In the Beginning
Local Lodge 2003 has a unique and rich history. Its origins come from Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The original members of Local Lodge 2003 that came from Fort Sill to Camp Rucker in 1954-1955 were actually members of IAM Local Lodge 899. Army Rotary Wing Aviation training was moved during these years to de-conflict airspace issues at Fort Sill which the Home of U.S. Army Field Artillery Branch.
This victory at Camp Rucker to have a Union was not an easy one. A strong anti-union campaign at Camp Rucker was led by the Chamber of Commerce of Dale County and Mayor James Douglas Brown of Ozark. Mayor Brown addressed a personal anti-union letter to Spartan employees, written on official city stationary, and read in part:
For several years we in Ozark have been working hard to bring industry into our midst… we have always maintained the basis of non-union labor… if the employees of Spartan Aircraft become unionized it will upset our local economy and make it doubly difficult for us to obtain additional industry… I appeal to you to vote against the union.
Mayor Brown’s anti-union campaign did not end with the letter. In addition, he made personal contacts with the employees at their homes and during working hours on the job. as president of radio station WOZK, he also went on the air to describe the IAM representatives as “hoodlums” and the union was “your worst enemy.”
Mayor Brown appealed to the employees to vote against the IAM because “the union may want to close” the plant and because “they only want your money.” Finally, he pleased: “If you vote for the union you will cripple me for what I have tried to do for you.”
The vote was 268 for the IAM Union and 235 for no-union, and the rest is history, the birth of Local Lodge 2003. Great credit and remembrance should be given to the IAM ladies Auxiliary 466. These courageous ladies were the wives of Local Lodge 899 members at Fort Sill, and knew the importance of what the Union meant to working families. They tirelessly support their husbands, going to non-union workers and families winning them over to the IAM.
Ironically later, as positive communications and mutual beneficial relationships developed in the surrounding communities, anti-union rhetoric was proven false and Mayor Brown, who also was the President of Ozark Community Bank, made the guaranteed financial loan to Local Lodge 2003 to build their new Union Hall in Daleville, Alabama. Donnell Shopping Plaza was constructed with Local Lodge 2003 and later District Lodge 75 located in the middle of the plaza.
Growth and Strikes
In 1964, Following on the heels of a brief and successful strike for recognition, members of IAM Local Lodge 2003 won bargaining rights for approximately 300 more employees at the Army’s Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama. These new IAM members were employed by Page Aircraft Maintenance Inc., which succeeded Hayes International Corp. as the contractor for maintenance at Fort Rucker.
Ted Maddin, Business Representative of IAM District Lodge 75, assisted an additional three groups of labor classifications in obtaining IAM membership. Clerical employees voted 103 for the IAM with 11 voting no-union. The production and maintenance employees of the company’s research and development branch voted 104 for the IAM and 49 for no-union.
Finally, all 12 Test Pilots voted for membership and recognition for the IAM.
The main group of approximately 1,300 employees was recognized by Page after an eight day strike in which charges were filed against the company by the National Labor Relations Board. The new two year contract with Page won pay increases ranging from 10 to 49 cents per hour.
In 1975, Local Lodge 2003 went on strike, when Northrop Inc. would not come to the bargaining table in good faith over members negotiating for the IAM Pension. This strike lasted for over three months. Northrop hired scabs (non-union strikebreaking workers) during this time of turmoil and unrest until all IAM members returned to work and the scabs were released.
The Goals of the IAM and Local Lodge 2003
Below are some of the goals of the IAM:
- Cost-of-Living raises so that wage rates raise with living cost.
- Increased purchasing power to provide a higher standard of living.
- paid sick leave and life insurance for workers; employer-paid hospital, medical, dental and eye care benefits for workers and their families.
- equal pay for equal work regardless of sex, race or national origin.
- a safe and healthy workplace.
- Shorter work week with double time for voluntary overtime.
- Restrictions on subcontracting.
- Employer-paid insurance for worn, broken, or stolen tools.
- Joint apprentice training and retraining on the job.
- Portable pensions with optional early retirement benefits.
- Severance pay and supplemental unemployment benefits.
- Union Shop.