Larry Joe Washam Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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TRACI DRUMMOND: Good afternoon, this is Traci Drummond. I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee with Larry Joe Washam. We are at Local Lodge 480, Headquarters, and Larry has agreed to do an oral history interview for the Southern Labor Archives. It will be part of the International Association of Machinists oral history project, so thank you, Larry and welcome to the interview.

LARRY JOE WASHAM: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

DRUMMOND: We've talked about doing this for a long time, so I'm glad we're finally here, here doing the interview. Let's just start with some basic questions. Where were you born and when?

WASHAM: I was born May 5, 1950 in Harriman, Tennessee, which is part of Roane County, and then I grew up in Kingston, Tennessee, that's where my parents lived at that time.

DRUMMOND: OK. And Kingston is north of here?

WASHAM: No, Kingston is west of here.

DRUMMOND: OK.

1:00

WASHAM: It's the county seat of Roane County.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what did your -- what did you parents do?

WASHAM: My mother was a housewife during my lifetime and prior to that, she worked at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project, for a short period of time during the war, when my father, whose name was Joseph Paul Washam, was in the Army, and he went in the Army in 1942.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And went all the way through the South Pacific in the occupation of Japan. He actually was in Japan at the end of the war.

DRUMMOND: Oh, wow.

WASHAM: And my dad was a master craftsman as a carpenter, electrician. He did all the trades.

DRUMMOND: Was he union-affiliated with any of those trades?

WASHAM: No, he never belonged to the union because he worked for the Roane County Board of Education, in the maintenance department, so he did all the repair works and electrical works and carpentry at the Roane County Schools, 2:00throughout the whole county of Roane County. He actually went to work there right out of high school and then was drafted in World War II, and came back to that job and worked there until he retired.

DRUMMOND: So he got all the training on the job?

WASHAM: Yeah, he went through -- when he was in high school, they had a trade school at Roane County High School, and he -- that's where he got his start on that, and he was so good at it that they hired him right out of high school.

DRUMMOND: Nice.

WASHAM: He was always -- he never had the opportunity to belong to the union because under the laws in the state of Tennessee, employees who worked, public employees at that time, could not form a union.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So he never had -- but he was pro-union.

DRUMMOND: Oh, he was?

WASHAM: Oh yeah, he believed in the unions.

DRUMMOND: Do you know that because of what -- you actually talking about it, or were there ways you saw him demonstrate that, or did you have other family members who were in the union?

WASHAM: Well, I didn't have any other family members that was in the union, but 3:00he spoke about it, especially after I became a union member.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: As a kid growing up you know, I didn't hear much talk about the unions from anybody in my family or close to where I lived, but my dad taught me really early to always be a Democrat. Democrats was for the working people and the Republicans were for the companies.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So that swayed me to know where to be, on what side of politics.

DRUMMOND: Well, were his -- were his parents also -- was he taught that by his parents or is that some -- do you know if that's something he sort of came to on his own?

WASHAM: I think he -- see, my dad was born in 1919, and I think he came to that conclusion by growing up during the Depression. It was very hard in Kingston, Tennessee at that time, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the "New Deal," made a 4:00real impression on him, because my grandfather, he was -- he worked on the old steamboats and stuff, that used to come up the Tennessee River and the Clinch River, which joined one another in Kingston. Kingston was a riverboat town.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So that's like his father was a riverboat guy and his grandfather was a carpenter, built caskets and stuff like that, in the 1800s.

DRUMMOND: OK. So your mom was a housewife.

WASHAM: Right.

DRUMMOND: But worked here.

WASHAM: Just during the war.

DRUMMOND: The Manhattan.

WASHAM: Yeah, from like maybe '43 until the end of the war.

DRUMMOND: OK, which is before the union formed here.

WASHAM: Right.

DRUMMOND: So, when she came here to work, and then your dad got out of the service, the Army?

WASHAM: Yes, Army.

DRUMMOND: The Army. Did they just settle here then, instead of going back to where you were born and grew up?

WASHAM: Well, no. Well, my father was from Kingston.

DRUMMOND: OK.

5:00

WASHAM: And my mother was from Harriman, what was South Harriman at that time. So they grew up their whole life where I grew up at. Matter of the fact, the house I grew up in, my dad built that house. He built every -- did every bit of the work, and my sister still lives in the house now.

DRUMMOND: Oh, OK, OK.

WASHAM: My dad lived to be almost 91 and ah, he did the -- he built that whole house there. It's the home place.

DRUMMOND: Nice. And your sister is there today?

WASHAM: Sister lives there today.

DRUMMOND: Do you only have one sister?

WASHAM: One sister.

DRUMMOND: Any brothers?

WASHAM: No brothers.

DRUMMOND: No brothers, OK. So there were just two of you growing up as kids.

WASHAM: Two of us growing up. I was four years older than my sister.

DRUMMOND: OK. And how old were you -- were you already born when your dad went into the war?

WASHAM: No. I was born in 1950 and he went into the draft in 1942.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK, I'm sorry, Larry.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: No, no, there -- there's a lot for me to learn in a short period of time.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: I will ask redundant questions occasionally, sorry. So, did your mom 6:00ever talk about her time here, working on the Manhattan Project?

WASHAM: No, just other than she worked here. See people in my era growing up, nobody talked anything about what they did at any of the facilities, and probably a lot of them didn't actually know what they were doing, on the biggest part of it there, and they just knew that you did this particular assignment, and it was -- everything was so top secret that people didn't ask questions, you know? It was on a need to know basis, and so I never did know exactly what she even did here, because my mother passed away in '76 and my curiosity up to that point --

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: -- wasn't there about what did your work do and stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. You would have only been in your mid-twenties then, so.

WASHAM: Twenty-six.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, so you were still -- you were still a young man out in the world.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Doing what you wanted.

WASHAM: Yeah, right.

7:00

DRUMMOND: Yeah. And um, so after the war, your family settled back in Roane County?

WASHAM: Kingston, Tennessee in Roane County.

DRUMMOND: Kingston, Tennessee.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: And um, you were -- and your sister were born.

WASHAM: In Harriman, Tennessee.

DRUMMOND: And what's it like growing up in Harriman, Tennessee?

WASHAM: Well we didn't grow up in Harriman. That just happened to be where the hospital was, where you were delivered there.

DRUMMOND: Oh, OK.

WASHAM: And then Harriman was ten miles from Kingston.

DRUMMOND: OK. What was it like growing up in Kingston? Kingston, you said it was a -- it was a riverboat city.

WASHAM: In the old days.

DRUMMOND: In the old days.

WASHAM: Prior to me. One thing about the history of Kingston, while a lot of people don't realize, Kingston at one time was the peach capital of the world.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: There were more peach trees and peaches grown in Kingston, Tennessee, then anywhere on the face of the earth, and because of climate changes and some disease for the trees it's gone away. I can remember as a kid working, picking peaches off the ground where they would fall, in the last old peach orchard.

DRUMMOND: Really?

8:00

WASHAM: And you'd get like a nickel a bucket, and it's almost like when you look back at it, it's like child labor law violations probably.

DRUMMOND: Right. But you were probably glad to have that nickel.

WASHAM: Oh yeah as a kid, it just tickled you to death when you had some money to go to the dime store, and that was what they were called back then, to buy baseball cards. But when I grew up in the fifties, especially it was like Mayberry, you see on "The Andy Griffith Show." Everybody knew everybody, played baseball in the summertime, and this was before you had uniforms. You played with tennis shoes, cutoff blue jeans and a baseball cap and a glove. Most of the time boys didn't even wear shirts in the summertime back there like that. I thought I had a pretty good life growing up like that you know, had friends that we played ball together in the summer.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

9:00

WASHAM: There wasn't much industry in Kingston. There was the county seat. Harriman had -- and Rockwood, in the county, had quite a bit of industry for that timeframe, but the real jobs, if you worked at Oak Ridge. If you worked at Oak Ridge, it was considered rich.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: Oh yeah, because you had -- the workers made good wages, had good benefits, good working conditions, and that was because they were union here.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And in the old days, I can -- I can remember people talking about the hosiery mills. All the little towns like in Harriman, and Kingston even had one at one time, in Rockwood. In the thirties, the textile workers tried to organize those mills.

DRUMMOND: Thirty-four.

WASHAM: They formed local lodges even though they wasn't recognized by the company or anything.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: Before the National Labor Relations Act took place. But I can remember hearing just a few words. My grandmother, she was born in the 1880s, and about 10:00they would beat them. People would be beaten when they tried to organize at the mills like that then. But I never had any real formal education on the unions until I got out of high school I guess.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well when your grandmother was talking about people being hurt when they were trying to organize, did she say why people in your -- in that area were so against the unions?

WASHAM: Well, as a kid, I just remember bits and pieces of them saying well, oh yeah back then, like 1930 you know, or '31, when the union came by, they'd have thugs that would hit the people with clubs or whatever, to deteriorate, and most of the people that worked in the mills were women, even back at that time.

DRUMMOND: So you had a bunch of thugs harassing women.

WASHAM: Harassing a lot of women. Then you had a lot of people that was like my grandmother, that was single at that time. And see, like my grandfather, her 11:00husband, died, I believe it was four or five months before my mother was born.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So she had four kids to try to raise, working in the -- it was hard on people back then.

DRUMMOND: Yes.

WASHAM: It was really hard and ah, I was so fortunate to be part of the union you know, that I was blessed.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. So despite that, your dad instilled in you, a respect for the union, despite maybe what the overall community or the overall culture felt about it.

WASHAM: Yeah, and you really didn't hear a whole lot of talk about unions, but I've got some old newspaper articles from the steelworkers, where they tried to organize in the early forties in Harriman, at Harriman Paperboard, and where that ah, they got the organizers, pulled them up, run them off the highway, took them, tarred and feathered them and beat them. And those articles, I think I may have gave some of those to the archives on that, but they talked about these 12:00damn Yankees ain't coming down here to mess with us in the south.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: And that's the way they referred to -- most of the organizers, a lot of them was from up north then.

DRUMMOND: OK. So they maybe carried on the spirit of like the post-Civil War carpetbagger trying to come in and cash in on our resources.

WASHAM: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: And they -- and they sort of kept that going with the --

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: Making the union organizers the new carpetbaggers.

WASHAM: And the way I got that article on the steelworkers was that shop eventually organized. It was called the Harriman Paperboard and then it was years later, the main corporation and all, but the Old United Mineworkers District 50 organized that shop.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And then in --

DRUMMOND: And of course the Mineworkers District 50, they weren't a traditional mineworkers district.

WASHAM: Right, right.

DRUMMOND: They organized just about everybody else.

WASHAM: Everybody.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

13:00

WASHAM: And then in 1970 they basically broke up and a lot of them went with the steelworkers, and a lot of them in places went with the machinist union.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And that mill went with the machinist in Harriman. So we represented them and then in the eighties, it closed, and it was due to a bankruptcy of the whole corporation.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Well, it reopened up, and I believe that was 1989.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And I was a business rep for the district lodge at that time, as primarily organizing. So I went down and got an organizing campaign going.

DRUMMOND: Nice.

WASHAM: And there was a person, had that article, and I think it was Arthur Shelton from Local 555 in Knoxville, machinist local. At one of our district meetings, he gave me that and he said I want you to read this and look at it and be careful while you're down there. And we won the election so I thought well, 14:00that really makes you feel good, when you saw people that in the 1940s, were beaten, tarred and feathered, and then I had the opportunity to go back and we reorganized the shop with the machinist union then.

DRUMMOND: Excellent.

WASHAM: I thought that was a -- it was a highlight for me in that period of time.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. It came full circle.

WASHAM: It came full circle.

DRUMMOND: Very good.

WASHAM: We had some good karma then I guess.

DRUMMOND: Yes. Watch your tapping feet.

WASHAM: Oh, sorry.

DRUMMOND: I'm worried -- yeah, I know it's a habit. I'm just worried it's going to pick up on the recorder. So what was expected of a young man growing up in Kingsport?

WASHAM: In Kingston?

DRUMMOND: Kingston. Were you expected to go into the military? Were you expected to go to college? Were you -- what expectations did your family have for you?

WASHAM: Well I can remember growing up as a kid, most of the people that was older than me I knew, that went to -- very few people went to college that was 15:00from a blue collar family. Most of the people that went to college was people who was the son or daughters of the doctors, people who owned the pharmacist drug stores, businesspeople. Poor people didn't have much of a chance but I thought that when I grew up, I would probably follow in my dad's footsteps and be a carpenter, electrician, things like that, because as just a kid, he would always let me help him do things.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And he would do other jobs other than on his regular job. And I can remember when I was in grammar school, when he was building on some rooms onto the house, I would help him. You know, I might have been ten years old but he'd let me saw and show me things, so he was training me then. So I assumed that's what I would be when I got out of high school. I would probably go to some kind 16:00of trade school or get a job. And I graduated in 1968, and at that time, there was a lot of jobs, construction jobs in the Knoxville area and places, and it wasn't uncommon for some of the people that I started the school with had even dropped out of school in high school and went and worked as laborers and different things on construction. But you know, I went and graduated you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then that summer after graduation, I got lucky. Here in Oak Ridge, at the Y-12 Plant, there was an organization called the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and it was an organization comprised of 40-something colleges across the country. They started a training program at Y-12, along with the Y-12 Plant, a school, in 1967, was the first year of it I believe. It was called training and technology and if you got accepted in there, you could learn to be 17:00a machinist. You had a class for general mechanics, for pipefitting, stuff like that, they had drafting classes. You had several things like that, which they tried to provide training to get some skilled workers into the plants, because they were at a process, they were going to be hiring a lot of people.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So I went and put in an application after I graduated from high school, some weeks later, along with some of the other businesses in Roane County, like the Coca-Cola Company, some of the hosiery mills. Every place I put an application in closed and there was not a single place open, but I got accepted to the training technology.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And in the summer it was a three day school. We went Monday, Wednesday and Friday, eight hours a day. You had some classroom training on blueprint 18:00reading, mathematics, different subjects of that type, and then you was out in the machine shop, learning how to run a lathe, a mill, different -- all aspects of a machine.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And the people that was our instructors were machinists that worked at Y-12, and they were part of the Local 480s, members.

DRUMMOND: OK. Was -- can I ask just very quickly. I interrupted you, sorry.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Was that program, was that school open to both men and women or was it just for men?

WASHAM: At that time, in the machinist group, it was all men that was in there.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I just don't remember if there was any women in the school at all. I just can't -- if they were, they could have been over in -- they had a class for drafting you know, but there wasn't to my knowledge, there wasn't any in the machine group at that time.

DRUMMOND: Sorry, you were saying that it was the Local Lodge 480 members that 19:00would be training.

WASHAM: They were the machinists that trained us students in there and when I first -- I didn't realize they were at that time because most of us that was in the school had no prior union knowledge. There were a few who might have had some relatives that worked out there but the overall classes, we didn't have that much knowledge about that when we hired in. So we went Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week, up until October, and in October they had the full-time school start. These three days was just a summer program.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: It was almost like a pre -- like preschool in a way you know?

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: So I was selected in the group that got into the full school. So we started in October and in October, you went five days a week and it was eight hours a day, and you got paid, they paid you for it.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

20:00

WASHAM: Even though you was in school, it was part of this federal money I guess, under this program, and the best I remember, we got like a dollar and a quarter an hour, and you got mileage for driving, and which was super. You know, we thought we were -- hit the jackpot.

DRUMMOND: About how many people were in the class?

WASHAM: There were probably -- we were on two shifts.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And we had -- called H and J shift. One week we would work the day shift and the next week we would work the evening shift and we rotated. So there was probably, I'd say 30 of us in a class maybe and ah, as they started hiring, needing people in January. So we went for interviews inside the plant and I remember being interviewed by a couple of people that was in the machinist group, supervisors or general foremen and so forth, and I was offered a job and 21:00naturally I said yes.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So that was in January and I started to work April the 14th, 1969, and we would stay in the school while the FBI was running their security clearances. At that time it took an average of about three months for your clearance to come through.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So, some people's may have come through one week, another person's another week, and so forth, but when your clearance came through, like if it was on a Thursday, you would start your employment the following Monday, or if it came in on a Monday, you would wait until the following Monday.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: I was scheduled to start out in the machine shop and one of the 22:00instructors that was in our class, that was an hourly person there, he was -- after that school, he was going back into the plant and he was going to be a supervisor. You know, he was already a supervisor and he said, "Larry, I know you are scheduled to go into the machine shop," he said, "but I'd really like to see you come into dimensional inspection, which is part of the machining group." And I thought well, if this guy thinks of me enough to ask me to do that, I'll say sure you know, and I did. So when I hired in, I was in dimensional inspection.

DRUMMOND: Dimensional inspection.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: What does that entail?

WASHAM: Dimensional inspection at these plants was that you physically measured and checked the parts that the machinists were making.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And you had to meet specifications that the government set on the parts and so forth.

DRUMMOND: And were they making multiples of the same thing, so they could assemble?

WASHAM: Some of it could be making multiples.

DRUMMOND: But sometimes it was only one thing.

WASHAM: Most of the time, I was in the -- what was called the production area, 23:00and it's not like a production in a normal type plant, but you know there was various types of parts that were made that you would check you know, they'd have the dimensions. It was a very tight dimensions and all, which says a lot for the machinists that were making them you know.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So I worked in there from 1969 until February of 1970.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And in 1970, I went on a military leave of absence, and I actually -- I said January, it's actually February, about the middle of February.

DRUMMOND: Did you go to Vietnam?

WASHAM: No.

DRUMMOND: No.

WASHAM: I joined the National Guard. I joined the National Guard and ah, my deferment was up. We had a deferment for so long, while we were in the trade school.

DRUMMOND: OK.

24:00

WASHAM: And it had run out. A lot of people was under the assumption, if you worked at these plants, you were deferred from the military draft, which was not true.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: So I had a person, an ex-girlfriend, that really influenced me. You might not want to put that in about the ex-girlfriend. Was wanting -- she said, join the National Guard, so I, I did. You know, I put in at the Guards in Oak Ridge, Harriman, Rockwood, Clinton, and at that time I didn't think I had a chance of getting in, so I -- it wasn't a big deal with me you know.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But finally I get a call, I'm accepted here in Oak Ridge. So that's a six-year commitment, so I had to leave Y-12 to go through -- you went through basic training and what they call AIT.

DRUMMOND: What is AIT?

WASHAM: I guess basically at that time it was advanced infantry training. It could have been whatever your MOS was, and that was your job description. 25:00Everybody goes through the same in basic training, and then when you go to AIT, it's for -- you might go into the infantry, the tanks, on armored division. And I was -- our unit here in Oak Ridge was armored, we were tanks, had the Army tanks. So once I got out, I --

DRUMMOND: Well, let me back up a second before we get too far along with the story, I'm sorry. When you were -- when you were training, when you were in school, when you were in the program, did you know what you were making or what you were helping with when you went into the inspection department? Did you know -- how much did you know about what you were working on?

WASHAM: Well, when I was in the school, it didn't have anything to do with what was being made in the plant.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: It was just totally basic machine shop, making --

DRUMMOND: OK, so it was just training.

WASHAM: It was just training.

DRUMMOND: OK.

26:00

WASHAM: You were making parts. If you went to any trade school, anywhere in the United States, you was just learning the basics I meant.

DRUMMOND: I see. But you at least had to know something.

WASHAM: You didn't know nothing about what you was working on in the plant.

DRUMMOND: You didn't know. But you knew that -- but you know, even from talking to your mom, you sort of knew about the heavy responsibility of what was done perhaps.

WASHAM: Yeah, everybody knew that everything was secret you worked on out there. And you didn't have people -- when I first started working out there or prior to, if somebody asked you, where do you work, and I say Oak Ridge, nobody would ask you another question.

DRUMMOND: There was no follow-ups.

WASHAM: There was no follow-ups.

DRUMMOND: Were the signs still up when you were here in the late sixties?

WASHAM: Yes, there were billboards. Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: There are even some up still today and sometimes you can drive down towards the K-25 plant and you'll still see sometimes, a huge billboard.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: It's still up, about being quiet.

DRUMMOND: Will you take me? Can we go see that?

WASHAM: Yeah, yeah, if it's still down there.

DRUMMOND: I would like to go and see. This isn't appropriate for the interview and we'll talk about this later.

WASHAM: OK, yeah.

DRUMMOND: But yeah, I would like to do that, I would like to do that. OK, so 27:00fast forward. So you've deferred your military training while you were in the school program but 1970 rolls around and they call you, and you had a six-year commitment?

WASHAM: It's a six-year in the National Guard.

DRUMMOND: And was it a consistent six years?

WASHAM: Well, when you're in the National Guard, you first go in for your basic training.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And the AIT, which is six months. And then, when you're in that service, you're actually part of the regular military. But then when you come back to your assigned station as the National Guard, your time is not consecutive as military, towards any benefits. A lot of things have changed with the National Guard since that period of time. So then you had an obligation of meetings on weekends for the National Guard, and then two weeks of what they called summer training, where you would go to an actual military base. The first four years that I was in, we went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where we did maneuvers with 28:00Army tanks, pretend battles and things like that. Then the last two years that I was in, they changed us over to MPs.

DRUMMOND: Military police.

WASHAM: And I was a military police the last two years, and we would go down to Fort Stewart, Georgia.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: Then when I got out of the Guards in November of 1975, I got out as the rank of a sergeant. I was a sergeant when I got out. So that's basically it for the military side of it.

DRUMMOND: Well, --

WASHAM: And one thing that was sort of unique about that, I got kidded a lot. I joined the Guards in November, I believe it was, when I was sworn in. That year was the first year they had the first lottery system, and that's where they drew numbers to see how you were going to be drafted. They started 1 through 365, and 29:00if you were 1, you was in the first draft, and my number was 364. I was one from the end and the highest they got in the state of Tennessee was 272. I would have never had to go in the military whatsoever, if I hadn't have joined the National Guard at that time, but you know, everything has its reasons you know?

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: I don't regret it.

DRUMMOND: You probably learned a lot. I think a lot of discipline can be learned in the military.

WASHAM: Oh yeah, it can.

DRUMMOND: And you know, just teamwork.

WASHAM: Yeah. See the thing about when you went into the military at that time, and it's probably the same way today, you know it's been a long time ago, but when you went through the reception center, as they referred to it, everybody was issued the same clothing, you went and got a haircut, and it was just buzzed all the way. Everybody looked the same.

DRUMMOND: Right.

30:00

WASHAM: So it tore down class of people.

DRUMMOND: Was it -- did you -- was it integrated?

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: At that time it was.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And so you had people from all walks of life, but everybody was treated equally you know. So you know, what they do is break you down and then build you up into the -- mold you into what they want.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

WASHAM: Back then, they used to say we're going to make mean, lean fighting machines out of you. And that was during the Vietnam conflict at that time, so I remember we were the last group that they made, when you were doing your bayonet drills. You used to, when you'd do them, you'd say "kill." Some congressional people came through and they caused all that to change, where when you do your thrust, you would say, "re-up."

DRUMMOND: Instead of kill.

31:00

WASHAM: Instead of kill, you know because it was the political correct thing. But I remember that distinctly, you know one day you'd be saying it and the next day, that's no longer correct, you know this is what you're going to do. But you did what they told you to do.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

WASHAM: Your just a bunch of dumb kids you know, and you were -- a lot of them has never been away from home that much and didn't have -- I'll tell you that, you know you didn't know what time of day it was about a lot of things, you just followed whatever they told you.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. So was your -- so when that was over, let me clarify, while you take a drink of water. You had to go in for six months, like regular basic training, but then after that it was one --

WASHAM: One weekend per month.

DRUMMOND: One weekend a month and then two weeks a year.

WASHAM: Two weeks in the summer.

DRUMMOND: And that's still -- I think that's still their slogan.

WASHAM: Something like that probably but see now they're activated, you know some of these guys they're -- you know, they're just like regular military now, 32:00they've been drafted or called up so many times. Back then, you know a lot of people, one of the main reasons they joined the Guard, to be honest with you, was to avoid the draft.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: And a lot of things have changed now. But one thing too that was interesting while I was on the military leave of absence, see our contract came due April the 15th of 1970, and it was a wage opener.

DRUMMOND: And explain what a wage opener is for somebody that reads your transcript, that might not know what that is.

WASHAM: A wage opener is when you have a collective bargaining agreement, and our agreement was for three years. The first two years it told you exactly in the contract, what your wages were. You made so much an hour, you had progressive wages. Then the second year, the agreement, it told you what your wage increases would be. Now the third year was what was called a wage opener, and that's where the union and the company would negotiate the wages for that third year.

DRUMMOND: OK.

33:00

WASHAM: But the contract also said you had the ability to strike on the wage opener. So I was at Fort Knox for my military duty and I get a letter from my mom, and she tells me, "We're on strike at Oak Ridge." (chuckles) So I missed the strike. And I actually, the day I came home from the military, I believe I got home on a Friday, and at the Oak Ridge High School, the best I remember, it was on a Saturday night, they had an informational meeting about the contract. The strike had been settled based upon the membership voting for it, and then they voted on Sunday. So I missed all but two days of the strike.

DRUMMOND: Really, really?

WASHAM: You know. But I'd get, on that date, ever so often, a newspaper clipping or something, my mom might send me in a letter to there. So the 1970 strike I missed.

34:00

DRUMMOND: It was your chance for excitement.

WASHAM: It was my chance for excitement and I missed it. I would have loved to have been there at it, you know?

DRUMMOND: Well um, did they hold your job for you, because you had started -- you know, somebody had pulled you in, said that they wanted you to work in a particular part of the plant.

WASHAM: Well when I went to work in that part of the plant, it was dimensional inspection, they had probably sixteen different areas of the plant that had dimensional inspection in it.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: Because we had thousands, several thousand machinist members.

DRUMMOND: Right, OK.

WASHAM: And also, I was working in -- we were part of the machinist seniority group, you know they could take you from dimensional inspection and put you out in the machine shop. You could transfer back and forth, either making the parts or inspecting them. You were -- as a machinist, we always say you know, you should have the ability to make them or check them or what you know, it was part of the whole group. But when I come back under the military -- or congressional laws on the military, is employers have to let you off.

35:00

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: And then there was reemployment laws. So you have so many weeks, once you come back from the military, to go apply for your job, and they have to bring you back. Well, they brought me back without any problem, but after a couple of years I realized, myself and a few more people, was that they didn't apply the law properly. They held us back on what progression raises that we should have made, because the law says that when you're in the military like that, then you get all the pay raises and progressions as if you were working on the job during that time of military leave.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Well, Union Carbide was the employer, here in Oak Ridge at that time, and they refused to do it and as a matter of fact, we wasn't aware of it at the time. So we brought it to their attention, there was three of us, and a 36:00grievance was filed on it, and as it turned out, they settled the grievance for one person, on a non-president basis, and somehow something fell through the cracks. So me and the other person, we went through the Department of Labor, and they sent a person in to investigate it. The employer had to provide pay records of, I believe it was five people with more seniority than us and five with less senior. They put all this together and finally Union Carbine decided to settle with us.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And under the law, the Department of Justice don't necessarily have to take them to court, if they feel like it's a fair settlement. It might not be everything that you're entitled to, but if it hits around the 80 percent range, they say we'll settle because it's cheaper than all the litigation. So Carbide 37:00settled with us and I think I got a check for $280.

DRUMMOND: And you felt like --

WASHAM: And we had to sign away that they was -- this is not an admission of guilt, all this kind of language on it.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

WASHAM: And I thought you know, that's pretty sorry. Here is a company that's got a contract building for the nation's national security, and then you go into the military, which I was in the National Guard, some other people went into the regular Army, and they want to jip you out of what I would refer to in the overall scheme, is chump change.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

WASHAM: You know? And then there was a lot of people that was affected by that, and after we got that settlement, me and the other person, and his name was Carl Tilley (sp?), a good friend of mine then, that was a machinist, is we started notifying some of the other people and the other people started applying for it. And then we got in touch with our congresswoman about that time, Marilyn Lloyd, 38:00and eventually some of those people got to settlements without going through the full scope of things that we had to do, and the ones that we were fighting for were all in the machinist union.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: It was a good feeling that you know you helped those other people too but you know, right is right.

DRUMMOND: Yes.

WASHAM: I thought it wasn't right for them to try to not give a person what they were due you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right, especially for going in the military essentially, if that was your absence.

WASHAM: Yeah. And we never had -- before the grievance was settled, you know sometimes things happen like that, and we didn't let it change our opinion towards the union, you know, because things happen and we got it you know, we all lived for another day.

DRUMMOND: OK. So that happened in the early seventies, when you got back from --

39:00

WASHAM: It was 1970 when I got back. We didn't become aware of this for a couple of years.

DRUMMOND: So it would have been '72.

WASHAM: It was approximately '72 when we -- or maybe -- Yeah, it might have been around then, when -- or even later, it could have been later. It was before 1976 because it was before we got out of the National Guard, and the way we became aware of it, we saw a flyer posted, or a pamphlet, on the bulletin board at the National Guard, talking about your employment rights and all, or we wouldn't have knew it at the time you know.

DRUMMOND: But you joined the union pretty -- even before you went into the National Guard.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Even before you --

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: So you went to the school, you started in school in '67.

WASHAM: No. I started the school in the summer of '68.

DRUMMOND: Summer of -- oh, because you graduated in --

WASHAM: I graduated in, I guess it was the last of May of 1968, from high school.

40:00

DRUMMOND: And then you got accepted to the program and went in.

WASHAM: I got accepted to the training technology program, went in that, and then went in as an employee in the plant, April the 14th, 1969.

DRUMMOND: And then September, you were initiated as a union member, so you joined pretty quickly.

WASHAM: We joined. In the shop I was in, you had a 90-day probationary period of employment at that time, and for whatever reason, the person that was our steward at that time, didn't sign us up immediately, and that happened at several places, that we should have signed and been voted on immediately, in our opinion.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But so once we got our 90 days in, we signed you know, our applications and all, and then the reason it was September was that we signed up on what was called check off, where they take union dues out of your check. Well, you had an initiation fee, so what they did, they waited like three months to get your full 41:00initiation, which was three months dues, before they'd vote on you.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And that was just part of the practice that was taking place. That wasn't the same practice at some other places you know and eventually, we wanted to sign people up immediately but you know, the company could let you go any time during that 90 days.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So that's why, that was part of the reason behind it, even though the union could go up and speak on your behalf, the company still had the exclusive rights to let a person go if they didn't feel like they were meeting the qualifications to get the job done.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So yeah, we become members and when we were in the training technology school, a certain part of the school at the time, the union got to come down and talk to us in a classroom setting. And I remember at the time, in the machinist classes, you had the machinist representatives come down, and a guy named Q.E. 42:00Richmond was the president of our local lodge.

DRUMMOND: Q.E.?

WASHAM: Yeah, Q.E. was his --

DRUMMOND: Q.E., OK.

WASHAM: Yeah, that was his initials.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK.

WASHAM: Quentin, and I don't remember what the E stood for, but everybody -- Q.E. was his initials.

DRUMMOND: Richmond.

WASHAM: Q.E. Richmond was the president of our local lodge at the time I guess.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And George Hyatt came down.

DRUMMOND: Hyatt, H-y-a-t-t?

WASHAM: H-y-a-t-t. And George was -- he may have been the -- I don't remember exactly what position George may have held at that time, because he held a lot of positions in the union. We used to be an unaffiliated local lodge, and he was the business agent at one time. Then George went on to be on the grand lodge staff, as the grand lodge rep, but he was there speaking with us and a guy named B.W. Hensley.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And B.W. was the president of that Atomic Trades and Labor Council. He 43:00was president prior to Bob Keil.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And they were all machinists, and they came down and spoke to us and you know, I remember they made a good impression on us, because it was a pro-union talk you know? It was union shop and even though you didn't have to belong you know.

DRUMMOND: Right, yeah.

WASHAM: But I think -- I don't know of anybody that went through that school that didn't become a union -- join the union when they could. Some of them, if they dropped out at any time, I just can't recall. It was a good group of people and a good group who became union people. But that was one of the main influences with the machinist union early on.

DRUMMOND: Was your dad disappointed that you didn't become a carpenter?

WASHAM: No, no. He actually -- before this school, there was a trade school in 44:00Crossville, about -- for electricians and all, and I remember, you know he told me, he said, "Boy, that would be a school for you to get into, to learn a trade there."

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then it just so happened I got into this. But no, he was pleased that I learned a trade you know, because he knew the value of that. And I enjoyed the machining, I'll tell you now. I took woodwork classes in high school and they didn't have a machining class at the high school I went into, so I was always grow up -- grew up using my hands and I liked to do that you know. So it was a good move for me.

DRUMMOND: It looks like it didn't take you long to get involved, because after you got back from your basic training, as early as 1972, you were a shop steward.

WASHAM: Yeah, in one of the areas I was working in at that time, I was down in, 45:00I believe it was 92-04-4 was the name of the building before, is I'd fill in when our shop steward was off, and one of the reasons I did, just to be honest with you, we didn't have very many problems, and a lot of these guys were older guys, and I really liked the union. I'd come to the meetings, so sometimes you know, they wouldn't come to -- a lot of them didn't come to the meetings, but I'd go around and collect all their books, and the book is your union book, you've got your stamp in it. And I would come to the meetings and I'd bring them in to get their book stamped, so they thought well this kid, we'll just make him steward, after all he's taking care of all of our books and stuff.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: But we very seldom, in the areas I was in at that time, had anything that would be a contractual violation. A lot of the supervisors in those shops I was in at that time were former union people and all, and they were OK. They didn't push the buttons, they didn't jerk people around or anything hardly, you know.

46:00

DRUMMOND: Was that still Union Carbide?

WASHAM: It was Union Carbide until 1984.

DRUMMOND: OK, so yeah, then it was Lockheed Martin.

WASHAM: It was Martin Marietta.

DRUMMOND: Martin Marietta.

WASHAM: Union Carbide, in 19 -- decided not to bid on the contract, and they'd had it for, I think since around 1950.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And for whatever reason, I can't remember, they decided not to bid on it.

DRUMMOND: After 25 --

WASHAM: It was 30 --

DRUMMOND: After more than -- after 37 years, OK.

WASHAM: Yeah. And there were several different companies that were bidding on it and ah, and Martin Marietta was awarded the contract.

DRUMMOND: Were they -- how were management relations? How were labor management relations with Union Carbide? Were they a good company?

WASHAM: Well you know, we had good wages and benefits because of the union, and 47:00over the course of history, you know and prior to when I arrived on the scene, in 1958 the machinists had a wildcat strike there.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Over some issues. I can't remember all of them because I wasn't there and it was like history, passed down to me, but that's what made the machinists the strongest kids on the block in the Atomic Trades and Labor Council. When we went out like that, we -- and when I say we, it's the machinist union, we pretty much ruled the roost of the council for 30 years or more.

DRUMMOND: Did you all have any sympathy strikers on that wildcat strike or was it just the machinists?

WASHAM: There was a few. I think part of the electricians may have came out, but the machinists was the -- and it only lasted a short period of time.

DRUMMOND: Was it over wages?

WASHAM: I can't remember exactly what the details are, but I've got the whole 48:00history of that strike is part of the package of our local lodge, in the archives. Every newspaper article on every strike we have is located there, so they can reference to it.

DRUMMOND: Note to researchers reading this transcript in the future, please check out the records also.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And that was in the '58 strike, was when an injunction was obtained by Union Carbide, about the picket lines. There couldn't be -- I think it might have been like two machinists couldn't congregate together out there. So the Women's Auxiliary went to the streets.

DRUMMOND: The Atomettes, the Atomettes.

WASHAM: And that was -- they went and the injunction didn't say anything about women and children. So they went onto the streets and women would be holding up signs, "My husband won't return to work until an honorable agreement." And things such as that, and part of those newspaper articles showing the ladies holding up those signs are in the archives also.

DRUMMOND: OK.

49:00

WASHAM: But we -- it's been so long, we couldn't identify who they were. There's nobody living that can say that was my mom or sister or whatever. But it made national news.

DRUMMOND: And this was the 19 -- ?

WASHAM: The 1958 wildcat strike.

DRUMMOND: The '58 wildcat strike.

WASHAM: So in labor relations, so we had that contention, and then we had the strike in 1970.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then in 1981 --

DRUMMOND: But there was also a strike in '63.

WASHAM: Yes, and that was a short-lived strike. I believe -- I can't remember the date. Again, we've got the whole history of all of them in the archives, but I forget the exact details on that. That started out I believe, with an issue of maybe the pipe fitters, over something. I can't really remember all that but it's documented in our records.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK.

50:00

WASHAM: But then in 1981, there was a 10-week strike, and then in 1987 we were on strike, I believe that was a 15-week strike in 1987.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And that's been the last strike they had at Y-12 or X-10, for the machinist union past members. So it was sort of contentious at times and various, whatever the issues may have been, but in the '70, in the '81, was on wage openers.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: Which is usually unusual to strike on a wage opener. Normally, you go on strike over a full contract.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: But we had people in the '87 strike that was out 15 weeks, would call and say can we get -- can we stay out another two or three weeks from the company. We had people all over the country and see every time that we had those 51:00strikes, they had a savings plan that the members participated in, and those savings plans paid off every two years, and every time they paid off is the year we was on strike, so people had a pocketful of money. And one thing we did in the machinists, leading up to 1987, the union, they had a United Way campaign at points, and they had savings bond campaigns at points. Well, we were able to convince them, and Bob played an instrument role in it, Bob Keil, supported the Atomic Trades and Labor Council. The unions would do all the solicitation for the hourly people, and we really increased the amount that was collected, because there were some contentions, the way the supervision did. And at Y-12, in the production areas, I would work on those campaigns, and the company would give you all the time you needed. I'd spend eight hours a day, five days a week, 52:00for eight weeks, doing the savings bond drive, and I had solicitors, people who was getting paid by the company, out of the shop, helping us do that. Then we would do it the same amount of time for the United Way drive. So what we would do leading up to that, that was where we was prepping our members too, in these meetings. The company would let the whole shop come, and we'd have like 28 meetings, come into these conference rooms and they'd be us, the union, with them, prepping them you know, we've got to look how this negotiation session might come up, and we always pushed to participate in the savings bond drive, not only for your future savings, but that's our defense fund also, for going out on strike, we can cash these bonds in.

DRUMMOND: And so the company was just letting them all go, because they thought you were doing one thing and you weren't then.

WASHAM: And we did, because we had increased the -- we was accomplishing our 53:00mission but also, we had an opportunity to accomplish a mission to prepare our members you know, for the future, about -- and if we didn't go out on strike, you know what you'd saved on the bonds, that was good money in your pocket too for anything. But so, we took advantage of things and that's what you got to do.

DRUMMOND: I expect the company took advantage of you all when they could.

WASHAM: They took a lot advantage of us too. I know because see, a lot of those managers, of course some of them wouldn't say anything, but a lot -- you know, they got merit raises and a lot of times, their merit raise could depend upon what percentages people gave to the United Way, savings bonds. So that was in their best interest on those midlevel managers, for you to do good, so to pad their pocket with a wage increase, they really didn't care what we did in those meetings you know? I had one guy say, "Larry I don't know what you're doing but keep it up." You can stay as long as you want, and said, "Just keep it up, we're at 150 percent in my department now." But it was fun you know, and you were 54:00trying to do the best you could to represent our membership and get them prepared always.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: And why not do it when you've got a captive audience?

DRUMMOND: Exactly. So you were shop steward from '72 to '74.

WASHAM: Ah-huh.

DRUMMOND: And then it looks like you didn't have much activity with the local until you became recording secretary in nineteen eighty... is that a one or a two?

WASHAM: Nineteen eighty-one.

DRUMMOND: Nineteen eighty-one.

WASHAM: And the reason I did, when I was shop steward in that one area, our work area closed down.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So we were sent to other shops and the other shops, when I went to, already had a shop steward.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So and they -- I didn't run against them or anything like that, because they were good stewards you know, it just so happened, and then I was a good, loyal paying member until around August of 1975, when I got laid off. And I 55:00don't think I put that on there.

DRUMMOND: Oh, no you didn't. I didn't know that. Of all the conversations we've had, I don't think -- I don't know that you've ever brought that up.

WASHAM: And I got laid off and I went to K-25.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I was there for 49 weeks.

DRUMMOND: And what is -- how was K-25?

WASHAM: K-25 was -- the formal name I guess, was the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, K-25, and that's the still code from the Manhattan Project.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But we went down there, I did, and I went into what was called the centrifuge project.

DRUMMOND: For 49 weeks.

WASHAM: For 49 weeks.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And then I got recalled back to Y-12. Now, K-25 was a union shop too.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And it was represented by the OCAW, the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I can't remember off the top of my head, our local lodge number.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But there was a lot of young guys like myself. So we were down there for 56:00about six weeks and their contract was up, and we went out on strike.

DRUMMOND: Yeah?

WASHAM: And it's the first time they'd been on strike, and the president of their local, and I can't remember his name now, I remember him making a statement, like to the press, at the local lodge here in Oak Ridge, for the OCAW, and he said, "We wouldn't be out on strike today if it wasn't for all them damn young radicals from Y-12 that came down here."

DRUMMOND: Oh.

WASHAM: And we were saying that's us, that's us, you know.

DRUMMOND: So a lot of people were laid off.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: Did they automatically take you because they sort of knew that you understood the protocols here, or at the labs?

WASHAM: The main thing that was the big advantage, you had to have security clearance down there.

DRUMMOND: And you already had it.

WASHAM: We already had it, and it was the same company, Union Carbide. So when you left, if you got accepted on those jobs, which very few people did, you left Y-12 on a Friday and started work on Monday at K-25.

DRUMMOND: OK.

57:00

WASHAM: And that centrifuge project, it was a new process that was in development, of enriching uranium for fuel grade reactors, through a centrifuge process.

DRUMMOND: Is that why there's a road called Centrifuge Way, or something like that?

WASHAM: Yeah, it's because they were building centrifuges over here at Boeing at the time.

DRUMMOND: Or I know the word centrifuge is used in something, like a building name or a road name.

WASHAM: Yeah, it probably is. And that was a project that actually went away.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And K-25 was the pilot plant for that and they were going to build it and there were some deals when Jimmy Carter was running for president, that -- in Portsmouth, Ohio, was where the final decision was made, the plant would be located, because they were trying to get votes and all, from their senators, to 58:00support it, but it never got built. I knew technology was coming underway, called the AVLIS program, which Ronald Reagan, by 1980, that was being researched in California.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So there was a lot of politics.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: And it was the -- AVLIS was something like the advanced laser isotope vapor separator, or something, was that acronym. But anyway, to make a long story short, almost all K-25 was shut down then, because they're not doing that, enriching uranium. They still have a facility in Paducah, Kentucky. So thousands of good union jobs were lost when it shut down. So after 49 weeks, I was so glad to get away from there.

DRUMMOND: Well let's get back to the strike.

WASHAM: OK.

DRUMMOND: That you rabble-rousers got stirred up when you got over there. How did it go?

59:00

WASHAM: It ended acceptable. We got enough that it was voted in by a large majority. There were some things that the people I worked in up there, about having representation in certain areas. We was never used to having that large of an area with only one steward, so it was some about that, and naturally some wages and all.

DRUMMOND: OK. And because the ATLC was really negotiating the contracts for every --

WASHAM: ATLC negotiated the contracts for Y-12 and X-10.

DRUMMOND: But not for --

WASHAM: Not for K-25.

DRUMMOND: OK, I see.

WASHAM: That was the OCAW, and see when these shops were organized after the war, you had the AFL, the CIO were separate. And when you had organizers from both unions in town, trying to organize the workers. When they the first 60:00elections, the AFL won X-10, and that's when the Atomic Trades and Labor Council was formed, after that election.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: The OCAW won, which was the CIO, they won K-25 by just about ten votes.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So they were certified. The no union won at Y-12, and Y-12 didn't form a union for another five years.

DRUMMOND: OK. Well it surprises me that the folks who were organized by the CIO would call you progressives, because I know that traditionally, the AFL is more conservative.

WASHAM: Right.

DRUMMOND: And the CIO was traditionally much more progressive, accused of communism at one -- you know.

WASHAM: Right, right.

DRUMMOND: It had like those issues. So it's a little amusing to me that they all were --

61:00

WASHAM: See, down there one of the things, when the people got laid off at Y-12, most of us came out of some of the crafts. There was a lot of -- the machinists took a big hit then. So you had a lot of craft union people going down there and see, the OCAW, under the old CIO concept, it wasn't a craft. You know, you might have a classification they had, what they called a maintenance mechanic. Well he would do some of the work a machinist may do, some of the work a millwright may do, some of the work -- it was like a multi-craft, and we wasn't used to stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: So we thought well man, this is crummy you know.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: Because you know, we didn't grow up with that concept, and I'm sure those people down there, it was a great concept for them, because that's what they were used to you know.

DRUMMOND: That's what they knew.

WASHAM: And you know when you're younger, you know we're going to -- you know back then, it was also at the age of -- where younger people would protest.

62:00

DRUMMOND: Right. So you had this whole like counter culture movement.

WASHAM: This whole culture movement at the time, you know you was coming out of that anti-war protest, fears earlier, you know the women were protesting.

DRUMMOND: The women's movement, post-civil rights.

WASHAM: And you know America -- yeah, civil rights and you know, we was fighting for our rights, we thought you know. (both chuckle) And it was a lot of fun too but it was serious though too. So I got to work down there some and so I made a lot of good friends, I met a lot of good people at K-25 and over at Y-12, and I was fortunate. When I come back to Y-12 --

DRUMMOND: Well what reversed all the layoffs? Did they have a new division open?

WASHAM: Well, new jobs had came open that the government had decided to --

DRUMMOND: Oh, I see, OK.

WASHAM: Certain programs that dealt with the national defense. And see out 63:00there, you know it's all about the atomic, you know nuclear weapons and things like that. So we got to come back and when I came back, I went into the machine shop. When I left, I was in dimensional inspection. So when I came back, instead of checking the parts, I was making the parts out there, and I spent oh, from that part of probably late September or so, or August, of '76, until some time in late '81 or maybe early '82, working in the machine shops, and then I went back into dimensional inspection.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I stayed in dimensional --

DRUMMOND: And it was still Union Carbide.

WASHAM: It was -- yes, it was still Union Carbide at that time and then Carbide left in 1984, I believe it was, when Martin Marietta bid on the contract. Carbide didn't even bid on it, that's why they didn't get it.

64:00

DRUMMOND: Ironically, the word union is in their name.

WASHAM: That's right.

DRUMMOND: And yet, they were, they were --

WASHAM: Yeah. So I worked in dimensional inspection until I went out on a union leave of absence in, I think it was around October the 5th or 6th, 7th, of 1987, and I never set foot back in any of the work areas again.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: I went back into the plant for some grievance hearings at the labor relations offices, and I went back in to retire, after being on a union leave of absence for 20- something years.

DRUMMOND: Well, you're jumping way far ahead of where we are.

WASHAM: OK, yeah.

DRUMMOND: I think I only got as far as recording secretary and then we started talking about –-

WASHAM: Yeah, and we didn't even get to that I don't think.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, we didn't really talk about that. So recording secretary and you did that for a couple of years.

WASHAM: Right.

65:00

DRUMMOND: But it looks like you did such a good job that in '84, you were elected president of the local.

WASHAM: Yeah, I was asked to run in 1981. So we had our nominations in November of 1981, an election would be in December of '81, then you took office in January of '82, that year.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I ran on a ticket of people that asked me to be part of their ticket, and one of the reasons I think they did was I had worked in so many of the different inspection departments, in the machine shop, and I worked in the different assembly areas as an inspector. So I knew, in the largest group of people, I was real well known, just for the fact of working in there, you know and got along with people. So I was elected recording secretary and I stayed in that position for two years, and I ran for president the next term.

DRUMMOND: OK.

66:00

WASHAM: And I really enjoyed the recording secretary job.

DRUMMOND: You did?

WASHAM: Yeah. You know, I felt part of the team you know? It was -- I enjoyed it. That's when I really got active with the local, on the local level as an officer. Before, I'd come to the meetings, prior to being -- you know, even being the steward, but I was always coming to the lodge meetings and stuff, you know I liked to know what was going on, so.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. And then you ran for president. And were you president for the '87 strike?

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: OK. What was that like?

WASHAM: Oh, it was ah, it was a contentious strike.

DRUMMOND: Between the union and the company or among the union members?

WASHAM: No, the union and the company.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: The union stayed real strong, especially the machinists.

DRUMMOND: Good, OK.

WASHAM: The machinists was very, very strong. We only had a handful of people that crossed the picket line from the machinist union.

DRUMMOND: OK.

67:00

WASHAM: But I ran -- the reason I ran for president, the guy that was the president served that one term, and he ran when I did, as recording secretary, and he decided not to run, and that's why I did. You know, the rest of the people on the executive board wanted me to run for that and I did.

DRUMMOND: Were they like here's a young guy we can talk into this.

WASHAM: Yeah, I was in my early thirties. But I had -- you know I was on the ball from the recording secretary and you've got the president, a lot of times when he'd be asked a question, a lot of times he would always turn to me and I sat to the right, or to his left, on the podium, and he would always turn around. Everybody called me by my initials out there and he said, "I'm going to let L.J. explain that." Every time he'd say anything, I was the one explaining 68:00everything too, and that I'm sure helped me you know.

DRUMMOND: Oh, sure. Yeah, they want to know that your brain is working, that you understand everything.

WASHAM: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: And during that period of time too, I would fill in as chief steward in the production area too.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And also that helped me somewhat, and I was always lucky that I always had a lot of good people that supported me you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: That was a blessing.

DRUMMOND: And um, let's talk a little bit about the strike then, you being president. Did you -- was this something -- because you had been president a few years and then you get to '87, and then what happened?

WASHAM: Well we went into negotiations.

DRUMMOND: OK, so it was time for the contract.

WASHAM: It was time -- that's how the strike started.

DRUMMOND: And by this time it was Lockheed Martin? No, it was Martin Marietta.

WASHAM: Yeah.

69:00

DRUMMOND: OK, it was Martin Marietta.

WASHAM: Martin Marietta.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And we would negotiate at the plants to begin with, and we would alternate between Y-12 and X-10, and the way that was set up at that time, you know it was two separate contracts but they were negotiated and they were voted on at the same time, because they would mirror one another, that's just the way they did it. At that time Bob Keil was the president of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, and Bob was one of my really good friends. Bob was a mentor to me.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And so it got down to the wire and we were voting on it, and you vote by delegates, and the best I remember, we had like 42 delegates. Each union could have like six delegates, but you had votes based upon how many members you had.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: So you could have -- like the carpenters might have six delegates, but 70:00they only had two votes. The machinist union, we had six delegates, because everybody had equal delegates, but you had voting by your per capita strength. We may have had seven votes at that time or eight, whatever it was. So it got down and the big deal was still going back to some things that happened in the '81 strike. So the machinist union --

DRUMMOND: Which had been two contracts ago.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Because it's a three-year contract.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And we had some contentions in the '84 contract negotiations. We didn't strike but we had to come back and hold another meeting because the company was trying to say that these wage increases didn't apply to the top -- only to the top wages. So we came back and had a meeting over here and Bob finally got things squared away with the company. Bob was really a good president of the council negotiator. So we go into the strike and we're at the old Ramada Inn in 71:00Knoxville, that's where we took that final vote. We were in the -- sitting in the cafeteria area or the restaurant area. So they call off each local lodge in a certain order and when it gets to the -- we vote against it, and that's one of the hardest votes I ever cast because the council had recommended to accept it and I had so much respect for Bob. It was -- but we had made some commitments and all that, because other unions stood with us when we went on strike in '81 over some shift preference issues that affected the machinists. One of the big strike issues was craft flexibility now, and so when it come around to the machinists, before it got to us, the teamsters, and the teamsters passed, which meant you kept going around. It wasn't uncommon for somebody to pass, because 72:00they were still thinking right there. So it gets to us and we vote our votes. Well, by the time it gets back to the teamsters it's a tie vote.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: And they're sweating blood, you could see over there, because their decision is, are we going to be on strike or do we have an agreement.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: And after a period, they voted to strike, you know they voted no, and we were out for fifteen weeks. And when we finally got an agreement, we had started negotiating outside of Sweetwater, Tennessee, at a hotel there, and finally got an agreement. But it was a contentious thing and there was probably some hard feelings by people over the years. There usually are on a strike, but the machinists stayed tight and we never heard anybody complain really, out of our group. That's when you know, we had -- you saw our caps, it says I didn't -- I 73:00survived the strike or I didn't -- or I didn't scab in 1987. And we had buttons that were orange and white, the UT colors, that said "whatever it takes." And we had good solidarity.

DRUMMOND: Among all the unions.

WASHAM: Most of the other unions, they had some people starting to go in at the very last hour, the chemical group, but not a mass. And the people used to say -- Frank Munger wrote an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel. He covered labor in this area at the time and he made a comment about how the machinists stuck together, it was just unbelievable, you know. And it really was when you thought about it, going back and looking at it you know? But it was good that we got it settled and right before we got it settled, I was elected business rep, the weekend before.

74:00

DRUMMOND: OK. Well, and let me ask this. When you were doing the strike, what kind of support were you getting, I guess from the district or from headquarters? I mean were there -- would a lot of you know, how did the IAM support the local?

WASHAM: Well, we would have a grand lodge rep would come in at times, but we were, I'd like to say more of a sophisticated group, we had stuff on the ball. We didn't really need much help from grand lodge.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And see, the Metal Trades Council, the grand lodge you know, can't do anything independently, or any of the other unions can't, because it's all through the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, who was affiliated under the AFL-CIO Metal Trades. So the president of the Metal Trades Council has more say than any international union does now, you know they're elected by those 75:00international presidents. But you know, we received our strike benefits, everything was just perfectly from that standpoint, from the international. But ah, and Bob was a machinist, Bob Keil, who was the president of our local metal trades here and all too, so you know, the main thing that we received was our strike benefits.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But we could have got any kind of support that we needed, but we had it together on the local level. See, we -- each union has their specific assignments on the picket lines out here and historically, the machinists had two gates, were the two areas we worked, and so we had our people would come by the hall, sign strike papers that you sign in, where you will be assigned you know. We never had any problems back then on the picket lines. We had captains 76:00that would go out to the picket lines, that were assigned, to see if they needed water. All the merchants in the community would give us different kinds of help.

DRUMMOND: So you had a lot of community support.

WASHAM: Excellent community support, yeah. The community was in our favor unbelievably.

DRUMMOND: OK. And earlier, when I talked to Bob, he said that the local United Way was very supportive too.

WASHAM: The local United Way was. We set up a hardship committee and Sandra Davis from -- she was the area labor liaison for the United Way at that time out in Knoxville, which covered us. We'd come out and we had a meeting and she helped us and Jim Buchanan from the painters was on that committee, and he did an excellent job. When people would have problems, we'd try to help them with 77:00their utilities. And see, one thing we had too at the Y-12 credit union, we had the influence where that we didn't have to pay our loans while we were on strike, and it put all that off.

DRUMMOND: Very good.

WASHAM: And we had that.

DRUMMOND: Fifteen weeks, that's a lot.

WASHAM: Fifteen weeks and see, we put a scare in them in, I think it was '86. Myself and another machinist that I recruited, Ed [Samples?]. We ran against the president and the recording secretary of the credit union and they just sort of snuffed us off. And see the thing about it was that the only way you could get elected, the credit union had a nominating committee and they had to nominate the people. Well, they're not going to nominate anybody that run against the president and the recording secretary, but the only other option in their bylaws was if you could get signatures of 10 percent of the credit union members, they had to place you on the ballot. I told them I wanted the petition. We got those 78:00petitions and we went through the Atomic Trades and Labor Council at Y-12 and Charlie Robinson was the vice president of the council and he was a full-time union person there. So Charlie, we put together a plan and got all the chief stewards in the plant to come to the council office and they was all given petitions. Everybody went out and we not only got the union people to sign, we had -- I had people sign that, was department heads and everybody.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

WASHAM: And I took that petitions over there and they --

DRUMMOND: How much was 10 percent?

WASHAM: I think it was, at that time, it was probably close to a thousand or so. But when I took them petitions over there, I think we had somewhere around 3,000 or 3,500 signatures, and they almost had a heart attack. (both laugh) It just blew them away, they thought it was impossible. Well, when they had the 79:00election, the election was held at their annual meeting and that's at night, so the second shift employees didn't have the opportunity to vote until midnight. We lost the election but it was the first time that it was ever done and it scared them, when they saw we had an influence. And it turned out they really worked with the unions afterwards because you know, they saw we could be a force to deal with you know, and that really helped our members on things, and that was the whole purpose. So when the strike came, you know went over there and talked with the manager of the credit union and they were very nice to us and we didn't have to pay our bills until we got back.

DRUMMOND: That was almost four months.

WASHAM: Yeah, yeah.

DRUMMOND: That's fantastic. Well, when you all ended the strike, did you all settle for back pay for during the strike time?

80:00

WASHAM: No, it was just whatever wage increases that were to take place.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: That was again, that was one of the years that the savings plan paid off like it did, and everybody had... Some people, when they got their savings plan checks, some of these guys got $5,000 or more probably that year, and that was a lot of money in 1987, so they were getting in their cars, going to Disney World.

DRUMMOND: Taking their family for a vacation.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Nice. Five thousand dollars went a lot further in 1987 than it does right now.

WASHAM: It would. But we felt good when we come back, the people did, off the strike you know.

DRUMMOND: Did it put a long-term strain on labor management, on relations?

WASHAM: They got better afterwards. Bob Keil met with some of the upper company 81:00officials that had been involved for years as a holdout, and they put together with the National Mediation Services, where they had meetings with the stewards and supervisors and things, after the strike, and we had meetings offsite where the company learned how the union made decision making process and we in turn learned how they did, and some of these people, they just didn't realize that this is a democratic union you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: They thought well, I can just tell them to do this, they've got to do it. They learned a lot and it seems like after that, things started getting better.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then, again, I never went back in the plant after the strike. I became a business agent.

DRUMMOND: Because you were elected to District Lodge 169.

WASHAM: Yeah, what we had done --

DRUMMOND: I think that's a good place to stop.

WASHAM: OK.

DRUMMOND: Since we were going to do this in two parts. We will pick up with District Lodge 169 tomorrow.

WASHAM: OK.

DRUMMOND: OK?

82:00

DRUMMOND: OK, good afternoon Larry, and thanks for being here. Today is the 20th of March and we are picking up where we left off yesterday with the interview, which I believe was when you .

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: For District Lodge 169.

WASHAM: In October of 1987.

DRUMMOND: Tell me a little bit about District Lodge 169. What does that cover, what's it responsible for?

WASHAM: District Lodge 169 was created in the last week of September of 1987. It was a merger of three districts, which one of them was 169, which covered the Manchester, Tennessee area, and Jimmie Gaunce was the director and business representative there. The other district lodge was 56, in Chattanooga, where the 83:00business rep was [Gene Christianson?], and the third was here in the Oak Ridge area, was District Lodge 203 and Ken Holder was the business representative there. And we created a merger of those three and it was named 169, and that took place in the last weekend of September, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and by merging these three districts, we were able to put on two additional business representatives.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And that included myself and Joe Todd.

DRUMMOND: Todd.

WASHAM: And Jimmie Gaunce was the director of what was called region one, Gene [Christian?] was the director of region two in Chattanooga, and Ken Holder was the director of region three in Oak Ridge, and so we had three regions in the one district, and the business reps were responsible for those areas. My major 84:00responsibility when the district was created was to organize.

DRUMMOND: In all the -- in all the -- ?

WASHAM: In all of the districts.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK.

WASHAM: And if I wasn't working on organizing, then I would service shops in this area also, at the same time. So when we had the ah, -- a district convention, and approved the bylaws and all, everybody that was running as a business representative and officers of the district, everybody was unopposed and it was a unanimous vote for everybody, which it was a smooth transition. And we were still on strike at that time.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And the strike was resolved around October the 5th.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I wanted to stay on as president of the local and go through the strike until it was over with, and so everything worked out good.

85:00

DRUMMOND: Good. Well, why did the IAM or -- because I don't know if the idea to merge the three districts came from headquarters or it came from the territory, or it was something you guys want from the council, from the state council, but why did you decide that merging the three districts would be a more effective way to run things?

WASHAM: Well, the decision was basically made by Jimmie Gaunce and Gene Christian and Ken Holder, along with grand lodge representative Ed Pierce, who was from Tennessee, assigned to this area, that if these three districts merged they would have a better financial basis for the district. We could put additional representatives on for organizing and it would be better for our membership, for services, and it was approved by the old Great Lakes Territory general vice president, and of course by the international president at that time.

DRUMMOND: OK. So you all were part of the Great Lakes then?

WASHAM: Tennessee was part of the Great Lakes Territory at that time, which no 86:00longer is in existence.

DRUMMOND: OK. And so if you took over organizing, what were the other three, or the other two business reps?

WASHAM: Well, there was actually four others.

DRUMMOND: OK, I'm sorry.

WASHAM: There was five including me. Ken Holder, he had region one, which was the old district 203 area. Gene Christian had the Chattanooga area, which was region two, and Jimmie Gaunce and Joe Todd worked region one, which was the original 169, in the Manchester, Tennessee area, more of the middle Tennessee.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And Jimmie had been the director, you know he was -- he would float all over. He was the rep in charge of the whole district then.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. But what were they doing? If you were organizing, what were their...?

WASHAM: They would be handling negotiations, arbitration cases, handling grievances.

DRUMMOND: OK.

87:00

WASHAM: Attending meetings, regular membership meetings, just the general duties of a business representative during the time.

DRUMMOND: And this was the first time you really got to go out and organize.

WASHAM: I started -- yeah. I started organizing when I came on in on the district level. That was my first experience with organizing. As soon as I came on, there was a campaign in progress in Asheville, North Carolina.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: At a company called VME. We lost that election. I don't remember the vote count, but they had huge billboards up stating every day that we were on strike here at Oak Ridge, which they'd have -- you know, after a 15-week strike you know?

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: These workers have been on strike for 99 days.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: They'd have a countdown each day.

DRUMMOND: The company would.

WASHAM: The company would.

DRUMMOND: So their workers would see that --

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: And ah, but they weren't saying that you had all the you know, support from the community and you know through --

88:00

WASHAM: No, that was a typical anti-union campaign there.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: But that was my first experience and you know, you learn from your losses and all. That was in progress when I come on, but it was a pretty good learning experience for me. And then I had another campaign immediately after that, was in progress, and I learned a lot from those. You know, we lost some, but we had more union organizing activity that had been going on in a decade, just right away on some things.

DRUMMOND: What do you think happened in the late eighties that had -- that had so much organizing activity in this area?

WASHAM: Well, we went out and found organizing leads and when you're organizing in an area, activity will breed activity.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So we had been dominant -- or dormant, for some years, and then once we 89:00got out and we would talk to our members and get organizing leads, it just -- it will start snowballing a lot of times. And still in the late eighties, you had a lot of manufacturing still in the area at that particular time too.

DRUMMOND: Not just textiles or whatever.

WASHAM: No, no.

DRUMMOND: But all kinds of manufacturing.

WASHAM: Yeah, right.

DRUMMOND: OK. And yeah, because at some point I guess, the machinists went from being a strict union for machinists to bringing in people -- workers doing other kinds of work.

WASHAM: If you look at our demographics of our membership, probably only about 15 percent of our entire members are actually machinists running lathes, mills and machine shop type work, but we represent workers in all fields of work. Later on you know, as I became organized -- an organizer in the international, you know we've got people that are attorneys, say in Will County, Illinois, we will represent the public defenders. At a lot of the VA hospitals, we represent 90:00the physicians, the medical doctors, and also it's just not the basic shop work, machine shop work, you know we've got everybody, almost any kind of worker you can of.

DRUMMOND: When that started happening, when the machinists started representing different kinds of workers, how did the true traditional machinists, how did they feel about that? Was there any contention?

WASHAM: Well yeah, if you look back historically, see during my career, we were representing all kinds of workers everywhere.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But reading the old IAM journals, you know, they didn't want you to get out of the traditional field, a lot of people, but some of our general vice presidents had to force that to know, you know you're going to die on the vine if you don't go out and organize other workers. So you know, you had traditional people who thought well, you just should represent machinists. Well you can't 91:00survive that way, you've got to represent everybody and anybody.

DRUMMOND: Right. So I've heard people describe organizing as the hardest but most rewarding thing you can do in the union. Do you agree with that statement?

WASHAM: I agree with it. It's a hard job, you've got to work all hours of the day, because you've got to meet workers when they're not at work. So it's a lot of late work in the afternoons, at night, early mornings. It's like one business representative who told me one time, we was working on some campaigns in District 10 in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, and this person had been a servicing rep his entire career and dealt with some of the largest; GE, real sophisticated companies and stuff. And he told me one time, he said, "This is the hardest job there are, is organizing."

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

92:00

WASHAM: He said that, "It's all or nothing." And it is. You know, you work say three months on a campaign, you have the election and you either win it or you lose it.

DRUMMOND: And you work just as hard no matter what happens.

WASHAM: And you work just as hard. And he said, like in servicing, he said, "You've always got the arbitration clauses to fall back on, the grievance procedures." And I only said in this, it's all or nothing you know, there's no safety nets out there. And it's very rewarding when you know you've helped people, where they can help their family you know? And it was always a good feeling, when you especially work as a team of IAM members, trying to help the non-union.

DRUMMOND: Can you name any more memorable organizing campaigns from your time as business rep?

WASHAM: Well, from the business rep, I think I spoke a little bit yesterday 93:00about Harriman Paperboard.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: That was a good win. We had represented them, it closed down, and a new employer opened up and we were able to go back in and reorganize them. But eventually it closed too, because they run out of some funding and some various things, but the people was real happy with us, the employees. That was one. I had one election in December of 1987. I hadn't been on very long and the campaign was in progress and it was Maremount Mufflers in Loudon, Tennessee. There's five hundred and something employees and they make mufflers. The cherry bomb mufflers was one of the more famous mufflers.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And we lost that election like 351 to 196, and it was a really hard fought campaign, multiple shifts. I never will forget, one time we were 94:00hand-billing and the people come out of the plant and as they were passing on the highway, was throwing wooden nickels at me, as we was hand-billing, and they put out these wooden nickels, "The IAM is not worth a plug nickel." And they had a guy dressed up as Santa Claus, with thousands of these in there.

DRUMMOND: And these were the workers?

WASHAM: These were some of the workers.

DRUMMOND: And they used their own money.

WASHAM: No, this is stuff the company will provide for them.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But you know, they always get -- miraculously get things like that you know. Nine years went by and we had another election, but this time I came in to assist on it. Jack [Major?] was the lead organizer and we won it, and it was just so satisfying to come back, and part of the people came up and apologized for throwing the wooden nickels at me. They now were union supporters and it was 95:00real nice. We had two guys on that campaign; Howard Evens and Terry Brown, that wore machinist T-shirts and machinist caps and buttons for nine years, every day at work.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: And I never saw anybody that have the patience they did. That's how much they wanted the union. I never will forget, the day we came out of the plant, there must have been 150 of our supporters on the highway, and they had all their gray union machinist T-shirts on that day. And when we come out and we walked around these hedges, and you could see the anticipation on their faces, and we put the victory signs up and it just was wild there, you know they just charged across that road. We had a huge celebration down at the union hall.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And there was a service station right next to it. The guy came over and 96:00said hey, I'm closing the station up, so you guys could have more parking space here to celebrate with.

DRUMMOND: Oh, nice.

WASHAM: Because he was supporting our efforts you know. So that was one of the more satisfying ones, but at that time I was a grand lodge rep, but I came back to my home area and I knew all these workers too. So it was one of the most satisfying ones.

DRUMMOND: Well, and are they still organized today? Are they still a valid local today?

WASHAM: No, not today.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: We had organized them, and they appealed the process, which took maybe a year and a half, and we won everything. And then another employer bought them out and we were able to get a good contract. George [Mays?] was the business representative, got a great contract. We had several good contracts and then the company was sold to an individual from Texas and he come in with the intent on 97:00breaking the union.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And they had a strike, and this was probably -- this was in the 2000s, probably close to ten years had gone by, and there was a strike and we lost the strike on it. But this person was so bent on it, he gave a contribution, I was told, to a quarter horse museum in Texas, that was worth more than what it would have cost to settle the contract. So his intent was to do everything in his power to break the union, and they brought in replacement workers. But we had good contracts until this buyer came in.

DRUMMOND: OK. So as a business rep, you were still working in Tennessee, in the area.

WASHAM: Yes.

98:00

DRUMMOND: Now, when you became special rep to the grand lodge in February of '91, was that the first time you -- were you still here in the area or were you -- did you relocate at that time?

WASHAM: Well, when I came on as the special rep, you're assigned a home station.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And my home station was Oak Ridge, they left me here in the area. And it's quite a story on how I -- when I came on, the general vice president, Larry Downing, at that time we had a general vice president for the organizing part. And I'd met Larry and talked with him, and I had worked on a campaign of an employer that he just absolutely hated. He'd had a lot of campaigns across the nation with this particular owner of a company and so he was giving me some insight on a campaign, sending me some things, so he knew who we were. But it was coming up, we had lost some members in our district and all, and more than 99:00likely we were going to have a layoff of a business rep, and I would be the one being laid off. Jimmie Gaunce told me later on that he went to Washington, D.C., and he might -- I don't know if it was for that specific reason or if he just had a meeting, I can't remember on that. But anyway, he got with Larry Downing and he was talking to him about that he might have to lay me off, and he was -- he said, but I can keep him if I can get some organizing money to pay part of his salary. And I'd worked with part of Larry's staff on some campaigns we were successful at, at General Processing in Crossville, Tennessee, a few hundred members and all, and Jimmie said Larry just looked at him and grinned and said, "Hell Jimmie, I can do you better than that, I'll put him on my staff."

DRUMMOND: Nice.

100:00

WASHAM: So Larry came to Tennessee and offered me the job to come on his staff and I said yes. So I became a special rep February 1, 1991.

DRUMMOND: So that is when you first moved to headquarters staff.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: The grand lodge staff.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: And but I guess once you were a business representative, you weren't on the shop floor any more at all.

WASHAM: No.

DRUMMOND: You were only in that position. But then from your move to special rep, you moved from working for Tennessee to --

WASHAM: I was working for the international.

DRUMMOND: -- working for the international.

WASHAM: I was an employee of the international staff at that time.

DRUMMOND: How did your responsibilities change once you were special rep?

WASHAM: Well, at that time, you reported to General Vice President Downing. I was in the organizing department. See in the structure of the IAM you have different territories that you report to a general vice president, say that was in the southern territory, or at the time the Old Great Lakes Territory, and 101:00that general vice president would give the assignments to his staff, which was grand lodge reps. If you came on new, you would always come on usually as a special rep for a period of time. So whatever they assigned you to, it could be service in a shop or it could be organizing, just whatever they gave you on assignment. But where I was working in the organizing department, all we did was organize, and at that time you had the assignment of wherever they sent you in the United States or Canada. We had it all organizing. So I eventually worked all over the United States and Canada.

DRUMMOND: But you were originally though, just assigned back to Oak Ridge.

WASHAM: No, Oak Ridge was your home station.

DRUMMOND: Oh, your home station, OK. So what does that mean?

WASHAM: That means that if you're given an assignment, and say when you was in the organizing department, you could be working anywhere in the country.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

102:00

WASHAM: So you would be put on an assignment and you could be out two weeks at a time. So for example, my home station was Oak Ridge, and I guess it was in May of that same year, I worked quite a bit in Wichita, Kansas, on some campaigns there. So every two weeks, you got to come home for a weekend.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And the international, if it's so far out they'll fly you in, but as the collective bargaining agreement with the reps and I, they'll pay your transportation coming and going to your home station you know, and if needed they could keep you out for three weeks at a time. But that was the important thing, you always got to come back for a weekend, and I would say, I think I probably averaged about 275 days out of the year in a hotel somewhere in the United States or Canada at points of time.

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DRUMMOND: After you started as special rep, all the way through to your retirement, or only when you were special rep?

WASHAM: That my home station was Oak Ridge?

DRUMMOND: No, no, that you were gone two hundred and...

WASHAM: My entire --

DRUMMOND: Like after that point essentially.

WASHAM: After that point, yeah, yeah. Now, in June of '93 they changed my home station to Chicago.

DRUMMOND: OK. Oh, so not too long after.

WASHAM: Yeah. A little over two years, so I had to take up residence in Chicago in June of '93, and I had the responsibility of Chicago and the state of Wisconsin, in organizing.

DRUMMOND: And can I ask how it changed? Was there a different attitude towards unions in those places or was it just as hard? Were there subtleties that were different?

WASHAM: It's not that much difference anywhere you go in the country you know.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: Some places it's more receptive to a certain extent, where there's more density of union members.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But you have people that's against it anywhere you go and you'll have -- 104:00because people are people.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: You know, and that's one of the things that's a myth. A lot of people say well you can't organize here, you can't organize there. That's usually a crutch, because I don't care what culture you have, what race you are, what language you speak, everybody still has the same wants and needs and they need to be fulfilled. And if you really think about it, a lot of people put the myth, well you can't organize in the south, and I tell them well, that's where our union was formed at. You know, we became a union in Atlanta, Georgia, May 5, 1888, in a railroad pit. And then I used to hand out a map that showed the first 104 locations, when I was the director of organizing, when talking with people, and I said you know, we grew from 19 members to over 4,000 members and 104 local lodges in a year and a half, and it was basically almost entirely in the south.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, it was, yeah.

105:00

WASHAM: So don't tell me you can't do some things. I said back then, you know they rode the railroads and they didn't have cell phones, computers and things like that. So it can be done.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: You've just got to sometimes be in the right place at the right time, when workers need help. But I found that you know, a lot of people, when they tell you well, you can't organize here or whatever, it's usually a crutch you know.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. So how was Chicago? How did Chicago treat you?

WASHAM: Well, I ended up having to take up residence in Chicago and one of the reasons that made some change, see at the 1992 grand lodge convention, they realigned the territories and the Great Lakes Territory went away. The international president at that time was George Kourpias, and they organized in general, the vice president position was going away, and Larry Downing because 106:00the general vice president of the Midwest territory, whose office is in Chicago, and the international president, Kourpias, then we had -- they were going to send part of our staff into certain areas, assign us there, that were union dense, high union density.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Or it would increase our efforts on organizing. And then we had part of our staff assigned different places and General Vice President Downing, he wanted me in his territory, and also grand lodge, Jack Nugent, and Jack's home station was already St. Louis. And then I worked mostly in Wisconsin. We had a lot of organizing activity going on in Wisconsin. And then in 1997, the summer of '97, International President Buffenbarger moved my home station back to Oak Ridge.

DRUMMOND: OK.

107:00

WASHAM: Because by that time, as he told me, and Gary Will, who was the organizing director at that time, that I was getting assignments of the large campaigns and all. So I was going to different territories as I said. With this, you can do it just as well from Oak Ridge as you can from here, so we'll put you back to your actual home you know, which was good for me, but I was still gone all the time too.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: But I liked it that I came back to my home station you know. So I came back here in 1997, the summer of '97.

DRUMMOND: And you'd been made grand lodge rep in '94.

WASHAM: By that time -- yeah, approximately '94, I became a grand lodge rep.

DRUMMOND: And they were sending you, you said, to lots -- like bigger, I guess bigger campaigns.

WASHAM: Yeah, me and a couple other reps, we got assignments of large campaigns 108:00usually, and we'd go in and set them up and be the lead organizers on you know, shops that were big, you know we had -- you know, 500 or more people, and some of them larger than that.

DRUMMOND: And during that time, because you were grand lodge rep from '94 to April of 2005.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And what are some of the -- did your -- so other than just, I guess being assigned to work with larger organizing campaigns, did your responsibilities change in any other real way?

WASHAM: No, it was always organizing you know?

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: If you were in an area and you had one campaign going, you was perking another one at the same time. So you would have multiple campaigns maybe going.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And also part of our responsibility was put on organizing training in the districts and in the state we were at. We were always training and I helped put on part of the training, and that was also -- would encompass training at 109:00territorial staff conferences of the other general vice presidents, and go places and put on a seminar. You know usually it was like a three-day training sessions, showing them that this is how you need to organize. We had a computerized organizing program and we would teach them how to use it and how it was a tool to use, and we really emphasized what was called the blitz. That's where you would go into an area and meet with only two or three employees, and with those few employees, you would develop all the names, addresses, shifts, departments that was in that plant. And then we would bring in -- if it was say, a 500-man shop, we'd probably bring in 30 or 40 machinist members and representatives, and we'd go out in a three-day period and visit all those workers at their home, asking them to sign our authorization petition that would 110:00grant us the right to represent them.

DRUMMOND: And what's that like? Are people scared, do they tell you to get out of their house? Do they -- are they worried about what their boss is going to think, are they worried about getting fired?

WASHAM: Well it will vary you know, and that's why we try to get that face to face meeting. When we explain to them what their legal rights are -- it's illegal for an employer to terminate you or discriminate you because of your union activity.

DRUMMOND: But it still happens.

WASHAM: Well, it don't happen that much if you do it right.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And part of it is people knowing what their rights are. See a lot of people, we used to use cards and people would be told this is confidential, it's secret, nobody will know that you signed it. Well that's when you put people in danger, because you've got to be able to show that the company fired you because of your union activity. If you didn't tell anybody, nobody knew you were a union supporter, how could it be for union activity?

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

111:00

WASHAM: So we'd tell people, if you're going to sign this petition, and there's approximately eight people that's on a petition and it's got little block forms that they fill out their names and we tell them, anybody that signs this petition is going to see who else signed it, and you know, usually in that first three days, you do it so fast the employer don't know what's going on.

DRUMMOND: What is happening.

WASHAM: They're not going to make a big decision, because you start like on a Thursday, and the plant manager don't want to call his corporate office and say hey, we've got an organizing drive going on because it makes him look bad.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: So he's going to wait and see where it goes you know. But we tell people right upfront, you know, we give them leaflets about the law, and if supervisors or anybody said what do you think about the union, you tell them, I support that union, I'm a union supporter.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Because that way, we've got the petition they've signed, and then when we have meetings, we have them sign on sign-in sheets. We can show that they 112:00were pro-union.

DRUMMOND: And then if something happens.

WASHAM: If anything happens to them, you know that's evidence also. The employers know, are used to the way we operated the campaign. Very few campaigns was anybody ever terminated in the machinist union. You hear a lot of stories at times about things and as a general sense, a lot of it is exaggerated to a certain extent. But there are a lot of fear you know, it's a lot to overcome, and you've got to walk these people out, because we'd go back and if we got enough signatures to file a petition, get them an election, then we go back approximately seven to ten days before the election occurs and we get these people to sign a second petition that says we are voting yes. It says we're voting yes, we're voting for the IAM, and we encourage our coworkers to stand by our word and we're voting yes. So we tell them, we've got to have 55 percent of 113:00the people to sign that or we're not going to go through with the election.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. And is that true?

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: If you didn't have 55 percent you would just walk away from it?

WASHAM: Yeah, and they know that.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: They know this, because we've got four gates they've got to cross. First is getting the names and addresses, the second is getting the proper amount of signatures, which is 65 percent, on the authorization petition. The third gate is we've got to get a proper amount of people to be on our team. We need 10 percent of the employees per shift. And the fourth is getting a majority of the people on that vote yes petition. And they're told, at any point in time we don't meet that goal, then that's where the campaign stops.

DRUMMOND: But it sounds like you probably -- I'm sorry, finish your thought, then I'll ask you my question.

WASHAM: Well, what I was going to say is, if then on the day of the election, we 114:00hand that out to everybody going through the gate, that vote yes petition. The people, when they ask you well who will see it, I say, "Everybody from God to the plant manager to every one of your coworkers." Everybody's going to see that. And if we get enough signatures like that, you know you're going to win. And see, that's an object of an organizer, you're not there just to have an election.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: I mean the election is the last thing you want to have because the employer, when you file that initial petition with one of the forms of the government, you're asking them to recognize you.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And they can recognize you, where you don't even have to have an election. That don't occur usually. Then, that's when the board, the NLRB, will hold an election. And I've had several times where that we wasn't getting the vote yes petition, and when we're getting that signed, we've got workers in the plant that's going with us, you know will go. One worker will ride with a full-time staff person and they knew their coworkers have backed off, and when we tell them, you know we can't go any further, they never -- I've never had a 115:00group that felt like they'd been abandoned or the union has walked away. They'll come up and shake your hand, hug you, and say I really appreciate your effort now. Because if you have an election and you lose, you can't hold an election for 12 months.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But if you withdraw that petition without an election, you can re-file it six months later. So the whole idea was to tell people you know, you're penalizing yourself if you go out and have election and know you're going to lose. Why do that you know? It's illogical really. But some folks used to think, oh the people think you've abandoned them and they'll be mad at you. I've never had that ever happen in my life using this program. They know what it is right upfront. When you're honest with people and they know you're sincere and you're there to try to help them, they trust you.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

116:00

WASHAM: And there have been a lot of campaigns -- I've worked on so many, I can't tell you right off the top of my head, but where we withdrew the petition and then go back, went in, in less than a year, and we won an election.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: Yeah, it happens a lot.

DRUMMOND: Do you think that the reason that happens sometimes is the company knows you're coming in, so maybe they start treating workers better, and then when they think the election is over, it goes back to how it -- or that the election is not over but it's not going to be held.

WASHAM: They go back to their old ways.

DRUMMOND: They go back to -- I mean is that what happens?

WASHAM: Yeah, that's what happens most of the time.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And sometimes it might be -- you can go back within six months, sometimes it might be a year or so, but the worst thing you can do is go have an election knowing you're going to get beat, and it demoralizes the people who are hard workers, and they get so demoralized, not at our effort but at their coworkers, they'll say heck, I'm going to get somebody else get out front the next time. So why get somebody mentally beat up when you can withdraw and go 117:00fight a war another day.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: It's just like I always tell them, I say, "General Custer would like to use some other strategies, he would have liked to have retreated before the Little Big Horn." You know?

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: And come back and fight another battle.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: That's the way it is with this you know.

DRUMMOND: What is the worst thing that's ever happened? Are there any stories of just thin.ks happening to people who were trying to organize, like I guess the other workers, to workers who were trying to organize?

WASHAM: Sometimes you'd have just the normal type bickering between some employees and all. I can't think of right now, anything off the top of my head. You was talking earlier about people getting terminated. Usually if a person got terminated during a union campaign, the way we operate our programs, he would have got fired, him or her, if we hadn't been within 500 miles.

118:00

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: You know, if an employee is a bad employee and does something... And as a general rule, most of the time the worst employees are always company supporters.

DRUMMOND: Interesting.

WASHAM: Because they want to suck up to the boss because of their workmanship is not up to par, so they think that will be my savior. But during the campaigns, the people who are at jeopardy the most are the people who are the most adamant company supporters, not the adamant union supporters.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Because during the campaign, employers will make a lot of promises one-on-one to employees, which are illegal, but they do it one -- well, I'll promise you, you know we get through this, you'd make a good supervisor. Well they make so many promises, they can't carry them through, so some of these people are liabilities, so they've got to terminate them. There's nothing we can 119:00do for them because they never showed any union support.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: Because it wasn't for their union support. So who's better to be a union supporter the next time? It's like they give witness about something, they're the sinner, so they've got to get rid of them. Now, a lot of the people in a lot of campaigns I've worked on, successful campaigns and some we didn't win, some of our strongest supporters later on became management, and the company put them into management because of their leadership abilities. I, along with a lot of other reps, we've always said you know, "We train them and the employer steals them from us." But they saw leadership in those people, and most of them that did later on go into supervision, I'll have to say, were pretty much all of them treated workers OK, because they still believed in the union. They just wanted to advance, make a little bit more money for their families and stuff like that, 120:00and still had a lot of their beliefs. You might have some that changed a little bit on the rule, the ones that really supported us, if they went into management, stayed -- believe in the union still you know.

DRUMMOND: Well, working the grand lodge, in organizing as long as you did, did the way they organize, did their techniques, did the union's techniques change over time? Did they get refined, were there different things they tried over time?

WASHAM: Well over time yes. When I came on as a business rep, there were using a program basically called "Organizing by the Book." And that had been a program that had been in place for a certain time.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And that consisted of you know, you would find out who the employers 121:00were and you build a team and have meetings with this team before you ever went out and started getting the signed authorization cards. Well the employer knew what was going on by them, you know you couldn't keep it secret. So when General Vice President Larry Downing became the vice president of the organizing department, he implemented the blitz program, and that's where we do all the heavy work upfront, of finding out who the employees are, where do they work at, what shifts they're on. We do all this and we had a computerized organizing program where you could easily keep up and search information. We used to have charts just pasted all over the walls, of things, and the computer program don't organize anybody, it's just a tool for you to use to be more well organized. So when we went to the blitz program, our organizing success skyrocketed, and that 122:00became the policy.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And it's still the policy in place but a general vice president can let you do it any way that he desires, as long as it has his approval, but officially it's still the blitz program, and it might vary depending upon a circumstance that a general vice president feels warranted to move outside the program for.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: But I believe firmly in the one-on-one communications, and that you just can't get around that to organize people, in my opinion.

DRUMMOND: Putting a face on it.

WASHAM: A face on it, because when they're voting and you -- them people are not voting for the machinist union, they're voting for Larry or they're voting for Jack or they're voting for Bob; whoever the union representative, in their opinion that is the union.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

123:00

WASHAM: So how you conduct yourself and you train these people during -- because we have weekly training sessions each week with our organizing team, and you become friends. And if you asked a friend to do something, he's more likely to do it, than if he received a letter from somebody that said the International Association of Machinists. They'll say who the hell is that, you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

WASHAM: But I know Traci and I'd do that for her, you know.

DRUMMOND: That's so interesting. I'm always interested in the logistics of things and how they actually work. And so, you were apparently so good at organizing um, and well actually, because you were grand lodge rep for about 11 years it looks like.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: What were some of the bigger campaigns you had during that time? Let's go back and talk about that a little bit.

WASHAM: Gees, I don't know. I worked on a lot that I was the lead organizer, I worked on some I was helping the lead organizer, of campaigns of 500 or so. We 124:00won a nice campaign, I believe it was in '96, in Mayville, Wisconsin, at Beecher's Cheese, it was a cheese factory. There were, best I recall, about 500 employees there.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And it was an interesting campaign. It was a campaign that had been run two or three times before I got there you know, over say a six or seven year period, and we were successful. Part of the people that were against the union were -- some of them were key union supporters at that campaign, and it was a good campaign. The Maremount campaign in Loudon, Tennessee, that I spoke about earlier, Jack Nugent was the lead organizer on it. That was the most -- one of the most satisfying, because what happened when I was a business agent (inaudible). We worked on a lot of the campaigns where we would assist the 125:00territories, like some of them, the United Airlines campaigns.

DRUMMOND: And United Airlines, was that flight attendants or was that baggage or was that food prep?

WASHAM: Part of that, some of the big ones were the ramp service people, I believe was the last one, because we had the mechanics at that time, and that was in the mid-nineties, on that campaign there I believe. Gosh, there's just been so many, they run together to a certain extent, but to me it didn't matter if it was a small ten-man shop or if it was a thousand. The ten-man shop is just as important as the thousand-man shop.

DRUMMOND: Well, speaking of organizing airlines, you were around, you were close to Atlanta during the Eastern strike, which was a big strike for the machinists.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Because some have said that the machinists led to the shutdown of one of the greatest airlines.

126:00

WASHAM: Well that's not so. There's a lot of -- and I can't really --

DRUMMOND: I like hearing all the different sides.

WASHAM: I'll speak to that, because I was a business agent in this area.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I had no involvement whatsoever in that strike other than just getting information on it. The day-to-day activity, you know I had no participation in it, and I was still local, here at that.

DRUMMOND: OK. I just didn't know if there were -- because it was such a -- it was very visible, because it was an airline and everyone knew it and it was so visible. It was in living rooms, like (inaudible) earlier.

WASHAM: Right, right.

DRUMMOND: It was something that was big enough that it made it to the news and was in everybody's living room across the country.

WASHAM: See, they had the airlines organized since the thirties, and that was Frank Lorenzo's.

DRUMMOND: Also from Texas, like the guy who came in and took the muffler shop.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: Right?

WASHAM: Yeah. Frank Lorenzo was the bad guy.

DRUMMOND: Not to say anything disparaging about Texas.

WASHAM: Yeah.

127:00

DRUMMOND: Because you, you actually -- no, I know about Frank Lorenzo shutting down or not shutting down but de-unionizing a lot of Texas airlines.

WASHAM: Yeah, right.

DRUMMOND: Eastern is, I think a fascinating study, just to look at all aspects of it. I had a related question but it's gone. If I think of it in a minute -- if I think of it in a minute I'll stop and ask it, but in April of --

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: So apparently, your hard work and efforts had paid off, that you were -- or had gotten you more work, however you want to look at it. How did your role change transitioning to director of organizing?

WASHAM: Well, when I became the director, I replaced Ken Walsh, who was retired. 128:00We were at the MNPL conference in Monterey, California, and International President Buffenbarger and General Vice President Bob Thayer, who was the resident GVP, who the director actually reports day-to-day to, they met with me and asked me to -- offered the job to me, which I naturally said yes. I was supported by Kenny, and I guess at that time -- Ken Walsh.

DRUMMOND: Ken Walsh, OK.

WASHAM: He was the guy that was retiring.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: We'd been friends and we were all in the organizing department. And see, when I came on in 1991, I was a rookie, but by this time, I was actually the senior guy in the department. When Larry Downing -- they did away with the general vice president of the organizing department at the '92 convention also, 129:00when they also consolidated territories.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So then Gary Will, which was the administrative aide to Larry, became the director of organizing and then reported to the general vice president at headquarters. Then when Gary retired, Ken became the director, then when Ken retired I became the director. And by that time -- used to, they called it administrative assistants, but then you were the director.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And by being -- it fell in the structure more appropriately. So I was the director from May 1, 2005 until January the 1st of -- or actually, I guess December 31, 2008.

DRUMMOND: OK.

130:00

WASHAM: Then I went out on a medical retirement. I'd had lung reduction surgery and I had part of my upper right lobe and part of my right lower lobe removed and my diaphragm had paralyzed, I had to have surgery on it and get it working right. I was down to 44 percent lung capacity and with COPD, and my pulmonary doctor finally beat it in my head that, do you want live or die, and the scales just -- boom, I want to live you know. He said, "You don't need to be working." He said you know, "It's too much stress if you're just in a normal job." He said, I can imagine being in a job as the -- trying to form unions across the country, the pressure. I didn't feel like I was under pressure because we'd been 131:00under it so much all the time it was just normal.

DRUMMOND: You get used to it.

WASHAM: But I could tell, you know I was really getting tired.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And sometimes it was all I could do, when I would leave the office in the afternoon, was to make it home and sit down in a chair and go to sleep right away. I was just so tired and it was time to go. So I talked with Rich Michalski, who was the resident GVP at that time, and to Tom, and that was in the summer that you know, my doctors had recommended I retire you know, and they were just super to me you know. And Rich had told me, he said, "Man, you don't need to come into the office every day." He says, "Well you've got that telephone strapped to you, if it's something real important, you can handle a lot of it over the phone." But I'd always felt like I was always a Tennessee boy, you know? You came into the office, if you didn't have anything to do, you know you just felt like you had to. And I was getting calls from all over the 132:00United States by that time, as part of my responsibility. When I first went there, I had a staff of 21 people, which included [Ann Gordon?], who was my secretary at headquarters, and [Steve Hanson?] was assigned to headquarters as part of our staff, as GLR, and then the rest of them was out in the field somewhere in the United States. I had people in the west coast, the Midwest, the eastern territory, the southern territory. So you were constantly talking to your people. Plus in conversations with the territory or organizing leaders of each territory, which for example like the southern territory would have a GLR that he looked after organizing within his territory.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So I would have communications with them, with the general vice presidents of the territories, the AAs of the territories. And part of the other 133:00responsibilities were at staff conferences, national staff conferences. You know, you would put on some type of a program, which I always enjoyed that you know. I felt like it was something that you could try to help the membership with.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And in 2005, at fall, we had the national organizing conference in Chicago, and we had a series of workshops and we probably had, I'd say close to 2,000 delegates there at that program, which I thought was a good program. And you know, we had apprentices. We would have people that was our members, that came out of a district lodge, and would be in an apprenticeship program for two years, and during my time I had some really good apprentices assigned to me when 134:00I was out in the field as a grand lodge rep. I guess you would call the first apprentice, it was actually prior to the apprenticeship program, but it was just like an apprentice, was a guy named Bob Anderson, out of Poynette, Wisconsin, and Bob came on as grand lodge rep. Then I had three other apprentices; Al Granado, Don Barker and George [Fedo?], that was serving in the apprenticeship. All three of them came on as grand lodge representatives. So I was really proud of that because I looked at them as my -- I was like their teacher, they were my students.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

WASHAM: My philosophy was always as I wanted to look at myself as a teacher and the way I judge success of a teacher is you hope your students succeed or outperform what you did.

DRUMMOND: Right.

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WASHAM: So I tried to always look at it that way. But those four came on as grand lodge reps, so they're -- I hope I helped shape and mold them a little bit, you know they're really good people. George passed away though, George Fedo, he got lung cancer and he's gone, but the other three are still being very successful in the organization.

DRUMMOND: Good.

WASHAM: And you help touch the lives of other apprentices as you worked, and people in the territories and all, and to me that was part of the most gratifying of being an organizer.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Well how long after you started as director did you have your health issues come up?

WASHAM: Well it wasn't -- I came on in May and in January of 2006, unexpectedly.

DRUMMOND: Pretty -- wow.

WASHAM: Six months, seven months.

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

WASHAM: And my lung had collapsed, I didn't know it collapsed. I drove from Oak 136:00Ridge, coming off the Christmas break, to Placid Harbor, our educational center, for a directors meeting. We would have a directors meeting and I just could hardly breathe. I thought I had a cold. I was treating myself with Vicks Vapor Rub and Robitussin.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

WASHAM: And Bob Thayer said, "Larry, you're going to the doctor." He said, "You are going!" I said, "I'll be OK, Bob." So they have a clinic that they take people to that's at our educational center. So I went there and I thought I was in better shape than anybody in the room, but I went out in an ambulance.

DRUMMOND: Wow. They had to --

WASHAM: They had to take me to the hospital.

DRUMMOND: They called an ambulance.

WASHAM: In St. Mary's County, at Leonardtown. They checked me out and my oxygen level was real low, and when I went in the emergency truck there, they said you 137:00know, you've either got a collapsed lung or pneumonia, from the clinic. The EMT said, "You don't have a collapsed lung, you'd be really in pain." Well, when I get to the emergency room it's a collapsed lung, so they have to put a chest tube in. They cut me open inside, put a chest tube down in there, and I was in the hospital for four days there. I got out and the next week, I went and stayed at Placid Harbor, so I didn't have to move around very much, and we had a meeting with BCT, the Bakery and Confectionery Tobacco Workers, because we were running -- was going to start a joint campaign in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on RJ Reynolds.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So after we met with them for a few days, I had to go back and see the doctor to remove some stitches from where they put that chest tube in me, and he wanted me to go get an X-ray. And I knew I wasn't breathing right, so my lung is partially collapsed again. So I go back to the same -- I'm at the same hospital, 138:00and the same doctor that put -- he's a heart surgeon, that put that in me, he did a CAT scan, I had a CAT scan done, and he told me, he said, "You've got some serious problems that we don't have the capabilities of treating you here." And they put me in ICU that night and the next morning, well it was around noon, a little after noon, they brought a helicopter in, lugged me on a helicopter and flew me to Georgetown University. When I got there you know, it was probably 1:00, somewhere in that area, on Friday, and at 7:30 the next morning they were taking me in to prep me to operate. That was the first time I saw my surgeon, was when I was laying on the gurney, medicated. I never will forget, I looked up at her and I said, "Am I going to make it or am I going to die?" And she grabbed my hand, rubbed my arm and she said, "I'm going to bring you through." And she did. I was in the hospital for nine days, I thought I was dead meat you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

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WASHAM: And then she did the second surgery when I had my -- a year later my diaphragm paralyzed, and when it paralyzed, it was working in reverse, so the right side had my liver pushed up against the bottom of my right lung, and everything was compressed two or three inches upward, which I couldn't breathe good. So she went back through my side and put stitches all the way around my diaphragm, and pulled them down like a drawstring on a laundry bag, and tied it off, where everything drops back in to the proper place.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And I've been good to go since.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: You know, I have to -- I used to have to get a CAT scan every six months, take a PFT breathing test every six months. Now my pulmonary doctor has got me down to once a year on the CAT scan, the PFTs, and I've lived longer than 140:00what the matrix show for what I had at the age I had, so I'm -- I hope to be here another 30 years, you know? But I -- or I would still be working if it wasn't for that, because I'll tell you what, I really loved... And like I told --

DRUMMOND: Well, I remember meeting you in two thousand -- it must have been 2008, because that's the first time I ever went to the harbor to do the local lodge history project, and I had no idea you were sick.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: You know meeting you there, like I had no idea that there was anything, that anything had happened to you.

WASHAM: Oh yeah, I was -- I'd recovered some then. People used to -- was amazed, you know, at how good I did, and like I told Tom Buffenbarger, I said, "Tom, if I could tee it up and play another 18, I'd do the same thing again." The one thing about the IAM, it's been the one constant thing in my life ever since I entered the workforce, in the real workforce, other than being a paperboy and stuff like that.

DRUMMOND: Right.

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WASHAM: I love the union. I used to kid around, some people would kill me and say, "Hell, you was born to be an organizer, you was born May the 5th, the same year as the union was formed." You know?

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: And I say oh yeah that's right, you know I was. And see, through my career, I always had a lot of mentors and good people. On the local level here, Bob Keil was one of my mentors, Charlie Robinson. Charlie wasn't a machinist but he was with the IBW, but he was the general vice -- or the vice president at the Atomic Trades and Labor Council. Charlie was like mister labor in Oak Ridge, and Bob also. So those guys taught me a lot locally, and we had some other people that you would see things like -- went on to be successful out of this local. George Hyatt became a general vice president. [Tally Levenson?] went on to be 142:00the head of the National Mediation Service when he was here in the sixties and all. But the machinists always had a lot of leadership in the town here, and then in the state, you know I had people like Jimmie Gaunce and Jimmie was business rep. I first met Jimmie in the early eighties, when I would go to the Tennessee State Council of Machinists, and to this day Jimmie, you can always count on him for anything. And Ed Pierce, who was a business rep and later became a grand lodge rep, was one of my mentors. Then you just had a series of people. I was always around good people that helped me. When I went into the organizing department, I had representatives that was always helping me, and so I was lucky, you know really lucky.

DRUMMOND: That's the feeling I get, that the IAM is full of a lot of, for the most part, full of people who are happy to be there and are happy to be helping 143:00other people.

WASHAM: Oh, yeah.

DRUMMOND: In whatever capacity and how ever that might be.

WASHAM: And when I got sick up there and had the operations, you know Bob Thayer, he was our general vice president, he was just great you know, he really looked after me. I only live like a block and a half from where he lived and he'd come over and pick me up in the car, and him and his wife would have me come over for supper.

DRUMMOND: Oh, nice.

WASHAM: And so forth. And everybody at headquarters was really good to me and I had great help there, and my secretary was a great person, Ann Gordon. I was just really lucky. And before I retired, I just had a good time and I really enjoyed going to Placid Harbor, that was another highlight, of going down and speaking to the various classes as the director.

DRUMMOND: Right. So you got to do that a lot as director.

WASHAM: A lot of that, yeah.

DRUMMOND: Even after -- I guess even after the worst of your health problems, you were still able to go there.

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WASHAM: Oh yeah, I could go down there. Then you know, by -- within a few months after that second surgery, I was only off from work for about a month or five weeks, maybe six. I was back good to go you know and you know my doctor, he used to shake his head at the way I could keep going. I always told him, I said, "I've got places to go and people to see."

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah. But speaking of the Winpisinger Center, I think it is such a great facility. I'm not sure if other unions have a similar education...

WASHAM: The only one that I'm somewhat aware of, it used to the UAW had a good training facility.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But I think the machinists, the Winpisinger Center, which we know as Placid Harbor, is by far the top educational facility of any union in the world.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. I heard that recently you know, with the closing of the 145:00National Labor College campus, that they're starting to host some of those classes there.

WASHAM: I think that's correct. I think I had read about that in some of our union literature.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. But you have been with IAM long enough, that you started taking classes that they offered even before they had the harbor to go to.

WASHAM: My first class was in probably around '82, maybe '83, somewhere in that area. I went to Leadership I at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And up until the Winpisinger Center, they would have them at various college settings across the country you know. So I was in some of the first -- not the first, but the first year of classes, at the Winpisinger Center.

DRUMMOND: And according to your sheet here, you've taken lots of different things, so they really do offer a wide variety of classes.

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WASHAM: Oh yes. Representatives have the availability and get the assignments to go, that they get the best training they can be you know? The best training is on the job, but the schools are great on gaining some education. A lot of the members now are getting their degrees. All the classes will count towards your degree and as you know, you spoke earlier, today they would get their college degrees through the National Labor College.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. What do you think were the best or most important classes that you took?

WASHAM: Well, they were all important.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: The leadership schools early on, that's when you're just usually a person in the shop. You might be a chief steward. And it can be some of your first exposures to people from all over the United States or in Canada, that you really get a grasp of things. But all the other schools, see the leadership 147:00schools, you've got to go through them before you can ever go to the others, and most of the people it's going to the arbitration, negotiation classes, the pension classes, they're all full-time staff people and that gives them some good background training in those topics.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But they're all good classes. The political class, I always enjoyed politics. When we were on the local level, this was a very political community.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: In my area, in the seventies and eighties. At one time, you couldn't get elected to a political office in Oak Ridge or Anderson County, if you didn't have the support of the union behind you. It's probably no longer that way today because the union density has probably dropped 60, 70 percent or more due to 148:00various things. When I hired in at Y-12, we had 6,000 bargaining unit people, and that was all the unions. There was 16 local lodges and 14 international lodges there I believe. When the wall come down, there's no demand for nuclear weapons any more.

DRUMMOND: Ah.

WASHAM: And then the K-25 plant, which was represented by the OCW, it had six, seven thousand people; now it's got about 200 just watching part of the facilities on it, because it enriched uranium for fuel grade reactors, and that operation is down, so you lost thousands of good paying, middle class, blue collar jobs in this town.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

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WASHAM: We used to have some clout, labor did, and we had people in positions that would work politics like they should, with the candidates and all. We had a lot of influence.

DRUMMOND: In addition though, to local politics, you were involved, not just with the union here in Oak Ridge, but there were other area and state organizations that you... And I see here, a lot of it was with the Oak Ridge Central Labor Council, before it merged with Knoxville.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: And I've heard a little bit about that from both Bob and Gordon in the last couple of days. .

WASHAM: OK. The Oak Ridge Central was formed in the fifties. I can't remember 150:00the exact date. Under the AFL, and then even after the merger of the AFL and CIO, you know central labor bodies were the local political legislative arm of the unions.

DRUMMOND: So they were an umbrella organization.

WASHAM: They was an umbrella organization.

DRUMMOND: That helped focus local unions politically.

WASHAM: Right.

DRUMMOND: To get things done.

WASHAM: Absolutely. And originally it was Oak Ridge, and then it became the Oak Ridge area, which encompassed, originally it was Anderson County here, and then it got Roane County, and then it had Morgan County and Loudon County. So it grew, but the most political part was Anderson County, you know? But we had delegate in co-committees throughout, and that's where we would interview local candidate who we would support, and we also would endorse positions that might 151:00be taken on ballots, such as an increase in sales tax, increase in property taxes, whatever it may be. You know, sometimes we might have been for one and other times we might have been against one. Once in particular, I remember we supported a tax that went -- everything was guided to the school systems, and we felt that that was justifiable because education for our children was very important, so we supported that.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then we supported some that we lost on and it came true what we said, that regular working people are going to end up paying more on this particular issue. It was for -- they were going to raise property taxes and some other taxes, and I don't remember what -- it was called SCORE, and I can't 152:00remember what that acronym stood for really, but we took out ads in the newspapers, sent it to our members, that we would be paying an unjust price on it. And there were some other ways, but that was one of the last things that we did as the Oak Ridge area central labor council, due to the merger with the Knoxville Central Labor Council. When I got involved I was a trustee to start with, at the central labor council, and then I guess it was 1986, uh, I became the president of the central labor council.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And I was the last president --

DRUMMOND: Because then it merged with Knoxville.

WASHAM: -- because the merger. And, uh, that's a long story. Bob Keil may have touched on that some.

DRUMMOND: And Gordon.

WASHAM: And Gordon?

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

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WASHAM: In May of 1987, we was actually in negotiations with Martin Marietta at that time and there was a storm, and our central labor council, we owned a building here in town and it was a large building. It was part of the buildings from World War II, and it was built in the form, if you saw these army barracks from the forties, and lightning struck the main electrical panel and the building burnt to the ground.

DRUMMOND: I've heard this story.

WASHAM: And we lost all of the old records of organizing in the areas. I remember looking at some of them because then you know, that was prior to the merger of the AFL and the CIO, so you had the AFL on the ballot, the CIO, with no union, and it was really interesting from a historical standpoint. We lost it all.

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DRUMMOND: I remember the first time I heard that story, it was probably in 2008, at local -- or maybe in 2011, at the local lodge history, when you all told me that.

WASHAM: Yeah. So what we ended up doing is we had the property cleared and we had, I believe it was like $60,000 worth of insurance on the building and so forth, and then we started searching for another place, and we bought a church at 109 Viking Road in Oak Ridge, a former Mormon church. Labor had such a good relationship with them, we didn't have any problems with the banks. Matter of fact, we had to get the property rezoned. We had to go through the zoning committee and people told us later one, one of the realtors handling it, the guy said, "We never saw anything be passed so fast and went so smooth as this."

DRUMMOND: Nice.

155:00

WASHAM: And we had you know, the bank, the loan, everything lined up perfectly you know? So we purchased that building and we rented out some of the offices. District 203 eventually had an office in there and some of the other unions. There was, I think SEIU had one and OPIU had one at one time, where they represented the hospital workers. A few, and then there was a move nationwide, to merge central labor councils that were geographically close together. We were told originally, it wasn't going to happen. They sent a person from the national AFL but then after the building burnt, things started changing and we were basically told that if we couldn't work it out, they would make the decision, and we were given a certain date. So what we did, we were in negotiations with 156:00the ATLC, so we called a special meeting with the central labor council and explained to all of our officers what was taking place and what was going to happen, and that in our opinion, the best thing we could do is to keep a good place for union offices in Oak Ridge now, was that we'd deed the property over to the Atomic Trades and Labor Council if they would accept the remaining note, which we'd done paid about $100,000 off of. So it was unanimous and after we got out of negotiations, the next day we went to the building and Bob made the 157:00presentation to the delegates at ATLC and it was unanimous. I never will forget, it's sort of funny looking back, one of the delegates said, "Well how quick will this take place?" Bob told him, "As soon as we can." When the meeting adjourned, we got in our cars and drove half a mile to the bank and signed the papers. It was done within 30 minutes after that. So then, when we had to go to negotiate the merger, the AFL-CIO rep that was assigned to Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, sat us down, me and Harold Woods from the Knoxville Central Labor Council, and he told us what authority he had, if anything we couldn't agree upon, he had the right to make the final decision. And we couldn't agree on a whole lot, but we were pleased that everything turned out as it did. They almost had a heart attack when I told them we no longer owned the building, and even 158:00the AFL guy did. And I told him, I said, "Now John, if you've got any problems with this, you get on the phone right now with your boss because he's approved it." And he told me, "Larry, you can do..." Tom Donahue at that time was actually filling in for Lane Kirkland, who was off sick with his kidney at that time. Donahue was the general secretary treasurer. They told him, they said, "Anything they want to do, as long as it's a smooth transition, they can do it." You know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And so after that, we merged, and it was a good merger after all you know.

DRUMMOND: It was a good merger but did it -- did the folks in Knoxville continue to adequately represent the needs of the folks in Oak Ridge?

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WASHAM: Well, they probably did the best they could on things. See one thing that we negotiated --

DRUMMOND: And I'm not asking -- I mean, I guess I don't want to sell you -- I'm speaking disparagingly of Knoxville, but it seems like it would be easy for the smaller one to get lost in the --

WASHAM: Yeah. I'll tell you how we took care of part of that.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: For a period, a long period of time you know, as in part of the negotiations proposals that we took from the Oak Ridge body, was adopted by the AFL.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And part of it was that -- part of the agreement with the Atomic Trades and Labor Council getting the building, was they would have to always provide a meeting space for the central labor council at no charge, forever, and part of the other was that you would meet once a quarter in Oak Ridge, and Oak Ridge would still maintain its co-committee, who would interview political candidates from our geographical area.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

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WASHAM: And we would get a certain amount of COPE money, and it was things that was reasonable, and part of the name would be the Knoxville/Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council, because we took the position you know, this is a merger, a marriage, and we want our name to be part of it too.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And it was. So when the merger would take place, we -- part of our agreement was that we had, I think it was two people, immediately went on the executive board, because the election was going to come up in November, only less than seven months away anyway, and this would give us continuity, and all that went OK. And then when we had the nominations, by that time I came on as a business representative, and I had met with Harold Woods and told him that with my responsibilities as business representative, I wouldn't run for president of 161:00the council. Me and him worked it out where we had a slate that was unopposed in that November election. And Harold had always been real active in Knoxville. So that's how that went. It was a sad day, to see something that was so successful over the years.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But I guess as you look back, you know times change, sometimes you've got to change with the times, and that was the best situation, was resolved. And we moved forward then.

DRUMMOND: I see that you were delegates to both the Tennessee State Council of 162:00Machinists and to the Tennessee State AFL-CIO. What was your role as a delegate to those? In that capacity, what were you doing?

WASHAM: Well, for the state AFL-CIO, they would have -- back at that time --

DRUMMOND: Eighty-two to '90, was when you served with the state.

WASHAM: Yeah. They would have meetings twice a year.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. In different parts of Tennessee?

WASHAM: No, it was always in Nashville, with the state feds there.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And the role was you were the delegates elected, and they had an executive board of higher union business reps, grand lodge reps, international reps, and you -- they would make endorsements for political candidates and so forth, and the delegates would have voting power. You had voting strength from your local lodges based on how many members you had.

DRUMMOND: So you were elected to represent the interests of your --

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WASHAM: Of your local. And the same thing took place with the Tennessee State Council of Machinists.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: I first started going as a delegate when I became the recording secretary, but you would be elected by your members here at the local lodge, and when you would go to the state council, it was similar to that. You met twice a year, you'd have a spring meeting and a fall meeting, and you would give reports on what was going on in your area. You would have breakouts for committee meetings, they'd have different kinds of committees. I remember the first one I was ever on was an education committee.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then after that, I was on the legisla -- chairman of the legislative committee practically through 1987.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And then after '87, when I became a business representative, you were 164:00assigned, so you might not be a delegate. We didn't run as delegates as business agents, because they would give somebody else a delegate, but that was part of your assignment from a staff position and until I went on the grand lodge, I was on the organizing committee all the time, from then on.

DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And it looks like for both of those, both the state AFL-CIO and the state council of machinists, you were there through 1990, which is essentially when you -- right before you became special rep.

WASHAM: Yes.

DRUMMOND: So all of your work at the state level sort of went away when you --

WASHAM: All of it, yeah. Now sometimes over the course of being on the grand lodge staff, you may get an assignment to go to a state council somewhere in the United States, to put on organizing training, something like that, but you were requested and assigned to go to that for training purposes.

DRUMMOND: OK. And what is Oak Ridge Leadership?

165:00

WASHAM: That was --

DRUMMOND: You were involved in that, in it says 1987.

WASHAM: Yeah. They started that -- I don't remember if that was the first or second class, but it was a group of community activists, you would say, community leaders, that would -- you would meet so many hours a day and it was based on leadership, where you would learn different techniques. I remember we went to Gatlinburg one time for a retreat and you know, just techniques. A lot of the major cities now, you'll see they'll have like leadership Atlanta, for example, leadership Knoxville, and it's people that are nominated by someone or some way, that you can't go to those or won't be able to go unless you're some kind of an activist of some kind, or in some kind of position that somebody has 166:00nominated you for, you know?

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And it was a good learning experience and it was -- in this area it was good for labor because you could put a face on organized labor. I was the only person from labor in it, the rest of them were business community type people.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So again, if you get to be friends with some people, you know you're not looked at as an abstract object out there, you know an old union guy you know? They used to refer to the union bosses.

DRUMMOND: Oh, yeah.

WASHAM: And there was no such thing you see.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: We're all elected type people you know, until you -- and everything is democratic, and a lot of the business people don't understand that you know. But that was one of the things I was involved with from that.

DRUMMOND: And here it says you were the -- and this was the case even after you 167:00-- when you were a business rep. So I guess you were still '88 to '93. So that overlapped some of your time as special rep, but you were involved with the Oak Ridge Housing Authority.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: And what did you do as the housing authority commissioner?

WASHAM: Well, there were five commissioners and you'd have a monthly meeting. You'd have a chairman, the vice president, or vice chair, and three other commissioners, and the commissioners are all appointed by the city council, and you have a director who is a full-time employee that runs the operation, and he reports to the commissioners. You know it's like -- we're like the oversight committee, to make sure that -- and any policies has to be approved by the commissioners.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: And those were five-year terms and people rotated off on certain years, and when I was on there Charlie Robinson was the chairman, and he was like 168:00mister labor, so we had two labor people on there. Charlie was chairman and I was the vice chair, and the whole deal was to help low income people on housing you know.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: We have several house units in Oak Ridge, that the housing authority is entirely over. It's not Section 8 housing it's real nicely built homes that -- and we made the policy in regards to working through HUD.

DRUMMOND: OK. And you did that for five years.

WASHAM: Yeah.

DRUMMOND: OK.

WASHAM: You'd just meet once a month as the commissioners on that and the director, Jim Carson, you know he was responsible for the running and the daily activities of getting manage -- managing the facilities and you know.

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DRUMMOND: OK. Well, we've talked about and you told me that you were starting to forget things, but I am not sure that's true after talking to you.

WASHAM: Oh, I am, because you asked me about some of the campaigns and there's some of them, used to I could tell you, but I'm starting to forget a few things. I'm so pleased that we're doing this now, because you know as you get older, your memory starts going. Especially, when you were on the job, you were focused like a lighting bolt on some things and in retirement, you don't have a pressing schedule any more on things.

DRUMMOND: Right, right. Is there anything that we didn't talk about, that I forgot to mention or bring up? Actually, so -- and you've talked all along, about all the way through, about having different mentors, because that's usually one of the questions that I wrap up with. But do you think there's anybody that maybe you didn't mention?

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WASHAM: Well I'm sure I left somebody out and I hope I didn't because I was blessed to be touched by so many people, and I'm sure I am right now.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: But I always try to tell people, because I had other people tell me is as you go up, always reach back and pull somebody else up you know. That's the whole thing. Things I was proud of was helping develop different techniques and handbills, literature that we used in organizing campaigns, and I was able to put a lot of stuff together and share it, and I always taught everybody that was an apprentice, you know we share with one another because when you do that -- and we put this information on disc at that time, on the computers and all.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Somebody else can see some of your work and they can modify it and make 171:00it better. And we say, you know hammered it, "There's no pride of authorship." The main thing is we want to put it together because the goal is to help the people out in the shop, that's the number one goal. Because I can remember years ago, some people would say hey that's mine.

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: You know? And it was crazy because we're one team you know.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: I remember a phrase that General Vice President Bob Thayer used to use all the time he says, "Hey we're all stepping out of the same dugout."

DRUMMOND: Right.

WASHAM: He was a baseball fan you know?

DRUMMOND: Right, right.

WASHAM: And we're on the same team here. I worked with a lot of good team players. I can't emphasize enough how many people I got to meet and work with. H.A. McClendon.

DRUMMOND: H.A. McClendon.

WASHAM: I don't think I mentioned H.A. McClendon.

DRUMMOND: I don't think you did either.

WASHAM: I've got to mention that H.A. McClendon was probably the smartest grand lodge representative in the history of the IAM, I'm not kidding you.

DRUMMOND: Wow.

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WASHAM: This guy, he was grand lodge rep for 50 years, when he retired.

DRUMMOND: Hmm.

WASHAM: I was in a hotel room, we was working on a campaign. He had an old typewriter he bought in 1959, the old -- and he said come here, I want you to see something. We had to fill out a weekly report each week and people identified them in certain ways, but that was his 2000th report.

DRUMMOND: Really?

WASHAM: So it was -- yeah. That was for 2,000 weeks, so you figure that up.

DRUMMOND: That's a lot.

WASHAM: That was going on 40 years there.

DRUMMOND: Yeah.

WASHAM: But he was a guy that could do anything and everything, and he was the mentor to people like Jimmie Gaunce and those type people. Mack was a guy that 173:00had basically a photographic memory and total recall, and I've sat in some meetings with him. He'd take an ink pen and just makes these little scribble marks or might draw little things, but those were little symbols that he could just start quoting you word for word, just about, on things.

DRUMMOND: Oh, interesting, kind of like shorthand.

WASHAM: Yeah. It was just something that would trigger his mind on something. He was a very smart guy. He did a lot of good things for this union and I just about forgot about Mack there and you know, he was great. He taught me a lot of stuff too when I come on. But Mack, when I come on, I only got to work with him directly or indirectly at times, for a little over two years, as a staff person, when he retired, but he could do it all and he could tell some good stories, but they were true type stories you know? I remember one, I never will forget, he 174:00was in negotiations, he said to the plant manager -- and this was probably in the fifties. He told him he said, "Well you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Mack leaned across the table and said let me tell you one thing, "We're the machinist union, we'll build a pump and hook it to the horse and put as much water in him as we want to." Just quick, just boom you know?

DRUMMOND: Ah-huh, ah-huh. (both laugh) That's very, that's yeah, intimidating.

WASHAM: And he was a big guy. Mack had -- he was probably six-three. First time I ever saw him, he walked in our old union hall and it looked like his head was going to almost touch the doorframe. And Mack had like -- wore like maybe a 52 jacket, and he was just like a "V" you know, and had probably a 34-inch waist 175:00you know? You know he was a big man and he was somebody that he could handle himself, but he was intelligent, that was what -- he had a couple of degrees.

DRUMMOND: Oh yeah?

WASHAM: Yeah. He got a law degree at the YMCA night school in Nashville, when they used to have a program in the fifties out there. Never took -- he told me, he said, "Hell, I didn't want to be a lawyer, I just wanted to know what they knew."

DRUMMOND: Right. Fair enough.

WASHAM: I think he had a degree in engineering.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Oh wow.

WASHAM: And he was a very smart guy.

DRUMMOND: Sounds like.

WASHAM: If people only could know half of what he did, you would be a super representative. But there's a lot of good ones out there and I'm sure I'm not mentioning somebody.

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DRUMMOND: Well, is there anything else you can think of just in general, that we didn't cover?

WASHAM: Well, no. In retirement, I've enjoyed retirement.

DRUMMOND: Oh, well let's -- actually, you retired here at Oak Ridge, and you've been, along with Bob and Gordon, and I'm sure other people, I guess I'm leaving out, but you sort of activated a local retirees group.

WASHAM: We come back and me, Bob, Bill Cox, Jesse Haney, or some dimension, we got the retirees, and that was a goal of mine when I came back. I said you know, we want to get the retirees going again. And we had a retirees club when I was a local lodge officer, but after a period of time it went away. And things happen 177:00in retirees clubs because you're always having people that's dying off, I hate to say, and if when you lose some of the shakers and movers it just don't move, and as you get older, your memory goes and then sometimes the weather conditions. But what our goal was here, the main goal we had was as a way of socializing, and also looking after one another.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: If we know some retirees might have difficulty getting to a doctor or something like that, maybe us younger retirees can help him.

DRUMMOND: And this emphasis has come from the IAM headquarters, I guess since Charlie has been in.

WASHAM: Yeah, that's when I got involved. Matter of fact, I'll be going to the harbor the 14th of April of this year, to a retirees class. Charlie asked me to help on one section of the class, about how to structure and organize one. So I 178:00enjoyed doing that and in my retirement, I go to the UT football games, the University of Tennessee, men and women's basketball games. I'm a big sports fan, I've got season tickets.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: So I enjoy doing that and other than that, I like working with the retirees, things like that, and just being a retiree, going and seeing things.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: Hopefully I'll be around for a while to enjoy some more things you know? Since I've got back, the only family I've got in the area or anywhere is my sister still lives at the place we grew up and my niece lives in Kingston, and two great nieces. So they're real little and I sort of get enjoyment taking them 179:00places and doing things like that. So that's my hobbies now I guess.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, it sounds like a good retirement.

WASHAM: It's been good to me. You know I tried to prepare myself before I retired, and get my mind wrapped around it because I knew with my health failing, it was the right thing to do.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: You know? At a certain point you know that it's time to move on, because you -- if you can't do something a hundred percent, then it's time to move out of the way and let somebody else move in. Over the years, I saw people try to hang on too long and I knew, from my health situation and all, it was time to go. I know some people are amazed, because I was like a class A energy and it was just go, go, go, IAM on things, but I was able to let it go because of my 180:00health reasons. When I left, George Myers replaced me.

DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm.

WASHAM: And George is still currently the director and he's done a real good job. So we left it in good hands and I hope I left it in good shape for him.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, I'm sure you did. I'm sure you did.

WASHAM: But I miss the people, I really miss the people, but it was time to go.

DRUMMOND: OK, all right. Well thank you for sitting --

WASHAM: Well thanks for doing this.

DRUMMOND: - with me for this interview.

WASHAM: I appreciate it and I'm just glad to do it. I was afraid my memory was going to fail me some.

DRUMMOND: I knew better, I knew better. Once you started talking, I knew it would all come back to you, so. Well thank you very much.