Susan Taylor Interview

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RACHEL BERNSTEIN: OK, I am going to start again. So its Rachel Bernstein. It is November 20th, 2013. We are at the IAM retirees conference in Las Vegas and I am here with Susan Taylor. Susan.

SUSAN TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. Good afternoon.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you for doing this. Uh. Really. Thank you. Its been a long day. Uh. In spite of that, I want to start at the beginning if you dont mind --


BERNSTEIN: -- ever so briefly. Tell me where you were born and when and what -- where -- how your parents --

TAYLOR: I was, I was born in October of 1945. I was born here in Washington, DC. My parents came here to find work and my mother came here and she went to nursing school.

BERNSTEIN: They came from?

TAYLOR: My mom is from South Carolina and my dad is from North Carolina. So they met here. And, um...

BERNSTEIN: So they came before -- obviously before you were born --

TAYLOR: Before I was born, right.

BERNSTEIN: -- and met before you were born --



BERNSTEIN: -- and so they were part of the Great Migration, really.

TAYLOR: They were. They were definitely part of the Great Migration and then, uh, shortly after that I guess when I was about three or four they migrated even further to Ohio. So I grew up in Ohio and then I came back --

BERNSTEIN: What town?

TAYLOR: -- to Washington -- a very small town called Martins Ferry. Its in the Ohio Valley --


TAYLOR: -- and it is very near, uh, actually right across the river from the Wheeling, West Virginia, about 30 miles from Pittsburgh. So we are right in that triangle, Pennsylvania --


TAYLOR: -- West Virginia, and Ohio. They call it the tri-state area.

BERNSTEIN: And what did they do? What --

TAYLOR: My father built homes. He built luxury homes and my mom was a nurse, but after we moved to Ohio she was basically a home -- a homemaker. Im the oldest of seven and for a while I thought I was going to be an only child because my 00:02:00next sibling is 10 years younger than I am and then its like she had a child every two years after that so, uh, I kind of grew up as more of an adult figure with my siblings. Theyre closer in age, but were still all very close, but they see me more as a disciplinarian --


TAYLOR: -- more so than as, you know, a sibling.

BERNSTEIN: Not one of the younger crowd.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: Yup. And so where -- did you have any union in your family? Any union connections in your family?

TAYLOR: Not really, no. None. We did --

BERNSTEIN: Did you have values that --

TAYLOR: I think so and particularly after working with the IAM for as long as I have, we had a value of commitment to, uh, to others, a commitment to self in that we were always taught to give back. That you always had something to give 00:03:00even if it was just a hello or, um, going to the store for somebody. That we were always taught to give and pay it forward.


TAYLOR: That was one of the things that I remember -- yeah.

BERNSTEIN: It didnt have to be a union lesson.

TAYLOR: No, it was a life lesson thats that actually has been very helpful to me working with the union because I find that were in sync.

BERNSTEIN: Were you religious? Was your family religious as part of your --

TAYLOR: My family was very religious. I come from --

BERNSTEIN: Your values come from that?

TAYLOR: I come from Baptists. Southern Baptists. In fact, I have a brother thats a minister. Hes on the Executive Council of the National Baptist Conference. I have about three or four uncles who are ministers, so its very religious. I, however, took a metaphysical approach to religion. I belong to 00:04:00Unity. Its the -- have you ever heard of the magazine the Daily Word?


TAYLOR: They are based in Missouri. It was started by Leonard, uh, Leonard Fillmore and I have come to be a Unity person so. And basically --

BERNSTEIN: Well, thats later in your life.


BERNSTEIN: Were going to just -- so Im -- were still in your childhood --


BERNSTEIN: -- we will get to that. My feeing is that things are all connected so this is an interview about your activism with the union, but first we want to know how you got there.


BERNSTEIN: So if thats OK --


BERNSTEIN: -- you grew up in -- born in DC, you grew up in Ohio partly and then came back to DC.

TAYLOR: Came back to DC my senior year in high school. Uh. The luxury home market kind of dried up in that Ohio area so we came back to Washington and my 00:05:00father continued to build houses there.

BERNSTEIN: And what -- what did you want to be when you grew up?

TAYLOR: When I grew up -- I am trying to think -- what did I really want to do?

BERNSTEIN: I mean, lots of people have no idea but...

TAYLOR: I am trying to remember. That was so long ago. Um.

BERNSTEIN: And so when you were a senior do you remember what you wanted to do next?

TAYLOR: The only thing that I knew definitely as a senior was that I was going to college. That was never, um, something that I had to think about. It was that when you graduate, you are going to go to college so --

BERNSTEIN: Your parents always told you that?

TAYLOR: Oh, yes. My mom did. Uh. Ill tell you a story about my mother. She was forced to leave school. She was born in 1924 and in southern -- South Carolina, which was very segregated, they did not have a high school at that time for, um, blacks in her town. So she was forced to leave school in the 00:06:00seventh grade. That shaped my mother and in turn shaped us so that, you know --

BERNSTEIN: But she became a nurse.

TAYLOR: She did. She came --

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)

TAYLOR: -- she came when she was in Washington. She went to school, she graduated, and then she went on to become a nurse.

BERNSTEIN: But that early experience really --

TAYLOR: Exactly. And I --

BERNSTEIN: -- cemented her commitment to education for her children and (inaudible) you.

TAYLOR: It did and I, embarrassingly, must say that I used that many times to get out of doing work as being the oldest child and Id say, Oh, I cant. I have all this homework to do. And, of course, that immediately --

BERNSTEIN: And that got you out of it because they wanted your studies to be first.

TAYLOR: Exactly.

BERNSTEIN: Thats important.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: So you come back and you are a senior in high school and so you knew 00:07:00you wanted to go to college. How did you figure out what college to go to?

TAYLOR: I knew that I was going to college and I enrolled in, actually, speech pathology. The School of Communication at Howard University. In fact, we were the first graduating class from the School of Communication. So that was in --

BERNSTEIN: And what drew you to Howard? Did you have teachers who told you about it?

TAYLOR: Uh. It was the most inexpensive at the time and it was a well-known black university. One of the premier black universities in the United States.

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. Its got a huge reputation.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: But did -- so did you choose it partly because it was a historically black university?

TAYLOR: I chose it partly because it was the most inexpensive in the area. (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: Just to repeat the obvious.

TAYLOR: I mean, to be very honest because it was the most inexpensive in the area.

BERNSTEIN: Thats fair. OK.


BERNSTEIN: And what was -- what was it like?

TAYLOR: It was a great experience because, to be honest, growing up in Ohio, 00:08:00there were only two fam -- black families in my town. Mine and one other. So coming back to Washington even, like, within my senior year, it was just overwhelming to see, you know, so many people that looked like me, had the same ideas, and it was interesting because I was kind of catching up. Um. The music -- there were music and songs if I go to a party with friends and I thought, Oh, is that a new song? And they said, No, its been out for three years. Well, I didnt hear it in my hometown. So that was, uh --

BERNSTEIN: Quite an adjustment.

TAYLOR: Very much so. Very much so. So much of an adjustment at the end of my first semeter I had a 1.9 GPA -- (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: Oh, dear.

TAYLOR: -- because I was having fun.

BERNSTEIN: This is in college?

TAYLOR: This is in college, yes. Yeah.

BERNSTEIN: Im guessing your mother read you the riot act.

TAYLOR: Oh, more than that. (laughter) But that changed very quickly. Yes.


BERNSTEIN: So did you get involved in any political activities when you were in college?

TAYLOR: I was involved in -- you know, people think that the -- I think Howard -- if I remember correctly, I believe that we were the first to take over the administration building in protest of --

BERNSTEIN: Oh, no kidding?

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. We did that and then I think afterwards Kent State took over, but we didnt get the same, uh --


TAYLOR: Press. But we were among the first to take over because of the, uh, we wanted more black education, black history in school and we wanted, uh, better teaching and, you know, more studies. So I did -- I was involved with that.

BERNSTEIN: So it was not so much anti-war as it was --

TAYLOR: Right. It was not anti-war. It was more, uh --

BERNSTEIN: Advocating for African American studies or an Africana program or something to do with --


TAYLOR: Right. And -- and also just, uh, well, for the kids that lived on campus, they were also advocating for better conditions on campus with the food and everything else.

BERNSTEIN: Oh, dear. OK.

TAYLOR: But that lasted for about a week.

BERNSTEIN: Thats a serious takeover.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. It was.

BERNSTEIN: OK. So you got some political chops early on. And when you graduated?

TAYLOR: When I -- before I graduated I went to work for United Airlines --

BERNSTEIN: While you were still in school?

TAYLOR: -- as a part-time employee. Mm-hmm. As a part-time employee I worked in their city ticket office. Not the city ticket office. Excuse me. They had an office -- I am trying to remember what its called. Oh. Tickets by mail. So when people wanted tickets mailed out to them, we were the ones that sat there and hand wrote all of those tickets. So I started that working for them in 1967. January of 1967 as a part-time employee.


BERNSTEIN: And so that was probably not a union job?

TAYLOR: No, it was not a union job. It didnt become a union until 1998. But I had --

BERNSTEIN: But you had been there for a long time?

TAYLOR: No, I did various things with (inaudible)

BERNSTEIN: Oh, OK. So lets keep -- so you are working part-time while you are still in college in the ticket office and then when you graduate?

TAYLOR: I graduated in 1972 and then I went into the management training program and --

BERNSTEIN: Of Uniteds management training program?

TAYLOR: Of United. Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: Were you invited or did you --


BERNSTEIN: -- want to go --

TAYLOR: I was invited into their management training program. We spent six months in different areas.

BERNSTEIN: And did they have a commitment to diversity at that point or did they just recognize your energy and skills?

TAYLOR: I think they were beginning to because this was like 72 and I noticed 00:12:00they were hiring more blacks at that time. So I think that they were looking for people with possible potential to go into the management ranks. So it just so happened I happened to be at the right place at the right time with a degree because they were looking for people with a degree --

BERNSTEIN: A college degree and experience and you had it all right there.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: So what was that program like?

TAYLOR: It was interesting. I spent time in inflight, I spent time at corporate headquarters, I spent time at the airport, I spent time in sales, so I got a little bit of everything and my career went that way. In fact, I began and the ticket by mail office and I ended my career in the city ticket office so thats how -- its almost like coming full circle.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. Thats so interesting. So you did the management training and then it led you to what next?


TAYLOR: Uh. From there I went to, um, passenger service. I was passenger service supervisor at Dulles Airport and from there I went to inflight service -- inflight service supervisor and while there I was acting as a staff assistant to the manager --

BERNSTEIN: So how -- how long are these -- how many years are we talking that youre doing this supervising and customer service?

TAYLOR: Um. Probably about five years. Probably about five years.

BERNSTEIN: And did you -- were there rumblings about organizing among the people you supervised?

TAYLOR: They were already organized. They belonged to the, um, Association of Flight Attendants so they belonged to AFA. They were already organized.

BERNSTEIN: And you were their supervisor and so -- and your relations with --

TAYLOR: With the union I was on the other side of the table.

BERNSTEIN: -- the union. You were management.

TAYLOR: Right. So was the other side of the table.

BERNSTEIN: And did you have congenial or confrontational relations?


TAYLOR: For the most part it was congenial, you know. We were -- we were pretty good. Because I think we did have a healthy respect for one another and the boundaries that we had to work within the designs of the contract.

BERNSTEIN: Did you help negotiate contracts?


BERNSTEIN: You just helped implement and work out --

TAYLOR: I just helped implement, right.

BERNSTEIN: -- work out whatever needed to be worked out and its always something.

TAYLOR: Always. (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: Uh-huh. So first --

TAYLOR: But I will tell you of all my, uh, jobs with the airlines, the experience that I gained from inflight, I can understand why, particularly for women, a lot of the promotions came out of inflight because inflight had the, um, I was going to say say the foresight or whatever, but they believed in training their people. If you were to say to them, You know, theres a -- a conference or theres a program on diversity at the XO and Id like to 00:15:00go. They said, Fine.


TAYLOR: And that was good. Yes. Contrast that with customer service where you had to justify just asking for a computer that -- an additional computer that could be used, you know. Same time an inflight, if you wanted an additional computer, theyd say, Oh, is it just one? How many did you need? And it was coming from that climate into a climate of You can have whatever you want. Anything to promote your development, you got it. You dont have to, it was like a kid in a toyshop.

BERNSTEIN: And inflight is all the flight attendants?

TAYLOR: Thats the flight attendants.

BERNSTEIN: And anybody else or thats who it is that were talking about?

TAYLOR: No, its just the flight attendants.

BERNSTEIN: OK. (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Inflight is flight attendants and then you have the pilots. So it seems like they were the wunderkind -- the wonder kids, you know. The pilots got whatever they want. Inflight got whatever it wanted. Everybody else had to 00:16:00justify why they wanted it. So you learn that early on.

BERNSTEIN: So youre supervisor for the flight attendants and then you move on to...

TAYLOR: Uh. Temporary staff assistant to the manager of the domicile, uh, at Washington National Airport and then from there I went to acting operating manager in the interim between, um --

BERNSTEIN: So thats managing the whole airport? That whole staff -- ?

TAYLOR: Just inflight services.


TAYLOR: That would be the supervisors on the flight attendants for inflight services.

BERNSTEIN: And how long were you in that

TAYLOR: I was there for about two months.


TAYLOR: Someone else, actually, ended up getting the job.

BERNSTEIN: And then you moved on to the...

TAYLOR: From there I went back to being supervisor of inflight services and then we had a reduction in forces and I left the air -- Im trying to remember when was that? And then I went back to the ticket counter, which is my original 00:17:00non-management job. Because I did not want to move to another city. I mean, I could have, uh, continued in another city, but I wanted to stay here in Washington. Yeah.

BERNSTEIN: Taken a mangement job in another city. Oh. OK. And so you went back to, uh --

TAYLOR: I went back to my last non-management position, which was the city ticket office.

BERNSTEIN: And still not organized?

TAYLOR: Still not organized. We didnt organize until --

BERNSTEIN: Its so interesting that parts of the operation are unionized and other parts arent and there doesnt, uh -- I wonder if that was discussed as you are there in the ticket office.

TAYLOR: No, it was not really discussed. They saw themselves as -- there was a [sigh] an interesting, um, phenomenon in the ticket office. The ticket office saw themselves as white collar employees. They did not -- they felt that all 00:18:00union employees were blue collar so they had this thing. Plus, the company they gave a lot of the benefits that the union received through the IAM they were given to us. So, you know, people did not feel the need for that. To be honest, it wasnt until United forced its employees to purchase the company and everyone was given a 10% reduction in pay with the understanding that management is going to represent you, you know, and I had a question. How the -- to me, having been in management, my first loyalty was to the company, so how can you now tell me that youre going to represent me when your first loyalty is to the company? Of course they never explained that (inaudible)

BERNSTEIN: They didnt answer that question.


TAYLOR: Yeah. Right. Now, were here to represent -- no, thats not going to work. So I heard about the, uh, IAM trying to organize people and I got involved with -- at that time Gretchen in the reservations office and I acted as the liaison in the city ticket offices and we went around talking to people and saying, you know, this isnt right. This is not right. But even with that, they still didnt get organized.

BERNSTEIN: So the -- and -- and you think a lot of it has to do with this identification with white collar work --

TAYLOR: I think it does.

BERNSTEIN: -- separate from the labor movement? Even though there are certainly grieveances (inaudible)

TAYLOR: I think that it does. I felt that it did. I felt that it really did. Yeah. They just saw --

BERNSTEIN: Do you think the company promoted that (inaudible)

TAYLOR: I cant say that the company promoted that. I mean, who knows. They may have but I cant say that they promoted it. I can say that the company, um, definitely shared what the other unions got so that they would not have to 00:20:00deal with another union thats coming in. But the second time, uh, I think we -- it was almost 10 years before we actually got a raise. So it was -- yeah, we took a 10% pay cut and it was 10 years before we got a raise.

BERNSTEIN: And then it was 10 years.

TAYLOR: But it wasnt just that. What happened, they gave us shares. They said, OK, your money is going to be shares in the company.


TAYLOR: So you are in an Aesop program, but the Aesop program was designed and set up for the benefit of the company, so we could not take those shares out and sell them or anything else because that is not how it was designed. We ended up losing. I had I think about $44,000 in shares that were lost when United filed for bankruptcy. So that money supposedly that was -- and that was at the point 00:21:00where I think a light bulb went off within the reservations offices, the city ticket offices and the ticket counters that said, Hey, maybe we better rethink this.

BERNSTEIN: It took an awful long time and a lot of (inaudible)

TAYLOR: It took an awful long time and a lot of pain.

BERNSTEIN: A lot of injustice --

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: -- honestly (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Before they finally decided. Yeah.

BERNSTEIN: And so you came to this conclusion early and helped organize?

TAYLOR: I did . I was one of the organizers.

BERNSTEIN: And tell me about that.

TAYLOR: It was a great experience. I worked, as I said, with, uh, Gretchen Zency in reservations and then it was Ken -- I forgot Kens name -- out of Seattle. He was, uh, responsible for organizing and we went around talking to people and showing them how the union would benefit them, you know. That we wouldnt have 00:22:00to -- they would have to negotiate because they shared with us how they negotiated a better deal for the mechanics and their members in terms of the Aesop and giving back things and so we were able to share that information with people and, as I said, by that time people were angry and disgusted so they said, Yes, were going to vote in the union. But I dont know that they fully understood how a union works or that they voted for the wrong reasons. They did not understand, uh, just what all that means in terms of voting for seniority and how you set-up contracts. Things like that. And they didnt necessarily want to -- to listen.

BERNSTEIN: So what do you think they were voting for it? Just better treatment on a very specific level and not understanding the mechanisms? Is that what youre saying?


TAYLOR: That -- I think they were voting out of -- out of, uh, anger and frustration and you have to remember for all that time, you know, they were given the same benefits without having to have the union. So, to them, the only benefit now was protect me and, um, that came to play a part in a lot of frustration and even anger at the union.

BERNSTEIN: And so you helped organize and then did you have a position in the union from the get-go?

TAYLOR: I was shop steward for our local and then I also worked as, um, the employee assistance rep for the city ticket offices.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. And so its in those positions that you run into people who dont really understand --

TAYLOR: Right. They kept saying --

BERNSTEIN: -- and tell me what they dont understand. Explain for the record, like, what it is that (inaudible)-- give me an example.


TAYLOR: Well, OK, Ill give you -- Ill give you an example. The very first contract that they, um, that people were asked to vote on, one of the things that they had they said is that we want to protect the seniority so that an employee in reservations would be protected, say, for example, if they decided, which they did, to close all the city ticket offices. Prior to the union, the city ticket office would then be able to go back to their last jobs if they could bump in with full seniority.

BERNSTEIN: And they wouldnt (inaudible)--

TAYLOR: Well, under this new -- the new contract that was negotiated, the city ticket office would no longer have the right to bump back in. They would have to go back as a, uh, really almost rehire for the position. And they could not go in at their current salary. They went in at the beginning salary. Right. So, uh, 00:25:00they did not read the contract and read the language to see and, you know, the union says, But this is what you told us that you wanted. So there was a lot of, um, anger, disgust, frustration and feeling that the union was not going to help them. But they really didnt participate. You know, when you -- and I tried to explain -- when you go into something, youve got to participate in it to make it better so you can understand whats going on and they didnt -- you know, so they left with, uh, some people --

BERNSTEIN: So you think if they had participated that contract would have been negotiated differently?

TAYLOR: Oh, of course it would have been negotiated. They didnt -- they would not have realized that, uh, they would not have -- I dont think they would have voted for that contract because, first of all, you know, we had people with 25, 26 years with the company but who did not have the age to retire. They were on the street. Or they took a position at the airport or back in reservations at 00:26:00$14 an hour when they were making $24 an hour. So that -- yeah. So you can see they were very bitter against the union. They didnt want anything to do with it.

BERNSTEIN: And so why did the union agree to that?

TAYLOR: I cant answer that. (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: You werent involved in negotiations.

TAYLOR: I cant answer that. I was not in the negotiations. Im sure that they probably shared the information and said, Look, this s whats going to happen. But the city ticket office was a small group. We were only a group of, like, 25 or 26. The reservation office was a group of hundreds and the airports were a group of hundreds. So just like with anything else, you know, the more strength that you have, the more that you, you know, that you agree to.


BERNSTEIN: Right. The more -- right. So thats a challenging way to start your union.

TAYLOR: It is and it was. But there is a happy ending to that story because I, uh, I was gone by then because, as I said, the city ticket offices -- as it turned out, I was lucky. I was going to retire the end of January anyway. They closed the city ticket offices the 23rd of January of 2003 so it did not impact me because I was going to retire but, um, there was a merger with United, with Continental Airlines and they had to vote again on union representation --

BERNSTEIN: And when was that exactly?

TAYLOR: That was, uh --

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)I need to know (inaudible)

TAYLOR: That was long after I retired.

BERNSTEIN: OK. (inaudible)

TAYLOR: I think it was, uh, maybe about four or five years after I retired.


TAYLOR: And they had to vote again on union representation and I was talking to 00:28:00some people at the airport because I was still flying out, you know, using my passes and everything. And they did recognize that they real -- that they needed a union. It was close because at one point they were -- the IAM was concerned that, you know, they would get voted out because Continentals ticket offices and airports were (inaudible) enough to get offices by that time either. But their reservations, they were non-union, so they had to vote again for a union.


TAYLOR: And they --

BERNSTEIN: It was tough.

TAYLOR: It was tough but they prevailed. So the IAM is now still representing them. But there was a lot of, um, the United divested itself of its pensions and the pension guarantee board took over the pension. And unfortunately, if you were not retired already, you, uh, became, like, an individual who had resigned from United but you took your vested part. So instead of getting the pension 00:29:00that was offered to you and remember we had people who have 25 years of seniority, instead of getting your full pension, you were only ending up with, like, maybe $300 or $400 a month because it was like you resigned from United. And then at age 65 you collected your vested interest and that pension. So theres a lot of bitterness going around. We were very lucky in that we were already retired so they honored our contract to a degree because they will only guarantee if you are age 65. Well, I retired at age 57 --

BERNSTEIN: I was going to say you retired early.

TAYLOR: -- so --

BERNSTEIN: How did -- how were you -- because youd had the right number of years? Is that --

TAYLOR: Because I had the number of years and I, uh, we had just negotiated a great contract so I was able to retire. I knew that I would probably work for another -- part-time for another four or five years. I had already gotten my 00:30:00little part-time position, which is great because I worked when I wanted to --

BERNSTEIN: With the airline or somewhere else?

TAYLOR: No, I, uh, tutored in English and reading. Because I had worked with the Howard University Tutor Warriors as a volunteer when I retired. So, uh, and that was before -- even almost before I started retiring so I was able to tutor and that was very good and then I also, during my city ticket office days met a young lady who worked for a company that hired people but they used them like seasonal employees or seasonal throughout the year and that was working at the convention center. So I only wanted to work about once or twice a month. And the great thing about this job is if they call you for an assignment, you say Im not available, thats fine. They go on to the next person. Then they call you 00:31:00again so it worked beautifully because I didnt want the -- I didnt want to work full-time again. I was ready to -- by this time I had not --

BERNSTEIN: Theres more flexibility.

TAYLOR: Yes, so I was ready for the flexibility and Im still doing it, so I enjoy it.

BERNSTEIN: What do you do when -- you are still doing the tutoring and also this other.

TAYLOR: I -- and I work the restaurant. Its called the restaurant desk and these are conferences that come into the Washington area in our convention center and we advise them about the -- Im a people person. I enjoy working with, uh, people, so we just advise them about different restaurants that are in and around the area, what they think they might like, and make the reservations for them.

BERNSTEIN: Oh. So somehow youve stuck to that reservation thing. (laughter)

TAYLOR: I stuck to being -- I stuck to public contact.

BERNSTEIN: Thats so interesting. Yeah.

TAYLOR: Ive been a public contact employee and Im sad to say United Airlines was my only job. Thats the only position -- the only company that 00:32:00Ive ever worked for period. United Airlines. Thirty-six years.

BERNSTEIN: Thats a long time.

TAYLOR: (laughter) It was and well -- I -- yeah -- its something that I dont think that youll see a lot of anymore.

BERNSTEIN: Thats amaz -- thats very impressive. So did you have a family while you were working those 36 years?

TAYLOR: No. I never married and I just have nieces and nephews and, uh, so I can (inaudible).

BERNSTEIN: Which allows you to do all this --

TAYLOR: Allowed me to travel --

BERNSTEIN: -- organizing work.

TAYLOR: Um. Right. To do other things.

BERNSTEIN: And where -- have you been -- were you politically active before you retired?

TAYLOR: Only --

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Only in terms of voting. (laughter) But I was not politically active. Not before then. Only in terms of voting.


TAYLOR: But there were several things I think that happened during the 00:33:00retirement. We saw the, uh, the entrenchment of, uh, one with me, the pensions are losing our pension and I -- I ended up losing about 25% of my pension. And that was not a happy time for me but Ive adjusted and God has been good. One thing I can say that, you know, United offered that they did do right, they offered -- even though we had a defined pension, they offered us the ability to invest in a 401(k) also and I took advantage of that and I was able to, uh, to amass a fairly decent set of, uh, amount of money because during the boom of the 80s and the 90s, it -- we had a guy that came in to the, uh, the ticket counter and he gave us fantastic advice. He worked on, um, Wall Street. The Wall 00:34:00Street DC, in DC, which is right off of Connecticut Avenue. Connecticut and K. And he gave us fabulous advice and then I was fortunate in that I took it out in 2000 so that when the market crashed I didnt lose anything.

BERNSTEIN: You were (inaudible)

TAYLOR: I was in money market. I didnt lose anything.

BERNSTEIN: Youre good.

TAYLOR: But something told me, take your money out. But I did it because of 2000. I didnt know what was going to happen, you know. Everyone was --

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)

TAYLOR: -- yeah. And then I kept it out and then, you know, then all of a sudden I was just getting ready to put it back in and then around March the whole bottom fell out. So I was really lucky.

BERNSTEIN: So you were (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Yeah. So, you know, thats why I think I believe that the universe -- it takes care and it provides, you know. When one door opens -- or when one door closes, another one opens. So even though I lost 25%, I retained my money. It 00:35:00was my money, you know, but still. There were people who had their money in and then I thought about people like Enron who lost everything. I mean, their entire pension was built on Enron, so they had nothing. At least I had --

BERNSTEIN: That was so many people.

TAYLOR: Social security plus, when I turned, you know, 62 and then I also had pension guarantee board, which even though they reduced my pension by 25%, I still had that. So it worked out well.

BERNSTEIN: Tell me a little bit about, um, do you think about race relations at Unitd in the jobs and places you were. Was that an issue for you?

TAYLOR: Yeah, it was definitely an issue. We felt that, you know, we were -- in fact, almost in every instance most of the blacks had had college whereas a lot of the whites and -- did not. They came to the position out of high school. But 00:36:00maybe perhaps not all blacks graduated from college but they did have some. More than a high school education and we always felt that, you know, we had to be, uh, better and smarter and work harder because, you know, there was definitely --

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)

TAYLOR: And not just -- and not just blacks --

BERNSTEIN: On the part of management or also on the part of --

TAYLOR: On the part of management and --

BERNSTEIN: -- your fellow workers as well?

TAYLOR: That was more subtle, but you kind of felt it a little bit on the part of management. And not just blacks, but women. Women -- that was something that, you know, you really did not see. Almost all of your -- Id say 99% of your supervisors and your management personnel they were men. This was back -- this is 1967. We actually had -- I had a friend --


BERNSTEIN: So the women are doing the ticketing and the reservations but the supervisors were men.

TAYLOR: Were men and male. Yeah. But there were men, not many, but there was a couple of men that worked there too.


TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.

BERNSTEIN: So you -- when you -- when youre made a supervisor, when you have got your management training, were most people in your class men?

TAYLOR: In, uh, for the most part, yes. I think there was one other woman. There was one other woman and, oh, its kind of been that way. I, uh, worked on a special project, uh, at corporate headquarters and there were two women and 12 men. So it was always, you know, it was a male dominated --

BERNSTEIN: And did that strike you at the time or did it --


TAYLOR: Well, you know, you really kind of didnt think about it so much. Just thats just the way it was. And then I think as feminism became more predominant then, yes, you did begin to --

BERNSTEIN: Were you aware of the womens movement or it sort of tied into it in the earlier years or not so much?

TAYLOR: I was aware of it, uh, I probably kept, you know, an interest in it but I wasnt really tied into it, no.

BERNSTEIN: Because you were, um, obviously you were making you way (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Now I belong to the (inaudible) I belong to an organization of management that was called Women in United, so I did belong to that organization but that was, you know -- that was about the extent.

BERNSTEIN: What -- what -- what kind of organization was that? What did they do?

TAYLOR: Basically it was, uh, women in management getting together, sharing 00:39:00ideas. You were supposed to look for mentors but I really didnt find mentors there in that organization. Uh. Didnt seem to work that way for me.

BERNSTEIN: Did you have mentors outside it?

TAYLOR: I did not receive mentors -- oh, outside?


TAYLOR: Yeah. There were people that I had a dear friend who was, actually, he was military and older. About 10 years older. And probably he helped shape my ideas more than anything else and then later on, of course, I would say Charlie McAlla and Maria Cordone. They would probably be the two people that I would say were my mentors.

BERNSTEIN: So you -- thats after -- must be after you retired?

TAYLOR: That was after I retired attacked -- I worked for, uh, I retired in January and I started working with Maria in March 2003 that same year.


BERNSTEIN: Now how did that happen? Did she line that up ahead of time or did you go find her? What happened? Tell me.

TAYLOR: No, it began as, um, I got an invitation to join the retirees meeting or to come to a retirees meeting and then, from that, we developed, uh, a friendship and a relationship.

BERNSTEIN: So what kinds of things did you get involved -- you came to work doing -- for her doing what exactly?

TAYLOR: Well, um, I was president of -- actually, I was vice president of the Metro Seniors, which was an organization of the retirees club that she was trying to organize in the Washington area and we met once a month. No. Sorry. We met quarterly. And, uh --

BERNSTEIN: These are all IAM retirees?

TAYLOR: These would be IAM retirees from, you know, various --

BERNSTEIN: The metropolitan area.

TAYLOR: -- from the metropolitan and also Baltimore included.

BERNSTEIN: The large metropolitan.


TAYLOR: And, actually, we also had Virginia and some people came up from as far as Newport News.


TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. They dont come often or all the time but, you know, they will come. But I worked it out with her and then, at that time, Maria and she still is presently. She is the vice chair on the seniors council for the Democratic National Committee and she asked me to work -- to help her with the conference that was coming up. This was during the 2008 election and, uh, they were deciding on the candidates, you know, so everybody, uh, was there at that time. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards -- everyone was talking, you know, because they wanted the nomination. The nomination had not been sewn up. Yeah. So I worked -- helped her with that conference, which was -- it was great.

BERNSTEIN: That was that IAM conference where all the--


TAYLOR: No, it was the, uh, Democratic -- it was the seniors council of the Democratic -- that national Democratic Party.

BERNSTEIN: I see. And that conference listened to all the candidates fight for the nomination.

TAYLOR: That was the eye opening -- that was the eye opening --

BERNSTEIN: What a great opportunity. So what were your, uh, what were your feelings? Who did you end up lobbying to endorse?

TAYLOR: Actually, it was very interesting and I think it was very, uh, again it was one of those things that just was meant to be. Uh. I went the next day on Friday after we had the seniors meeting and then I went back the next day because all of the speaker -- all of the presidential nominees, uh, our candidates were going to be there and I wanted to hear Barack Obama. I wanted to hear John Edwards. And I wanted to hear Hillary of course. So I got there and, 00:43:00uh, the line to see them was out the door and around the corner but, fortunately, I still had my little badge that said I was part of the -- the, uh, convention even though we were over on Friday and the guy let me in and then I went in and knocked on the door and I said, Can I get in here? And she looked at my badge and she let me in. So I got in. And where I got in I was maybe 10 feet away from the stage. We had to stand because all of the delegates were -- they were seated on the floor, but we were standing on the floor around the -- around this hall. And then finally -- this is really -- its really funny but finally I, uh, was tired because my legs were tired and I have arthritis in my feet. So I said I need to go and sit down. So I see these chairs over there. Nobody is sitting there so I just walked up and sat down. This man 00:44:00came up to me and he said, Maam, he said, I think that were going to have to get you a different badge. He said, Because you cant, he said, the Secret Service is not going to let you sit there because it was very close to the stage with just, with just this badge. I said, OK, if you think you must. And, uh, so little bit later they gave me the badge and Im sitting down. Little bit later, Senator Kennedy comes in. So this is the seat for the senators.

BERNSTEIN: For the speakers.

TAYLOR: Yes! So it was really funny. So Im sitting here and Im talking with this lady and were talking and she said, Did you get your invitation for the Barack -- for David Plouffe, who was at that time Barack Obamas campaign manager. She said, Did you get your invitation? And I said, You know, I must have left that. She said, Oh, here. Take mine." So I ended up getting into that meeting. From that meeting with David Plouffe, I 00:45:00recognized that he was not a flash in the pan. And I came out with all my materials solidly behind Barack Obama.

BERNSTEIN: No kidding.

TALOR: He talked about how he was, um, how they were positioned and had been positioned all along in Iowa and all of the other areas and Im listening and hes telling about how mobilized they were and what they were doing and just because you havent heard about us in a particular state, were there and blah-blah-blah. And I said, You know, this guy just might have a chance because Im listening and Im impressed. So thats how I left and it was very, very interesting because at that time, in that room, there were predominantly young people, white, blacks, Asians. I counted, well, um, maybe 00:46:00about 15 over, you know, over what you would call seniors over 55. There were only about 15 people.


TAYLOR: But it was a -- I walked away and I was a firmly entrenched Barack Obama.

BERNSTEIN: And so did you get involved in the campaign?

TAYLOR: Oh, I did. I worked in Ohio for, um, three weeks in 2008 with Charlie and, actually, with Maria because at that time she was still, um...

BERNSTEIN: So tell me about how that happened.

TAYLOR: How did that happen? They just asked us if, as retirees -- thats the one thing that I do so much enjoy about this union. They utilize their retirees. They feel that there is a place for us and that we can make a difference and a change and that goes as -- youve been sitting in the meetings and so youre aware that that -- and Ill probably be a part of the 2014 when we go. Right 00:47:00now theyve identified three possible states. Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio again to go back to -- before the Congressional elections because they feel that there are some Tea Partiers who might be, um, vulnerable. So were going to go and (inaudible)

BERNSTEIN: So lets go back to 2008. So they --


BERNSTEIN: -- Char -- Char -- Maria and Charlie ask you to come to Ohio and you pack and go for how long?

TAYLOR: That time we went for three weeks. We left --

BERNSTEIN: And what was that like? Being there?

TAYLOR: It was great. We worked with, uh, the other unions. We worked out of the, uh, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Manned phones, knocked on doors, prepared packets and leaflets for the people who knocked on doors to, um, to distribute. Um.


BERNSTEIN: There were a lot of young people on that campaign.

TAYLOR: There were a lot of young people on the campaign.

BERNSTEIN: Were they working with you or were(inaudible) --

TAYLOR: There were a lot of young people on the campaign, but we were working predominantly with, uh, union.


TAYLOR: So and there were young -- young, um, machinists, uh, we had national NEA. National Education Association. The National Professional Union. Professional Association, they were there, um, AFL-CIO. Everybody was there.

BERNSTEIN: How were you received?

TAYLOR: Oh, everybody --

BERNSTEIN: When you were in the neighborhood -- when you were knocking on doors?

TAYLOR: Some places it was good. (laughter) Some places it was not so good. We knocked on one door and we were telling them that we wanted to give them some information about Barack Obama and how we hoped that he would vote and the man said, Not going to happen. [banging sound] And continued to say that. Not going to happen. We thanked him for his time and you move on. Usually we went in groups and we forged friends with people that we still kept -- keep 00:49:00in contact with.


TAYLOR: So that -- its a great experience. I would, uh, I would suggest that anybody, you know, if you have the opportunity to do it. Because, as I said, we made a lot of friends. There were people from California, from, uh, Ohio, Florida, New York, everywhere. So we had a -- it was great.

BERNSTEIN: And so then after that campaign did you --

TAYLOR: After that we went to the Democratic National convention in Denver.

BERNSTEIN: Oh. No kidding.

TAYLOR: Yes, so, again, with Maria helping her with the, uh, the seniors council meeting at the Democratic National Convention. So that was great. That was the epitome for me to be, uh, I -- Id never wanted to go to a Democratic National 00:50:00Convention but I knew that this was going to be historical whether it be Hillary Clinton or whether it be Barack Obama. This was the one that I needed to be at. And, as it turned out, again, I say the universe made it possible and I was there for the entire week.

BERNSTEIN: Thats amazing. Thats --

TAYLOR: We were attached to the Maryland delegation. We got to go to the parties that were given by the delegation, the governors cocktail reception, the count executive of Montgomery County and Prince Georges County. They had, uh, a dinner -- a lunch at the Denver botanical gardens for the Maryland delegation. We were able to attend that, so it was just a wonderful experience.

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible)an amazing experience.

TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. You dont know how much I feel like this union has really, uh, 00:51:00Ive been able to do a lot of things because of them.

BERNSTEIN: Thats wonderful. And then after we win the election in 2008, did you stay involved in other political activities or groups? Or (inaudible)

TAYLOR: I did. I did. I did. I did. We, uh, worked with the Alliance for Retired Americans and we also, uh, lobbied with them when they called and said, We need bodies. You know, we became the background for several press conferences for the congressional Democrats, which include -- and even -- because I dont consider her really a progressive, progressive Democrat. Not as the same ilk as a Bernie Sanders or, uh, Al Franken, but weve even, uh, provided backdrop for -- oh, gosh, whats her name? The congresswoman --



TAYLOR: Yes, for Nancy Pelosi. Weve provided backdrop. We just stand there when they have these press conferences. Were the people behind, you know, just standing so weve done that for Social Security.

BERNSTEIN: So we is the seniors council.

TAYLOR: For the seniors, yes. Well, this is the Alliance for Retired Americans. They make the call out to different people.


TAYLOR: You know, uh, the AARP, they get the recognition, they have -- probably they get more money then the Alliance but when they need people to do whether it -- form a CPI -- a chain for testing social security CPI or, uh, to be there at a press conference or, you know they know that they can call up the Alliance and the Alliance can get people out.

BERNSTEIN: (inaudible) make a connection.

TAYLOR: And basically its the unions that, you know, they call out their 00:53:00retirees and other people they make the call and we go out and support the cause.

BERNSTEIN: So you continue to this day to spend a lot of time.

TAYLOR: I do. (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: On union activities.

TAYLOR: I -- I do. Yeah. I do. I belong -- I am also participating in the retiree assistance program and we have meetings every year updating the skills of, you know, how to recognize things like drug dependency and information on how to get them help and things like that. And thats what I like about the union, you know, just because, they feel just because you retire does not mean that the problems that you have are going to automatically go away. So they then provide that type of service for you. We have a 1-800 number that you can call and you can get help. You can seek help. And Ive had people, you know, who come to our meetings and they are afraid. They are afraid they are going to lose 00:54:00their social security. They are afraid they are going to loose their homes, you know, because either the taxes have gone up but their wages havent gone up to compete, you know, so its, um, theres still a great need and we need people to fill.

BERNSTEIN: Theres still a lot to be done.

TAYLOR: A lot to be done.

BERNSTEIN: So, you also went in 2012?

TAYLOR: I did go in 2012.

BERNSTEIN: Back to Ohio?

TAYLOR: Back to Ohio this time for four weeks.

BERNSTEIN: Glutton for punishment.

TAYLOR: Oh, but it was fun again too. It was a lot of fun.

BERNSTEIN: Tell me about that. How -- how do the two experiences differ?

TAYLOR: Now this time we kind of -- we interacted more. We were a part of a PAC and I amtrying to remember what was the name of the PAC. Because we werent supposed -- we could not, um, interact with the campaign staff itself because we 00:55:00were a political PAC. So it was a part of the AFL-CIO and it would be really funny because we were out and we drove our car up so we had DC tags and these young kids -- young kids -- young women came over. Oh, youre from home! I live in DC. She says, Ive been up here for three weeks. I said, Uh-huh. Youre campaign. I cant talk to you. And shes -- she looked real funny. I said, Im just laughing , I said, but you know we cant talk about the campaign. I said, Because Im part of an action -- political action group. I said, But I do need to know because where they are giving information in this neighborhood and were giving information and those poor people in Ohio, they were --

BERNSTEIN: You need to coordinate.

TAYLOR: Yes. But we couldnt really talk to -- we werent supposed to talk to one another. But I said, You know, theres no point in our duplicating. But youd see people like that and theyd come out. And then we even had people as we were walking and knocking on doors, who came out and said, You know, thank you for doing this and what are you doing and how can we help? So it -- it was good. It was all good but then I had heard there 00:56:00were problems where people were siccing animals on people, you know.

BERNSTEIN: Oh, my gosh. That didnt happen to you.

TAYLOR: We didnt run into -- that didnt happen to us. No.

BERNSTEIN: Oh, yeah.

TAYLOR: We didnt run into that kind of thing.

BERNSTEIN: So was there the same division in 2008 between the campaign...

TAYLOR: I dont think they had a political PAC then because, you know, the --

BERNSTEIN: Its because of it was sponsored by --

TAYLOR: -- the -- the rules changed thanks to the Supreme Court. So I dont think they had a political PAC in 2008. But, yes, we were part of, I cant -- I dont remember. I think it was called Voice for America or something. I dont... But one little lady, uh, she was wonderful. She was 81 years old and she had been a former school nurse and she came every day for three or four 00:57:00hours and manned the phones. And she was funny and she could be, you know, I guess because she was 80-some years old, she could say anything she wanted. And she would talk to them and Id hear her saying, Well, you know, thats just crazy. (laughter) And she would go on and on. And before it was over, she had either thought that she, you know, won them over or what even if she did. But shed tell them, Listen, honey, Im 88 years old or however old and Ive seen it all. And she said, And let me tell you something. She would go on and on. She was really good. I liked her. I think her name was Miss Lila.

BERNSTEIN: Thats great. So you have quite a busy retirement.

TAYLOR: A little bit. I get some travel in there also. I love to travel. Thats one of my passions too.

BERNSTEIN: And so you said -- you were telling me about the church that you belong to.


TAYLOR: Mm-hmm. Its the Unity Center of Christianity. Um. Its basic belief is that Jesus was a prophet like Mohammed and that we are all -- and he was the child of God as we are all children of God and he, uh, basically said that anything that I can do, you can do. The difference is, he was a very enlightened man and thats what we seek. Enlightenment, you know. Well probably never reach the level of Jesus Christ, but that -- thats our philosophy. We have a positive outlook and when I was growing up I always had a problem understanding the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. And particularly growing up in a very religious household with a lot of Baptist ministers. And they could never explain to me how you can, um, whats the word Im looking 00:59:00for? How the two Gods meld, you know, the New Testament and the Old Testament. Because the New Testament is just totally and completely different. Old Testament Hes wrath. Hes going to kill everybody, you know, and I thought, I dont think of Jesus as a schizophrenic. So I was out in LA with friends one time and we went to this church. It wasnt Unity but it was somewhat like that --

BERNSTEIN: And approximately how old are you at this point?

TAYLOR: Probably about 29, 30.

BERNSTEIN: Out of college.

TAYLOR: Out of college. Just out in LA having ahave a (inaudible) -- working for United. And, um, the man -- before the service or before the sermon they have the meditation and Im thinking, what is this meditation. Very peaceful, very 01:00:00calming. And he preaches basically the power of positive thought. Well, I left that church in such a state of well-being and it made sense, you know, this is the God that I believed in, you know, that was on that, uh -- and it was so, uh, when I came back to Washington I went looking. They didnt have a church like that but they did have Unity. And I heard about Unity and Ive been going there ever since. So Ive been a member of Unity for, like, 35 years now.

BERNSTEIN: What -- are you -- are there, like, community service things that you do with the church?

TAYLOR: I participate and we have a Christmas adopt-a-family. I participate in that. We have -- every Sunday after church we have a full meal so every third 01:01:00Sunday I, uh, I work in the kitchen and thats preparing the meal. Actually, you bring food or whatever, you know, they tell you whats needed and, you know, you get your little email and you say, Ill prepare this and Ill bring this, and then we all get together and we prepare it. And we have people I know that -- I know that I dont see in church but they come in to get the meal, which is fine. Thats what, you know, thats what were there for and whats leftover anyway we send it to the kitchen, you know, to soup kitchens and stuff so thats really fine. But the word is out that Unity has a meal on Sunday -- every Sunday after church so I do that and I sing in the choir.

BERNSTEIN: Are you going to make a rap video for the Unity one of these days if you are going to (inaudible)

TAYLOR: No. (laughter) I wont be doing that. No. Well, Ill leave that to Ron McGaha. (laughter) Hes the rap person.


BERNSTEIN: That was quite a story about how that came about. Oh, my goodness he was just telling me that earlier.

TAYLOR: Oh, its really great. I wish everyone could look at that. Its funny. Its funny. Youd think it would get more play on YouTube, but I dont think a lot of -- well, I dont know. Maybe we need to get on Twitter and Instagram and all the rest and it would get more hits.

BERNSTEIN: But they are getting more and more, actually (inaudible)

TAYLOR: Yeah, but its been out for, like, maybe what? Two, three years now?

BERNSTEIN: Unfortunately the issue has not been resolved --

TAYLOR: Exactly.

BERNSTEIN: -- so its still relevant.

TAYLOR: Oh, it is, but Im saying, you know, in terms of, you know, something -- sometimes theres something that will come out on YouTube and, like, a million hits --

BERNSTEIN: Its instant.

TAYLOR: -- a million hits n a week and this has been out three years. I think they have 155,000 or something like that.

BERNSTEIN: So what did I forget to ask you?

TAYLOR: Um. I dont know. What --


BERNSTEIN: Tell me more about the projects --

TAYLOR: The one -- oh, the one thing that, um, I think of more than anything and I think it helps describe my feeling for the union as well, one of the responsibilities is as the president of metro seniors, I look for speakers that are going to give information and we went to our state offices in Maryland and asked the, uh, asked the woman who is in charge of violence and child protective and elder abuse to come out and give us, you know, a talk. And she came out and one of the things that she said, she said, I did not know about the IAM. Uh. And I went to its website. She said, You blew me away. She said, I have never seen a union with so much helpful information for its retirees and 01:04:00its members. So she gave Charlie great kudos. And that was -- and thats how I feel about the union. People dont -- they dont have a idea really what their union dollars are doing, you know. They dont see the amount of, uh, effort involved when there is a catastrophe and union members are involved and people are going out and giving money and time and the number of, uh, even retiree clubs who, uh, participate in food drives or clothing and things like that. So that I come from a family that believes in giving back and I feel like that Ive been blessed so that is just a part of my nature that, you know, so this is a great blending with this organization and I hope its one that will be able to continue for many years and I stay and maintain good health. Thats 01:05:00what Im working on.

BERNSTEIN: Thats a constant challenge probably.

TAYLOR: It is. It definitely is. As you grow older you have no control over the things that are -- that begin to break down. (laughter)

BERNSTEIN: Oh, yes. Now thats whats so impressive about the amount of work that gets done by retirees. Its -- its -- its not like people have boundless energy and good health. I mean, they are doing the work after their chemo treatments, after their knee replacements and all the rest and still getting it done.

TAYLOR: Uh-huh. Its -- its a sense of commitment and also its the, um, the friendship and the bonds that are fostered inside the union, you know, that you -- you know that they are counting on you and you feel like you dont want to let them down.


BERNSTEIN: Thats a won -- thats wonderful. Other stories about projects youve worked on with Maria or Charlie that we left out of our survey. It focused on the political but I know there are lots of other --

TAYLOR: Well, weve worked just in preparation for meetings like this and both with Charlie and Maria, uh, worked with, uh, in preparation for meetings for the metro seniors and I usually will go up to the office and if Charlies not available its OK. I work with, um, Lenore and Angie and then we just pass on information. What we thought about with Charlie to get his OK to do that. Um. And thats really about it.

BERNSTEIN: Well, thank you so much --

TAYLOR: Oh, youre welcome.