The Beginning of I.A.M. Local Lodge 2003
As Recalled and Told
by Ted Maddin
The nature of all life changes with the passage of time. My time came and went as well as many others who followed me. It is normal for the present members to have little or no knowledge of the beginning of Lodge 2003 and District 75. The important thing is that these two lodges have continued to grow and prosper with the passage of that time. As you know, we organized Lodge 2003 over 50 years ago. None of the people who were instrumental in that organizing campaign are there now, either deceased or retired.
I will try to hit the highlights of my membership in Lodge 2003 and my career as a Representative of the lAM, as it mirrors the achievements of our lodge in those years.
When I returned from Korea in 1954 and was discharged from the Air Force, I went to work for Spartan Aircraft Co. at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Three months later I was asked to be a part of the Advance Team to go to Alabama and assist in the reopening of Camp Rucker where the Army Aviation School was to be transferred and become a Fort. I, and several others moved to Alabama in October, 1954, and began setting up the school maintaining the aircraft, and training locally hired people. I was a Lead Master Mechanic as was most of the Advanced Team. All of us in the Advance Team were members of the lAM Lodge at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and we began organizing the new workers almost immediately. The end result was we won a NLRB election in early 1955 and Lodge 2003 was chartered in May, 1955. There were about 300 charter members although the Charter itself only has names for a few. The organizing campaign was a bitter battle not only with Spartan Aircraft but with the local politicians and lasted long after the election was over.
We had no money in our Lodge but Grand Lodge assigned Representatives to assist us in negotiating our contracts. Spartan Aircraft lost the Army Contract after one year and Aeronca Mfg. Co. out of Middletown, Ohio, took over. We negotiated a contract with Aeronca but they lost out after one year to Hayes Aircraft out of Birmingham, AI.. Hayes was a notorious anti-union company and we had to strike to get a contract. Our relationship with Hayes was at best confrontational. In 1960, as our Lodge was still broke, Jim Webb and I volunteered to take our vacation to go to St. Louis, Mo. to represent Lodge 2003 at the Grand Lodge Convention. It was there that I met Senator John Kennedy who had just received the Democratic nomination to run for President. When I returned from the convention I agreed to run for Business Representative as several of my co-workers had been encouraging me to enter that race. I was elected and took office the same month that Jack Kennedy became President. Like many others in those days who had seen the 1959 recession and the vast unemployment in the country I was gung ho to bring about change and particularly in South Alabama.
In 1960 we had between 600 and 700 members and a lot of nonmembers. The average age was 26 and I was 30. We all had a great deal of energy and motivation. I notified Grand Lodge not to send any more Grand Lodge Representatives unless I expressly requested assistance. Although all the Grand Lodge Representatives were excellent people none of them had any experience in this type of military in-house contracting. I had the full cooperation of International President AI Hayes and Vice President Jess McGlon.
One day I received a call from the Mayor of Ozark, Douglas Brown, who was also President of a Bank in Ozark and owned a lot of land in Daleville. Douglas was building a shopping center in Daleville and offered to give us the land, build us a Union Hall, and finance it through his bank. I presented his proposal to the membership and it was accepted by just a few votes. I met with the Contractor and drew out the floor plan which is the building we now have. The building was completed in a short time and the mortgage was paid off in 3 years.
One of my goals then was to organize Dorsey Trailers in Elba and that was done within a few months and established a new Lodge in Elba for them. Hayes Aircraft had an overhaul facility at Napier Field which had been organized but with few members. Roy Chappel and Ike Richardson became the in-plant organizers and did a remarkable job in bringing that group into a majority union.
At that point I telephoned IP AL Hayes and asked for approval to set up a district. He approved it over the phone and District 75 was born. Our membership had grown from 600-700 to about 1500. An election was held and Bill McClure was elected Business Representative. I had become the first Directing Representative and President of District 75.
We continued to grow and Ralph Hudson became the third Business Representative.
In 1964, Hayes lost the Army contract to Page Aircraft Maintenance, Inc.. So it was back to the drawing board again. PAMI already had the Test Board contract at Fort Rucker and had no union. They started out refusing to hire 130 people including many stewards and other in-plant representatives. I instructed everyone to submit an application and get hired. The majority was hired and after PAMI refused to recognize Lodge 2003 as the bargaining representative, we went on strike. During the strike the Test Pilots came to me and wanted to form a union so I signed them up and after a few days of negotiating with the Secretary of Army staff lawyer, I proposed a 15 day bargaining session with full recognition by PAMI and I would call off the strike for that 15 days. The Army agreed and notified PAMI. During the negotiations which were do or die for Lodge 2003 and for PAMI itself, they finally realized they could not survive without us. We reached agreement on all issues including recognition of the Test Pilots without an election and agreed to hire all the 130 unhired employees. Unfortunately, the Base Commander, a Major General, used his powers to disapprove the contract. Once again I had to call on the Secretary of Army Legal Staff, but only when I told the General our strike would re-commence the next day and our picket signs would read ON STRIKE against the UNITED STATES ARMY he backed off and approved the contract. That whole incident would make a good movie about the collaboration of an anti-union company and a Major General to destroy a union. Our Lodge was tested to the max and the members stood firm. I told them that I had negotiated a 15 day negotiating session with the Army and to go back to work. They did that without a vote. They were ready to go back out on strike at my direction without a vote. In my 26 years of negotiating contracts no group was ever as united in purpose and resolute in fighting injustice as Lodge 2003 in 1964.
That total victory became the catalyst which launched the organizing of the Aviation Test Board, the Office Clerical Unit and the Data Processing Unit. Those NLRB elections were won by huge majorities; the Data Processing Unit was won 100% (even the company observer voted for the Union). The only hourly employees not represented by Lodge 2003 at PAMI were the General Managers Secretary and a couple of other similar positions. This non-union company had become the most union organized company in the United States.
Contract negotiations were an everyday affair with each of these new bargaining units. Some years later the members voted to put everyone in the same contract and it became more workable.
Relations with PAMI improved greatly over time and I began looking for other prospects. Fairchild Hiller moved in to Crestview, FL. and I started an organizing campaign there which was won after a few months and negotiated a contract for that group. In a few months another contract with the Air Force was given to Republic Aviation at Crestview and we started organizing that group. I learned that Fairchild was buying out the old Republic Aviation in Farmingdale, New York, and that this merge of work had been in the planning stage for some time. I met with the Fairchild VP and staff in New Orleans and negotiated a merger of the two units subject to the member’s approval and that Lodge then became our first Florida Lodge in District 75.
Early in 1966, I was offered an appointment to Grand Lodge and after some negotiations as to my home station being kept in Daleville, I accepted and began a career which kept me negotiating contracts all over the country not only in aerospace but other industries as well. For 26 years as a Lodge 2003 Business Representative, District 75 President & Directing Business Representative, and Grand Lodge Representative I negotiated the main contracts at Fort Rucker. When Bill Ussery became Secretary of Labor I moved to Cape Canaveral to take over his former assignments. The last ten years of my career I lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and continued to negotiate all over the country. Typically, my last year of aerospace negotiations started with Boeing, then Lockheed, then McDonnell Douglas, and winding up with United Technologies–Pratt & Whitney. In the off years I negotiated with many smaller companies both in aerospace and other industries. One of my most satisfying was the Florida sugar industry where conditions needed much improvement. I consider the improved conditions there during my tenure one of the highlights of my career. During my career I became one of the charter members of the Advisory Board for the Center of Labor Education and Research at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. I was appointed by the Governor to negotiate with Industry amendments to the Employment and Workman’s Compensation laws. I served on the Manpower Training Committees and Area Redevelopment Committees created by President Kennedy.
I am always mindful of the beginning of my career and those men and women who contributed so much of their time and expertise to keep Lodge 2003 a shining example of what can be done when its members are willing to try.
My career began and ended with those same people and others who followed in their path. My role as leader of the pack in those days would have gone nowhere without the dedication and perseverance of the membership. The current leaders are cut of the same cloth and I know a hundred years from now we can all look down and see Lodge 2003 still in control and still the biggest economic generator in the region.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to refresh my memory and give me cause to look back upon those days, truly the best days of my life.
Grand Lodge Representative, Retired