Jim Peters: Comments and Transcript Midland Steel sit-down strike


Jim Peters NOTES

1 A
on paint machine, all black, supervis white
asks about pete borovich, john perry
jackson gardner
asks if i contacted joe block, he was charter member of union.  he and his dad were charter members.  gives me phone number.  block worked in machine shop

pf: question on activity in paint machine; none ever came  up into leadership

pf: refers to document re paint machine dept meeting
‘paint machine badly disorganized after factionalism

pf: speculates: guys on PM older men.  Walter Young was the youngest.
I used to work on the straightening bench at that time that was feeding into the pm, before I got iinto welding, swinging sledge hammer on stgraightening bench, but frames on line and sent to paint machine

Walter Young stands out
pf: class distinctions among black workers stock chasers and crane hookers and hi lo drivers would be at one end and paint machine would be at the oter end, and in between would be welders and assemblers, predominantly white at that time, but look at only black workers

[uncle toms]
pf older blacks in suprdinate dependent rel with tool makers and welders, giving alllegiance to dominnt workers in the shop . . . loyal servants of maint and tool and die.  Does that make any sense?

JP: yes it makes very very good sense.  I think youve go it pretty well.  very much the pictre 12:30  The guy that relly got pm orged later on was herman burt
……. inaudible
get hold of ziggy mize

earl lewis worked on straigntening bench went o to welding.  taking a course in real estate at the time.  black man.

getting back to burt and alleged lelft wingism.. Was he linked up with kotenko and cini borovich and dinkle in the politics of the local.

Yeah. . . ….

PF; blacks split down the middle 20:00

1 B

on org structure

6 00  I think you got the picture so well

7:30 Cini Dinkle Kotenko  word radical used; not pete so much, but joe

8:46  pete on flying sqad

hank agbi, syrian or lebanise

Fl Sq about 30 guys; formed right after sitdown strike
Johnny kasmiersy,
Asks about bud english as officer


2 A

1-6-77 pick up at 3:30; going to 2-21-77

on weakness of cio leadership after NLRB election

12:30  2-21-77

pf re blacks in assy dept; who became welders
ref to herman burt “work horse uncle toms; spoke to earl pontz and levi nelso re crane hookers.  where do black assemblers fit in some kind of sicoogical picture?
majority started on assy 34-37.
on Oscar Oden, racehorse.  He was a militant guy, but he was fair in every respect (what I mean by miitant is someone who would stand up for  principle)

majority that were assembler during war became welders and stayed in welding, oscar was one of them.
PF on pop warfield
pop warf stayed on as assy, never went to be a welder
what about popp hicks
oh yeah hicks, he was very miitant, rant for office, was chief steward, quite a guy
re nelson merrill
there another one, nelson was also a assy and nelson was no dumbell, in fact, i dont know what  happend, down on the floor, they were slow in uttinghim on (to suspervision) he could fit in anywhere on that line, also a gentleman and a scholar fiar and quare in every way, no racial prejudice, i think he ws sutdying to be a minister
mentions jackson gardner ch ste on assy
peters ws stew over welders,gardner ste over assy
guys liked jackson real well as stew.  jackson illiterate, peters helped him write up things
jackson active in union in 30s, one of the old timers
mentons chuck adams, was welding ste in hupp bldg, in plant in 1930s
pf: o time of sitdown 37-39 re age on plymouth line.  Hicks and Warfield not young; warfield a bachelor
old man weatherspoon from around 19210r 2

black assember about 27 or 28 yrs old at time of sitdown

he was one of your fst assemblers, them guys were on the front of the line and they were feeding and also the guys on the back of the line, the frame straighteners, 26:10  wer guys that had to keep tht cleared off, to get it to the paint mach.  htat ws a sweat and blood job, hydraulic after war, but in thirties sledge hammers.  a guy like bill weilliams, jimmy price, ed horn, mike noblock, petrowsky, mike noblock was agens’ss brother, also stanley noblock.  noblock family ws pretty big in there.  another group weglars, big gang of them. 28:00

pf getting back to blacks on assy.  mostly then the plymouth line seems to be pretty young workers because it ws a new setup?

at the time, yeah.  when they went into war work these fellow went from there to welding, had to go to welding school.  If you were laid off you could come in and practice under supervision  . .  a teacher paid by govt
harry mcnary ws oldest welder
McNary irish, catholic I think
pf: 30:30 just spoke to hintz.  going down names.  3 most active in union in thirites seems to be bill smith glenn snyder and ben wainwright. 

Bill Smith (melvin smith)
danny snyder not uite tht active, glen was.
pf: keep these guys in mind because i want to compare them with the following names:

john kasmeiersi very very active, very active, very active to the extent of getting his head beat up organizing fords miller road
2 B

pf: mike wiezecki?  welder.  Black mike ended with a ski

pf; how about eddie grabowski.

very active, got in trouble with govt on not welding thoroguhly, he was  . . . got fired.  There was talk of being charged with treason but they stopped short  of that.  he opened up bungalow barbecue, made a imint during the war.  he was better of than us guys.

what about chester hill/podgorski

he was terrific, very agresive, very good union man,

mentions pete bodnar, was commiteeman.

hill very active in 1939.

pf; comp with wainwright

just aas active as wainwright.  hill was on comm.  held various offices. in fact when g borovich got in trouble with treasusy i think chster hill was pres of local at the time

pf ref nlrb election 12-39.  Impression i get is cio group weaker on shopfloor than afl group.5:00
COG —> 6:30

6:30 pf on what’s goiong on beteen time borovich and his group makes the raid onafl office june or july 1939, and the elction that give the local to the cio in december 1939.  June 39 HM signs renewal, extnsion of the old contract, what to make of that?  CIO forces must have been pretty weak,  split already taken place, est side of detroit and all of det cio dominant, just a few small shops that afl had, and midland was one of them

JP: oh yeah because the afl what the hell they werent interested enough in the factories,  . . .

PF: Boll, degree to which diff factions organized. 9:00

LP’s dad united raiway workes, old streetcar 10:40
misses point of my question  JP would like to see one big organization of labor
12:30 on piecework; good deal for workers; our biggest gain was in 1937.  At time of sitdown lot of greivances about pieework 14:00  group piecework

PF: i have before me wages jim kuhn gave me 11-25-35 base rate frame assembly 80 hour for arc welders (peters thinks it was a little lower, jim would be pretty honest, he xeroxed this out of his little black book
after the union 18% added, no guranteed peicework rate before the union.  kuhn very honest, delt with him in labor relations.  if jim gave it to you you can put it in your book

without a guranteed minimum 19:00

PF: 20:00 on abolishing piecework.

JP after we got organized were satisfied with system;22:00 re pipefitting vs welding rates 25:00 ressentiment!
ha ha ha.  i’m in maint dept. but found out guy who stayed back made more money.  Had worked as pipefittier in builidng tades (together with hintz at packard 1927)

pf: getting back to blacks26:30  did hicks and oden stand out.  as very distict from rest of black guys working on the plymouth line, or just the most active represntaive of a general type of guy on the line

JP  thas right. i would say that they were active, guys that were aggressive enough would get up and talk.  A lot of the other  guys would sit back and they would grumble and stuff, but oscar oden, hicks, old pop warfield, other name cant think of very aggressive

PF: 27:40  were they the most urban

yes yes.  these guys were there was charlie jones, he was a detroit black (JP went to wchool with) oscar got his ed here.

solomon quite active in unkon, nver held any office, was deputy stew number of times, came from the south into Midland, from Alabama.  he was strictly rural, the farmer tyupe, as compared with racehorse, who ws more urban.  these guys would go to racehorse and would give him their gripes.  iinstead of like going to the foreman or anything else, and Pop Warfield ws another guy that was no dumbell, very quiet, but dont brush his hair the wrong way.

PF: was he more urban than rural in his outlook?

Definitely, definitely. 

PF what about hicks?

oh hicks was a loudemath

pf re urban rural

I would say hicks was more urban.  more citified, his demands were a little bit more, his clothes he wanted them to look a little bit better his way of living his home, not log cabin sharecropper shanty down south.

PF would you say that the most urban blacks in plant werr o the plymouth line