CHARLIE WILLIAMS: OK.
TRACI DRUMMOND: This is Traci Drummond. I’m Archivist for the Southern LaborArchives in Atlanta, Georgia. I am here today with Charlie Williams. We are in Las Vegas for the Machinists Retirees Convention. Uh, today is November 21st, 2013, and welcome, Charlie.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
DRUMMOND: Thank you for agreeing to sit, uh, for an interview.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
DRUMMOND: So we’ll jump right in. Can you tell me where and when you wereborn, and a little bit about your childhood?
WILLIAMS: Uh, yes, I was born in Arbyrd, Missouri, A-R-B-Y-R-D, Missouri. And myfather was a farmer, and I grew up on a farm. And, uh, uh, you know, abs -- uh, the -- some of the influences of my later life, uh, I gathered from the farm itself. And, uh, my father was -- had a very nice farm. We had a very nice home and everything. But eventually my father was driven out of farming by the 1:00corporate farmers.
WILLIAMS: And, um, he, you know, moved us into the, the small community I livedin. And about that time I, I joined the Navy, and he became the mayor of the city, and -- a little, small community, I should say. And, uh, he sued the big company there because they hadn’t paid back -- they hadn’t paid taxes, so he --
WILLIAMS: -- sued them, and he collected seven years of back taxes. And I comehome on leave, and my father took me up in the middle of the town. He said, “Look, we’ve repaved the streets, we’ve put in new lighting, we put in a new water system, and hired new policemen, new police.” And, uh, I thought, oh, Jesus, this is grand. This is great. So, uh, I go back to, to the service, and, uh, later on I come home and I find out my father ran for reelection and got defeated, because they put the word out, “You don’t get rid of him we’re moving out of town.” So that was -- 2:00
DRUMMOND: The company did.
WILLIAMS: So that was my in -- influence for organized labor. And they also had,at this company, had a little, small, uh, independent union, and they had the -- the fellow that was head of the union, they referred to him as Boss Young, and Boss being that union boss and so on and so forth. And they also said he was a Communist. But later on he became chief of police for the whole county, and so (laughter) I guess they liked Communism. You know, I don’t know.
DRUMMOND: (laughter) Right, right.
WILLIAMS: But, I mean, those were my early influences in organized labor, and I --
WILLIAMS: -- hadn’t even joined a union by then, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, let’s back up a little. Um, growing up in a smallcommunity, what was school like for you? And did you -- and tell me a little bit about -- did you have brothers and sisters?
WILLIAMS: Yes. I had, uh -- I had four brothers and two sisters, yeah.
DRUMMOND: And two sisters?
DRUMMOND: And did y’all all work together on the farm with your dad, doingdifferent --
WILLIAMS: Yes, yes.
DRUMMOND: -- tasks?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, up until actually he quit the farm and moved into the city, yeah.
DRUMMOND: OK. And -- well, did --3:00
WILLIAMS: And he actually ran for school board and got on the school board, and,and, uh, actually, uh, he and another -- he and another fella, and they modified things. They got the union in. The union came in with the teachers, and before it was all farmer-like that were teachers, you know.
WILLIAMS: You know, they were just community people that had their own, hadtheir own incomes and everything --
WILLIAMS: -- and so teaching was a supplemental thing.
WILLIAMS: But there was a lot of teachers there that, uh, uh -- in the highschool that didn’t have a second income. And so anyway, that was their main thing, and so -- so they actually, they actually organized, and I had a, had a little argument with my old math teacher before he died. I went to visit him, and we were talking about the union, and he’s saying, “Oh, that’s terrible, terrible.” I said, “Yeah, Price, it’s terrible. It’s terrible, because you’re a big farmer and a teacher, and these other people are trying to make a living.” (laughter) You know, I didn’t mean to talk to the man like that on his deathbed, but...
DRUMMOND: (laughter) Yeah.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I figured he should get educated.
WILLIAMS: Well, he and I were good friends, though, so --4:00
DRUMMOND: Oh, good. OK.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, and so what, what were your -- did your mom help out on thefarm, or was she -- did she run the household?
WILLIAMS: The housewife, the housewife.
DRUMMOND: Made -- kept all you kids in line --
DRUMMOND: -- stuff like that.
DRUMMOND: And so what was expected in your small community of the kids growingup? That they would go to college? That they would go to the service?
WILLIAMS: Not so much. Back in those days college was, you know -- in that, inthat community was not really pushed, although my grandfather, uh, was a college graduate, and, uh -- one of my grandfathers was a college graduate. And, uh, I mean, but that was -- that was the extent. It was not -- it really didn’t -- not even my family pushed, uh, college, so --
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, OK.
WILLIAMS: That came later in life for me, so --
WILLIAMS: -- you know --
DRUMMOND: And so you finished high school, and went into the service.
WILLIAMS: Mm-hmm, yeah.
DRUMMOND: When you were 17, 18?
WILLIAMS: Uh, 18.
WILLIAMS: Yeah --
DRUMMOND: And was that --
WILLIAMS: -- went in -- went in the service at 19, age 19.
DRUMMOND: OK, age 19. And was in what branch?
WILLIAMS: The US Navy.
DRUMMOND: The Navy.
DRUMMOND: OK. And so was that your first time away from home?
DRUMMOND: Talk about that experience a little bit.
WILLIAMS: Well, I was an aircraft mechanic. Uh, I think the big experience wasthat, uh -- it was Vietn -- it was the Korean War --
WILLIAMS: -- and being an aircraft mechanic, I hooked up with, uh, with a lotof, uh, lot of the, uh, aircraft mechanics that came out of the Korean War. And the squadron that, uh, I worked with, the P2V Neptune squadron that, uh, these folks were in, uh, they actually had to fly the planes, in addition to, uh, you know, being mechanics.
WILLIAMS: They had to fly on the planes. And you had to fly low and dump, dumpout supplies to the troops on the ground. And, of course, you’re being shot at and everything. So only about 20% of that group came back alive, and so these were very tough, uh, very tough guys, but wonderful people. And they pretty well 6:00took me under their arm and, you know, took care of me.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so it was good. It was a good experience.
DRUMMOND: And so -- and that’s where you learned to be a mechanic.
WILLIAMS: Yes, yeah, yeah.
DRUMMOND: OK. And when did you get out of service?
WILLIAMS: I got out in 19 -- October 1954.
DRUMMOND: Nineteen fifty-four.
DRUMMOND: So, um, did you move back home to Arbyrd?
WILLIAMS: No, no, no, no.
DRUMMOND: W-where did you --
WILLIAMS: When I left home, I left home. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: When you left -- OK.
WILLIAMS: No. I went to St. Louis and --
WILLIAMS: -- went to work with McDonnell Douglas.
WILLIAMS: Well, -- actually, McDonnell Aircraft --
WILLIAMS: -- later.
DRUMMOND: -- in -- OK, in 1954?
WILLIAMS: Fifty-four -- uh, January ’55. January 5th --
WILLIAMS: -- 1955.
DRUMMOND: St. Louis.
WILLIAMS: St. Louis, right.
DRUMMOND: And, um, you said McDonnell.
WILLIAMS: McDonnell Aircraft, right. At that time it was McDonnell Aircraft.
DRUMMOND: OK. And were they a union shop?
WILLIAMS: Yes, yes.
DRUMMOND: Is that -- is that when you first joined the union?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, yes.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. I, I had a -- uh, one of my old friends, uh, called --approached me and said, “Hey, we got -- you got to join the union.” I said, “Good. I’m all for it. Where’s it at?” (laughter) So --
DRUMMOND: OK, and, and, um --
WILLIAMS: So I joined a union, and, and they asked me to go on legislativecommittee, and so, I mean, you know, I was pretty active from that point forward.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so were you ever a steward, or did you --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I, I became a shop steward.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, later on assistant chief steward.
WILLIAMS: And, um, we had, uh -- the experience, experience of that is that, uh,we had a, uh, we had a group that was trying to raid us.
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Do you remember? Were they -- ?
WILLIAMS: It was, it was, uh, it was -- there were 25,000 members --
WILLIAMS: -- in that local.
DRUMMOND: You -- oh, really?
DRUMMOND: There were 25,000 members.
DRUMMOND: What, what local lodge is that?
WILLIAMS: Eight thirty-seven.
WILLIAMS: At that time it was Local 837 --
WILLIAMS: -- not District 837, but --8:00
DRUMMOND: Oh. That’s so many members.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and so we got raided by the Teamsters, and so I, uh -- thefellow that was leading the, uh, uh, decertification of us, I filed charges against him with the international, and I was successful in filing the charge. I presented my case, and he got kicked out of the union. So we’re -- in the meantime I filed charges -– the -- these other guys got elected, uh, officers. They took over the local. And the only one that survived was me. And, uh -- but I was pretty well respected in the plant. And so anyway, uh, I filed charges against them, and, uh, this -- they’re, they’re presenting -- they’re presenting their case. They’re in a hotel in St. Louis. And, um, they had to recess, because this fellow that I -- that was a leader that I filed charges 9:00against, this was the last day for him to appeal the conviction --
WILLIAMS: -- from the Grand Lodge. And so they said, “Well, take a break.”And the witness I had against these, these officers, uh, he and I went down to the elevator to get a cup of coffee during the break, and all these -- the people I had the charges against came along. (laughter) And so, um, I had one guy I did not have a good case against, and he was a treasurer. So he stupidly pulled out a wad of traveler checks, and he’s -- we’re flipping through those traveler checks, and I said, “My goodness, Buzz, that’s a lot of money. Where’d you get it?” He said, “I -- I’m treasurer of the team. Let’s see if you can prove it.” I said, “I just did.” (laughter) Then I put my witness on, and we went back, and we kicked them all out of the union, so --
WILLIAMS: And then we had the, uh, decertification election.
WILLIAMS: And this is the truth. I mean, uh, we had 18,000 people vote. We tied,10:00except that I challenged -- the only b -- ballot challenge was a ballot that I challenged, and that ballot was, uh, marked both ways. It was marked UAW and -- I mean, the Teamsters and the machinists. And I challenged it. And, uh, so the NLRB ruled in my favor, and so we --
DRUMMOND: And, and you challenged it because -- ?
WILLIAMS: Because it was marked two ways. It was marked -- you couldn’t tellwhether it was for machinists or for the Teamsters.
DRUMMOND: Oh, I see. OK, OK.
WILLIAMS: So, anyway, that’s what you do with any election when you count onyour ballot. So that was the only ballot out of 18,000 that was challenged, though. And so the National Labor Relations Board ruled in, in our favor, and, and, uh, threw that ballot out. That made it a tie. That made it -- Otherwise the Teamsters would’ve won --
WILLIAMS: -- and we would not have had that union anymore. And, uh, so anyway,I’m a Grand Lodge rep by then, or Special Grand Lodge rep.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so anyway, the, uh -- we had the next election.
WILLIAMS: And the, the next election, I decided how we were going to win it. Andwhat we did -- I hired, uh, 15 women. The -- see, the, the news was all over the town about, uh, the fight between the Teamsters and the machinists, because it’s so big --
WILLIAMS: -- and every, every minute there was an ad on TV from either them or us.
WILLIAMS: Every minute, every minute. So anyway, uh, I just devised this programto, uh, uh, to hire these women and, and conduct a survey, and this was with the laid off people who were eligible to vote. And the, and the question -- the, the -- that they were a -- the -- they were, they were told to ask is, uh, is, is first of all say, “We’re conducting a survey,” and, of course, these people, knowing that this is all news and everything else, they were ex-- it was -- it was not surprised by that. So, uh, “We’re conducting a survey. We’d 12:00like to know, uh, how you plan to vote” --
WILLIAMS: -- “in this election.” If they said Teamsters, you just hung upthe phone, but if they said machinists, you say, “Oh, well, we’re conducting this for Lo-- District 837, and we, we want to know if you have transportation to the poll,” and so on and so forth. So we won by 409 votes.
DRUMMOND: Because you offered transportation.
WILLIAMS: Because -- no, because --
WILLIAMS: -- we did that survey. (laughter)
WILLIAMS: We had to find out who these people were, and we had to get them tothe polls. We had to get them in to the polls.
WILLIAMS: See, we had -- you had the f-- you had the tied vote before. We had tofigure out a way to win --
DRUMMOND: Right, OK.
WILLIAMS: -- and that’s what I devised -- I devised that program to --
WILLIAMS: -- uh, do that -- do the, uh, do that. And then, uh, we had a womanGrand Lodge rep, uh, Adele Beardon, and --
DRUMMOND: Adele Beardon?
WILLIAMS: Adele Beardon, yeah. And she was the one that we -- that had assignedto, uh, to do the telephone interview, uh, uh, survey, telephone survey.
WILLIAMS: So that worked fine. And then I left there, and, uh, basically wentinto organizing. And, um, then I went up to, uh -- Uh, you want me to just continue? Or you want to --
DRUMMOND: Well --
WILLIAMS: -- you want to, you want to go into something else?
DRUMMOND: And so from -- uh, so that was when you were Special Grand Lodge rep,but then when you became on staff as, like, a full Grand Lodge rep --
DRUMMOND: -- that’s when you got more into organizing.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. Once I -- once my assignment from St. Louis was ended, I -- theymoved me into -- out into the field --
WILLIAMS: -- to organize.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so I, uh, I -- the first organizing I did was, uh, was theArgonne National Laboratory. And, uh, I had, uh -- I had heard that, uh, that there was a unit of, uh, designers that had -- that wanted to -- wanted to organize. And so I obtained the name of the leader, and I called him, and I said, “How about with the machinists?” He said, “Oh yeah, we already have a unit of machinists. Yeah, I’d like that.” So we met, and, um, I found out 14:00that it was not only this -- it was not only designers, it was design engineers, and so that made it a different type of election. So I met with him, and I happened to have an apartment at that time right at -- (cell phone ringing) Wait here, excuse me -- I just hung it up.
WILLIAMS: That’s Maureen.
WILLIAMS: But anyway, um, I, uh, I had, uh, this meeting with the, with the, uh,leader of the, uh, the group who wanted to organize. And this unit was about 150 people, so... So anyway, uh, we’re -- we come up to the election, and I wanted -- I found that we had to have a globe election, a globe-type election, globe-type election --
DRUMMOND: A what?
WILLIAMS: A globe, G-L-O-B-E, globe.
DRUMMOND: Globe, OK.15:00
WILLIAMS: A globe is a -- it’s an NLRB type of election. A globe election issimply this: the -- you, uh, you vote twice if you’re, if you’re a professional, like a d -- an engineer, a design engineer, so they have to go twice. They have to go first for the, uh, for the, uh, uh, the B at -- (cell phone chimes) the B in the -- the B in the unit.
WILLIAMS: And then secondly, do they want any -- uh, do they want, do they wantto join the IAM. And s -- I mean, do, do they want the IAM to be the representative. And so anyway, uh, we won two-to-one, won two-to-one. And they were having another election at the same time. And while we were having the hearings at the NLRB, I got acquainted with a lot of those guys, and, and, uh, so they lost their election and we won ours. And, uh, then I was assigned to go down to Tennessee and organize a 600-person unit down there, and --
DRUMMOND: What part of Tennessee?
WILLIAMS: Uh, I was in, uh, Lebanon, Tennessee, just outside of, uh, Nashville.
DRUMMOND: OK. And what kind of work was it?16:00
WILLIAMS: It was, uh, actually, uh, Residual Rubber Products corporation. It was-- uh, the -- it was mainly, uh, gaskets and things like that.
DRUMMOND: OK. And how --
WILLIAMS: Well, anyway --
DRUMMOND: And so you’d been down to organize, uh-huh.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and so then I went down, and, uh, first day I’m there theyfired the, uh -- they fired the, the plant maintenance person, and I hired him, because the maintenance person gets all over the plant.
WILLIAMS: They know everybody.
WILLIAMS: So I hired him. And this is no lie; I mean, this is the truth. I got ahold of the local newspaper, and I did -- I said, “I’m going to do a -- I’m going to do a hand billing, and I’m going to bring this guy with me, and so on and so forth, so I’d like you to cover it.” Well, (laughter) it’s a local -- it’s a local area.
WILLIAMS: So they had the new-- they had their -- they had their reporter outthere. And it was a very successful -- or, uh, the people were going nuts, you 17:00know, so... So anyway, um, the guy told me -- the newspaper guy told me we haven’t sold, uh, every newspaper that we ha-- every newspaper that we printed, until this day since end of World War I -- World War II. (laughter)
WILLIAMS: And I was really honored by that.
WILLIAMS: But anyway, uh, we went on, and, uh, and we won the election. Andthere were some -- there were some real things. I mean, you’re in the South, and you got the Ku Klux Klan, and you got the Black Power advocates, and you’re trying to, you know, put all this together.
DRUMMOND: And, and, and you’ve got those people. Were they -- because I knowin some cases they’ve actually worked together to organize --
WILLIAMS: They did --
DRUMMOND: -- a plant.
WILLIAMS: They did in a way.
DRUMMOND: But then sometimes they work against each other.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, first of all, the, the, uh -- I didn’t -- the, theK-Klan obviously introduced themselves to me, and told me they were going to keep an eye on me and everything. I said, “Well, keep a sharp eye,” you know, or something like that. But anyway, I was having trouble with the, uh, 18:00Black Power people. They’d come to the meetings and, you know, they’d give the fist salute and all that. And, uh, you know, they were demanding where we were going to be in our positions and so on, so forth. So I finally decided on one kid that I thought was a leader --
WILLIAMS: -- and I took him out for a cup of coffee, and, uh, I said, uh, “Youknow, I want you to look this constitution over.” (laughter) I said, “If you find discrimination in there, just point it out to me. There’s no discrimination.”
WILLIAMS: “Men, women, black, white.” And I said, “I’ll tell yousomething: if you represent the people -- let’s say you get elected shop steward, and you represent the people, they don’t give a damn if you’re a Klansman or if you’re white (laughter) or you’re black” --
WILLIAMS: -- “white or whatever.” And I said, “They’ll elect youpresident. They’ll elect you in any office there is, because they don’t care. That’s the stupid stuff that they’ve got going.” So next thing I knew, I don’t have any problems with blacks, uh, and we --
WILLIAMS: -- won two to one, one that one two to one, too.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.19:00
WILLIAMS: In the meantime, it’s a year -- the year has passed, and now I cango back to the Argonne Laboratory and organize the union group. So I went back to, uh, b-back to Chicago, and organized the -- the other group that was the technicians, and that was a little bit bigger unit, so about 300 people in that unit, so -- well, then they decided they wanted to bring me into the office. They didn’t -- they couldn’t stand it, because I’m not their organizer, (laughter) so -- and I loved organizing. But, uh, anyway, I organized a couple other shops in between time, but --
WILLIAMS: Then, uh, then I went in the office, and I handled all their, uh, uh,pen-- or, or health and wel-- health and welfare, and (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --
DRUMMOND: And that was at the Grand -- when you say in the office, you mean theGrand Lodge.
WILLIAMS: That was in the regional office.
DRUMMOND: Regional office, O --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, regional office.
DRUMMOND: OK. Midwest territory.
WILLIAMS: Or Midwest territory, right.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so then we, um, uh -- you know, I was -- I started handling a20:00pension program, and a health and welfare program, attending trustee meetings, and, and negotiations, and so on, so forth. And, uh, then I got into politics. I’d already been into politics, even before, you know. As a, as a, as a union member I’ve always been into politics, following in my father’s footsteps. But anyway, uh, the, uh -- I became real involved in politics, and, uh, so that was mainly the lot -- most of the stuff I did as a Grand Lodge rep.
DRUMMOND: Mm. [cell phone vibrating]
WILLIAMS: You and I are very pop -- popular people. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: I know, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Continue.
WILLIAMS: Well, um, there’s a lot in, in my write-up here about politics and,uh, the things that, the things that I did. I, uh, used my, used my position to, uh, get the, uh -- at the AFL-CI-- State AFL-CIO’s endorsement of a candidate, 21:00I pushed the machinists to become Secretary of Lab -- Secretary of Labor for the State of Illinois, and I got him -- got him seated, and, uh, he’d become Secretary of Labor. I was the, uh -- I was Chairman of the, uh -- State Chairman of the Labor Council for the Democrat -- State Democratic Party. And, uh, we did a lot of things. And this is the God’s (laughter) honest truth: uh, during the years of Ronald Reagan, my group worked with the Democratic Party, and we knocked out five incumbent Republican Congressmen.
DRUMMOND: In Illinois.
WILLIAMS: In that eight years that Reagan was --
WILLIAMS: -- was the President, yeah --
WILLIAMS: -- in Illinois. I don’t think that happened in any other state.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. So --
DRUMMOND: Well, and y -- and you said your dad was, was into politics. So what w-- what really sort of drew you to that, though? I mean, was it out-- was it outsmarting --
WILLIAMS: Well --
DRUMMOND: -- other people? Was it helping -- using that to advocate for peoplewho maybe didn’t have their own voice? 22:00
WILLIAMS: It was more that than anything that, uh --
WILLIAMS: You know, my father was a very good defender of, uh, that independent union.
WILLIAMS: You know, we always had, uh, we always had a kind of a prayerbreakfast without the prayer every morning, and, uh, he -- my dad was very vocal in, you know, what he thought was going on, and so on, so forth. So it would -- you know, he’d pretty well hold a little sermon like without the religions as I said --
WILLIAMS: -- before at our breakfasts. And so I learned a lot from him, youknow, in, in that sense, and, uh, of all my brothers and sisters, I’m the only one who even picked up on it. But, but others -- you know, I, I was quite impressed with, uh, with what he’d done, and, and, uh, what he taught me and everything about, about, uh -- you know, he wasn’t a member of organized labor or anything, but I knew, I knew what he was talking about, you know, and so -- that he was very sympathetic to labor, you know.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so, I mean, that, that basically was the foundation of --
WILLIAMS: -- my, my thinking and the way I act and everything, uh, toward, youknow, fellow workers, and so on and so forth, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. OK, um, so you were Grand Lodge rep from ’69 to ’93, and yousaid you sort of got started in there organizing, but at one point you were appointed political director?
WILLIAMS: They never appointed me. I just became political director of the --
DRUMMOND: You just did it on your own.
WILLIAMS: There was no such thing as appointing. I, I guess pretty well what Iwanted to do.
WILLIAMS: You know --
DRUMMOND: And that was within the Midwest territory.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and I was --
WILLIAMS: -- very well respected --
WILLIAMS: -- by all the international officers and everything, so --
DRUMMOND: So ’69 to ’93 is a long time. That’s almost 24 years.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, I also -- like I told you, I handled pensions --
WILLIAMS: -- and, uh, so I get a call one night from, uh, my general vicepresident, Tom Docey --
WILLIAMS: -- and he says, “I want you to go to Washington, DC” And I said,“What for?” He said, “I want you to take over the IAM National Benefit Trust Fund Office. Uh, we just fired the director, and I want you to go in. 24:00We’re hav -- having all kinds of problems in the field, and this guy was the -- was the main source of the problems.”
DRUMMOND: T -- could -- do you mind naming names, or do you feel like -- ?
WILLIAMS: Uh, well, uh, the guy that was the -- was the director at that time?
WILLIAMS: Uh, Frank something. I forget his last name, but --
WILLIAMS: -- but he was --
WILLIAMS: -- he was the director.
WILLIAMS: But (clears throat) he really came out of management, and he never --you know, he didn’t believe in union, and he didn’t understand, I guess, that unions really run that trust, you know --
WILLIAMS: -- union leaders. And, uh, so anyway, uh, I, I went in, and, uh, Itold him I wanted an office. And, uh, I would be -- there were 75 -- or 75 people employed in the office, and it’s a $7 billion fund at that time. So I called every one of the, uh, every one of the people in, one at a time, over, over a course of, uh, couple months. And I tried to get them to open up about 25:00what the problems were. And they didn’t -- they wouldn’t open up, you know. They just wouldn’t open up. But in the meantime, I’m out on the floor, and I’m getting rumors here and rumors there, and so on and so forth, this -- about that, uh... So and I called them all in again, one at a time.
WILLIAMS: And they started singing like birds because I had --
WILLIAMS: -- some recommendations, and, you know... Well, then I was able tomake some recommendations to the trustees to, to, uh, you know, reorganize the office, and, and put the office back the way it should be, out there servicing our members, so --
WILLIAMS: And I s -- and respecting the employers, too, you know, becausethey’re, they’re paying the money in. (clears throat) And so, anyway, uh, then I was asked three times to become the new director, and I refused three times. I turned it down all three times.
WILLIAMS: And, uh --
DRUMMOND: Why didn’t that appeal to you, to become the director?26:00
WILLIAMS: I didn’t -- I was very happy as, um -- well, I’d been work -- uh,we’d be working for management and labor, both of them.
WILLIAMS: And that was just not my thing. And I was -- I was very happy,political director, Grand Lodge representative.
WILLIAMS: I was very, very happy in that position, so --
WILLIAMS: I mean, money -- there would’ve been a whole lot more money, and Iwas told that (laughter) a couple times. But, I mean, it just wasn’t something I wanted. But I just picked the assistant --
WILLIAMS: -- who was a pretty good guy, and said, “Why don’t you just makehim the director?” So --
WILLIAMS: And then I could sneak out of town the way I snuck into town. That wasthe end of that.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, so for people reading the interview, or listening to theinterview, um, the, the pension fund for the Midwest territory --
DRUMMOND: -- what did that, um -- How did -- how does the pension fund benefitthe workers? 27:00
WILLIAMS: Well, it was a multi-employer pension plan, and, uh, it was, uh, setup under the Taft-Hartley Law and a, you know -- and, uh, you had to have trustees of labor and management, and -- but it was an IAM -- since it was an IAM benefit trust fund, uh, labor had a one-vote majority, uh, on everything. So it was to, uh, (clears throat) to ensure -- like, for example, today, you talk -- you, you hear about all the pension funds going broke, and so on, so forth. Uh, actually, our pension fund has grown. And it’s grown because, uh, they don’t -- nobody can mess with the money like they can with a 401(k), like United Airlines --
WILLIAMS: -- and, and all those companies, uh, that, uh, I used to try to getthem to come into the IAM Pension Fund. And, uh, happy to say today that they had to learn the hard way. I have to say (laughter) they, they learned the hard way --
WILLIAMS: -- but they learned the hard way. And after I left and retired, uh,they did, they did, uh, become members of --(laughter) They did become covered 28:00by the national IAM trust fund, so --
WILLIAMS: But what it does is, uh, you have a, you have a, uh, a pension benefitthat grows, can actually grow, and it, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a defined, uh, benefit, benefit trust fund, as opposed to a defined contribution plan. Contribution plan will define how much you put in there, (laughter) but it don’t promise you anything.
WILLIAMS: But a benefit, benefit trust fund, that tells you -- defined benefittells you, you know, that you can expect this as a minimum --
WILLIAMS: -- and so we have many, many of our members who are very, very happythat they’re getting the, uh, IAM benefit, uh, you know --
WILLIAMS: -- uh, pension.
WILLIAMS: And we also had in the -- later on they merged the, uh, health andwelfare with the, with the, uh, pension. And so all of it is now located at our 29:00old, uh, machinist building at 1300 Connecticut Avenue now, and --
WILLIAMS: -- a beautiful building, and -- Yeah, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. Um...
WILLIAMS: I’m not being braggadocios over – (laughter) I’m telling youabout this stuff, but it just (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --
DRUMMOND: No, no, I’m asking the questions, so --
DRUMMOND: -- you’re just -- you’re doing what I’m asking. Um, so – um --during your time as Grand Lodge rep there were a couple of different international presidents that you worked under. Did you start under Siemiller?
WILLIAMS: Yes, yeah.
DRUMMOND: And then --
WILLIAMS: Red Smith.
DRUMMOND: And then --
DRUMMOND: -- Willi--
WILLIAMS: There’s a story there I can tell you.
DRUMMOND: And then William Winpisinger.
WILLIAMS: Yes, yeah, (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --
DRUMMOND: So let’s talk a little bit about each one of those, and, and what itwas like under their leadership. Let’s start with Roy Siemiller.
WILLIAMS: Well, Roy C. Miller had no choice but to hire me, because I was thesecret to whether or not we kept the unit in, in St. Louis, so --
WILLIAMS: And, uh, that’s why they pulled me off the floor and made me a30:00special Grand Lodge rep. But, uh, uh, Roy and I didn’t have much to say, you know, to each other. And, uh, uh, Gene Gorber was the general secretary treasurer. Gene and I were good friends and, you know, we come out of the same local. And, um, so I was always protecting Gene, and if I ever run into Roy -- and I did a couple times -- and he’d, he’d badmouth Gene, and he’d get a mouthful from me, so -- I mean, (laughter) I’d tell him that Gene was a good guy. “Oh no, he’s the one who got us in trouble in St. Louis in the first place.” “No,” I said, “that’s not true. You didn’t give him the support he needed in St. Louis, and that’s what the problem was.” So that was my, my thinking with Roy. And Roy and I were, were friends, and we were friends.
WILLIAMS: But Red Smith, I, uh -- they, they started a, uh -- they started a,uh, uh, organizing group, and, uh, it was a national organizing group, and it would work for Red Smith. And, uh, Paul Bernsky was the, uh, was the director. 31:00And that’s how I wound up in Tennessee. That’s how I wound up --
DRUMMOND: Paul Barsky?
WILLIAMS: Paul Bernsky, B-E-R-N-S-K-Y. Paul Bernsky.
WILLIAMS: He come out of Local 1487 in, in, uh, Chicago.
WILLIAMS: He’s still alive by the way, yeah. So, uh, uh, I, I went to work --went to a school. They had a two-week training school in Washington -- at our IAM headquarters in Washington, DC. And, uh, AFL-CIO put that, put that on. Dur-- during the first week, Red Smith presented me with a 15-year pin, and he called me up on the stage, and he pinned the pin on me. (laughter) And so later on, at the end of the session, uh, they presented us with, with, uh, with the special organizing pin. And so Red is pinning a pin on me, and I said, 32:00“Red,” I said, “every time I see you, you’re trying to pin something on me.” He’s a very conscious – (laughter) “Oh, what are you talking about, Charlie?” I said, “Red, I’m only kidding. I’m just talking about you pinning that, uh” --
WILLIAMS: -- “15-year pin on me last week, and now you’re pinning thispin.” But anyway, that was -- that was what my, uh, interaction basically, basically with him.
WILLIAMS: But Red was a good guy. He was a very conscientious guy.
DRUMMOND: Was he a good leader f -- do you think, for the -- ?
WILLIAMS: No, I don’t think so. No, not in my opinion, I don’t think so.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
WILLIAMS: But, uh, Winpisinger pretty well rescued everything, and, and I was agreat admirer of William Winpisinger’s, because he spoke my language, you know, so --
DRUMMOND: Which is --
WILLIAMS: Red Smith is -- well, I mean, very, very liberal.
WILLIAMS: Very, very liberal. Uh, I worked very close with the community groups,uh, like Illinois Public Action Council, Citizen Action, and groups like that, because I, I believed that we need to all pull together in order to win. You 33:00can’t do it with just machinists. You can’t do it with just union people. You have to pull all likeminded people together --
WILLIAMS: -- in order to win. So Wimpy and I were -- Wimpy and I were on thesame page on that. And the Red Smith people, including my vice president, wasn’t necessarily on that page.
WILLIAMS: But they let me do a -- as I said, I pretty well do what I want to do,so --
DRUMMOND: Did it feel like there was, uh, some kind of reinvigoration with theunion when William Winpisinger came in?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. Uh, it was a -- it was an era of, uh -- it was an era ofreally, really feeling like, my God, we’re on the move, and we’re doing things, and, uh -- so yeah, I, I think it was, uh, it was, uh, it was an awakening of -- see, Wimpy was, like, 20 years ahead of his time in many of the things that, uh, he promoted at that time. I’ll tell you one in particular. We were meeting in staff in, uh, Washington, DC, and, uh, right next to, uh, DuPont 34:00Circle. And at that time -- this was in the ’70s -- the gays were having a big, big, big set-in out in, out in the DuPont Circle. Wimpy gets up in our conference and he says, “We ought to be out there with those folks.” He got booed, booed, you know. (laughter) But you see what I’m saying.
WILLIAMS: Today he wouldn’t get booed.
WILLIAMS: And so, I mean, that’s the kind of person he was.
DRUMMOND: Very progressive.
WILLIAMS: He was very progressive.
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Um -- but were you still -- through ’93, you were also, um-- had --
WILLIAMS: I did everything. I --
DRUMMOND: -- Buffenbarger as a --
WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah.
DRUMMOND: -- IP after -- no, Kourp-- Kourpias.
WILLIAMS: Kourpias, not Bufferbarger.35:00
DRUMMOND: You never had -- OK, so Kourpias. So, so talk about his leadership alittle, too.
WILLIAMS: Well, George was -- well, first of all, let me just tell you that, asI said, my old boss, although he was Red Smith type guy --
WILLIAMS: -- we were very good friends. We were very close. And, uh, so he, uh,he was telling me one day at lunch, uh, “You know, that George Kourpias, he’ll never be president.” And I said, “Jesus, Tom, you don’t know how -- you know how to bet on anything.” (laughter) I said, “I’m telling you, he’ll be the next president.” “Not over my dead body!” Well, Tom also said a lot of times he -- And I do love Tom. He was a --
DRUMMOND: Docey, OK.
WILLIAMS: He was a great leader. He was a great leader. And, uh, I said -- Tomwould always tell me, he said, “I don’t know these people go to Washington, DC and become president, uh, president and secretary treasurer and all that. I’ll never go to Washington, DC!” (laughter) So, so he, he did go to Washington, DC and become sec -- General Secretary of the Treasury.
WILLIAMS: So he called me about two weeks later and he said, uh, “Well, youknow, I’m in old Washington, DC now. I’m General Secretary Treasurer.” I said, “You know, I didn’t know until the janitor come in and told me,” you know, just insulting him a little bit. (laughter) I said -- he stuck his nose in the door and said -- told me that you would come down. Yes, that’s so, yeah --
DRUMMOND: So back to Kourpias. So he, he came in after Winpisinger.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. And, uh, George took us on -- you know, obviously kept up the,uh, program of Wimpy.
WILLIAMS: And George -- the -- his biggest thing that George, in my mind, did,and he attempted to do it and it didn’t really happen, and that was to try to merge the IAM, the Steelworkers, the UAW.
DRUMMOND: Can you talk about that a little bit?
WILLIAMS: Yes, yeah. We, we had t-shirts and everything, and by then I’mrunning, uh, I’m running -- I’m the director -- By then I’m director of the, uh, region for the National Council of Senior Citizens, so -- And, um, so 37:00we’re, we’re working with the UAW and Steel Workers and everything, and, uh, it would’ve, it would’ve worked. It, it really should’ve worked. It would’ve worked. And Wimpy --
DRUMMOND: What would the benefits have been if it had worked?
WILLIAMS: We would --
DRUMMOND: What did everyone hope --
WILLIAMS: We would bring together the, the different, uh, like, steel --
WILLIAMS: -- and machinery, bring the skills, all those skills together.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, we’d be, we’d be one. I mean, I look at the Europeanunions where they have one union and then about 11 different divisions, and the power they have, and not, not just in the industry they’re in, but politically --
WILLIAMS: -- and this is what we need is we need political power. And I believe-- I honestly believe we got too many chiefs, and I don’t mind that being on record. I’ve been that way since, uh, I joined the union, ’55. But I think we ought to have something like one union --
WILLIAMS: -- and different divisions.38:00
DRUMMOND: So you don’t think that the AFL-CIO sort of fills that --
WILLIAMS: No, because --
DRUMMOND: -- role?
WILLIAMS: -- it’s all politics. It’s all politics.
DRUMMOND: OK, OK.
WILLIAMS: Now, that’s my opinion, you know, so --
DRUMMOND: OK, yeah.
WILLIAMS: And, uh -- but, I mean, that’s, that’s, uh, that’s not going tohappen. But it’s, it’s happening a little bit more --
WILLIAMS: -- every year that, uh, we’re having mergers and so on and so forth.
WILLIAMS: And I believe the machinists would lead. I mean, if, uh, we -- if thething that George Kourpias was pushing -- it was intended for, for George, a machinist, to head it up. And that was already -- that was already laid out.
WILLIAMS: But then we had a couple -- the, uh, the CIO groups, uh, the UAW, andthe Steel, and they -- the leaders wanted to be president forever, so they changed our constitution so that -- (laughter) But they wanted to be in there. And then the next thing you know, uh, we wouldn’t go with that. We wouldn’t go for that.
DRUMMOND: Well, I think it’s interesting that you refer to them as CIO unions,so --
WILLIAMS: They are CIO.
DRUMMOND: Yeah, but, but so, so you’re speaking specifically to the -- their39:00legac -- like, their beginnings, and how -- and, and --
DRUMMOND: -- how, how different --
DRUMMOND: -- they s -- you still consider them, even though the AFL-CIO had beena merged group --
WILLIAMS: Well, since ’55, 1955.
DRUMMOND: -- in f -- since ’55.
DRUMMOND: You really saw people coming to the plate that still had -- held on,not to this more unified idea of the groups together, but really their origins and where they came from.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it was more power. You know, I think it was, you know,the emperor has no clothes, (laughter) so to speak.
WILLIAMS: So --
WILLIAMS: But I, I think it was power, and, and, uh, there was a reluctance on-- you know, they were probably getting pressure, and, and then they wanted to base -- they wanted to be president of their group forever, and, and so they -- you know, there were some things like that happened. I --
WILLIAMS: -- I think when the, uh, when George Kourpias first proposed that, andthe UAW and the, uh, and the Steelworkers, [mecca or the?] Steel, and so on, so forth. And they all agreed. Uh, I thought we were going to, we were going down. 40:00We, we put all -- we had t-shirts, we had everything, promotional stuff. It was great.
WILLIAMS: But, but, uh, you know, people like -- people like power, perceived orotherwise. And I guess that’s basically what happened, that, uh --
WILLIAMS: -- that the, uh -- they hungered for the power part and overcame. AndI’m sure they were -- the Steel and UAW were getting some pressure maybe from their executive council and --
WILLIAMS: -- councils and --
DRUMMOND: Well, that makes me wonder, too, sort of in general how themembership, the rank and file, felt. I mean, did, did the -- did you guys at the Grand Lodge have --
DRUMMOND: -- any idea, or, you know, at those upper executive levels, didy’all have any idea of, of what the feelings were from the rank and file?
WILLIAMS: All of the -- all of the UAW and Steelworker people that I worked with-- and that was a lot of them -- uh, they were all for it, and we were (inaudible). (cell phone ringing) Ah, I’m sorry.
DRUMMOND: Slide it. Yeah.
WILLIAMS: I’m going to have to turn that thing way down.
WILLIAMS: But anyway, uh, the, uh, the, uh, the whole idea of, of the merger andeverything was, was really going over good with everybody I talked to. I mean --
WILLIAMS: -- they had their t-shirts on, and they were --
WILLIAMS: -- kind of pushing their t-shirts, and --
WILLIAMS: -- you know, I mean, I, I thought it was -- I thought it was great. Itwas the -- it was the leadership, the, the, the other two unions --
WILLIAMS: -- that (inaudible).
DRUMMOND: But, but from the beginning it was proposed that, that George Kourpias--
WILLIAMS: Would be the --
DRUMMOND: -- I mean, that’s what they said going in not...
WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was not -- that was not secret.
DRUMMOND: There was no question --
WILLIAMS: There was no secret about that.
DRUMMOND: -- there was no -- OK. And then there was backtracking from the other groups.
WILLIAMS: From the other two groups, yeah.
WILLIAMS: The other two groups’ leadership, and the leadership had a lot ofpower. (laughter)
DRUMMOND: OK. Yeah. And what do you think was lost by not doing that? Like --
WILLIAMS: I think we lost a lot of years. I, I think that, uh, you know, we’dhave been -- we’d have been a whole lot better off in, in, uh, protecting steel, uh, protecting jobs for steel, (inaudible) --
DRUMMOND: Because w-- about what year would that have happened?42:00
WILLIAMS: I’m trying to think what year that was. Uh, was that, uh, ’96,’97, ’98? I don’t know.
DRUMMOND: OK. So it would’ve been the mid-’90s.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK, sorry for that interruption --
WILLIAMS: No, that’s OK --
DRUMMOND: -- but --
WILLIAMS: -- that’s fine.
DRUMMOND: -- let’s, let’s get back to what, what we lost.
WILLIAMS: So anyway, that -- you know, that battle was over, and so -- so, uh,you know, then, then, uh, the, uh, the, the decided -- AFL-CIO decided they were going to do away with the National Council of Senior Citizens, so John Sweeney was president at that time, and George Kourpias was president of the NCSC. And so --
DRUMMOND: NC -- ?
WILLIAMS: N -- National Council of Senior Citizens.
DRUMMOND: OK. You can keep talking while I’m writing.
WILLIAMS: So, so I get a letter from -- signed by George Kourpias and, and, uh,43:00John Sweeney, asking me to be on the strategic planning committee for establishing the, uh, Alliance for Retired Americans. So Maria Cordone and I were, were members of that committee, uh, uh, responsible for formation of the Alliance for Retired Americans. And, uh, from there, I mean, I, you know, I become a field motion-- field mobilization coordinator.
DRUMMOND: And was that an organization for all retirees, regardless of -- ?
WILLIAMS: The good part -- the good part -- yeah, the other one was, too. Theother NCSC was, uh... Well, let me just tell you -- I don’t know what you know of the history of the NCSC.
DRUMMOND: I don’t, I don’t.
WILLIAMS: The National Council of Senior Citizens were formed for the purposeof, uh, for the purpose of enacting Medicare. And, uh, they, they were formed in the, in the, uh, 1960s, early ’60s. And, um, they never really consisted of much more than 100,000 members, although we bragged about a million members and so on and so forth. We blew it up, or they blew it up, I should say. It wasn’t 44:00me. And, uh, so anyway, uh, when Medicare was enacted, uh, President Truman, uh, invited the, uh, leadership of the, uh, National Council of Senior Citizens to join him in a flight to Independence, Missouri, uh, to sign the Medicare bill. We wanted to go to Missouri because of Pre -- Harry Truman’s push for national healthcare for a long, long time, when he was president. So anyway, he took the, uh -- he took the leadership of the National Council of Senior Citizens, and he’s quoted as saying had it not been for the National Council of Senior Citizens there would never have been a, a Medicare. There would never have been Medicare. So those -- that group, that small group did an awful lot with a small amount of people, but they never did attract much more than the UAW and the 45:00Machinists and IBEW and a couple other unions. And, uh, so the, the idea of the Alliance for Retired Americans was to open it up to all of them, all the unions. And here was the, here was the secret: we, we decided that we would -- we would ask every international union to pay $100,000 a year to the Alliance for Retired Americans, and we had 11 -- I think it was 11 in our 12 unions that, that -- international unions that signed on. And since then, that’s up to around $130,000 a year now. And that was taken out of, uh -- mainly, out of, uh -- you know, they have their own union plus credit cards.
WILLIAMS: The interest on those cards, so -- so that was a good idea, you know.Well, this then opened it up, where now we have 4 million -- 4 million members --
WILLIAMS: -- of the Alliance for Retired Americans. And it opened up a lot more46:00for all the other unions and, and for the, uh, community groups. So I’m chairman now of the, uh, field mobilization committee for the Alliance for Retired Americans, and we n-- we do, uh, we do grants. Every year we give grants to the states. I’ve helped to organize -- charter -- I’ve helped charter about seven different states.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, and, uh, so, I mean, you know, I’ve been personallyinvolved speaking at state AFL-CIO conventions and so on, so forth, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, if the National Council of Senior Citizens was formed, inpart, to help pass Medicare --
DRUMMOND: -- um, the Alliance for Retired Americans, since it was passed, wasthat sort of more like a political organization for --
DRUMMOND: -- retirees, or -- ?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, yes.
WILLIAMS: It’s a (4). It’s a (C)(4). It’s a 501(C)(4). But --
WILLIAMS: -- our state, state bodies are mostly (C)(3)s. But the, uh, nationalAFL-CIO is, uh -- the national, uh, uh, ARA is, uh, uh, (C)(4), 501(C)(4). Uh, 47:00yes, and, uh, it is -- it is intended to, uh, uh, help in, uh, i-in, in candidates, and so on, so forth. We’re working on a project right now that, uh, I’m hoping to get through before I resign as, uh, chairman, because I’m going to get out of the business. But we’re working with, uh, with the Alliance of Retired Americans to, uh, actually -- you know, right now you have unions that go out, and they’ll work in a -- on a campaign. They’ll work on, uh, the, the s -- congressional campaign in Ohio or Illinois or whatever, California, whatever. And they don’t know -- one doesn’t know what the other is doing, you know.
WILLIAMS: So my thought was, uh, to do this, to, uh, bring all the unionstogether on, on, uh, targeted campaigns, and run it out of the Alliance of Retired Americans. We put our money into the Alliance of Retired Americans, and 48:00that really is the purpose of the Alliance of Retired Americans. So anyway, I’m getting some good feedback on this --
WILLIAMS: -- and it’s looking good, and we’ll be -- we’ll be talking aboutthat in, uh, in January, and Rich Fiesta, who was here this week, is the new director, and I had dinner with him the other night, and we talked about that, and so, so he’s on board.
WILLIAMS: And Tom, Tom is on board, Bobby Martin is on board, so -- so if we canget something like that started, I think it, it’ll make the Alliance and the unions much more, much more, uh, uh, uh, able to h-- be -- have a big influence on those elections, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. And so you said you chartered sev-- your -- you helped charterseven states, so each state then sort of has its subgroup, and then they work with people --
DRUMMOND: -- at the state level to --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, they --
DRUMMOND: -- focus on local elections.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, they ha-- they have, uh -- they have affiliate groups within the state.
WILLIAMS: Uh, some of them have been -- and the first one I did was Wisconsin,and that’s where I, you know, was originally come out -- I originally was in 49:00when I retired. Uh, my wife and I moved to Milwaukee in, uh -- when I retired, and so I was, was called on to be here and be there and be this. So anyway, uh, uh, the, uh, the -- we decided we’d, uh, charter Wisconsin. Well, I knew everybody in Wisconsin, so I went in there, uh, at the request of the Alliance of Retired Americans, and, uh, I, I met with the UAW, the Machinists, CWA, and the state AFL-CIO. And, uh, I told him I wanted them to, uh -- these unions -- to do-- to pledge to me $5,000 every year for the new Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans. So I got the early pledges. This went on for about two years. And, uh, so finally it had become time to really pull it all together. So I devoted a week coming back from California to -- I was not -- I was no longer in 50:00Wisconsin. So I devoted a week to come back and, and work with the state AFL-CIO president, or make him go with me, and I wanted to go to all the major unions around the state. And so I started that program, and bidding a pledge at $5,000 I took those others already had in my hand, and -- I already had those pledges in my hand, so -- I went to the state, and, uh -- I, I went over to the state with the -- I took the AFL-CIO president with me, because that was very important. And, uh, I got the pledges, and, uh, so then we built that -- the Wisconsin Alliance, and it’s been one of the strongest ones in the whole, whole United States.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so from there -- I mean, obviously, we had, uh, other statesthat we wanted, uh, to, uh, you know, get on board, and, and, uh, so that -- 51:00that’s basically the way it started.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, you know, I’ve got the Minnesota. I’ve got the Texas.I’ve got the Michigan, and so on and so forth.
WILLIAMS: And Texas was probably the one that I, uh, I enjoyed kind of the most,so --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, because, uh, when they first put that thing together, I wentdown to meet with the Machinists, and, uh --
DRUMMOND: Fort Worth?
WILLIAMS: No, actually, it was in Austin, Texas.
WILLIAMS: And they had a -- they had a, uh, Machinists State Council meeting.And so I, uh, I -- Bob Martinez was the general vice president. So I called Bob and said, “Bob, I want to -- I want to have breakfast with, uh, with you -- with the Board, with the, uh, officers of the State Council.” So I told him what my plan was, and so we set up a breakfast, and, and I, I told the officers I wanted them to commit $2,500 a year --
WILLIAMS: -- to the, to the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans. And they said,“There is no Texas Alliance for...” I said, “Well, there -- there’s going to be. So I want you to -- I want this money upfront so that I can go to the other unions.” Well, (cell phone vibrates) unfortunately -- uh, gee, we’re popular -- unfortunately the, uh -- there was no -- there was, uh, a, a terrible setup. The state AFL-CIO was allowed to appoint people to the board, and they appointed a lot of the wrong people. And so this -- they -- uh, there’s -- Texas Alliance floundered and floundered and floundered, and, uh, it was not moving. And I kept telling them I wanted to -- wanted them to expand the board, because even if you’ve got bad people, if you expand the board they can outvote them and -- You see what I’m saying.
WILLIAMS: So anyway, I finally prevailed on that, and I’m happy to say today53:00they’re, they’re up and they’re flourishing and they’re doing real good.
WILLIAMS: And the, the Machinists are on board with their --
WILLIAMS: -- commitment for money and everything, along with many other unions,so --
WILLIAMS: But you’ve got to -- you, you can’t -- you can’t go ask otherunions for something if you don’t see any action over there. You can’t tell -- ask somebody to, to, to give money to support something they don’t see anything coming out of. And I -- and that was a -- that was a message I’d always preach to them, that you have to show that you’re capable of doing things. And so finally it, it all worked out, and, you know --
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, OK. Um, and you said Maria Cordone was part of helping get theAlliance for Retired Americans started.
WILLIAMS: She and I were on the, uh, strategic planning committee. We wereappointed by --
WILLIAMS: -- uh, John Sweeney and, uh, George Kourpias --
WILLIAMS: -- to be on the strategic planning committee --
WILLIAMS: -- and to set it up.
WILLIAMS: Actually, Maria was responsible for, uh, the actual name. They, theywere going to call it the Alliance of Retired Americans, and she and I had breakfast one morning before the meeting, before one of our meetings, and we decided we wanted the Alliance for Retired Americans. And so we went to the meeting and re-proposed it, and they adopted it, so --
DRUMMOND: OK, OK. And she’s still -- I mean, because I know then she went onto be -- or maybe was at the time on -- um --
DRUMMOND: -- director of retirees --
WILLIAMS: She was at that time.
DRUMMOND: -- at the IAM.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, she was director.
DRUMMOND: Um, and when she f -- retired, Charlie --
DRUMMOND: -- McCullough picked up. Um, have you worked with Charlie at all?
WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. I work with him all the time.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah. But Charlie -- you know, Maria had what we called the RatPack, which I was part of it. Uh, the Rat Pack actually started in ’94, as I’ve said a while ago.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, it was only about six or seven of us, and... But it alsoincluded George Kourpias as president.
DRUMMOND: OK, and can you name some of the other folks that were involved?55:00
WILLIAMS: Uh, the -- one wa-- one was Maria Cordone, and the other was a fellownamed Fred Perkins, P-E-R-K-I-N-S. Fred has since died, but Fred was just, uh -- He wasn’t an officer. He wasn’t a -- he wasn’t a, uh, representative. He was just a member, retired member. And how he got there, I don’t know, but he got there. (laughter)
WILLIAMS: And it was good. It was good. But he was, he was part of the original,original group. And he’s in the picture at Placid Harbor where it shows us meeting on that initial -- at that point I would point out the birth of, uh, the Rat Pack.
WILLIAMS: The birth of the Rat Pack.
WILLIAMS: Uh --
DRUMMOND: And what was your mission?
WILLIAMS: Well, that was to organize the retirees --
WILLIAMS: -- and to do things -- you know, first of all we had to put together,uh, leadership --
WILLIAMS: -- and so we, we brought on the Bill Holayters, and, and people whohad really had -- were proven, proven leadership. And, uh, we brought on the, the group that we called the Rat Pack, uh -- or Maria called them the Rat Pack, 56:00I should say. And, uh, so we did all the planning, and all -- we’d, we’d meet, and we’d plan, and, uh, we’d organize around the country, IAM groups and so on and so forth, so. So we did -- we did all that, and, and the first session we had -- uh, I guess we had about close to a thousand people showed up --
WILLIAMS: -- but they didn’t necessarily stay, (laughter) like they stayedthis time. They, they kind of stayed in the room, right? They -- and, uh, they’d come and they’d go, and they’d go out on the floor, and so on, so forth. But it was a -- it was a good start, then, then we just kept building more and more and more into it. And, uh, you know, the idea is to pass a torch, and Maria passed the torch, and Charlie now is going to pass the torch, and, and --
WILLIAMS: -- that’s the whole idea. But you retain, uh, all the good thingsthat, uh, they did. I always like to say that, that Maria had her Rat Pack, and 57:00she -- they made their tracks, and Charlie will follow those tracks, but he diverted a little bit --
WILLIAMS: -- and brought on some brand new people. He had brought his own crew --
DRUMMOND: Mm, mm-hmm.
WILLIAMS: -- his own -- which was a good -- was the way to do it.
WILLIAMS: And I’m sure that Carlos will, will do the same thing, you know.
WILLIAMS: He’ll retain all the good things, and then try to expand.
WILLIAMS: And that’s the good thing about coming on later, that you could --you had the benefit of all that was done --
WILLIAMS: -- initially, and, uh, put it in this perspective. If you had a personin a, in a shop that walked the beat, walked the strike -- uh, was on strike -- for -- many years, many, many years ago -- for a $10 or $20 a month pension, and maybe they’re on strike, got their head beat in and everything else, but they were so happy they got that pension. And fast forward 30, 40 years later, and they’re talking about a livable pension --
WILLIAMS: -- one that you could really live on. But really no appreciation ofthe sacrifices people made before. So you have to have -- you have to have an appreciation of history, like you’re doing --
WILLIAMS: -- you have to have an appreciation of how this all came to -- Itdidn’t fall out of the sky. And the sacrifices others had made, uh, just to make these things happen.
DRUMMOND: And do you think that there has been, um, been, maybe, generationallysome of the -- because they’ve also recently started the Young Machinists group. I think that’ll be part of --
WILLIAMS: Oh, beau -- really beautiful.
DRUMMOND: -- part of Charlie’s legacy will, will be that.
WILLIAMS: I love that. I love it. Well, no, Maria started it.
DRUMMOND: But do you think --
WILLIAMS: Maria --
DRUMMOND: Oh, Maria started the Young Mach--
DRUMMOND: OK, I’m sorry. I didn’t --
WILLIAMS: She started it.
DRUMMOND: -- I didn’t, I didn’t realize. But, but do you think that maybethat was in reaction to having younger folks join the union that never really participate or, or...
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, there was something that was brought up the other day,59:00the first day of the, uh, conference, and, and they asked a question about who do you think is more pro-union -- it’s age group -- uh, 18-29, 30 to blah, blah, and so on. And they all voted for the old one, except me and Bill Holayter, and a couple others.
WILLIAMS: But it is the young people.
DRUMMOND: It is?
WILLIAMS: They know. They know. Yeah, by a wide majority. They know what a unionis --
WILLIAMS: -- and they, they, they don’t know all the, the ins and outs, butthey know... I mean, they go to college. They go to college, and they get a bill, you know, they’re going to be paying off for the next 40 years, and they can’t even find a damn job.
WILLIAMS: And, and so they know the need to have organization. And, uh, so, Imean, it’s a very good thing that we bring about. We bring people on, on board, uh, and I think it’s just wonderful that we’re doing that, because, uh -- I mean, this is not an exclusive club, you know, so --
WILLIAMS: I think that -- I think that’s true in, in everything we do, that,60:00uh, we have a tendency to all stick together over on this side or that side or whatever, when we need to be coming together a lot more and, and, uh, sharing experiences, and so on, so forth. Uh, that can bring a better tomorrow to everybody.
WILLIAMS: You know.
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm, OK. Um -- well, let me think -- you know what we didn’treally talk about is your work as an aircraft mechanic. We mentioned that you started --
WILLIAMS: In the Navy? In the Navy?
DRUMMOND: -- the -- in the Navy, but then at McDonnell Douglas.
WILLIAMS: Uh, actually, uh, I was, uh, uh, s-- it was -- I never followed up asan aircraft mechanic because I was on reciprocating engines, and by then they, they were all jet engines, and so I had no training on jet engines.
WILLIAMS: And so I became a, uh, uh, precision, uh, mechanic, and, uh, worked61:00in, in the, uh, you know, the production end, uh, McDonnell Douglas. And so I was what they called a precision mechanic. And, uh, so, I mean, it was -- it was a different experience. But, I mean, all the work we did was, uh, precision type work. But I mean -- I did -- pretty soon I wasn’t working at all because I had become assistant chief steward.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, I had -- I had the whole plant.
WILLIAMS: And --
DRUMMOND: Oh, wow.
DRUMMOND: Twenty-five thousand people.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and the pay wasn’t too good, either, because you got the samepay but you worked about eight -- 12 or 18 hours a day sometimes.
WILLIAMS: But you only got eight hours of pay. And, uh, so -- but anyway, uh, I,I did -- that didn’t bother me. Uh, it may be -- it was for the union and, you know, so...
WILLIAMS: But, uh, uh, the, uh -- I was also buil-- uh, for one building I wasalso the, uh, safety, building safety person. And, uh, that was a building where we were building the Mercury and Gemini space capsules. And, um, one morning 62:00I’m in the office and we were, we were having, uh, a discussion about some safety problems, and, uh, an airplane hits the top of the roof, and there’s two astronauts that lost their lives. They come in in a snowstorm, trying to land at Lambert Field --
WILLIAMS: -- and they hit the top of our building and killed them, killed themboth, so -- but, you know, it’s an experience, and, uh -- it’s an experience in, in what you did as a union person --
WILLIAMS: -- and so on, so forth, so --
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, well, you got married --
DRUMMOND: -- fir -- first.
WILLIAMS: I have actually been married twice, yeah.
DRUMMOND: Y-yeah, and so, um, were -- and you have three children, Ann, Barbara,and Charles.
DRUMMOND: And, uh, may I ask if they were from your first or second marriage, or-- ?
WILLIAMS: First marriage.63:00
DRUMMOND: From -- all from your first marriage. And so when you started beinggone from home more --
DRUMMOND: -- um, did -- how did that affect family life for you?
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, uh, I was married for 23 years to my first wife, and --
WILLIAMS: -- but she was -- you know, sh-- it, it was a good marriage, except itreally -- I don’t know how you explain it, but it was, uh -- she was, uh, not the -– a -- She’s not the type of person that was like you’d say love and so on and so forth. Um, a very good woman, very good woman, but, uh, we, we, uh, we grew apart, you know. We grew apart.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, we’re still friends to this day.
DRUMMOND: Oh good, OK.
WILLIAMS: -- we had a amicable, uh, divorce, and not fighting each other.
WILLIAMS: And she never got remarried. But when I first met her she was a te --she was going to St. Louis University, and --
DRUMMOND: What -- which university?64:00
WILLIAMS: St. Louis University.
DRUMMOND: St. Louis University, OK.
WILLIAMS: St. Louis University. And, um, she had been there two years, but shewas only 17 years old. She graduated from high school when she was 15. So, uh, you know, we started dating, and, uh, a year and a half later we got married.
WILLIAMS: And, uh -- but I was, I was eight years older than her, you know, andthere was a lot of pressure on both her and me in those days. “Well, you’re getting old. You got to get married. You got to get married.”
WILLIAMS: “You got to get married.”
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so, you know, I, I think those -- I think those things cameinto play. And my current wife, uh, I met her, uh, in 19, 1957 -- 19 -- excuse me -- 19, 19, (laughter) 1977.
WILLIAMS: Nineteen seventy-seven. And, and the political -- in political work.And, uh, uh -- I’m trying to remember the group she was with, but, um -- but 65:00anyway, we’ll go on. But I met her and, uh, so (clears throat) we’re still married. And we knew each other for about five years before we got married. But, uh, I got a divorce in 1980, and, and, uh, so, (clears throat) I’m divorced, and, uh, I’m at -- I’m in, uh, New York for the, uh, Democratic Convention, and I call her up, and I said, “How’d you like to come to New York?” I said -- uh, I really baited it. I said, “I’m staying at the Waldorf.” (laughter) She said, “How do I get there?” I said, “Go out to the airport and tell them you got a ticket waiting for you.” So that’s how -- that’s how we hooked up a little bit.
WILLIAMS: So anyway, we -- she, she had a ball with that. My wife is a -- mywife has a master’s degree, and, uh, and she, uh -- actually, she had seven kids.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. And she was divorced, and she’s Catholic, like me.
WILLIAMS: And, uh, so --
DRUMMOND: So y’all have a big extended family.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, we do. Yeah, nine kids. Ti -- one of them got killed, but, uh --
DRUMMOND: Oh no.
WILLIAMS: -- one of her children. But, uh, anyway, uh, she, uh, wrote a book.She’s a published author, so --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, so --
WILLIAMS: And a concert pianist.
DRUMMOND: What was her -- may I ask what her book was about?
WILLIAMS: Uh, it’s a religious book. It’s, uh --
WILLIAMS: -- Three Saints: Women Who Changed History.
DRUMMOND: OK. OK, interesting. Um, and you said she was involved politically. Socertainly that was something you guys had in common --
WILLIAMS: Yeah, we --
DRUMMOND: -- and were very --
WILLIAMS: -- yeah, we -- yeah, we spoke the same language, yeah.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, my other wife, uh, I mean, she was a good Democrat and allthat stuff, but, I mean, she wasn’t really involved in --
WILLIAMS: -- you know, so --
WILLIAMS: She never followed up on anything. Uh, you know, I guess she was inthat old school, when you get married, you get married, and bah, bah, bah, and you have kids, and --
WILLIAMS: So anyway, uh, the, uh, the thing was it just wasn’t -- it wasn’tcompatible with me. I’m very, very, very active in what I do and everything. And so, anyway, at, uh -- you know, she, she and I -- we’ve, we’ve had a very, very good marriage for tw-- for, for 31 years now, so --
DRUMMOND: Mm-hmm. Nice.
DRUMMOND: And did you instill any of your activism in, um, your kids or any ofkids -- ?
WILLIAMS: No, except, uh, her, her kids -- not too much with my kids --
WILLIAMS: -- uh, and, uh, I really don’t -- you know, I, I don’t know howthat happened, but it didn’t. It just didn’t happen with them.
WILLIAMS: But, uh, her -- one of her daughters, uh, came to me, and she wasgetting ready to go to college when we first got married, and she said, “Charlie,” she said, uh, “I’m going to -- I’m going to be taking a cl-- art class. And, uh, I want -- I want to know about organized labor, because 68:00I know it’s all part of it.” And I said OK, so I went out and got her the history of the Haymarket Riots, and she read that and she got hooked. Uh, she did what’s called, uh, uh, Portrait of a Textile Worker, which was a, uh, tapestry as big as a wall of a reproduction of a picture of a, of a, uh, sweatshop worker in Bangladesh. And, uh, that’s in the New York art museum now.
WILLIAMS: And she also has work in the Smithsonian, so -- so I like to --
DRUMMOND: Fas -- fascinating.
WILLIAMS: I like to say I’ve had a --
DRUMMOND: Activism --
WILLIAMS: -- big influence with her.
DRUMMOND: Yeah, activism through art.
DRUMMOND: OK. And --
DRUMMOND: -- what, for you, has been one of the most important things aboutbeing in a union?
WILLIAMS: I --
DRUMMOND: Or the most important things?
WILLIAMS: I think it’s the camaraderie with all the people that I’ve had thedistinct pleasure of working with, and, and, uh, being with, and there are a lot 69:00of -- lot of people that we don’t even -- we didn’t even mention today that --
DRUMMOND: And you can mention them now if --
WILLIAMS: -- have great influence in my life.
DRUMMOND: Yeah, you’re welcome to mention them now.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, well, Bill Fenton, who’s dead a long time.
WILLIAMS: Fenton, yeah, F-E-N-T-O-N. Uh, Dick Greenwood, who was a speechwriterfor, uh, Winpisinger. He’s still alive, Greenwood is. He’s in Iowa.
WILLIAMS: Dick Greenwood. Uh -- uh, George Volvo, another one. And, uh, thefirst person that, uh, that I, that I really, uh, got in -- got a lot of influence with, uh, from, was a guy named Maurice Sullivan. And that was -- that was when I was still in the shop. He was a business rep for District 9. (cell 70:00phone ringing) I keep turning this thing down. It keeps coming back on. I don’t know why -- how it keeps coming back on. I just turned it down. But anyway, uh, Maurice Sullivan was a business rep for District 9, and at that time 837 was a part of District 9, District 9. So we worked politics together, he and I did. And, uh, we worked with people like, uh, uh -- who later became US Senator Paul Simon, and Alan Dixon, who came from that part of the country. And, uh, I was -- I was president of the, uh, Township Democratic Club as a very young man. And, uh, so Sully and I -- uh, Sully was a -- had a great influence on me, because he was a very conscientious, uh, union person.
DRUMMOND: OK, and what do you call him? S-S --
WILLIAMS: He’s a business-- Maurice Sullivan. Maurice S-Sullivan.
DRUMMOND: Sullivan. OK, Sullivan.
WILLIAMS: He was a very conscientious, uh, union person. And, uh, (cell phonechimes) he worked day and night. You know, he worked all the time, uh, on union business. But he was a heavy, heavy drinker, and it finally did him in. He, uh -- he later became, uh, automotive coordinator for the IAM, national IAM. But in his departure from, uh, from, uh, St. Louis to Washington, DC, said, “You know, Charlie, you’re going on Grand Lodge staff.” I said, “I don’t -- (laughter) I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Oh yeah, you’re going to Grand Lodge staff.” Well, a month later I did, so --
WILLIAMS: But Sully, uh, his family and I -- you know, our families were realclose. And unfortunately Sully died at age 47, so --
DRUMMOND: Oh, that’s young.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, and that was mostly due to alcohol, which is really -- I mean,I, I was a drinker myself, but, uh, people like Bill Fenton and Maurice Sullivan and George [Volvo?] and, and a host of others, uh, succumbed to, to the alcohol, 72:00and they had -- therefore didn’t have a, a long life. And my old friend Tom Docey -- another one -- uh, his mother and father lived well into their nineties, but he, he about -- he died at age 69.
WILLIAMS: And it was because of booze and cigarettes and things like that, so --
WILLIAMS: That’s the -- that’s the hard part of, uh, union life sometimes,and, and, uh, so, you know, you hate -- you hate to lose good friends like that. But you take, you know, what you learned from them and the camaraderie you had with them and everything, and that helps you in, you know, as you go on in life.
DRUMMOND: OK. Um, is there anything that you would like to discuss that we havenot talked about today? Anybody you want to mention, or any activity, or an event you remember, or -- ?
DRUMMOND: And it could be personal, or it could be related to work, or --
WILLIAMS: No, I, uh -- as I said a while ago, I, uh, I am chairman of the, uh,field mobilization committee for the Alliance for Retired Americans. And I’m thinking about giving that up. I, uh, I’m going to give it up I -- in my meeting in January in Washington, DC, probably. And -- but what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask that, uh, Charlie McCall, uh, replace me as chairman and bring Carlos on the committee as my replacement.
WILLIAMS: So camaraderie --
DRUMMOND: You’ve already -- you’ve got plans for Charlie in his retirement,and he hasn’t even really retired yet. (laughter)
WILLIAMS: Well, I’ve got him on the board. I got him on my committee, yeah.
WILLIAMS: I got him on my committee a year or so -- a couple years ago.
WILLIAMS: And that was the whole idea was when I, when I retired --
WILLIAMS: -- really retired is to move him in as the new -- next chairman, andthen bring the new person that replaced him --
WILLIAMS: -- and that’s, that’s still my plan. But we’ll see whether itworks out or not. I don’t know. You got -- you got to ask me. You’ve got 74:00teachers, and you’ve got steelworkers, and you’ve got UAW, and so on, so forth, so you’ve got to go through all those unions then --
WILLIAMS: -- or at least their leaders, you know, that’s on the committee.
WILLIAMS: You know --
DRUMMOND: OK. Well, if that’s it, if there’s nothing else, I will thank youfor your time today.
WILLIAMS: Well, thank you, and it’s been a -- you know, we’re even finishingup, uh, probably 35 minutes early --
WILLIAMS: -- so...
DRUMMOND: And it doesn’t mean that we didn’t get a lot done. It just meanswe --
DRUMMOND: -- got it in very efficiently.
DRUMMOND: Thank you so much.