William Scheri Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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TRACI DRUMMOND: Hello, and welcome. This is Traci Drummond, archivist for the Southern Labor Archives. Here today to talk to, uh, Bill Scheri, for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers oral history project. Today is August 14, 2012. We’re in Lady Lake, Florida. And welcome, Bill.

WILLIAM SCHERI: Well, thank you, Traci.

DRUMMOND: Um, well, let’s get started with some questions -- very basic stuff. Where were you born, and when?

SCHERI: I was -- I was born in, uh, Utica, New York on June 6, 1935.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what were your parents doing? What -- what kind of work did they do?

SCHERI: Uh, my dad worked for, uh, Bendix Aviation, and my mom worked for the co-- cotton mills up in, uh, Utica, New York. I believe the name was Oneida Cotton Mills, located right in Utica.

DRUMMOND: (pause) And were either of them in unions at the time?

SCHERI: (inaudible)

1:00

DRUMMOND: Were either of them in unions at the time? Were those organized workplaces?

SCHERI: Uh, Bendix Aviation was represented by Steelworkers.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And I believe, uh, the [knitting?] mill was unorganized, as I recall it.

DRUMMOND: OK. All right. And that makes sense -- it was much harder, I think --

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- to organize textile mills. Um, so what was it like growing up the son of a... was it -- your dad was a production worker?

SCHERI: Ah, yes, he was. And then it -- he worked up- I think, when he retired he was a drill-press operator.

DRUMMOND: OK. And -- and -- so, what was it like growing up, uh, part of a working-class family in -- in Utica?

SCHERI: We were, uh -- it was a close-knit community. And I grew up on the east side of Utica, which was predominately all Italians, uh, which I am. And, uh, we had a close-knit family.

DRUMMOND: A big family?

SCHERI: No, three of us.

DRUMMOND: OK.

2:00

SCHERI: Uh, older brother, and an older sister. They’re both deceased now. And, uh, pretty much, uh, in tune with the parents and their wishes --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- in that day and age. And we got treated quite well by both of them, and, uh... And they encouraged me and my brother to go ahead and, uh, get an education, because --

DRUMMOND: That was important [to them?].

SCHERI: Yes, because neither one of them, uh -- had very little education, especially my dad. He come over from Italy when he was 13 years old.

DRUMMOND: So you’re second generation? No, you’re first generation.

SCHERI: First.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And, uh, he come over when he was 13 years old, and, uh, he was sponsored by his older brother and, uh, he -- he would never go back. I could -- you could never get him to go back to Italy, to look at his village and all that. He [said?], “No, Bill, thank you very much, but I’m happy here in the United States,” and, uh -- for some reason he just wouldn’t go back. He didn’t want to go back and see that life again, I guess.

DRUMMOND: So --

SCHERI: The best way I could describe it.

DRUMMOND: Right. So they were very poor.

3:00

SCHERI: Yes, very poor.

DRUMMOND: And what part of Italy, may I ask?

SCHERI: He was from, uh... the providence [sic] of [Contanzaro?] in, uh, a little town called [Andali?], up in the mountains, uh, as I understand it. And, uh, yeah, they were very poor over there-

DRUMMOND: Did you --

SCHERI: -- and when he came here, he didn’t have much (laughs) but he had -- other than love for his family.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. How -- how much of the family came over? Did his parents come, or just him and his brother? Or --

SCHERI: Him and his -- ah, yeah. His older brother come over --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- first one. Then he sponsored my dad to come over. Then cousins come on later, and so forth.

DRUMMOND: OK... OK. Did you ever make a trip back?

SCHERI: No, I never did. Me and my older brother talked about it. In fact, I was in Rome on some business, and I said, “Frank” -- [this is?] my older brother was with me. I said, “Let’s go over and see the village where Dad was born, and all that.” And one -- led- one thing led to another, and we just never made it --

DRUMMOND: OK.

4:00

SCHERI: -- and I tried to get him to go back, and like I said, he was not interested in going back.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, well, um... Once they got here, what were some of the first jobs that your dad and your uncle had?

SCHERI: My uncle, uh, throughout his whole life, he was a laborer.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Yeah, he was a pretty big individual. He was bigger -- he was six foot, husky, and -- and that’s all he did, was outside laborer’s work. And, uh, he retired as a laborer.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And our whole family was nothing but workers. I mean, uh, and, uh, they worked their way up [through?], and made a living for their family --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- uh, so all of us young kids -- especially me. I was the baby of my family, and they always -- even during the Depression, they used to kid me, “Hey, Bill -- we used to have to (inaudible) the soup for you,” and so forth, “-- to make sure you had a meal during them tough times.” So I thank 5:00both of them because -- uh (laughs) -- I always looked up to both of them-

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and, uh, they were just good brothers and sisters.

DRUMMOND: Um, and where -- was your mom also Italian?

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: So, Utica was, uh -- or you said the east side of Utica, that it was largely Italian.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what were, um -- so, I guess it was probably very traditional, everybody went to church on Sunday, everybody knew each other, everybody -- it was -- a small community. Were there a lot of, um, labor union members in the community? Or how did -- or, overall, how did your community feel about --

SCHERI: Yeah, it was --

DRUMMOND: -- labor? I mean, was it a very -- because in the South -- I’m asking --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- because in the South, it’s -- it’s much harder to organize, as you know, and -- and it’s not a really strong labor -- you know, as far as the United States goes, it’s not as strong down here. So -- so, what was the attitude toward organized labor?

SCHERI: Oh, they had a -- they had a good, uh, attitude towards organized labor 6:00there. And, uh, had the IAM, uh, for example. Steelworkers, Teamsters, uh -- and there’s probably unions I’m forgetting about --

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: -- but it was a pretty [well?]-organized town.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And, uh, they stuck together, and they got things, uh -- by sticking together. And getting better wages, and benefits, and working conditions by staying together and, I mean, some days, it was tough, because they ended up on the street, on a strike, but they fought for the issues, and, uh, nine out of ten times, they would win them -- issues, because of the unity and solidarity among the people.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. So you even remember, as -- while -- being a small kid, you remember people talking about the union, and stuff like that?

SCHERI: Oh, yes. My grandfather was a union organizer for the labor union, and, uh, I can remember him coming in to my grandmother’s house in, uh -- this is after he had a couple drinks, and he had a tough day’s work, and so forth. And these were the days when it was really bad, and he would try to organize people, and come home with a black eye, or other things wrong with his body. But he 7:00stayed right there, and he became a good labor leader in my hometown, and they always, uh, recognized him, and -- ah, I’m pretty happy, because my middle name is -- I’m named after him -- Lawrence.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And, uh, but he fought some -- heck of a battles for making sure people belong to a union, and get the justice that they so deserved.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Um...

SCHERI: And I might add, too --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- my uncle. Uh, he’s deceased now --

DRUMMOND: And this is your mother’s brother.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: My uncle. And, uh, he was an international representative for my union -- the IM.

DRUMMOND: Oh, really?

SCHERI: Oh, yeah. He worked his way up from the bottom and, uh, became what we call a Grand Lodge Representative. And, uh, he passed away back in the ’60s. But, uh, he was another strong labor leader.

DRUMMOND: So you really had role models -- union role models --

SCHERI: Yeah.

8:00

DRUMMOND: -- growing up. And -- and, understood, from a -- the time you were a very young man --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- that it was important --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- that unions were important, for -- for working families.

SCHERI: And then, on top of that, after I retired- and I had nothing to do with it, my wife accuses me of having something to do with it -- our son’s a pilot for United Airlines --

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh.

SCHERI: -- and he ended up being a union rep for United, and, uh, I think, just about a year ago, because he was doing so much traveling and all that -- he’s just relaxing now for a few years, until the kids get a little older, and then he’ll be back in, with the labor movement. Our daughter is very active on US Air --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- she’s a [stock clerk?] in Philadelphia. And I -- my wife says, “She’s a chip off the old block, Bill.” And, uh, she fights for people’s rights. And, uh --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- that’s what it’s all about, you know?

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Helping other people.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. Um, so, tell me about your education. You said your father 9:00placed a lot of emphasis on that, because he wasn’t able --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- to -- to get one. Um, can you talk a little bit about growing up, and going to school, in Utica?

SCHERI: Oh, yeah. Uh, I guess the way they talked it up, all the time, because a lot of people couldn’t afford college in that day and age. He always used to preach to me, “Hey, Bill, get a high school education.” And that I did. I got a high school education. And, uh, of course, the war was on, and so forth, and, uh -- and, uh, my older brother, he was the first one in the family to get a college education. He went through World War II and the Korean War, and, uh, when he got back out of Korea, that’s when he finished his education as a mechanical engineer, and he ended up working for Grumman Aircraft Company, down in Long Island. And, uh, but anyways, he pounded it in our heads, to make sure we got that education. And then when I ended up, uh, a union rep, he was so 10:00proud of me. And, uh, because it’s -- small community. At that time, I think Utica had about, maybe 140 -- 150,000 people. And [he?] see his son’s name or picture in the paper, made him so proud --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and, uh -- so, I had [explained it?] and, finally, when I got the call to go to Washington D.C. for the promotion, uh -- that was probably one of his toughest days, because I was the only son home at the time. My brother was still working in Long Island, and, uh -- anyways, uh -- we went on. I took the promotion, and he was happy for us -- and, uh-

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and I’m missing something on your question. I didn’t give you a total answer.

DRUMMOND: No, just -- I’m talking about education.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And -- and so -- and so -- what -- and so, your dad always wanted you to go to college.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And so, um, you went just to --

SCHERI: Well, the only way I made it -- thank God- the United States Air Force.

11:00

DRUMMOND: Oh, really. OK.

SCHERI: Because when I was in there, and got out, I had the G.I. Bill of Rights.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And that’s when I decided -- I was taking college-entrance exams up in Syracuse University, what I may be capable of doing, you know, if I went for college.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, anyways, they had me down, taking accounting. “You should be an accountant. You’re good with figures,” and [they had?] other areas, too.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: But I felt that I had four years already in, as a mechanic, and I was -- I was pretty decent, as a mechanic. And, uh, that’s when I decided, “Well, I’m gonna go to aviation school.”

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Now, I’m working for Mohawk Airlines, at the time -- I was a mechanic’s helper. Uh, I even forget the pay rate, it was so low. But, uh, I decided, talked to the wife, and I said, “You know,” uh, “I’m going to go to aviation school.” And I elected to go to Emory-Riddle Aeronautical University. Uh, at the time, back in 1959, it was located up in Miami. It is now 12:00in Daytona Beach, Florida.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And I did obtain my Air Frame and Power Plant license. It’s issued by the FAA.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And I practice as a mechanic, and I still have my license in my pocket. It’s still an active license, so...I guess that’s how high I went in education. And I went into the other world, which is being a union representative, and, uh, representing people, to make sure that, uh, they were given their rights under the contract, or -- I had to do something in arbitration for them, or negotiations. I’ve done a lot of negotiations in, uh -- over the years, and, uh --

DRUMMOND: Well, before we get ahead --

SCHERI: I’m sorry.

DRUMMOND: -- so far, let’s back up a little. So, tell me about, uh, your time in the Air Force. You said you worked as a mechanic.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Where did you go? Were you stationed --

SCHERI: I took --

DRUMMOND: Uh, far --

SCHERI: I took my basic training in, uh, Geneva, New York. And then from there, 13:00I went to, uh, Amarillo, Texas. And I went to school for six months there, to get, uh, the background to become a jet aircraft and engine mechanic.

DRUMMOND: So, did you have the option to do that, or is that where you were sent after they evaluated you?

SCHERI: After they evaluated --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- they said I’d be best-suited to become a mechanic.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And I did, and, uh, then from there, I went to, uh, Oscoda, Michigan. I was working on fighters up there for two years. And they, uh -- from there, I ended up going to Fairbanks, Alaska. And I worked on fighters up there, also. And then my last year, they, uh -- they dissolved the squadron. And, uh, I even forgot where it went. But --

DRUMMOND: Yeah, because that would have been between wars, right?

SCHERI: Yeah, just after the Korean War.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

14:00

SCHERI: So then I ended up going to, uh... uh, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. And, uh -- that was a -- that was a SAC base -- Strategic Air Command Base. And that’s where I got, uh, discharged out of it. Before I got discharged, I got, uh, married to my lovely bride [Audrey?] --

DRUMMOND: Where did you -- where did you meet her? Because you moved around a lot.

SCHERI: Yeah, she was going to college in South Dakota in the time.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Summer school, taking some courses. And, uh, that’s where I met her. And, uh -- oh, I guess I was -- went with her for six months, and, uh, we got married before I got out. And she come back east with me --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- and been on east coast ever since. Occasionally, we get back to see her family, [even though?] most of them are passed on right now. But she’s been a good woman for me, and always backed me, no matter --

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: -- what I did, and, uh, even in union business. One hundred percent behind me. “Bill, if that’s what you want --” And, uh, it’s good to have a person like that --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

15:00

SCHERI: -- right behind you, you know? But, uh --

DRUMMOND: From the interviews I’ve done, union marriages have a lot of strain on them.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And they go in one of two directions, either a divorce, or --

SCHERI: Exactly.

DRUMMOND: -- or it’s somebody who’s so supportive, and --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- and just willing to, sort of... not so much give up part of who they are, but just really be willing to do whatever it takes --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- for -- for, um, her husband to -- to do well in the union --

SCHERI: That’s right.

DRUMMOND: -- and to move up the ranks and stuff, so --

SCHERI: And it takes a lot away from the family.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: We had two kids -- we still got two kids, don’t get me wrong. But it takes away when they’re not seeing their parent every night, uh, meaning me.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: And I was on the road. But, uh, now they understand it --

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: -- what Dad was out there fighting for. (laughs) And my son always kids me, “Hey, Dad, now I know why, when you first thing you got into town, you put the suitcases down, and you went over there and you slouched down in the couch.”

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

16:00

SCHERI: And he’s a union rep, he’s a boy. I know -- them long days that you put in.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: And it gets to you quite readily. But, uh, anyways.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: It’s always worked out, thank God.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. So you were discharged in ’58.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And you were married by then.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And you went back east.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And you were hired by Mohawk.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And you talked a little bit about being a mechanic’s helper, and that the pay rate was really poor.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: What kind of work did you -- what kind of jobs did you have as a mechanic’s helper?

SCHERI: Um, I worked in the wheels and brake department, where you build new brakes --

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh.

SCHERI: -- or repair them. And then on, uh, wheels, landing gears and all that. You’d be assisting the mechanic, because I wasn’t full-blown mechanic at the time, and, and, uh, that’s what you did. That’s...

DRUMMOND: Was Mohawk organized? Was it a --

SCHERI: Yeah, it was --

DRUMMOND: -- [union?].

SCHERI: -- when I first went there in 1958, it was -- they had, like, an 17:00independent union. It wasn’t worth a hoot --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- and representing people. And then in, uh -- I’m guessing on this one -- I think it was early ’60s that they got the aircraft mechanics’ union in there.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And, uh, then finally, maybe a year or two later, that’s when the IAM come in.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: The International Association of Machinists.

DRUMMOND: To represent everybody, not just the mechanics.

SCHERI: Yeah, it was --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- cleaners, and, uh, stock clerics, mechanics. Uh... and been there ever since.

DRUMMOND: And was -- were they a welcome -- were they a welcome change? When the machinists --

SCHERI: Oh, yes. Yes.

DRUMMOND: -- came in? I mean, was there, like, a, uh, good vote to have the union come in?

SCHERI: Yes. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And we -- we obtained better representation.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: It was more professional, and, uh, they did a good job. I mean, we were all young kids, and they come in there and fought for your rights.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And we had a tough company that we were, uh, working against. [Who?] 18:00Mohawk was anti-union from the word “Go.” And, uh, but anyways, uh, I think they start listening to us. We made better decisions for them than they could for them self, and improving things in that airline.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, before you know it, we [put?] -- [I think?] a little relationship going. But not much, because they were down on unions.

DRUMMOND: Right. So, um. So, you said it was, uh, around, like, 1961 when the union -- when the machinists came in.

SCHERI: Yeah, because when I got back out of school in ’61 --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- um. Yeah. I was a machinist at that point.

DRUMMOND: And I guess, since you had been, um, in the Air Force, it didn’t -- it wasn’t too much trouble to go to Miami for school. Like, to be away from home.

SCHERI: Oh, yeah. Because you’re already away for four years in the Air Force, and, uh --

DRUMMOND: Did Con -- is it Concetta? Is that how -- how you pronounce it --

19:00

SCHERI: Yeah, Concetta, yeah.

DRUMMOND: That’s a pretty name.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Did she go to Miami with you, while you were in school, or did she stay --

SCHERI: That’s my mother, now.

DRUMMOND: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

SCHERI: My wife’s is, uh, Audrey.

DRUMMOND: Audrey. My apologies.

SCHERI: Oh, no problem.

DRUMMOND: My apologies. Um, Concetta’s still a beautiful name.

SCHERI: Thank you.

DRUMMOND: And so is Audrey. Um, and did Audrey go to Miami with you --

SCHERI: Yeah. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- when you -- when you came down? And you were here -- I say “here” because we’re in Florida. How long were you in school?

SCHERI: Uh, [let’s see?], I think I started school in October of ’59, and I graduated in, uh, March of ’61.

DRUMMOND: OK. So a year and a half, thereabout.

SCHERI: Yeah. And that was -- that was a course -- completion of the course. It took that long.

DRUMMOND: And what did they teach you to do, exactly? How -- how -- what -- what -- how did they prepare you to go back and be a mechanic at Mohawk?

SCHERI: Well. At that time, they were flying reciprocating aircrafts, not jets, like you got now. And they would prepare you for the industry, and, uh -- I mean, you had to be proficient once you got out of the school, to take your FAA 20:00-- excuse me, Air Frame and Power Plant test, and you had -- you had to pass it before they would give you their license.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And you would learn, in school, all the different phases. [What?] did sheet metal work, welding, uh... hydraulics... uh -- there’s a whole list of subject matters --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- uh, that you had to complete, before you got your license. And, uh, and that’s when you were a full-fledged mechanic. And they normally tested you on light aircraft, which -- most of it’s not around nowadays. And, uh, but you get by that, and you could work on any aircraft, small or large. And that’s what we did.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, did Mohawk help cover the costs of you going?

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: Or did they at least hold your job while you were gone?

SCHERI: Yeah --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: They held my job. I was on a leave of absence.

DRUMMOND: OK.

21:00

SCHERI: And when I got back, I re -- I went back to work as a mechanic now. I filled a mechanic spot, and they re -- I retained my seniority --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- in a mechanic’s helper classification, which was a lower classification than a mechanic.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Of course, I got a good pay raise, too, as a mechanic’s rates were up there, much higher than the mechanic’s helper.

DRUMMOND: OK. So the union had come in while you were gone.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK. And, um, when did you make mechanic? Or did you...

SCHERI: Uh, that’s when I got promoted. My seniority is, uh, March of 1961. I forget the exact date. It seems like either the 21st or the 23rd of March.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: That’s when I start accruing my mechanic’s seniority.

DRUMMOND: OK. And I assume you joined the union right away-

SCHERI: Oh, yeah --

DRUMMOND: -- when you --

SCHERI: You had to.

DRUMMOND: -- got back --

SCHERI: Yeah, you had to.

DRUMMOND: OK. It was a [closed?] shop.

SCHERI: Yeah, you had to.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK, all right.

SCHERI: Yep. Pay your initiation, then pay your dues.

22:00

DRUMMOND: OK. Did you have a, um -- like, a -- like, a period before -- like, um... Sometimes there’s like a waiting period before you can join. You have to be there six months or so?

SCHERI: Yeah, I think it was 90 days, if I’m not mistaken.

DRUMMOND: OK, so that’s not bad. A couple months.

SCHERI: And that was your probat--

DRUMMOND: Yeah --

SCHERI: No [well, see?] -- I was handled differently than a new hire coming in, because I already had my --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- tenure with the company. Then I went to school, then I come back. But normally, if you get hired, as I recall the contract then, you were on probation for 90 days. At the end of 90 days, then you had to join the union, OK? And, uh, or the company can let you go, for whatever reason they want to let you go, and that’s it. No seniority, you were out of a job. But once you got by the 90 days, then you join the union and it starts getting stable, you know what I mean?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

SCHERI: Yeah.

23:00

DRUMMOND: OK. And how long did it take you -- and that was Local Lodge 75.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: IAM Local Lodge 75. Um, how long did it take you to become active in the union? To become, um -- I assume you started at -- oh, here. Shop steward?

SCHERI: Yep.

DRUMMOND: OK. In the engine shop.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: So what were some of the common complaints you’d get? Or grievances you’d get?

SCHERI: Well, [our?] -- a complaint was our shop steward, at the time, was not very good. He was always trying to please the company --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and not go out, and represent members right. So when I come back from school, I’m working in the engine shop, and I didn’t go out and solicit it. They solicited me. They said, “Hey, Bill, come on. You been around the airlines before you went out to school. Why don’t you run for shop steward?” I said, “Nah.” I said, “I got no interest. I just got out. I got my license and all that. I want to practice, uh, aviation.” So anyways, they kept the pressure on me in the shop. My fellow guys that I was working with, and they 24:00did talk me into it. I ran for shop steward, ended up beating him. And they were happy as heck, and now the company’s in a quandary, because they didn’t know me too well. And, uh, I tried to represent people, uh, right, and be fair.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And I mean, not just for the employees. I’m talking company, too. I was always trying to be fair for the company, and the man, that he was right -- or lady -- under that contract. If they weren’t, I was probably tougher on the company -- on them -- than the company would be. Uh, you know, if somebody comes in, that gives you a big [slow job?], just that. And you go check the grievance out, and it’s not factual. And then you have to tell them. “Hey, no, you don’t have a case.”

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Uh, and I did that. And I’m very -- I was very [for?] -- and I’m not boasting, I’m just trying to give you a little history.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: I ran a -- I was involved in a lot of elections for the local, the district representatives, to international. Because once I [go to?] the 25:00international, you got to get elected across the whole country --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- for four years. I never lost an election.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

SCHERI: Thank God for that -- and (laughs) my partner, John, he -- (inaudible) Peterpaul. We’re just fortunate because -- I guess we’re out there, uh, trying to help people, and be honest with them, and, uh, we weren’t worrying about brown-nosing the company.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: We were trying to, uh, make sure they got their rights. And --

DRUMMOND: Well, there’s --

SCHERI: -- of course, (laughs) they used to get mad at John and I so much, but anyways. That’s -- that’s another day.

DRUMMOND: Well, did Mohawk have round-the-clock shifts?

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: OK. And how many -- and so there were shop stewards assigned to each shift.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: How many shop stewards did you have per... workers? Was it, like, a 1:50 ratio? Or a 1:200 ratio? Or a --

SCHERI: Well, uh --

DRUMMOND: Do you remember?

SCHERI: (pause) (inaudible) that day and age. No. That’s a good question.

26:00

DRUMMOND: (pause) It’s fine if you don’t remember. It’s just -- sometimes, I’m curious... about how -- you know, the differences between --

SCHERI: Yeah, well-

DRUMMOND: -- different shops.

SCHERI: -- under our contract later, you know, as we develop a --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- better contracts, and all that, I think it was... something like every 25.

DRUMMOND: OK. Every 25 --

SCHERI: (overlapping) [in the?] department --

DRUMMOND: -- workers?

SCHERI: -- there had to be a shop steward.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Yeah. Then we had committee people, too, above and beyond that --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- as I recall it. Then I seen shops as small as 2 or 3 people --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and one of the guys [then?] take over as shop steward. The company had no problem, and, so, it varies.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: What I’m trying to say, it varies. And then you get out in a big crew. Uh, three shifts. Oh, I’m going to say, maybe 100-150 people. You probably get, uh -- I’m talking with days off and all that coverage. You probably get, uh... oh... probably about ten? Twelve? In a big shop -- shop stewards, across 27:00all shifts. And, uh... and then we had what you call a chief steward, too.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: They report back to him.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: OK. So it varies, depending on the contract.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Uh... some employers didn’t mind it. Other employers would fight you, tooth and nail, because they want to keep the representation as low as could be. So you’d -- (clears throat) -- you could be working on your job, rather than going over there and talking union business, and they got to pay you. You know what I’m saying?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: So, anyways.

DRUMMOND: Well, um. So you were shop steward for a year or so, and then you were on the grievance committee.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: You were the grievance committee chairman.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Was that, um, a position that came along with being shop steward, or was that an elected position?

SCHERI: It was elected.

28:00

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Yeah. (clears throat)

DRUMMOND: And -- and, well, tell me about being on the grievance committee.

SCHERI: Well, it’s, uh -- you know, you get a grievance within your department and all that. And now you got all the departments under you, and so forth. And, uh, what you do there is try to settle grievances. You hold meetings with the company. Sometimes they get backlogged, and then you have to go down and sit with the company, and say, “Listen, you got some bad grievances. We got some good ones here, and let’s get this thing going,” you know. And once in a while, you’d catch a good supervisor hearing them, and, uh, they would move the grievance procedure and get them settled --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- rather than get them backlogged. But with that airline, they always liked to backlog stuff. Get the people disgusted. “The union ain’t doing nothing for you,” you know. Stuff like that. But, uh, we had a strong [group?], and they stuck together, and, uh, we fought for what we thought was right. And the people... that’s the way it was. “Hey, so my leader’s saying this.” We got a good case, I don’t want to hear your baloney, that I 29:00should be withdrawing my case, because that’s --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- management --

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: -- [me?] trying to talk to them. But, uh --

DRUMMOND: Well, did you ever have any, um... grie -- grievances that led to either arbitration, or, you know, really big things, or -- or that led to, uh, maybe changes in the next contract, or any --

SCHERI: Oh, yeah. We had grievances that go the full route, where you go into arbitration --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and you got to bring in a neutral party to settle it.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And then, in the airlines, we’d have what we call the system Board of Adjustment. It’s, uh, four members, if I recall it right: two from the union, two from the company. And whoever your rep is -- me, or anybody else in the shop --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- uh, that had experience. You go present your case, and so forth. Um, Mr. Peterpaul and myself -- we were both general chairmen, full-time reps. We, uh, presented a lot of them cases. Uh, two were neutral, and... each, uh -- each 30:00party pays half the cost of his salary for the day, and then he’ll render a decision. Uh, normally, under law, it’s supposed to be 30 days, but they stretch it, and they may take 60 days, 90. I seen them go as long as six months before you get a decision. But, uh, if the system’s working right -- and it’s a very good system -- but when a company makes up their mind, that, “Hey, let them pile up.”

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: The union can’t afford to process all these cases, and they’re gonna withdraw them anyways. But we stuck together. Oh, then -- I’m sorry. Then one year, it was so bad, we had so many grievances piled up. Mr. Peterpaul and the company got together when he was the general chairman. And they went for expedited arbitration, on-the-spot decisions, on the grievance, with a neutral party.

DRUMMOND: I’ve never heard of this.

SCHERI: Oh, yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

31:00

SCHERI: And they were non-presidents (inaudible). And then, finally, we cleaned up our grievance files.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Got rid of all the backlogs. And, I mean, they were making payments all over the place. But it’s over time, and something else. And, uh, that helped us out immensely. And then the company knew we were serious. We can’t get away with this. We got to start dealing with these people, up and up, in trying to settle these cases. And it did improve somewhat.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well, is it, um... Are there any sort of actions you can take against the company, if they sit on grievances too long? Or is there -- or do they always find a loophole to kind of --

SCHERI: Yeah, no, there’s no time limit. [Or?] there’s a time limit, you want to take a grievance, and you’re going to the system board of adjustment. You got 30 days for that appeal.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: But other than that, no. They --

DRUMMOND: No. Nothing that could really hold them to a timeline --

SCHERI: No. No.

DRUMMOND: -- or anything like that. OK. OK. Um...so it looks like in 1962, you 32:00ran for vice president? (pause) You ran for vice president of your local --

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: -- in 1962.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Um, and president, in ’64. Before we talk about that, let me ask you. Were there -- did you guys ever strike at Mohawk?

SCHERI: Oh, yes.

DRUMMOND: Tell me about some of the strikes you all had, and the reasons behind those --

SCHERI: We had -- we had one strike, as I recall it. It was 1967.

DRUMMOND: OK. So while you were president.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Mr. Peterpaul was our assistant general chairman, full-time rep. And middle of the winter, in upstate New York, cold, and we decided to strike them.

DRUMMOND: Mmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, it was over our pension plan. Not everybody was in the pension plan because of what Mohawk and the collective bargaining agreement at that time -- if you were a participant, you had to pay to be into the pension plan. And, of course, very few people wanted to pay. We’re all young.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Who’s thinking about a pension? Um, make a long story short, we’re on the strike 58 days, in the cold weather. [Not it’s?] the whole system. 33:00I’m just talking about Utica, but it applied to the whole system.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: I think we had 15 cities at the time.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

SCHERI: And we ended up, uh, get a settlement, and we got a non-contributory pension plan. Oh, it was fully paid for by the company. And, uh, because people stuck together. And they tried to get us to break our picket lines, by, uh, getting people to come in, and, uh, we all stood, real solid, and we won our point. And that was the first pension plan that any airline got in this -- in our industry.

DRUMMOND: Really.

SCHERI: [Total?] IAM. And other unions, too. It was the first one. So we were pretty proud of that, because we were a small group at that time.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Uh, but anyway. Yeah, that was nineteen...sixty-seven.

DRUMMOND: Well, and the few years that the union had been -- the local had been, 34:00um, in operation -- about seven years at that point. Did you all have an ample strike fund to cover two months? And what kind of support did you all get from other unions in the area?

SCHERI: Oh, we got a lot of support. Not just in the area, across the whole union.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And other unions, also.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And, uh, yes. We got good contributions, which subsidized the strike, and we had a strike fund, and it’s still in existence with the international. And (laughs), I’m trying to think. I think it was 25 dollars a week, we got. And then, a lot of people don’t believe this. We were eating surplus foods, because we went down to the armory and... (laughter) my [wife?] -– of course, she -- I was president. She said, “Bill, I’m not going to do that.” I say, “Don’t be proud. You’re entitled to it.”

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: So she went down there because we had a -- one small child at the time. And, uh, they see Audrey go, and then the rest of the wives would go down --

DRUMMOND: Right. Because I think that would be a good example for the rest of the wives. Yeah.

SCHERI: Pick up the food for the family.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

35:00

SCHERI: You get Spam, and stuff like that. Just enough to keep you in existence, you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Spam is -- Spam has its moments. (laughter)

SCHERI: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

DRUMMOND: Um, so tell me about your run for vice president. Did you have any competition?

SCHERI: For the international? Or the local?

DRUMMOND: No, no, no. For the local. Uh --

SCHERI: No, I didn’t.

DRUMMOND: No. It was just you.

SCHERI: Now, wait a minute. I’ll take that back.

DRUMMOND: Because sometimes -- did you run on a ticket with --

SCHERI: No, it wasn’t on a ticket.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: That -- we got smarter, later on. And then we ran tickets.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: That was -- yeah, I did have an individual run against me. Yeah, and I beat him.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Because you’d done good work with the... grievance committee.

SCHERI: Yeah, grievance committee, shop steward, you know that all helps you get -- become a better union rep.

DRUMMOND: So, what are your duties as vice president?

SCHERI: In the local?

DRUMMOND: In the local. Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Yeah, assist the president, or any assignment he may give you, you know. 36:00Uh... (inaudible), the grievance committee chairman, or something -- eh, something like that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, OK.

SCHERI: Or go talk to the membership (inaudible), in his (inaudible) -- a lot of times, he couldn’t make it. He’d be out of town, or something, and you got union meetings coming up. You end up running the union meeting, OK, in his absence. And stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um... Did you all have a separate treasurer, or business manager position, or was that sort of... um, absorbed by the president or vice president?

SCHERI: I’m sorry.

DRUMMOND: Like, in -- at your local union.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: What were the -- the officers? Did you all have a treasurer, or a --

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: President --

DRUMMOND: Separate --

SCHERI: A president, vice president, treasurer, recording secretary. I think that’s it.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: They were the four basic ones.

37:00

DRUMMOND: OK. And then you became president in 1964.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And you -- did you -- was it a four-year term, or did you get two two-year terms?

SCHERI: No, every year. You had to run every year.

DRUMMOND: You had to run every year. That’s a lot of work.

SCHERI: Yeah. Every year.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well, tell me about that.

SCHERI: Yeah, I -- well, I was vice president at the time, and then, uh -- one of our elderly, uh, guys -- he was president at the time. He said, “Hey, Bill, I’m retiring. Uh, you should put your name here and run for it.” And that’s what I did. And I won it, and I had a couple people run against me on that one. But they lost. And, uh, I did that for, uh, almost four years, until I went with the international-

DRUMMOND: OK, and --

SCHERI: -- as assistant airline coordinator.

DRUMMOND: OK. And, um... (pause) And your work at your local -- was -- because -- some of the people I’ve talked to, when you are the president of a local, 38:00you’re also part of a district, or you’re also automatically an officer in a district. But that -- but you weren’t --

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: -- you were just over the local.

SCHERI: No. Yeah, the district was separate.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: And heading into the late ’60s --

SCHERI: Oh, I’m sorry. One -- there is one connection.

DRUMMOND: Sure.

SCHERI: Uh...and it was -- no. When I was assistant, uh, general chairman --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- there is a tie-in with the district, at that point. That’s when I was on, uh... the district executive board.

DRUMMOND: OK. And when --

SCHERI: (inaudible)

DRUMMOND: -- was there overlap in your presidency and being on the district board?

SCHERI: No --

DRUMMOND: No.

SCHERI: There was no connection there.

DRUMMOND: OK, so you went from one to the other.

SCHERI: Right, it was when you’re a full-time rep. Then there is a connection with the district.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK.

SCHERI: OK.

DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and as president, though, were you still on the shop floor every day --

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- and doing president stuff?

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Your -- your work -- OK -- outside of that. Um, and were there any big 39:00issues, you know...the late -- well, the mid to late ’60s, there were a lot of civil rights issues in the United States. Did you all ever have a problem with integration in the plant, or... with the -- you know, or any other sort of issues that might mirror what was going on nationally?

SCHERI: Well, it affected us, don’t get me wrong. But as far as the airline itself, you know, discriminatory and all that, where you had Black -- whatever the color your skin was. No, we didn’t have too much of that. Uh, we did have the seniority problem, though, that hit our industry way back, and -- oh, you had to get me on this one. Uh, I want to say, probably early ’80s. (clears throat) Where the EOC come out --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- and, uh... (pause) I’m trying to think how that worked now. There was court cases too, in the airline division, whereby, uh, blacks were awarded 40:00seniority because of the color of their skin, and they jumped over a lot of people who, after these rulings come down, where they jumped ahead of some of the guys who had been there for years, but -- that was a government --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- type of situation. And then, of course, you had to slide them in, with their seniority, and we got a little bitching there, but not too much. You got in the major airlines, the big ones, they had a lot of trouble with that.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: A lot of problems with that, because they thought it was unfair that people, because of the color of your skin, you jump ahead of a white person who’s been there for years, doing his job. But, uh, as far as with Mohawk? No, we didn’t get too much of it.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK. And, so you became assistant general chairman of District Lodge 147 in 1968 --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Um, and, uh, District Lodge 147 eventually merged into District Lodge 141.

SCHERI: That’s correct.

DRUMMOND: And what were your duties, then, once you became assistant general chairman?

41:00

SCHERI: (clears throat) District 147, I would represent at a district level. All the Mohawk people. At that time, I think there was 15 stations. And then, uh, you would handle their --

DRUMMOND: When you say 15 stations, do you mean 15 different plants, or 15 different --

SCHERI: Yeah, 15 different locations --

DRUMMOND: OK, OK.

SCHERI: -- across...

DRUMMOND: The United States.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK, so they were everywhere.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Mainly on the east coast, though.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Mohawk was, like, an east coast airline.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Uh... Give me that first part of that question. I just lost it.

DRUMMOND: Oh, no. Just, um -- how did your duties, ah, change when you became assistant general chairman?

SCHERI: Oh, then you got to end up -- you got locals, now, reporting to you.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Local lodges across the system. And then you represent people, [where?] like I said earlier, in grievances, up to, including arbitration. Uh, most of the local stuff was handled by the local lodges, but when it gets up to system 42:00board, or arbitration, that’s the responsibility of, uh, assistant general chairman. And, uh, you’d be out there servicing your membership --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: You know, they want to see you, they want to talk to you on different issues, and, and it’s not just one location. You know, where you go, get on an airplane, and --

DRUMMOND: So this is the first time you traveled a lot.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And I bet that was hard.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Because you had -- you probably had 2 kids by then.

SCHERI: What was that? Sixty--

DRUMMOND: Sixty-four? No, ’68? (pause) No --

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. Because, uh, it looks like Sandra was born in ’68.

SCHERI: Yeah. She was.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: You’re good. That’s, uh --

DRUMMOND: Well, I’m -- you wrote it down.

SCHERI: Yeah, I know.

DRUMMOND: I’m referring to your notes.

SCHERI: That’s April. Yeah, April ’68.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh.

SCHERI: Yeah. And that’s, uh...then of course you had ten more meetings with other unions and so forth, so you try to keep coordination going, you know. You’re involved with the FL-CIO [sic], and it goes on and on. Whatever they 43:00need, you know, “Get a hold of Bill. He’s a full-time rep up here. We need his help.” And he always tried to help, because it’s one union, you know, in this whole world, and you try to stick together. A lot of people don’t practice that anymore, but that’s what made us so great, and why we won so many things in the machinists union, because people did stick together.

DRUMMOND: Um, were there any -- when you were assistant general chairman, were you also helping with areas where they were trying to maybe organize?

SCHERI: Oh, yes.

DRUMMOND: Or were all the Mohawk shops organized at that point, or were you still trying to --

SCHERI: Yeah, Mohawk was organized. But then you got involved in other, non-union places that you were trying to help organize, or the International would get a hold of you. “Hey, Bill, need to send you out West over here.” I remember one, for example, (inaudible) the mechanics were an independent union, 44:00so I spent six months of my life out there trying to turn them around to come back in our union, and they just didn’t want to do it.

DRUMMOND: It’s hard. I think organizing might be the hardest work with the lowest payoff.

SCHERI: Oh, it is. Exactly, exactly. But you got to get in with the people, and just find out what they’re doing, what their thinking is, and I kind of liked it myself, but I had a lot more duties than just that. But I learned quite a bit from it, and I’ve trained other people that were under me, and they’re good organizers right now for the IM. They do a heck of a job for us. But anyways, it’s -- I’m trying to think what else.

DRUMMOND: Well, when you were assistant general chairman, you must have, um, been doing a really good job, because in 19- well, there’s a little gap in time here. Looks like that only goes through ’72, and that you become 45:00assistant airline coordinator in ’77. What happened between ’72 and ’77?

SCHERI: Seventy-two? Did I put a wrong date down?

DRUMMOND: Maybe. Here -- see, it jumps from ’72 to ’77.

SCHERI: Sixty-eight...

DRUMMOND: Oh, OK, I see. Because it was ’72 to ’77 at 141. It was ’68 to ’72 at 147, so --

SCHERI: That’s it. Right. That’s it.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, and so -- and so ’72 to ’77 was 141.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Well, once it merged, did your responsibilities change in any -- in any...

SCHERI: Well, yeah, I picked up a larger group.

DRUMMOND: OK. Oh, that’s right, because if they merged, that was more people.

SCHERI: Yeah, exactly.

DRUMMOND: And was it more than just Mohawk at that point? It was --

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. And still mostly east coast.

SCHERI: Yeah. I had United Airlines, I had Flying Tigers, I had a couple fixed-base operators up in Providence, refueling companies, places out in St. 46:00Louis, but my majority was the east coast, and working down through Pennsylvania, Ohio, all that.

DRUMMOND: So 147 covered -- or, I’m sorry, 141 covered New York over to Ohio?

SCHERI: No, 141 went out to the coast. California.

DRUMMOND: Oh, so just straight across, OK, OK.

SCHERI: Yeah. And then they were down south, too, but I ended up mainly on the east coast, because that’s where all my time was, and my boss at the time said, “Hey, give that to Bill, that’s his former people.”

DRUMMOND: And who was your boss at the time?

SCHERI: At that time? In 141? George Robinson.

DRUMMOND: George Robinson.

SCHERI: He’s now dead.

DRUMMOND: OK. Did you all ever try to organize the air traffic controllers?

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: No?

SCHERI: No, because you can’t.

DRUMMOND: Because they’re...

SCHERI: Executive order. They’re not --

DRUMMOND: Executive order, right. Because they’re government employees.

SCHERI: Yeah, exactly.

47:00

DRUMMOND: OK, all right. OK. Um, just out of curiosity, because I know PATCO was forming in the late ’60s, and just given the scope of the different types of jobs you represent -- but I should know that, and I’m sorry. I should know that.

SCHERI: That’s all right. No problem.

DRUMMOND: But you must have caught somebody’s eye at headquarters, because in ’77, you were asked to come on board as assistant airline coordinator.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Well, while you were still working as assistant general chairman, how did your work with headquarters increase during that time? Because I imagine that was the first time that you really worked actively, or not actively with headquarters, but you had more contact with them on a regular basis.

SCHERI: Yes, yes, that’s correct. That’s correct. But I mean, John started -- I mean, Mr. Peterpaul started -- I started December of ’58, he started in February of ’59, when we talked him from Mohawk, so we both come up through the movement together, and then when I was working --

48:00

DRUMMOND: Were you both in Utica, or were you in Mohawk in different --

SCHERI: He was Rome. He was in Rome, 15 minutes away.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK.

SCHERI: And then, uh, let’s see. Let’s see, oh yeah, he was sitting there, full-time rep, and I was a -- he was in headquarters. He was an airline coordinator, and that’s when he asked me to come in. I said, “John, I just moved to Pittsburgh and built a brand new home. My wife and kids love the -- it’s a working town, you know? And they love it.” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, you got to follow the leader, because we’re going to Washington, D.C.,” and they still kid me about it, and ended up taking the assistant airline coordinator’s job. And that was due to John promoting me. He knew my -- the way I worked and all that, representing people, and well, you 49:00could put it this way. Every position he vacated as we come up through, I fills.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Yeah, that would be a better way to put it.

DRUMMOND: OK, so you were three years assistant airline coordinator.

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: How did your work change when you moved from assistant general chairman to assistant airline coordinator?

SCHERI: Well, now you got the whole country.

DRUMMOND: Right, OK.

SCHERI: OK, ground workers in our union, and it’s a bigger focus now, and you got to help your districts, your locals, and of course on top of that, I was assistant, and I had to please my boss, the airline coordinator, and then above her is the vice president and so forth, and -- but it always worked out. We always had team effort going.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Because no one man knows everything, especially in the airline business, or any group, you know, you’ve got large numbers of people. You’ve got to 50:00depend on each other, and that’s what we did. But John was one of my big sponsors.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well, you said, um, that you had to move your family, that you had just built a new house in Pittsburgh, when you got the call to go, they --everybody packed up and went to Washington -- because, yeah, the officers were still in Washington then, yeah. So...

SCHERI: And we lived there 14 months.

DRUMMOND: Fourteen months.

SCHERI: Brand new home, yeah. And then it took me six months to sell it, and I was already working in Washington at the time, but (inaudible) and they moved into Silver Spring, Maryland, and I worked in downtown Washington.

DRUMMOND: OK, so, um, was it hard to take them out of school? Was it -- or did you, I guess maybe your wife dealt with that more than --

SCHERI: Yeah, we waited and got the right time, you know, and the house was sold, and enrolled them in the schools in Maryland.

51:00

DRUMMOND: OK. In 1980, you were no longer assistant airline coordinator, but airline coordinator.

SCHERI: Correct.

DRUMMOND: And um, I’m sure you were doing a lot of the same duties then that you had been as assistant airline coordinator.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: But there had to be a change, where there had to be --

SCHERI: Oh, yeah.

DRUMMOND: So can you talk a little bit about sort of stepping up a little higher in the position?

SCHERI: Yeah, once again, you’re going toward the next plateau, and your group gets bigger, and now you’re in charge, and you got full-time representatives that report to you.

DRUMMOND: And were you handling folks in Canada too at this point?

SCHERI: I’m sorry?

DRUMMOND: Were you handling the folks in Canada too at this point, or it was --

SCHERI: No, just US.

DRUMMOND: Just US. OK.

52:00

SCHERI: Represented US ground workers. And it’s a big job. I mean, they keep on top of everything, and you try to do your best, and, uh -- we had good cooperation from our districts and our local lodges. Anyways, I was fortunate. I mean, I was out there, they knew me for years and all that, and we never pulled any punches. I had something to say, they would know it, they would hear it loud and clear, and vice versa. You know, “Hey, Bill, this ain’t right.” “All right, let me look into it. We’ll check it out.” If they were right, and somebody was wrong, I’d say, “Hey, you were right, and we’re going to correct it.” You know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Well, um, while you were airline coordinator, you had the big Eastern strike.

SCHERI: Yep.

DRUMMOND: Can you talk about Eastern?

SCHERI: Yep.

DRUMMOND: I think Eastern is a fascinating event. I think the strike just -- we 53:00have a lot of Eastern-related materials at the archives. And so it’s always one of my favorite sort of areas to point researchers toward if they’re looking for stuff. How involved were you in that?

SCHERI: Well, I was really involved because we had Mr. Brian, who was --

DRUMMOND: Charlie Brian.

SCHERI: -- Charlie Brian was president and general chairman of District Lodge 100 at the time, and him and his negotiating committee were trying to get a contract for our people there, and they got to a stalemate, and that’s when Frank Lorenzo took over the airline, and he was anti-union as could be.

DRUMMOND: But, well, had you had former dealings with him when he was with Texas Air?

SCHERI: Yes I did. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Very little, but I did have contact with him. But anyways, they were trying to get a fair contract for our people and all that, and I think it was back in ’89 if my memory serves me right. And, uh, they just couldn’t reach a deal with this guy. Everything was he wanted givebacks. He wanted us to 54:00destroy our contract, and get us down to little to nothing, and then he would sign on. And we said, “No, we’re not going to do that.” So Peterpaul at the time was vice president. He said, “Hey, Bill. I know you ain’t going to like this assignment, but you got to go in there and handle it.” So I went down to handle the Eastern situation, with Charlie Brian and the whole crew.

DRUMMOND: You were down in Miami.

SCHERI: In Miami, yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK. How long did the strike last?

SCHERI: Oh, boy. I shoulda looked at that at home. It was a long one. I forget the days now, to be honest with you. It was a long strike.

DRUMMOND: Did they bring in people to -- because I know even the, um, airline pilots did a sympathy strike with you guys.

SCHERI: Oh, yeah. Right.

DRUMMOND: But were they able to bring in people to perform some of the -- was Eastern able to bring in scabs to do some of the work to kind of keep it going?

55:00

SCHERI: Yeah, they did. They turned any of the supervisors and everything else, and trying to break our strike, and break our union, but that never happened. The number of days that -- damn, it’s...He couldn’t break us. Even Lorenzo with all those big guns, and the more he’d get involved, the more he’d tick our people off, and they got stronger by the days. So anyways --

DRUMMOND: And, I know a lot of it took place in Miami, but were there any other big hubs for Eastern? Was Atlanta -- I know Atlanta was a big hub.

SCHERI: Yeah, Atlanta was. New York.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Just to name a few. And, uh, I tried my best to get a deal from him, and I’ll never forget it. Going into midnight on the strike date, he slides a packet of paper like this under my door, you know. I look at it, it was nothing --

DRUMMOND: Lorenzo got somebody to slide something? OK.

56:00

SCHERI: Yeah. To destroy it. He destroyed our contract, and he said, “Here’s the agreement.” More or less take it or leave it. He didn’t say take it or leave it, but along them lines. There’s no way you could sign on, that’s when we struck him, and, uh, he never did improve any of his conditions. He just wanted it that way for some reason, and I had a lot of good friends on Eastern I worked with for years when I was a mechanic all up to Jersey and elsewhere, but I don’t know, he just didn’t want to put it together. And, uh, he just had made up his mind that he was going to break the machinists union, and he ultimately killed his own airline.

DRUMMOND: Well, didn’t he do that in Texas, too, though?

SCHERI: Huh?

DRUMMOND: He shut unions down on his airlines in Texas, so moving in -- well, how were your dealings with Frank Borman, leading up to Lorenzo?

57:00

SCHERI: Oh, I had a good relationship with Frank Borman, and so did John Peterpaul. I mean, he was tough. He’d get in there to negotiate, and he’d, “Darn it, you guys. You know better than that. I can’t do that,” you know, and he would always play that way. But to make a long story short, you could always cut a deal with him, for a fair contract.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: You could, and he was a decent man. Very decent man.

DRUMMOND: OK. And Bill [Essry?] I believe was called in at some point.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And Bill Essry, who was a machinist, was called in to mediate.

SCHERI: Yep.

DRUMMOND: How did that go?

SCHERI: He tried, but he was unsuccessful --

DRUMMOND: And he’s pretty successful at -- I think that’s what he’s known for. He’s really great at --

SCHERI: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: So he was just --

SCHERI: But that was when Borman was in.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: I’m sorry. No, he was successful in helping our union, getting a contract. I thought you meant when Lorenzo was around.

DRUMMOND: Well, yeah, I mean, I guess I was referring to that too. So it was just at that point Lorenzo you feel was unwilling to...

58:00

SCHERI: No, he couldn’t.

DRUMMOND: He would rather see the airline destroyed than to concede.

SCHERI: Yeah. Lost a lot of good people on that airline.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. And what was the aftermath of that like? Did that take the wind out of the IAM’s sails, so to speak? Did that...

SCHERI: No, I think it made us stronger across the country. I’m talking, when the companies look down, they said, “Well, we got to watch what we’re doing to these guys,” you know, because, Lorenzo and company was going over to break us, and he ended up breaking himself, the airlines. And people went out and found other jobs, probably not equivalent to a mechanic’s job on Eastern, and like I said, we had a lot of friends there, and I just hated to see the airline go, but we tried everything we could to save it.

DRUMMOND: So, you had, um, mechanics, but you also had what you would call ground workers there, too? Like, didn’t -- didn’t you also represent the, um, baggage handler?

SCHERI: Oh yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: So -- so, not -- not just mechanics.

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: But...

59:00

SCHERI: We had ramp there, we had, uh, mechanics, we had, uh, uh, I’m trying to think of the other classifications. Anyways, there were several different classifications we represented, not just mechanics.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: But the majority was mechanics.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Um, how many employees lost their jobs when Eastern --

SCHERI: Eighty.

DRUMMOND: -- How many machinists?

SCHERI: Eighty-nine hundred.

DRUMMOND: Eight...

SCHERI: That number, I remember.

DRUMMOND: Eighty-nine hundred?

SCHERI: Eighty-nine hundred.

DRUMMOND: OK. And did you feel, going into that strike, looking back on the PATCO strike from ’81, did you feel like that informed the way corporate -- corporations handled strikes from that -- you know, even though PATCO was a -- it was a government -- you know, government employees.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Um, did you feel that Reagan shutting them down so quickly, and so, 60:00some would say, viciously.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Do you think that informed the way corporations, then handled strikes, starting from that point on?

SCHERI: Oh yeah. I think we...

DRUMMOND: Did you all -- could -- did you all have any other strikes in the ’80s leading up to Eastern?

SCHERI: No, I don’t think...

DRUMMOND: Or anything that significant?

SCHERI: No, that was probably the biggest one.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: In the ’80s. But I think, yeah, the corporations got strong because of that, because of what Reagan did, and so forth. And, uh, the funny part about that, and very few people know, PATCO, they had a letter, and it’s still in existence somewhere in somebody’s records, where they promised PATCO that they were going to get a pay raise. This is Reagan, under his signature. And so...

DRUMMOND: I have copies of that -- of that letter in the archives.

SCHERI: And then -- OK.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: Then you know what I’m talking about?

DRUMMOND: Yes, exactly.

SCHERI: And he never kept the promise, because if he kept his promise, and he gave them pay raises, there would’ve been no shut down.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: And people getting fired to the tune of 14,000, because that’s how many people got fired.

61:00

DRUMMOND: It was 11 -- it was only like 11,000 -- it was...

SCHERI: Eleven?

DRUMMOND: It was 11,000.

SCHERI: OK, I thought...

DRUMMOND: But, I mean, yeah, but it was a lot, that’s still --

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: -- That’s so many people.

SCHERI: Well, very few people in the public know that, that, uh, he promised to give them a pay raise, and he ends up firing them.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. He wooed them.

SCHERI: He -- he was not a -- a favorite of the labor movement. A lot of people like him, good talker, smiling and all of that, and then go take his naps and let somebody else do the dirty work. But anyways...

DRUMMOND: But, well, by the time, though, that Eastern -- Eastern was having trouble, um, and -- and the machinists were striking with them, that was at the very end of his term.

SCHERI: Yes, it was.

DRUMMOND: His two terms.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And I guess the -- [Bush?] H.W. was, um...

SCHERI: Yeah, well...

DRUMMOND: George H.W. Bush was -- was coming in...

SCHERI: We were trying to get a presidential emergency board set up for Eastern, OK, to the government.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And H.W....

DRUMMOND: And what would the presidential emergency board have done?

SCHERI: Oh, they...

62:00

DRUMMOND: How -- how would they have helped you?

SCHERI: Oh, they moved in, and they set up an arbitrator.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And he hears both sides.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Then he makes a decision, which is binding.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: The first Bush would not agree to that.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: He said no. And that’s the end of Eastern Airlines.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Now, most presidents go out there and agree on a presidential emergency board.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Very few people know this, the first Bush, it was H.W.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, H.W., George H.W., yeah.

SCHERI: Yeah, OK, H.W., was a great friend of Frank Lorenzo. They lived about two doors apart down there in Houston, and I’ve seen both of their homes, drove by them, of course. And, there’s a tie-in, I think, there was a tie-in, in no way was he going to agree on a presidential emergency board. And I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that Bush made, because there probably would’ve been a settlement.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: With a third party coming in and reviewing it, maybe comes up with 63:00better ideas than what we had going and settle it.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, you talk to Eastern people now, and they’ll tell you, that’s the one thing we cannot understand, why the first Bush would not agree to a presidential emergency...

DRUMMOND: When you say Eastern people, do you mean machinists who worked for Eastern, or do you mean the Eastern, like, administration?

SCHERI: Well, I think everybody would like --

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: -- To have seen a presidential emergency board there.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: OK?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

SCHERI: And, they didn’t, he said no.

DRUMMOND: Because I’ve talked to some of the folks who worked in PR for Eastern.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: And they were equally devastated.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: That -- that, you know -- I mean, they’re -- they’re not necessarily pro-union.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: But they’re equally devastated at how things ended.

SCHERI: It’s another step in the procedure that could resolve something, and he wouldn’t let that happen, which I don’t understand, but that’s Bush.

DRUMMOND: Well, what’s your reaction to people who say that it was the union’s fault that Eastern -- that you all wanted too much?

SCHERI: No, not really.

DRUMMOND: You -- you don’t have...

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: You don’t -- you don’t hear that?

SCHERI: No.

DRUMMOND: OK.

64:00

SCHERI: No, because all our contracts, even at Eastern over the years, they were in, uh, they coincided with the rest of the industry.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: We weren’t trying to get pie in the sky type of situation, uh, he just didn’t want us to go that way for improvements. He’s trying to take us the other way.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: You’re going to go back to wages, uh, that were many -- he came about many years before, real low. That’s where he wanted to take us. He wanted to take away benefits. I mean, the list goes on and on.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: I don’t even know if I got that paper yet, I -- I probably shredded it, because it was terrible.

DRUMMOND: Well, do you think that deregulation had anything to do with the way airlines were operated?

SCHERI: Oh sure.

DRUMMOND: Going in, and -- and if that had, maybe, a direct effect, or -- or maybe not even a direct effect, but if -- but if that, uh, had some sort of effect on, um, the way corporations dealt with the unions that were organized 65:00for airlines? How did -- how did -- how did deregulation affect the machinists?

SCHERI: Oh, I -- well, we’re -- number one, we were against it from the onset, OK?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

SCHERI: We said the -- it’s not going to work, because you’re going to see very few airlines in existence. I mean, this is all stuff we put in writing to Congress, and the Senate, you know, so forth.

DRUMMOND: Was that --

SCHERI: They said...

DRUMMOND: -- Part of [Winpesinger’s?] testimony?

SCHERI: Who?

DRUMMOND: Winpesinger’s?

SCHERI: No, it’s my testimony.

DRUMMOND: Your testimony?

SCHERI: Peter [Balls?], too.

DRUMMOND: OK, so you all testified?

SCHERI: Oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: We put about four carriers in this country, and for the simple fact that you’re going to have throat -- cutthroat competition, and sure as heck, it all come about. I mean, look at the major carriers, you know, you’ve got very few, OK, and, uh, what blossomed out of it, you got a lot of, uh, commuter-type aircraft running around this country, uh, of course, we said, maybe prices will 66:00go down momentarily, talking shares, in the long run, it’s going to be like a monopoly.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: They’re going to have full control, and that’s what happened. And, uh, on top of that, one of the worst things that happened is that before deregulation, we had the Civil Aeronautics Board. And you had to go present your case, what are you going for a route addition, or deletion, they had to give you approval. Now, that no longer exists. Uh, it’s just a mess, I think they made a major mistake.

DRUMMOND: And that was the Carter Administration.

SCHERI: Yeah. And I know, that’s right. And, uh, the deregulation was not the key, and now, (inaudible) is this the greatest thing for the industry, um, and it’s not. It -- see, what you got now is a bunch of passengers going on airplanes, and we said, uh, it’s going to be like -- like loading cattle onto a cattle car. I mean, you could see the service, how it’s been, uh, degraded, you know? You don’t even get -- you don’t -- I don’t know if you get 67:00crackers anymore or what.

DRUMMOND: If you’re lucky, you get a little bag of peanuts.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Uh-huh.

SCHERI: Anyways, it’s all degraded, where before, I mean, it was a glorious industry. Everybody liked to work in it, and all of that, now, you go out in the field, you hear so many people pissing and moaning, you know, how bad it is, they could care less. And the one main reason is that, you no longer have airline people running these airlines. They’re chief financial officers, what’s the bottom line, how much money could we make, forget the employees, we’ll take care of them too by decreasing their wages and benefits, and that’s what happened, they destroyed a good system. All of the airline people are out of it, people who knew how to run airlines, they’re no longer in it.

DRUMMOND: Hmm.

SCHERI: And you’ve got all financial people, and when they get fired from one spot, boom, they go over here and get hired in another airline.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: It brings along the same scenario.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

68:00

SCHERI: Uh, and that’s -- you’ve got to have airline people running --

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: -- hands on, know what they’re doing, and then you’ll see profitable airlines again.

DRUMMOND: Right. Well, the -- the person who, I think, was in charge of Eastern before Borman, and I can never remember it...

SCHERI: Rickenbacker?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, that he was a good airline person, he understood airlines.

SCHERI: Yes, he was.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Yes, he was.

DRUMMOND: That he understood what was important --

SCHERI: Yeah, that’s correct.

DRUMMOND: -- For airlines to run. I -- I hear that from both sides.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: From the -- the union and the non-union folks.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Um, well, speaking of Carter, um, being for deregulation, how did -- and because I talked to, um, Justin Ostro a little bit about this today.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: How disappointed labor was with, um, Jimmy Carter.

SCHERI: Mm-hmm.

DRUMMOND: Um, can you talk a little bit about -- were you involved at the political level with the machinists, or...

SCHERI: Oh yeah, and (inaudible), that didn’t help that.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Yeah, but I was never close to him, no.

DRUMMOND: OK.

69:00

SCHERI: I -- I know a very little bit about his presidency other than I had high hopes too.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

SCHERI: That he had a scouter going in there, out of the academy, and, uh, always smiling. And I figured, hey, maybe there’s something new here, a guy who can turn things around here, and of course, the opposite is true. You know, interests rates -- I don’t have to tell you, uh, went crazy. And my best friends, who are -- some of my best friends that are Republicans, they always zing me on that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: What’s about Jimmy Carter, let’s talk about him, Bill, you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And then I’ll throw in another good president, OK, let’s talk about this one, and you’re off to the races, you know? Nobody really likes Carter that I know of, I’m talking the labor movement.

DRUMMOND: Right, right, yeah. Um...

SCHERI: I don’t think he helped us...

DRUMMOND: So much so that -- that -- that PATCO’s was talked into supporting Reagan, and -- and...

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: You know, he was no help to them. Um, well, were there any other big 70:00issues sort of, um, political or legislative during your time as airline coordinator? Or even president? We can go ahead and start talking about being vice president of the -- of the transportation, which was the ground workers for airlines and railroads.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Um, and once you became vice president, that would’ve been in ’94, you worked there, and you retired in ’99?

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK, so for five years, about. Um, you were in that position. Um, how did that change, going from airline coordinator to vice president of the --

SCHERI: Once again, you picked up...

DRUMMOND: -- Of transportation.

SCHERI: You picked up more responsibility. But, what I was always proud of, I had a good bunch of guys staff, and the field representatives, and -- and I always liked to organize, when I even first started. You know, you’ve got to organize and keep the movement going, as people are retiring, you need to replace them and all that.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

71:00

SCHERI: And, uh, in just my five years that I was there, we organized -- I’m talking strictly in our division -- 45,000 new members. And you don’t see that too often.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And the last big group we got was United Airlines, the passenger service agents, and, uh, he thought it was a big group. It was about, I want to say, 15,000-16,000 that organized. But, the guys went out there, and they worked. And then we had a good crew, and I’d be out there too.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: I would say, hey, well, Bill’s out here? Yeah, for the simple reason, not that I’m checking on you guys, I just want to tell you how important this thing is that we win it. And, we did that, United, we did it on USAir, talking big campaigns, though.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And they’re doing it again, they just organized, uh, a few months back, Continental Airlines. Uh, and they’re -- they’re organizing is starting to get better in our division. Uh, maybe it -- the pendulum’s 72:00changing a little bit, where people are seeing, hey, we’ve got to have union representation to survive.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, because I say, if you don’t have it, you’re in kind of trouble. At least for the union and so forth. You can go out there and try to catch up, you have somebody speaking for you. Uh, and they’re usually professional people. I don’t know, I just -- I always thought I belonged to a union, and -- and -- and better than not belonging in one.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: And it’ll show you, you know, you’re a scholar. It shows you just how much more you can get by belonging to a union versus not belonging to a union shack. And I forget what the percentage is now, but you make a lot more money, and you get a lot more benefits if you’re unionized.

DRUMMOND: Well, and I think a lot of people have that now, and they can go in, and they can join the union.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: But they haven’t been part of the big struggles to get to those places.

SCHERI: I understand.

73:00

DRUMMOND: Um, and I think that’s the younger generation of folks, I think that that’s...

SCHERI: I’m sorry?

DRUMMOND: A young -- a younger generation of folks who are coming into unions.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: Especially established, um, unions, uh, machinists, electrical worker, you know...

SCHERI: Mm-hmm.

DRUMMOND: Um, can you have -- have you -- do you have any thoughts on that? On how, uh, perhaps, people join unions, but perhaps are not active in their unions? Have -- did you -- did you see any of that, like...

SCHERI: Oh yeah, yeah. But then you’ve got to get them interested.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: And you’ve got to, uh, get out there, and try to school them, and I -- I know I can remember some of the worst scenarios, the guys are -- are an -- anti-union, and you’re going wait a minute, slow down. Well, we thought this bill, we thought -- well, that ain’t true. And you explain to them what the correct facts are. Oh, I didn’t know that. And I said, well, you ever think about going to the union meeting? And I used to work them in that way. Get down there, be a participant, you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

74:00

SCHERI: And, uh, most of them with any brains, they would pick up on it, and start coming in to meetings and so forth, and being inquisitive, and, uh, how the union works. And I said, there’s not a bunch of goons, you know, make everybody claims.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: Union bosses, that’s all a bunch of baloney.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: But, uh, anyways...

DRUMMOND: Well, and a union starts with its members, really, and if you don’t have people being active, and they’re just there for the benefits.

SCHERI: Mm-hmm.

DRUMMOND: I mean, that’s going to weaken a union considerably.

SCHERI: Sure.

DRUMMOND: Um, I see that, you know, and -- and perhaps, with the historical perspective, you referred to me as a scholar, I wouldn’t go that far. But, with a historical pers-- perspective, um, it’s always disappointing to see when people aren’t as involved as they perhaps could be. So, vice president of 75:00transportation, ground workers in the airlines and railroads, what were, maybe, some of the big issues you had while you were president? Did you -- or vice president. Were there any big, um, legal or political issues, or, um...

SCHERI: I’m not quite sure.

DRUMMOND: Anything that really -- yeah, anything that really stands out as, maybe, your hardest struggle in that position, or your most difficult work, or maybe the thing that finally made you decide on retirement?

SCHERI: No, I just had a lot of time in.

DRUMMOND: OK. (laughter)

SCHERI: And I got tired of traveling, and, uh -- in fact, I went a year early, I went at age 64.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And I said I’m going to start enjoying my family, and the kids, and all of that. And that’s what I did.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: People were saying, Bill, why are you going a year early?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Because I feel like it, I think I travelled on and off, and, uh, well, what are you going to do when you retire? Play golf.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: (laughter) And that’s it.

DRUMMOND: And have you? Have you?

SCHERI: Yeah, I have been.

DRUMMOND: Good, good.

SCHERI: Yeah.

76:00

DRUMMOND: Um, well, you’ve talked...

SCHERI: But there’s many challenges, I mean, you know, vice president, and it’s a big scope, so you’ve got to cover, because not only have you got to worry about them and you report to your hierarchies, the executive council, the international president, you know, not that I ever got in that type of arena in trouble, I didn’t, I never did, because I used to voice my opinion quite well on the executive council when I believed it. And it wasn’t ridiculous, I would get by with it. And, if I was way off base, somebody would tell me so.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

SCHERI: And, anyway. I had that type of working relationship, and, uh, during the time that I was a union rep. And, I guess that’s made it successful, because I -- I knew when to talk, I knew when to listen.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Right.

SCHERI: And I knew how to apply stuff too.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.

SCHERI: Uh, but anyways...

DRUMMOND: Well, I know that you had a really close relationship with John Peterpaul.

SCHERI: Right.

77:00

DRUMMOND: Um, you sort of came through the ranks together. Um, what has it meant for you to have, sort of, a partner, I mean, because when people talk about -- even when the other people talk about you, they kind of talk about you together.

SCHERI: Mm-hmm.

DRUMMOND: That you were -- that you were buddies, and you worked closely together for a really long time.

SCHERI: Right.

DRUMMOND: What has it meant for you to have somebody, kind of, with you along the way that you could, I -- I assume, rely on, and help you with hard problems --

SCHERI: Oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: -- and bounce ideas off of.

SCHERI: It’s a good feeling.

DRUMMOND: Yeah?

SCHERI: It really is, that you could talk to somebody, you know, and just sit there and trash [sic] things out, you know, and, uh, find an answer together. Uh, it was just good, it’s a good feeling. We do it, even now when we’re both retired, we don’t like to criticize, because we’re not there anymore.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: Everybody’s got different styles.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: And, uh...

DRUMMOND: Is that how you say it now?

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: It’s different styles, it’s not criticism?

SCHERI: Yeah, different styles, yeah. And, uh, we’re very good, and he -- he was my boss, and some days, I used to think he was wrong. I walk in the office. 78:00“John, can I see you?” “Yeah. And I tell him, now, we’re not going to do it that way, then I bring something up, hey, that’s a good point, go out there and apply it. But I had a pretty good relationship, and there were a lot of people that are subordinate to an officer of the union, probably couldn’t get away with it as much as I did, because -- because coming up through, vice versa with me, uh, we never two-timed each other, you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: We’re -- we’re going, and we’re solid citizens, and, uh, he got in trouble, I’d be right there trying to help him out. I don’t care if it was members or what, he would do the same for me, so it’s a really nice feeling, that’s the best way I can say it. And, he’s been straightforward with me over the years, and here it is, so, we drove from Cocoa Beach over to his house, because he said, well, you’ve got to go up there with me, Bill, come on over, 79:00and I’m going to drive down to, uh, where we’re at -- at today.

DRUMMOND: Lady Lake?

SCHERI: Lady Lake.

DRUMMOND: The villages.

SCHERI: Yeah, the villages.

DRUMMOND: It’s kind of -- it kind of has two names, so...

SCHERI: Yeah. So, anyways, no, it’s a good feeling, and I learned quite a bit from him.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And hopefully, he learned something from me.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And...

DRUMMOND: Well, I’ll find out in the next interview.

SCHERI: (laughter) You will.

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

SCHERI: He’ll probably tell you he’s a lying son of a gun. (laughter) No.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well, were -- were there any -- was there anybody else in the union that you looked up to, or relied on for guidance? Especially in the early years, when you were, you know, shop steward in Mohawk.

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Were -- was there anybody in place there at the time that you relied on to help you out?

SCHERI: Oh yeah.

DRUMMOND: Yeah?

SCHERI: Yeah, a lot of good reps there, yeah.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: One of them is dead now, he was the local vice president, his name was Bill [Malpese?]. Good, strong union rep. His, uh, family grew up in Pennsylvania, steel mills, that type of situation. And, I had another guy, Tom 80:00Williams, uh, he ended up going to work for, uh, TWA over in the Beirut area.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: He left Mohawk, and he went over and made a ton of money, uh, getting shot at and everything else, and he’s now retired, uh, in California. And just good people. I mean, uh, you didn’t have to ask them to do anything, they’d be right there. Bill, what do you -- we already know what you need, we’re going to do this, is it OK? Go do it. And, uh, that’s the -- we were a tight knit group.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, of course, uh, like I said, John and us, we’ve been together for so long, we’re like brothers. In fact, a lot of people say, you sure you two ain’t related?

DRUMMOND: (laughter)

SCHERI: (laughter)

DRUMMOND: And what about outside the union? Um, was there anybody outside the union that was a -- a big influence on you?

SCHERI: Well, I forgot to mention -- I went over it very lightly, my uncle was a big influence on me.

DRUMMOND: OK. And your mother’s brother?

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: Or your father’s brother?

SCHERI: No, my mother’s brother.

DRUMMOND: Your mother’s brother, OK.

81:00

SCHERI: And he was a Grand Lodge Representative for the IAM --

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: -- And he passed on in ’68.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: I remember when I was working in the engine shop...

DRUMMOND: So, you’d been a member about ten years, or about...

SCHERI: Fifty years.

DRUMMOND: No, but when he passed away, you’d already been a member six or seven.

SCHERI: Oh yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: So, he was probably really proud to see you in there moving on up.

SCHERI: Yeah, he was.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: But anyways, uh, I’d get a problem or something like that, and I’d talk to him at night when he was home, and, uh, I said, you know, I don’t like the shop steward we got now. And I’d tell him why, and he said, well, there’s one way to cure that, Bill. And I said, what’s that? He said, “Go run for the job.”

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Yeah.

SCHERI: And that’s what I did.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: And I’ve been running ever since. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: But he was good, I mean, and he’d sit down, a very sensible guy, and he had -- he had most of upstate New York he had to cover, and very smart, not because he was my uncle, he was a very smart guy, and, uh, yeah, that was some 82:00of the people giving me my start helping me along. And I’ll never forget that. Yeah, there’s one way to take care of that, go run against them. (laughter)

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Well, um, is there anything that we haven’t discussed today that you would like to mention?

SCHERI: No, there’s probably a bunch of stuff that happened during the vice president and the years, it’s just not snapping back right now.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Organizing was big, you know, that we did.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

SCHERI: Uh...

DRUMMOND: And ’94-’99?

SCHERI: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Lots of organizing?

SCHERI: We had -- I did a lot of negotiations, I was involved in negotiations quite a bit. For John, and also, when I was in there, I would still jump in on the tail end of negotiations, to make sure we got a decent contract.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And, uh, you know, I think that’s about it.

DRUMMOND: OK, well, what’s been your least favorite part of the work that you’ve done?

83:00

SCHERI: Well, least favorite? I never really had -- I don’t know, what bothered me, let me put it that way.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: It might be -- what bothered me when somebody got fired, OK? And -- and you would try your darndest to get them back, and you knew he was -- he was innocent, and he ended up going through arbitration, they rule against him, that would hurt me.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: Because we had facts, somehow, the facts didn’t come out right, the arbitrator upholds the -- the company. And, another thing that kept me going in this business for so long, is the way management treats employees. I mean, that -- that’s what makes me go out there and fight twice as hard, the way they would screw over employees, screw my expression, and then, uh, uh, just disregard that they’re human beings.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: But that’s what they practiced way back then, and they’re still practicing it now.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

84:00

SCHERI: You know, try to downgrade you, put you under, you know? Yeah, you’re a part of the middle class, I’m up here, you know, sitting on top of the pack, making millions of dollars, and, uh, you guys don’t know nothing.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

SCHERI: And once somebody starts talking like that, I’m off to the races, now I’ve got to beat this guy somehow.

DRUMMOND: (laughter) Right, right.

SCHERI: Yeah. That’s how we were.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: And...

DRUMMOND: And your fav--

SCHERI: And -- and thank --

DRUMMOND: I’m sorry.

SCHERI: -- God we’ve got unions.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: Yes.

DRUMMOND: Well, and what’s been your favorite part of the work?

SCHERI: Oh, working with people. I’m, uh, I guess, a people person. And just working in general with people over the years. The ups, the goods, the downs, uh, I enjoyed it. It -- it was a nice ride.

DRUMMOND: OK.

SCHERI: Yeah, not an easy one.

DRUMMOND: Right.

SCHERI: But it was a nice ride.

DRUMMOND: OK. OK, well, if you don’t have anything else to add, I think we are...

SCHERI: OK.

DRUMMOND: We are finished. Thank you so much for participating.

SCHERI: Thank you.

85:00

DRUMMOND: And for taking the time to come to the interview today.