERPAUL: (laughter) Yeah.

DRUMMOND: So -- well what other kinds of things would President Winpisinger -- oh I guess he wasn’t president at the time.

PETERPAUL: He was general vice president of transportation.

DRUMMOND: General -- and what other –- why would he send you -- why were you the guy he wanted to send out? What --?

PETERPAUL: I think a lot of it -- like the first time -- I had a pretty decent reputation as a militant, I think, and we negotiated some good contracts, had 41:00some really tough strikes and I was a fresh face. I was in my little corner up in New England, see, up in the Northeast Territory where my District 147 basically was housed. And the only time they came out of there was really Northwest Airlines -- I mean, Northeast Airlines, which was also serving Florida. But most of everything was up in that area. So I was a fresh face on the scene and the war out in California was basically between the old, the new and all this kind of stuff. You know, if there was something -- somebody to blame, there was always something going on. It was a cesspool if I ever saw one. And it was hard for me to grasp because I never saw, you know, people that are supposedly, in my profession, trade unionists, conduct themselves this way. It 42:00was actually a wild scene. I mean, for me it was always about rallying the troops in togetherness. You know, we’ll strive to accomplish our goal.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, I think that the Mohawk plant, just from what you and Bill Scheri have said about it -- that was a very special instance of people just really standing together to get things done.

PETERPAUL: The -- well and we used to do things that, you know, you used to -- you’ve got to unite the people. And, I mean, it’s the small things, like I can remember a time like when I was assistant airline coordinator again. Bill Winpisinger says, “Listen -- the chief steward on TWA just got fired up in Philadelphia at the airport.” He said, “John, you’ve got to go up there and we’ve got to try and save this before it gets out of hand.” So I jump on an airplane and go to Philadelphia. To make a long story short -- because the incident was very minor -- but he was chief steward. He was a symbol in the station. And I told the guy -- I said, “Listen.” I said, “You bring him 43:00back and you bring him back right now.” I said, “If you don’t,” I said, “I’m leaving and everybody is going home with me.” And he says, “You’d never do that.” And I said, “Do you want to test me?” And he calls Dave Crombie, the vice president of Industrial Relations. And Dave gets on the phone.

DRUMMOND: Industrial relations for --



PETERPAUL: Yeah, he wasn’t -- he was out in -- I don’t know if he was in New York or Kansas City but he was the big mahoff we’d deal with. So I get on the phone with him and he says, “John, you’re really serious you’re going to do this?” I said, “Dave -- they’re coming out with me right now because this doesn’t warrant the firing of the chief steward. So they put him back to work. Nobody went home. That incident -- and I had nothing -- I never represented TWA. I had nothing to do with TWA. That was in District 142. But the people in that district were in the industry. I mean, something happens this 44:00minute, two minutes from now it’s all over the system because of their communication system. And I was the biggest thing since ice cream. "Do you know Peterpaul come in here and what he did with that rotten management of ours?" But then it backfired on me because that District Lodge -- where were they, that represented those people? And the guy that was in charge of that District Lodge -- John Schwinn at the time -- they were saying this is a hell of a note. Peterpaul had to come in from Washington and save jobs and you’re sitting out there in Kansas City having a good time and it’s your job to save our jobs. So there's some backfiring. You’ve got to be careful. But, you know, that militancy follows you around. And it even gets into government agencies, like the reputation you gain with the National Mediation Board that, you know, mediates all your disputes, and the management of different corporations. You 45:00know, it’s fascinating, you know, the things that can evolve. And to me that’s why I always, you know –- militancy that’s –- because you look at it now. Look what happened? We represent -- we represented years ago, over 60,000 mechanics. Now we represent -- in all the airlines that we have all these mechanics -- I was a -- on the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training Board; a government agency at the time. We had a beautiful apprentice program for four years. We had it on Eastern Airlines, TWA, United. There is no such thing as an apprentice program no more. Our almost 70,000 mechanics -- right now we’ve got, I think, around 3,000 on US Air; maybe another 1,000 smattered around someplace. So from 70 we’re down to maybe 4,000 mechanics. And don’t forget -- this is the machinists union. We started in that railroad pit in --


DRUMMOND: In Atlanta.

PETERPAUL: In your town.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. So assistant airline coordinator -- it sounds like you did a lot in those two short years which got you the airline coordinator position. And Frank Heisler moved out of that.

PETERPAUL: He retired.

DRUMMOND: He retired. Actually, before we start talking about that, can we go back -- you mentioned strikes and it made me think there was a strike at Mohawk while y'all were there; like maybe five or six years after the union came in.

PETERPAUL: That was -- see, I was elected general chairman. I went there in ’59. I was elected to general chairman. What year was I elected general chairman?

DRUMMOND: You were elected general chairman in ’64.

PETERPAUL: Sixty-four. You should ask Bill this question.

DRUMMOND: I did and that’s why I’m following up with you.

PETERPAUL: Yeah, I don’t know whether it was ’65. I wasn’t too long a 47:00general chairman. It had to be ’65, ’66.

DRUMMOND: But it was your first big strike?

PETERPAUL: That was my first big -- yeah -- and it was over pension.

DRUMMOND: And it was over pension. So what was it like? What was that time like for you?

PETERPAUL: That was very difficult. It was wintertime, right over the Christmas holidays. And, you know, when you see pictures -- these ancient pictures about union workers, strikes, and stuff? You know, Rome, New York and Utica is right up in that snow belt. I mean, back then we used to get 140, 150 inches of snow a year. I mean, you look and here’s these big snow banks. And you see these barrels with the fire in them and the guys, you know, trying to keep warm with picket signs; very disheartening. That was very difficult. I always questioned -- I shouldn’t even say this -- but I always questioned my judgment in that, in leading them in that direction but there was so much injustice there. All the other airlines had negotiated paid pension plans with fixed pension plans. They 48:00all had negotiated that. And this company refused. They said no, we'll only pay half. But everybody else was doing it. Are we second class citizens up here? We make less money. We’ve got less benefits. We’re going to get less pension, too? And I’ve always been a stickler. Every negotiation I had from the day that I started negotiating to the day I retired, I always put a lot of emphasis on health care and pensions for family purposes. You know, generally speaking when you negotiate with these carriers, they sit down and they put so much money in the pot that they’re going to spend on these negotiations. And they can get a lot of benefits for themselves by putting them in different slots. And I sit there and I’ve got a bunch of mechanics. They want to make a ton of money an 49:00hour -- just the young guys. I want to prepare them for the future and I want to negotiate, you know, big pensions, good healthcare for family and stuff, which takes a big bite out of that. And I always had conflict in that area even in my own mind but I never changed my venue. I always pursued that -- pensions and healthcare come before anything. So when I had that Mohawk Airline strike is when that really started putting me to the test because it was over pension. And here it is we had 900 mechanics or whatever it was out on the street over the holidays; families being deprived.

DRUMMOND: It’s cold.

PETERPAUL: Yeah for a pension payment. But the people were so angry at that airline that one of the salvations I had in the whole thing was that they were so angry at the airline it didn’t matter almost what I did because they just -- they had venom flowing from them. They had to get even with this carrier. 50:00They were tired of getting treated like they were nothing. But anyhow that started me on my goal that -- listen, you’ve got to be tough because when you’re doing business with these employers -- these -- I don’t know how else to characterize this but not all of them; you’ve got some nice guys that I bumped into like a Dan May from Republic and some of these guys. But the majority of them are evil. They’re cheap, they steal, they swindle and they do it all on the backs of employees. And they have no feeling, no compassion. So I always felt that way -- that these are evil people. And you get all out of them you can and when you’re negotiating, you push them right to the edge of the table. And the key to it all is -- and we’ve got to have good judgment -- is don’t let it fall off the end of the table but get it as far to that edge to get the biggest benefit you can for the people you represent. And I’ve always, you know, used that as a philosophy and as a goal to do that.


DRUMMOND: And you were successful?

PETERPAUL: Well I hope I was to some degree anyhow.

DRUMMOND: But specifically with the strike you were successful?


DRUMMOND: And got them a good pension and benefits plan?

PETERPAUL: Of course some people measure that as well what you lost and what you gained.

DRUMMOND: What did you lose?

PETERPAUL: We’re talking about wages.


PETERPAUL: What did you gain? The people that I represented were so happy that they got their benefit -- number one -- and number two that they felt like we got even with this carrier for what they did to us -- what they’ve been doing to us.

DRUMMOND: Did the union have strike benefits at that point?


DRUMMOND: Or are were y'all getting help from international?

PETERPAUL: Yeah, we’re getting twenty-five dollars a week.


PETERPAUL: And I had a heck of a time with the international.



DRUMMOND: Were they reluctant to help or --

PETERPAUL: Well they gave me some help. They send up a [GLR?] or two 52:00periodically. But they felt the strike was sort of ridiculous for what was involved. They didn’t have a grasp.

DRUMMOND: You were told that?


DRUMMOND: By someone at headquarters?



PETERPAUL: But they didn’t have a grasp of what was involved. All they seen was this pension program. The workers that are striking see more than this pension program -- a lot more. I think the pension program was probably 25% of the issue.

DRUMMOND: And you said that -- because it’s really -- what I’ve heard is that it’s about respect, because if people are going to have to go out on strike, it’s not so much that they’re not talking or they don’t have anything -- it’s that they feel like you’ve quit listening. You don’t respect the work we do to benefit you; that that’s the point. And that’s what a strike is always really about. Do you think that’s true?

PETERPAUL: I think -- I think it plays a large part in it. There is always this economic thing but I think that plays a large part.


DRUMMOND: Well and you mentioned just in passing earlier that there was a member of management that committed suicide shortly after this --

PETERPAUL: Bob Peach blew his brains out.

DRUMMOND: The same guy who had given you such a hard time --

PETERPAUL: Yeah -- put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

DRUMMOND: So was he just a -- maybe unwell -- maybe or --

PETERPAUL: Well he was an egomaniac. He was a --

DRUMMOND: Did he get fired?


DRUMMOND: Was there something like a --

PETERPAUL: No, what caused it --

DRUMMOND: -- like some sort of trigger?

PETERPAUL: I think what happened was when Mohawk Airlines merged with Allegheny Airlines, that just about destroyed him because this was his; you know, he felt like he owned it. And all of a sudden, here comes this bigger carrier in that’s going to take over all the management and everything else and he’s got to take a lesser role or leave.


PETERPAUL: So he put the gun in his mouth and couldn’t face that.

DRUMMOND: Right. Okay.

PETERPAUL: I think it blew his ego up, you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Okay. Well you mentioned it in passing. I just wasn’t 54:00sure how directly involved it was with -- but that can be -- that can be a big transition for some people. They don’t know how to handle that. So we were about to start talking about your role as airline coordinator, which you got after you were in there just a few short years after -- or after a few short years as assistant airline coordinator; that Heisler retired and you moved on up. So what was airline coordinator like?

PETERPAUL: Well I didn’t travel as much as I did when I was the Assistant. But I did do a lot of travelling. You know, you’ve got to -- we had -- we made it a point that before any strike could occur that usually I would go in; that I wouldn’t let a strike occur within the major carriers unless I could participate to some degree to see what the issue is and see if I could help some to push it over the top. So I had to go into a lot of negotiations. And I got a 55:00lot of appointments and elections and I went to the ITF -- International Transport Workers Federation. I was a member of their Aviation Committee and all kinds of things before I got elected to their board. But there was a lot of things. That’s when they -- I had to go on the Bureau Apprenticeship Training Board. I was the trustee on a lot of pension plans and health and welfare plans; a lot of administration responsibilities.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So do you want to talk a little bit about the International Transport Workers then –- about that you were their -- I guess that was a little later than that. That was ’74 to ’94. That was once you were administrative assistant. So -- and you were only in the Coordinator position for a little over a year and a half.

PETERPAUL: Yeah things evolved there. And I -- you could almost say that when I 56:00became vice president -- see, Wimpy had gone from transportation vice president to resident vice president. And they brought in this GLR, which for a lot of reasons I won’t go into because it’s internal politics. But they brought him in from Texas.

DRUMMOND: Who was it?



PETERPAUL: He only stood there several months. And he didn’t like Washington, D.C. He wanted to go back home. So he went back home and everybody got short-handed then. And what are we going to do for a vice president? And I had -- I had some very, very strong support on the Executive Council from Gene Loder, Frank -- he was Secretary-Treasurer at the time; from Gene, Frank Meager. A lot of the guys came on like gangbusters and said listen, he should have came in here when you brought Blue. The whole question was though, look at -- this 57:00kid just got here and look at all the jobs he’s had. You know, how fast do you move around here? You know, we’re not that fast a moving organization. But I think they almost felt like -- you know, I think some of them felt like they got boxed in. I know Rhett Smith did. (laughter) President of the union at the time. He felt like -- he said, “Well what are we going to do?” You know? So they appointed me and immediately I had an election.

DRUMMOND: Okay and that was for administrative assistant?

PETERPAUL: That was for vice president.

DRUMMOND: For Vice -- oh right because then you were just --

PETERPAUL: I was Coordinator.

DRUMMOND: You were Coordinator.

PETERPAUL: And then I moved -- well this was when I was administrative assistant.

DRUMMOND: Okay -- administrative assistant but you only did that for about two years and then you were appointed general vice president. So really you’d only been in Washington six years before you --

PETERPAUL: Possibly.

DRUMMOND: Thereabouts --

PETERPAUL: If that’s what it is.

DRUMMOND: I’m looking -- if the dates that I’m looking at -- if my math is good.


PETERPAUL: See I was -- Wimpy made me his administrative assistant. And then I carried over to Blue. So then when Blue left, you know, who knew anything about the airlines or anything else? Who’s sitting there? John Peterpaul. As I said, I had some great support on the council because I did a lot of work for these other officers in their territory. And so they sort of knew me pretty well.

DRUMMOND: So when you were appointed general vice president, it was Transportation for Ground Workers for Railroads and Airlines?

PETERPAUL: And I had a role in the trucking thing, too.

DRUMMOND: Trucking, too -- okay.

PETERPAUL: Generally speaking, the regional vice presidents were in charge but I had all the coordinating effort and everything that had to be done. Can I excuse myself to go to the bathroom a minute?

DRUMMOND: Sure, sure.

DRUMMOND: Okay, so we were discussing your appointment to general vice 59:00president. And who appointed -- tell me again who appointed you to that position.

PETERPAUL: Well, the council does.

DRUMMOND: The council. And what is -- for people who might be reading this that isn’t familiar with the administrative structure of the IAM, who’s on the council?

PETERPAUL: At that time, we had -- I believe it was nine. We reduced it after that to seven. But I think at that time it was nine. We had President Red Smith. You had a secretary-treasurer. You had a vice president of transportation. And then all the rest were regional vice presidents; one in the West, one in the Midwest, one in the East, Southeast, you know, things like that. We divvied up the country.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So the executive council is essentially made up of like the highest couple of tiers of administration.

PETERPAUL: It’s the highest tribunal in the --

DRUMMOND: Okay. And so was it an appointment with the understanding that the following years would be by election or --


PETERPAUL: Immediately we had an election coming right out of the chute. I was running for the office. I got appointed in December. I was running. Within a few months I had to start running.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. And is that a job you have to run for every year or --

PETERPAUL: Four years.

DRUMMOND: Every four years. And you did that job for a little over twenty years. So you were elected five times.

PETERPAUL: The first time -- and the first time I had opposition; never had any after that.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And so you moved around a lot your first couple of years there but then you were in the same place for a really long time. What did that job entail? And given that you were there for so long, I’m sure that some of the duties were -- the work changed over time. So can you talk a little bit --?

PETERPAUL: Oh yeah. It changed a lot. The --

DRUMMOND: So can you talk a little bit about what you did when you first got there and maybe some of the changes?

PETERPAUL: Well when you’re vice president, you do everything. You’re in 61:00charge of everything. The direction of where the airlines or the railroads go is dependent upon you, you know; what input you want to do. If you want to be a lazy rascal and sit back and let it govern itself, then you’ve got big troubles. But if you want to take a leadership role, it takes a lot of effort because you’re involved in everything. I mean, you’ve got to make the day-to-day decisions on whether it’s organizing, collective bargaining, you name it. And you’re responsible for it. And when the Council meets and things are wrong, they want to know what you did.


PETERPAUL: So -- but -- and we took on a lot. I mean, the jobs I didn’t want to have but I did it for the benefit of the Machinists Union, like when I got elected chairman of the Railroad Labor Executive Association. I needed that job like I needed a hole in the head because it was time-consuming. And I was dealing head-to-head with the president so all these egomaniacs of all these other railroad unions. And I mean, there was a bunch of them. I mean, whenever 62:00we had a meeting, it was the president of every railroad union and the AFL-CIO. It could drive you nuts. I mean, but you know I did that for two or three years. I forgot what it was. It wasn’t that long.

DRUMMOND: Was that the Railway Labor Executive Association?

PETERPAUL: Executive Association.

DRUMMOND: Yeah that was ’76 to ’78 you were chairman.

PETERPAUL: And you know, we had to coordinate collective bargaining then, too, and a whole bunch of stuff.

DRUMMOND: Because when you sign a contract with the railroad, everybody signs at the same time and --

PETERPAUL: The shop -- yeah –

DRUMMOND: Those are -- yeah -- those were the biggest contracts we have at the Labor Archives. They’re huge. And they cover -- they cover so much. And so it was difficult --

PETERPAUL: This was different than that. I mean, that was a side issue. All our shop crafts got together -- five shop crafts. We tried joint negotiations a couple times but sometimes they blew up. Who deserted it? I mean, somebody would start with it and all of a sudden they’re in the back room cutting a deal and it’s lesser than what y'all all agreed to. They’d cut the legs off from 63:00under you. I mean, you had a lot of that going on but the RLEA was every union -- not even -- not just those with the shop crafts; every union brotherhood -- whether they were the clerks, the carmen, the whole bunch of them.

DRUMMOND: And getting everybody on the same page was difficult?

PETERPAUL: (laughter) Are you kidding? These are presidents of unions now.

DRUMMOND: Right, right, right. So what were some of the main difficulties? Could you just not agree on the terms of the contract or did some people want more than other people or were they --

PETERPAUL: No. When you take the negotiation with the shop crafts, basically everybody was on the same page when it come to benefits and things like that. One of the things that helped blow it up is the side issues because different crafts had some different issues. And, you know, those could blow up 64:00negotiations. And you’d end up going to the employers and saying listen, solve his problem so that we can all get a solution.


PETERPAUL: And we’d run into all kinds of problems like that. In fact, I got in trouble one time with my colleagues because it was the Maintenance Away. Jeff Zay was in charge of Maintenance Away at the time. I liked Jeff. He could have been a lot stronger, you know? I remember when he was a lawyer for Bill Mahoney -- for Heisler and Mahoney. And then he went over and took over the -- got elected president of that organization -- but they treat them like dirt. They’re the contract workers on the railroads because all they do is take care of the track and everything. And they beat them to death. They contract out work from underneath them and, you know, there’s so much disrespect it’s pathetic. And he had an issue. I forgot what it was at the time. And Chuck Hopkins was Chief Negotiator for the railroad. And everybody had a deal but 65:00Jeff. And of course we’re the largest of the shop crafts. We’ve got the most in the machinists' union. And I refused to sign it until they resolved Jeff’s thing. And I was holding up negotiations because everybody was ready to sign it and that was Jeff. I said no, I’m not signing it. I’m not signing it until Jeff -- we come in here with a common goal. And I said and I believe in his issue. I said I’m not even, you know, a trainman like he is; I mean, brotherhood Maintenance Away, I says. But I appreciate his issue. And I think he’s so right that I’ve got to support him. I’m not signing no deal with anybody until this issue is resolved. I used to get in things like that. You know, that rut -- that used to get me into, this righteous stuff. It used to get me in so much trouble at times (laughter) because --

DRUMMOND: Yeah how did that go over? I mean, did you end up getting what -- did you end up --

PETERPAUL: Members liked it but the other unions a lot of times didn’t like it.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Well I guess let’s talk for a minute because you were 66:00in -- throughout your career with all the different positions you held with the IAM, moving from your local all the way up to headquarters -- you were also on the United Airlines -- I’m sorry -- I’m going backwards; the Labor Department Apprenticeship Council from ’70 to ’73, which would have been in DC. What did you do -- what did you do with them? Was it just a lot of --

PETERPAUL: Which one you mentioning now -- the Commission?

DRUMMOND: The Labor Department Apprenticeship Council.

PETERPAUL: Oh the Labor Department Apprentice -- Bureau of Apprentice Training.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Because I know the IAM has a strong apprenticeship program.

PETERPAUL: We managed -- we helped negotiate and manage all the apprenticeship programs.

DRUMMOND: Okay -- for the IAM or in the DC area or --?

PETERPAUL: Mainly it was for all the airlines.

DRUMMOND: Okay, for all the airlines.

PETERPAUL: Like we got involved in issues like -- a hot issue was, when a fellow 67:00is in the military and is an aircraft mechanic, and let’s say for three years -- what kind of credit can we give him, because back then to get an A&P license for the airline to hire you, you had to have four years to take the test. What kind of credit -- and it was important because the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training then could use their influence with the FAA to make these different regulations. So what kind of credit can we give a military guy who worked for three years -- extensive work on it -- into an apprenticeship training program or directly to get an A&P power plant, you know, license with the FAA? So it was issues like that that we were dealing with all the time.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Okay. And you already talked a little bit about the RLEA --


DRUMMOND: Then International Transport Workers Federation general vice president. And it says ’74 to ’94.

PETERPAUL: A long time. I was always there. I always had a --


DRUMMOND: Who -- who -- is this its own organization?

PETERPAUL: Big organization.

DRUMMOND: And what is it -- what is the sort of mission --

PETERPAUL: Several million members.

DRUMMOND: -- of this organization?

PETERPAUL: It’s actually just like a union.


PETERPAUL: A trade union.


PETERPAUL: It’s housed in its headquarters in London, England.


PETERPAUL: And it serves all transportation workers.


PETERPAUL: Air, land, sea.

DRUMMOND: Anywhere in the world.

PETERPAUL: Anywhere in the world.


PETERPAUL: The -- we used to meet. We had two scheduled meetings a year plus then you’d have something else -- emergencies. But we always had one meeting at the headquarters in England. And then the other one -- we rotated along that with different countries, like this fall we meet in Japan; next fall maybe in Lima, Peru; and places like that, and trying to do it when we had these -- one of the meetings -- when we went to foreign countries. We tried to do it in 69:00association with some big labor event they had so we could participate and also perpetuate our own interests.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. And were you always in organized areas? Were you always in places where -- I mean, the Transport Workers Federation -- did you assist only union groups or did you also –- was it also for workers who maybe were not parts of --

PETERPAUL: Oh we always tried to organize. Organizing -- yeah -- and like with the sea ferriers; at that time there was Paul Hall, and the longshoremen -- Teddy Gleason. We worked very closely with them. We’d try to establish these seamen -- almost like a hotel at these different ports -- so when these seamen come off their ships and stuff they’d have a place to go and something to do. We tried to put them in different ports all over whether they’re organized or 70:00not just for the benefit of the seamen. Yeah, we did a lot of things like that, a lot of organizing.


PETERPAUL: Got involved deeply, too, in democracy. I was supposed to go to like Colombia. I had to laugh at that because at that time down in Colombia they were, you know, kidnapping everybody. And it was about workers’ rights in Colombia. And myself and Teddy Gleason were supposed to go. We got canceled out and under my breath I was happy because, you know, like I told my wife, I says can you imagine that little dumpy Italian union leader going down to Colombia. I said I wonder what the heck he’s going to be worth when they contact the government. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Let’s go ahead and finish talking about these sort of 71:00external positions you held outside and then we’ll come back and finish up with general vice president. So you were president of [Clinton?] National Airline Commission from -- during ’93.

PETERPAUL: Yeah that was a lot of fun.

DRUMMOND: It was a lot of fun?

PETERPAUL: Yeah, that --

DRUMMOND: Because the way you look doesn’t really tell me that you thought it was a lot of fun.

PETERPAUL: It was very difficult. I was in -- I was swimming up a river all by myself because you had, at that meeting, like on that commission, when you look at the members --

DRUMMOND: Well what was the purpose of putting this commission together?

PETERPAUL: Bill Clinton put it together because the airlines were in a mess. And you’ll see the name of the commission -- I can’t remember at all -- but there is a big, long name. It was supposed to solve all the problems in the airline industry. And it was commissioned to do something. And on the commission you had Steve Wolf from United -- chairman of United Airlines. What was his name 72:00from American Airlines? I fought with him so much. But you had all these guys -- all the chairmen of these airlines -- president of the airlines -- sitting around this table.

DRUMMOND: Were you the only union representative?

PETERPAUL: Well you might as well say that because the other guy was a pilot.


PETERPAUL: Alva. Randy Babbitt was there. And like I told him he should have stayed home because for all it mattered to me. The pilots, you know -- they weren’t helping our cause at all. But well as a result of it, I’m the only one that disagreed with the commission. That’s when I wrote that report.

DRUMMOND: Okay, okay. The report --

PETERPAUL: Randy Babbitt signed it, you know, but I had -- I had more arguing and fighting. And these guys were highly educated guys but they had no sensitivity to workers or anything like that. I -- that was the evil people I’m talking about.

DRUMMOND: Right, right, right.


PETERPAUL: I hate to characterize anybody, you know, but anyway that’s the way I felt. That was a very difficult task. And I had a difficult time writing that report. And I had to use three or four guys to help me outside. I mean, everything in there is my ideas and what I wanted to say but to phrase it right I had problems with that because I had to put it in an educated form, which I’m usually, you know, a nuts and bolts person. I’m not that type of writer. So I had to have some help writing it.

DRUMMOND: And for any future uses of the oral history, just they can know that a copy of that will be --

PETERPAUL: Oh yeah that’s a public record.

DRUMMOND: -- available at the archive. And it’s a public record as well. So --

PETERPAUL: Just that when I printed that, it was funny because I did that black cover. And our printer Kelly at the time -- the union printer -- he says, “John.” He says, “This is tough to make this black. Do you know how much ink and --.” He says, “You know, I can’t -- you can’t use black paper 74:00with white. You’ve got to use white paper and then blank with black.” And so I said I’ve got to have a black cover because that portrays what I’m saying.

DRUMMOND: Well did the commission overall accomplish what it was tasked to --

PETERPAUL: It accomplished nothing.


PETERPAUL: I don’t think it accomplished anything.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And was its lifespan just the like maybe six months that I see here or did it continue on?

PETERPAUL: It was supposed to but it only went about six months and that was the end of it.


PETERPAUL: You had all these presidents of these airlines. You think they were going to agree on anything?


PETERPAUL: They don’t agree on anything in life. What are they going to agree sitting around a table?

DRUMMOND: Right. And so you all came together just to come up with better ways to make the airlines function or --

PETERPAUL: Function better; economically feasible -- --

DRUMMOND: In cooperation more -- okay.

PETERPAUL: -- but we got into everything. We got into manufacturing as you’ll see in the report. We got into not only the airline operation itself but the 75:00manufacturing of airplanes and everything. And back then at that time the only airline getting -- well British Aircraft Corporation -- the consortium with the French and the British -- was the only one getting subsidized. And it was so unfair. They were actually bidding contracts with some of their airplanes -- the U.S. carrier against Boeing. And Boeing couldn’t compete because they were subsidized with the British airplanes -- the AC111 and all those. And so I got into that in my report.

DRUMMOND: And did President Clinton -- it was his commission. But do you know what his reaction was to what happened with the commission? Did you ever hear anything?

PETERPAUL: I never heard anything. I don’t remember. Of course he gave it a favorable report that, you know, that he appreciated everybody’s work and 76:00you’ve got to strive to do these things, whatever the recommendations were. I had to laugh because somebody told me -- and I’m trying to remember who it was -- that they mentioned in a meeting at the White House about the minority report (laughter) -- my report -- and they asked Clinton did he read it. And he said, “I did.” He said, “That’s very interesting.” He said, “But man I can’t do -- ” He said, “I don’t care if I agree with anything there. There’s nothing I can do with it.” Politics.

DRUMMOND: Politics -- yeah. Well you were general vice president for Transportation -- ground transportation -- when a lot of important things happened, including deregulation of the airline industry in the late '70s. So can you talk a little bit about that -- your feelings about that?

PETERPAUL: I testified more times about deregulation in Congress, before the Civil Aeronautics Board. I was totally against deregulation because I felt it 77:00would perpetuate itself -- you know, the big would eat the small.

DRUMMOND: And what’s happened?

PETERPAUL: And they put a lot of airlines out of business and stuff like that. It’s all happened. I mean, I testified I don’t know how many times back in those days before Jimmy -- he got beat -- was head of the House Aviation Committee -- Jimmy, the Congressman from out west -- something -- I can’t remember that -- and also in the Senate. I appeared so much before them it was pathetic. I used to have a lot of fun with that. You know, that’s one of the things I enjoyed is appearing because I used to have a lot of like -- when I would testify, one of my biggest antagonists was a Congressman. His name was -- 78:00it rhymed with Messerschmidt. So I used to call him Messerschmidt. “My name’s not Messerschmidt.” I said I’m sorry. Two minutes later I said, “Well Congressman Messerschmidt,” you know. It used to drive him nuts. But, you know, I see also that it’s almost like a farce in a lot of sense because I think I was the only guy that when I would say something and I didn’t have a document or something about it. They’d ask me to supply it. I’d supply it. But everybody else that testified. “Will you supply it?” “Yeah, I’ll supply it.” I go to find their document. Nobody ever supplied any documents or followed up on anything. I was the only one!

DRUMMOND: So did you feel like it was important in your role as general vice president in the IAM to be a person testifying -- or were you asked to or did you volunteer or did you insist that they hear your side of things?

PETERPAUL: Generally speaking -- we were generally speaking asked because we had 79:00such a constituency and we had such big mouths because we did have some support. And those that supported us on the committee weren’t going to let a hearing go without bringing us there because they knew what our position would be beforehand. In fact, a lot of them used to supply us with information that we could use in our testimony. So, no -- generally speaking we were invited.


PETERPAUL: We were invited to the commission -- Clinton’s commission. He wanted labor on there.


PETERPAUL: And he told us -- and bring the machinists. And so, you know --

DRUMMOND: How do you prepare to talk in –- like what would be like in-house at the IAM to prepare to go in front of Congress? What -- I mean, because then a part of it is the day-to-day and just what you know because of your day-to-day work, but do you have people who sit you down and say these are the key points or that, you know, help you --


PETERPAUL: Would you believe 90% of it is experience, really?


PETERPAUL: It’s what you’re encountering on the job and taking that and putting it to words. And you go to the books when you need some facts and figures.


PETERPAUL: But other than that, and I always found out that I never wanted somebody to do this for me because I couldn’t -- they weren’t using my language. And I wanted to be -- not vulgar or anything -- but sort of layman, sort of earthy to --

DRUMMOND: Colloquial.

PETERPAUL: -- express myself. Yeah I represent workers. I want to be one of them and I want to show them that, hey, listen this is a worker here that knows what’s going on and trying to tell you.

DRUMMOND: Instead of using language they might not understand.

PETERPAUL: Yeah I used to get sometimes a lawyer or one of our lawyers to write something for me. I had to redo it all because I couldn’t even, from a written text -- I didn’t even know where to put the punctuations or where to pause or anything like -- I had to do it myself. Then I knew. The way I wrote my speeches 81:00and stuff because most of them I did longhand on an airplane. And I wrote them in, you know, phrases. So I knew when to stop, when to continue, where to put emphasis, you know, where I wanted to put an emphasis on something I’d put a little star there, you know, to bang it home. So that’s the way I usually have prepared for. But it’s like -- I think it’s all experience anyway. When you’ve been around that long and you have all these experiences, and it’s easy to talk about. It’s easy to talk about the plight of a mechanic. It’s easy to talk about how the airline conducts itself when you’re, you know, dealing in business with them every day of the week. I mean, it’s -- you know what’s going on. And you know where the evil is. You get big disappointments. I’ll never forget that when Carl Icahn took over TWA -- boy this got me! I 82:00told him. I say -- I got to know Carl Icahn. I said, Carl -- why do you want -- airlines don’t make no money. And I says, “You’re a money hog.” I said, “Airlines don’t make no money.” I says, “Why do you want this airline?” He was fighting to control it. He says, “John, we did some paperwork on it.” And he says, “I see all this revenue coming in the front door.” He says, “Do you know how much money?” I said "I know how much money they take in every year." He says, “Well -- and what’s coming out of the back door for shareholders? There’s nothing. But all this money coming in here, nothing going out here.” He says, “Let me tell you something. There’s that big chunk of money. I want to get my hands on it.” He says, “And I think I can get my hands on that money and make a lot of money.” And he did. And the way he did it was he bought that airline -- well he got control of it -- he sold everything that wasn’t bolted to the floor. He sold tugs on the ramp. He sold all the equipment and everything and then leased it back. And 83:00then they ended up going in bankruptcy. That’s the way they operate.


PETERPAUL: That’s like not -- being political; like a Bain Capital is a Carl Icahn. That’s what they do, these corporate -- these -- whatever, I forget what you call those now -- those investment companies like that. But, you know, he put right up front what he was going to do and everybody knew it, he got away with it.

DRUMMOND: And the president that was so pro-deregulation -- Jimmy Carter?


DRUMMOND: Or maybe not pro-deregulation, but it happened during his administration.

PETERPAUL: Yeah I think he just did nothing. He didn’t -- the main propeller of that was Kahn -- I'm trying to remember his first name. He was a member of the CAB. Boy he and I crossed swords. I can’t remember his first name but his 84:00last name was K-A-H-N. They call him the father of deregulation because he lasted for years -- even when deregulation was proven to be a failure. He was still out there supporting it. Albert Kahn.


PETERPAUL: Albert or Alfred -- one or the other. Albert or Alfred Kahn.

DRUMMOND: Okay. And were you politically involved at that level in terms of the machinists and who they were backing because I know that --

PETERPAUL: We always were. The machinists are very political.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, but I mean were you personally involved with -- because with Carter running again but Kennedy also tried to be on the Democratic ballot. And then --


PETERPAUL: I had to introduce Carter. We have our Machinists’ Nonpartisan Political League. And we invite all the candidates to speak at our MNPL. I was the junior council member at the time. A council member has to introduce the candidate. And it was funny because I had to introduce Jimmy Carter because nobody else did. He’s not going to win nothing. What’s this? You do it -- Peterpaul! You’re low on the totem pole.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

PETERPAUL: So I did some homework on the guy and I wrote -- they said I had to do five minutes' introduction. And they wanted everybody to do five minutes so it looked like you’re treating everybody fairly. I did the five minutes. When I got through and he came up to the podium, he shook my hand and he was like, 86:00dumbfounded. He just looked at me and couldn’t say a word. So I went back and sat down and he watched me as I went and sat down. And then I couldn’t figure out what that was all about. Then this guy came up to me afterwards. And he said, “I want to thank you for that introduction.” He says, “You dumbfounded,” he said, “the candidate.” He said, “He never heard words about him like that before.” (laughter)

DRUMMOND: What did you say?

PETERPAUL: (laughter) I don’t remember. But, you know, I just -- you give him praise. I mean, he’s a candidate. He’s a Democratic candidate.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

PETERPAUL: So you praise him.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Now was this the first –-

PETERPAUL: This was in the primary so this is not -- this is when they were all stumbling over each other.

DRUMMOND: Was this when he was going up for re-election, though?

PETERPAUL: No, this was initial.

DRUMMOND: They were in the first one -- okay.

PETERPAUL: Yeah this is the first time out of the chute.

DRUMMOND: Okay. That makes a little more sense then -- him being dumbfounded.

PETERPAUL: No, I never had any conversation or dialog with him after that -- just that introduction to our conference. But if you ever saw the dumb look on his face! (laughter)


DRUMMOND: Well and then I know the machinists -- again when Carter was going up for re-election but Kennedy also threw his hat in his ring for nominee -- Ted Kennedy. But Reagan won. And of course Reagan might not have wooed the machinists but he definitely wooed the air traffic controllers.


DRUMMOND: And fired them this month thirty-one years ago. Do you have any --

PETERPAUL: They got what they deserved for supporting him.

DRUMMOND: I was going to say -- do you have anything to say about that! And clearly you do. So do –- it’s just always interesting for me to hear from other union people about that because, you know, I hear a lot from historians and people who were working on, you know, their papers or their dissertations and I’ve talked to some of the PATCO guys, too. But it’s always interesting. And then, of course, if you talk to Republicans, they say they got what they 88:00deserve. Not for that reason -- the reason you stated. And then if you talk to Democrats, they say oh, the poor air traffic controllers -- they should have never been fired. But other unions --

PETERPAUL: They shouldn’t have been fired but, I mean, I’m being facetious when I say that. I got upset when they endorsed him.

DRUMMOND: Because they made it very public.

PETERPAUL: I couldn’t understand it. I -- you know, I don’t understand things like that; you know, when working people do crazy things. Of course in Florida here, all the working people do crazy things here. I don’t understand Florida myself. But that -- that was a sorry situation.

DRUMMOND: Eleven -- over 11,000 people. And then perhaps more directly related to the machinists –- what that seemed to do was give corporations a little more -- it made them less afraid to deal with strikers the same way that the federal government had, which leads us up to -- if you don’t mind talking 89:00about the Eastern Strike.

PETERPAUL: I’ve got to reflect my memory on that, you know. That was a long, long time ago. But I was deeply involved in that. That --

DRUMMOND: Twenty-three years -- twenty-three --

PETERPAUL: They -- I spent a lot of time in Florida, they -- on that strike. I had to do a lot of behind the scenes stuff because, quite candidly, my front man was always Bill Scheri.


PETERPAUL: Bill Scheri. I had put -- Bill was in negotiation across the table and everything but Charlie Bryan couldn’t do it himself -- in fact, truth be known, Bill Winpisinger didn’t -- he wished he could have took Charlie Bryan out of it, but Charlie Bryan was popular with the people. He had to keep Charlie Bryan in the forefront but Bill was the control more or less of Charlie Bryan where we had to keep control of Charlie so it didn’t get to be a disastrous 90:00situation. But all the serious stuff was done by Frank Borman like when they were negotiating with --

DRUMMOND: Because the strike started when Frank Borman was still in charge.


DRUMMOND: And it only later went to Lorenzo.


DRUMMOND: Okay. So I’m sorry, I interrupted you.

PETERPAUL: But anyhow the -- during all those -- it seems like we were negotiating down there with Borman for 100 years -- and Bill Usery -- my buddy, Bill Usery.

DRUMMOND: He’s a good guy.

PETERPAUL: The -- like when they were negotiating at the Diplomat Hotel -- there was Eastern Airlines and Duane Andrews was in charge of Eastern Airlines. Charlie Bryan and Bill were over at the hotel. I was across the street in a motel with Frank Borman. And they’d send over issues and stuff and then I’d argue with Frank, you know, what to do about it and then he’s send it back and, you know, he was cagey. He’d tell Duane, “Now make sure you fight like hell but then give in like a good guy.” You know, that kind of stuff. But 91:00there were things you couldn’t -- Bill used to get upset with Charlie Bryan because you couldn’t settle an issue with Charlie Bryan. If, you know, if there was -- if ten was on the table and the company wanted to give four, and they compromised with seven and everybody agreed, the next day Charlie would come back and want ten. (laughter) The company just -- Frank Borman just -- and I don’t know how else to say it -- just wanted to refuse to do business with him because he didn’t have any trust in Charlie, which made the whole thing difficult. Of course, then when you get to Lorenzo, that’s altogether a different ballgame. But we had a lot of tough times there. I had tough times with Frank, too. I can remember one time in his office we were upstairs on the -- and he’s got a desk like this; his desk is an open desk, beautiful, French-designed -- one of these flimsy things with four legs, you know? And 92:00I’m with Bill Usery in the hallway and Bill’s -- you know, they’re talking about give-backs. There was no strike at the time -- just negotiating; talking about give-backs. And he says, “Frank Borman,” he said, “Frank says he’s got to buy airplanes. He’s got to buy -- ” I forget; it was like twenty-one or something airplanes. I said are you serious, Bill. He says, “Yeah.” So I said we’ve got to go and talk to him. So we go in his office and I said, “Frank -- he just told me this.” “Yeah, I’ve got to have those.” I said, “You can’t afford to pay the bills. You can’t do nothing and you’re talking about spending how many millions of dollars on new airplanes?” I said, “You’re out of your goddamn mind on that!” Beating on the table, I hit my fist. The table broke in half! It broke in half! He jumped. Usery didn’t know what to do. He jumped up screaming at me and everything, walked out of the office and left me all alone in there. And all his 93:00guys were standing in the hallway because my guys were down the other end. And his guys, you know, they were taking a break because we were talking. And they’re out in the hallway going, “What the hell is going on here?” And they see me in the office there standing up and Frank running down the hallway screaming and Usery don’t know what to do. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Right. I wouldn't have known what to do!

PETERPAUL: So I just walked out and walked back to my guys. And they said, “What happened, John?” I said we just had a dispute. He wants to buy airplanes and I said, you know, I just can’t see it with his financial condition. I respected what the competition is.

DRUMMOND: Right. Well did you ever deal with Eddie Rickenbacker?

PETERPAUL: No, that’s --

DRUMMOND: You didn’t? Okay. Okay. Because something that Bill said in his interview -- Bill Scheri -- was that Eddie Rickenbacker really understood airlines and understood how to run an airline.

PETERPAUL: Yeah well he had a good reputation.

DRUMMOND: And had a -- yeah, and had a -- yeah and then Borman --

PETERPAUL: Borman was -- Borman was a last resort. Now they -- they were --

DRUMMOND: I’ve done –- okay, I’m sorry. I’ve done a lot of interviews in 94:00the last few days. It could have been one of my other interviews. But someone in (laughter) the last three interviews I’ve done in the last two days said that, so -- and I’m attributing it to Bill Scheri but he may not have been the one.

PETERPAUL: The -- Borman came there. He was an astronaut. The biggest thing about Frank was he was an astronaut. They needed that figurehead, they needed that publicity because it was done. Before it started -- all these negotiations and ended up with Lorenzo -- the airline was basically in deep trouble. It would take almost a miracle to pull it out. And they tried to rely on the employees to do it but -- and the employees did make a great sacrifice down there -- but you couldn’t expect the employees to go as deep as they wanted them to to bail the airline out because they would have been working for almost nothing. So, I mean, you know it was mission impossible right from the very start. And I don’t think Frank wanted this. Frank knew Lorenzo’s reputation. But nobody else 95:00would step in there and he was desperate. He was desperate and he had stockholders on him. And that’s how Lorenzo got a hold of it. Borman was [a character?]. I sort of liked him. He -- I remember one time I was avoiding him. We were in Washington in the Embers. And I’m with his Eastern Airlines negotiating committee that came into town. And we were talking. And he had called me. “I’ve got to talk to you. I’m in town.” I said, “Frank, I can’t talk to you. I can’t do it now.” I said, “Maybe later tonight or something. I can’t.” “I’ve got to do it now!” I said, “I can’t. Frank -- that’s it. I can’t talk to you now.” This and that. So I’m meeting with Jimmy Cage and the Eastern Airline guys. This was before Charlie Bryan. So we go across the street. Charlie Bryan defeated Jimmy Cage and took that job. So we go -- we go across the street to the Embers Restaurant. We’re sitting around. There are seven or eight of us. Who walks in but Borman? He says, “I’ve got to talk -- I’ve got to talk to you.” I said, “Frank, I’m busy in a meeting right now,” in a restaurant with a lot of people. “I’ve got to talk!” He puts his foot on the arm of the chair and stands on 96:00the table in the middle of the restaurant. “I told you -- I’ve got to talk to you now!” (laughter) So we went back to the table in the corner and talked. I forget what it was about or anything else, but crazy hyena. I used to get a kick out of him.

DRUMMOND: Well before he turned the airline over to Lorenzo, did you ever deal with Lorenzo when he was in Texas?

PETERPAUL: You know, very faintly -- very faintly in Texas. I think I had one or two conversations with him. And then afterwards, after all, I never talked to him during the strike or anything else. He was untouchable. He was so well protected. Then after it was all over with, years go by. I get a call to have lunch with him. I forgot where it was.

DRUMMOND: Were you still with the union?

PETERPAUL: I was vice president.


PETERPAUL: We went to that restaurant. And I forgot the restaurant -- over in 97:00Georgetown, the Four Seasons or something. I said all right. He said, “I’ve got to do it at breakfast if you don’t mind, John.” I said all right. I said I’ll see you there in the morning. So I said, “What time, Frank?” “Nine o’clock.” So I go over there and when I walked in the restaurant, his guy was standing there. He had another guy standing over by the (laughter) -- he had armed guards! And he wanted to get back in the airline business. I forgot what he wanted to do. It was very iffy but he had a couple things on his mind. And I said, “Frank, let me just be honest with you.” I said, “I don’t appreciate even being here.” And I said, “I don’t appreciate you even asking me this.” I said, “Because there is no God darned way in hell that I’d give you any bit of help.” I said, “If you were laying in the street 98:00dying,” I said, “I wouldn’t give you a breath of air.” I said, “You’re an evil person. I can’t help you.” I said, “I never will help you.” And I got up and walked out.

DRUMMOND: I’m not sure why he thought you would be the person to call to ask him.

PETERPAUL: Well I was an airline guy and he was looking to try to circumvent the union somehow so I don’t know. I don’t understand the man myself. The guy that done business with I know is fascinating -- down there on -- what airline was they had in Texas? [Both?] a service carrier. But the guy who dealt business --

DRUMMOND: Was it Texas Air?

PETERPAUL: It could have been; something like that. But the guy who dealt business with him down there -- Manny Rogers -- used to negotiate for District 146, I think it was. I forget if it was Manny or JD, but one or the other -- they used to have -- they said they had a decent relationship; used to get 99:00pretty decent contracts. But not when he moved to Eastern.

DRUMMOND: So what impacted that half for the IAM -- like losing all those jobs?

PETERPAUL: Well that was -- that had a big impact because you’re talking not only about jobs -- you’re talking about people being out of work in the Florida economy; you know, especially back then. A lot of it was seasonal. And one of the most stable -- even though it did fluctuate -- one of the most stable was the airlines because you just can’t park an airline and lay everybody off and then say well come on back in the fall, fellows.


PETERPAUL: You can’t do things like that. So it was critical to the community. But most of it was in the smaller communities it really hurt. But most of it was in Miami where there is a bigger aviation community to help absorb a lot of those people. So -- but still it’s a sad situation, especially when you get 100:00like that.

DRUMMOND: Well do you think the membership saw maybe weakness in the IAM because they weren’t able to get to a good contract or do you think it was widely recognized that the problem was --

PETERPAUL: They recognized that. They -- everybody knew it was up. It was a financial problem.


PETERPAUL: In fact, everybody knew, too, that -- you know, Charlie Bryan used to come to me and he’d stand up and clap and everything else but all the leadership and everything down there (laughter) they knew that, you know, it was a mission impossible and that he was blowing a lot of air; you know, the rah-rah-rah, let’s go get ’em. There was nothing to get! (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Right, right. At that point there was nothing to get. Okay. And then moving ahead a little, NAFTA -- so you were on Clinton’s National Airline Commission but also he worked hard to pass NAFTA, which I know that in general organized labor was not happy with.



DRUMMOND: So can you talk about perhaps the difficulty of having a Democratic president who wants to do something –- who had the support of labor to get elected and then he wants to do something that labor is against?

PETERPAUL: But that was more or less –- I mean, we played a role in it but that was more or less out of our hands. That was -- you know -- the AF of L, the presidents of all the unions. They’re the ones that gave -- you know -- really shook the sabers on that one. I mean, we didn’t have much to do with that other than rallying our troops, write letters and, you know, get out your protests.

DRUMMOND: To no avail.

PETERPAUL: Yeah the big dialog had to come from the Federation and, you know, the Executive Council and all the union presidents. We do have some limitations down in the middle of the hierarchy (laughter) but it’s -- you know --

DRUMMOND: Okay. Anything else about your time as general vice president because 102:00I had a few very specific questions because you covered so much time? But is there anything that we didn’t cover -- maybe strikes other than Eastern or any other big administrative or --

PETERPAUL: There are just so many incidents. I don’t know how to --

DRUMMOND: -- legislative; where to start?

PETERPAUL: Yeah, there are just so many. I mean, the different episodes we had and the relationships like with Republic Airlines and all these other situations and instances that -- you know, don’t forget -- I was around for fifty years.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

PETERPAUL: You know, I’m surprised I’m remembering what I am!

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

PETERPAUL: I’ve got to tell my wife because she says I can’t remember nothing.

DRUMMOND: Well but you said the job itself changed over the twenty years that you held it.

PETERPAUL: Well not that much with me. I -- you know -- because I kept the same path and things. But I saw it mainly when Bill took over because I was in -- 103:00well I saw that the -- after I had left because when I retired, George Kourpias came to me. He said, “You’ve got to be on the Board of Directors of United Airlines.”

DRUMMOND: Yeah, that –-

PETERPAUL: I said no, I don’t want to be on the Board of Directors of United Airlines. He said, “You’ve got to be on the Board of Directors of United Airlines. You know all about these [ESOP?] programs, stock options.” He says, “You’re the one that’s negotiated all that with TWA and all those people.” And he says, you know, “Or the employee thing with United Airlines.” He says, you know, “You’ve got to go on the board.” And I said well -- I wasn’t feeling good because I just had heart surgery. So I said all right because I negotiated. George called me back. I was out on sick leave with heart surgery and George calls me and says, “I want you in negotiations in United Airlines.” I had to go down to Georgetown. And I don’t know why they went down to the hotel there and negotiate. And boy I was -- that was the 104:00roughest negotiation I had in my life because every time we’d break -- they were going around the clock -- but every time we’d get a couple hours, I’d run to my room and try to get a nap or something. I was just so frustrated and hurting so bad. But we got through it. And then after that it was the board thing. I negotiated the board thing so he says you’ve got to take the board thing. I said I don’t want the board thing. I had too much. I said I want to go home. I said I don’t want nothing to do with anything. But I did.

DRUMMOND: And you did it for eight years it looks like.

PETERPAUL: Yeah and you know something? It was quite an experience. I’m sort of glad I did it, especially after I got more of my health back. It was an experience dealing with these CEOs from all these other industries. I wish I had taken notes and had the capability to write a book or something because it gave me such an insight into other people, other industries, the way they think. It 105:00was probably the greatest education I ever got serving on that board. I had a lot of good experiences; a lot of bad experiences on that board -- a bad experience with the US Air merger when they tried to merge. United Airlines had a lot of smart people and I forgot the name of the guy -- the scheduler. But he had shown me if this merger came about -- then US Air was in trouble. US Air was my airline. That’s where Mohawk Airlines ended up. And I looked at that and I said boy I wish we could do something. And I didn’t perpetuate this. United did it because they wanted the Northeast Corridor mainly. That was -- you know -- that was US Air. So I put my foot in the water and I said I think it’s a good thing. When he showed me this route-over system that put United over US Air 106:00and look at these routes and the competition, I mean, they were going to put everybody else out of business if it ever materialized. We had American flying a couple flights a week like from Boston to Seattle. With the feed-in US Air had they could swamp that market. They knew how many -- they know how many people leave every city, every airline, every city. They know it down to the passenger on the average. It would have been a tremendous merger. But then the economics caught into it all. But then the main opposition I had was from the pilots. They were worried about the seniority list. Pilots said well, you know, US Air has got too much seniority. They’ll knock us out of all our airplanes. And that was really something. But I hung in there and I ran it. That -- my position there got me off the board of United Airlines because the United mechanics and 107:00the United pilots -- they ended up joining forces, especially out in San Francisco – the major base. And they joined forces and they said, “Listen.” Rip Davinsky -- the pilot -- I used to call him ‘Mad Dog’ -- Mad Dog Davinsky. They were blaming me for it all. And when it got back to Tommy Buffenberger that -- listen, back your guy off of the US Air merger -- Tommy called me. He said, “Listen -- they want you to back off.” I said, “Tommy -- I’m not backing off. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right conditions." A month later I was gone. And he says, “Listen, I’ve got to take you off the board. We’re having a war out here in California. They’re rebelling. I’m afraid of another AMFA raid. Can’t do it.” So then I left the board. But the only plus I got out of all of that -- I can never forget it 108:00-- that two guys -- I’m trying to remember their names --this is Dick; he was the chairman of the big telecommunications company out in Denver; and John Mack from Chase Manhattan -- Chairman of Chase Manhattan -- John McGillicuddy. John McGillicuddy and Dick -- I can’t remember his last name -- but anyway we’re in -- we’re out west. We had a board meeting. And it was obvious that the US Air thing couldn’t materialize because of the financial data. And they come up to me -- and a lot of times, you’ve got to remember a lot of times we fought like hell. This was another situation. I’m the only guy there -- me and the pilot. The pilot’s a waste. The flight attendants had a guy there but he was a 109:00lawyer they picked that was just another United Airline guy, more or less. They said, “Look, we’ve got to have a drink with you.” I said, “What the hell do you guys want now?” So we go in the bar and they -- I sit down and they both stand up and they said, “We’ve got to do this standing up.” And so I stood up. They both shook my hand. And they said, “John, we never met anybody like you.” I said what are you talking about. I said what evil thing you got plotted here. They said, “No, listen -- everybody, the workers and everything are against this merger but you stood for it all the way through. You’ve jeopardized yourself because we know deep down you felt it was the right thing to do. And we’ve had a bad -- we’ve had a wrong impression of you since the day we met you.” They said, “You’re -- ” and McGillicuddy told me this -- he said, “You know, I don’t like union guys,” he said, “but I want to 110:00tell you something. You’re probably the best I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve never seen a guy like you.” You know, it’s sort of flattering. Of course my response was, “Listen -- coming from you two guys it means nothing,” (laughter) because I wasn’t going to give them the benefit of the doubt but I appreciated that. But that caused my demise -- well my demise -- I didn’t want to be there to begin with. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Right, right. You finally found a way out.

PETERPAUL: Maybe it was a favor, I don’t know.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

PETERPAUL: But anyway.

DRUMMOND: Okay. Well we have talked a long time today. Is there anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to mention?

PETERPAUL: No, there’s -- you know. Wait now -- for the next couple of days I’m going to be remembering things.

DRUMMOND: That always happens.

PETERPAUL: But you refreshed my memory.

DRUMMOND: Well if you’re at the Grand Lodge Convention, it would be possible maybe for us to do a follow-up.

PETERPAUL: I don’t know if I’m going to go there. You know, the trip is a pain in the neck, especially out of Tampa. It’s a pain in the neck. I have to see if my wife convinces me to go.


DRUMMOND: Okay. Well is there any person -- maybe a mentor or somebody who sort of was there along the way with you that you could always rely on -– that you want to say --

PETERPAUL: Two guys.

DRUMMOND: -- a few words about. Okay. There’s always somebody, always --

PETERPAUL: Two guys -- Bill is -- Bill and I started as mechanics together. And I’ve always done my best to perpetuate his interests. He’s a solid citizen in the trade unions. And Frank Wallner.

DRUMMOND: Frank Wallner?

PETERPAUL: My administrative assistant. Frank –- I mean you want to talk about loyalty? There is nobody any more loyal -- I mean, almost like servitude. I mean, Frank -- he was with me for years and there was nothing I couldn’t ask him he wouldn’t do. We fought and argued a lot because I always gave him the 112:00latitude for him to give his opinion. Whether he agreed with me or didn’t, you know, I always used to solicit it, at first. Then afterwards, you know, he used to volunteer it, you know. (laughter) But I trusted him very, very deeply. He was my political advisor if I had something that was very confidential that needed a lot of work, he was always my guy. But I think when he looked -- because a lot of people say, “John, you move pretty fast here.” I think one of the reasons I move so fast is because of the support I had basically from those two guys.


PETERPAUL: They -- a lot of people say well, you know, Winpisinger was here 113:00sponsoring all of that but to a lot lesser degree than these guys who were my perpetuators. In fact, I -- when it came to replacing me as vice president, I had to laugh because Kourpias told me at the time that, you know, who do you think and he mentioned two names, which is Wallner and Scheri. And I said, “I’ve got to look at this pretty good, George. From a practical viewpoint I like one. From a different viewpoint I like the other, I told him. I said, “But, you know, I need a day or so.” I said, “But to be honest with you.” I said, “I’m leaning towards Bill.” And he said, “Well I’m leaning towards Frank.” So I said, “So be it.” And I go downstairs. And I’ve never talked to Frank at all about succession or anything like that. And he comes in my office and he says, “Let’s get one thing straight,” he 114:00says, “I don’t want your job. I’m never going to take it. If you ask me, I’ll refuse,” he says, “because I’m going with you.” He says, “When you leave, I want to go, too.” He says, “I’ve got enough to stay a little longer.” And then he finally left. But he says, “There is no need.” He says, “I’ve got the time. I’m worn out.” He says, “I’ve done all the good I can for the machinists union.” He says, “I won’t have my heart in it after this.” So he says, “I might as well go home and relax.” He says, “I’m going with you.” He says, “Go home and relax. It’s just a matter of catching up with you.” So the next day I went upstairs and told George. I says, “Well your candidate is gone.” (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

PETERPAUL: I said, “My candidate wins.” So anyway.

DRUMMOND: Okay. That’s a nice story. I think they’ll both be pleased to read your transcript then.


PETERPAUL: Who’s going to read this? (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Everybody -- researchers and machinists and –

PETERPAUL: You don’t do it verbatim, do you?

DRUMMOND: Oh, certainly we do.

PETERPAUL: Do you do it verbatim?

DRUMMOND: Yes, we do. Yes, sir. I told you up front. Don’t say anything you don’t want on the record. (laughter)

PETERPAUL: You didn’t tell me that.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate it.