|Stasik: .......How can you separate, at
that period in history, anyway, how can you separate the issues? The men
and women issues? I can't separate them. I'm not putting it right. In
other words, how could you have, when everything was so bad, how could
you have raised something, other than the question of 'equal pay for
equal work', at that time, separate from the men. As a separate issue.
You know, "alone" for the women. It seemed to me that since
men and women were working together in that shop, it was important to
raise it as a common issue that had to be dealt with. I raised this with
Linda (likely a reference to an interview with Linda Nyden for her
seminar paper, "Women Electrical Workers--Westinghouse, East
Pittsburgh", 1975) at the time, and I felt that her emphasis,
maybe, was wrong. (Indecipherable) I can see now that where you look
back, and see where you had women doing just certain things like lining
up tools or doing routine work, but you never found a woman toolmaker, a
woman crane operator or in the engineering department you didn't see a
woman. So that the issue is sharper now with men and women than it was
then. But then, you know, you had men who worked the common labor for
almost nothing. I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that if you
had to have the issue, you had to have the issue 'joined' together with
all the people in that shop rather than splitting this group off.....
Schatz: I think it's maybe even harder to write about
women working separately from men. Because so often the experience is so
Stasik: Exactly right. And so often you have a common
problem. You have a common goal and you have to negotiate with the head
of one company. They don't compartmentalize themselves, so why should
labor do that? At least, that's the way I see it.
Schatz: Could you tell me how you first became
involved in union activity?
Stasik: The history. Well evidently, there had been,
before I was old enough to work at Westinghouse, there were organizers
trying to organize the steelworkers and at Westinghouse,
too......Because I can remember when we were trying to convince people
to join the Union, they would all say, "Well, no, it'll never
work." We had to settle every strike and every issue, before that
time. So that there were, before then, groups that were interested in
trying to get the Westinghouse Company organized, but never with any
success. And I can remember going to....I belonged to the group at the
YWCA, sort of a study group and I heard of this movement going on over
at the high school. And I decided to go there and see what it was. And
we went. You couldn't argue with what they said was needed to be done.
But the question came up, in my mind, and I guess in others' minds,
"All right, this is great. But how do you ever get people to get
together?" And as we walked away, as far as we were concerned, we
forgot about it. I continued to go to the "Y." We had
professors from Pitt who came and talked to the classes. And a fellow by
the name of Curt Anderson, who majored in Economics, I think, and a girl
by the name of Miriam Wildon, and another one. Anyway, they used to
teach classes there, so after work we would attend them, and the
"Y", they were having what they called a "Labor
School." It was during the WPA program, during the 30s, and a woman
by the name of Hilda Smith. Anyway, they got the idea that they should
use the colleges, and bring some of these girls who had worked in
factories and had never seen a college campus. Just get them there.
During the summer months, when the college was closed to the regular
students and have some of the teachers give them courses. So there was
so many picked from every area. And it so happened that I was picked to
go and a friend of mine, by the name of Helen Talder. I debated a long
time whether to go or not, because work had just started to pick up and
I was helping my mother and my brother and sister-in-law. They said,
"Oh, Margie, you go!" So I did. I went to the school for six
weeks. They were the most beautiful weeks of my life. Would you believe
being in Brynmawr College? I lived on the sidewalks of East Pittsburgh
and then going there? To this beautiful campus with these beautiful
buildings, just make your eyes pop. We were allowed to use the main
library then, which was a real privilege. And the Dean of the school
must have had a feeling for people who worked for a living because she
allowed us to use the Deanery Garden, the Dean's Garden, for the
lectures that we would attend. And it was just a beautiful experience.
And the thing is that they just didn't cover labor history there, but
they gave me a smattering, you know, just a little bit. I can remember
they had _______who would come in, and tell us just enough to whet our
appetite. It was just great. We had a fellow by the name of Oliver Raugh,
who taught, and took us up on top of one of the buildings they had there
with the telescopes, and he allowed us to look at the stars through the
telescopes. And if you can imagine what that would mean to someone that
just had eight years of schooling. You know, I really had an interest
about what was going on. But in addition to that, you had some darn good
other people there. There was a fellow by the name of Colston Warren,
you've probably heard of him, and Leo Huberman, who's dead now, and what
a great man he was. Did you read his book, "We, The People?"
Isn't that beautiful? Beautiful history of the area!
Stasik: So that as a result of that experience, and
then, in addition to the faculty, we went......There was a girl from
Germany. She had just escaped Germany before Hitler came into power. I
can still see her. She was.....You could see that there was something
there that was troubling her. And there were two girls from Sweden, a
girl from England and girls from the Garment Industry and to have had
this intermingling with all these ______girls, that had some connection
with labor unions. And here, my friend and I were the two company union
Schatz: Were you active in the company union?
Stasik: No, no.
Schatz: The shop wasn't organized yet.
Stasik: That's right. To be quite honest with you, I
was just happy to have a job and have a paycheck to bring home every two
weeks. You didn't have anything in life. So that was very important. But
it was just like somebody had drawn a curtain up. You began to see
things the way they really were, instead of, before that, you sort of
walked along real quiet. Well, whenever I came back, my whole view of
things had changed!
Schatz: In what way?
Stasik: In the way, when I heard about this meeting
for a union, I went. I joined. I didn't have any questions then. Maybe
it was stupidity, maybe I wasn't smart enough to probe in deeper. But I
felt the need for a union then. And joined the union. I remember we met
up at Kid's Hall and it was a pretty determined bunch of people who met
there. And my friend went along, my sister Evelyn, my friend Helen
Talder and myself. And when they nominated the President, and the
Secretary-Treasurer and when it came for Recording Secretary, there was
a stillness that came over the room. And my friend says, "I
nominate Margaret Darin." Well, that was it. And I got into it and
I wouldn't have gotten out of it for anything. It was the best part of
my life. So I became Recording Secretary of the Union. And there was no
way of knowing whether the thing was going to go or not. Section 7, the
AF of A grant was not in books yet. It was during the NLRA period, but
you're probably too young to remember that. There was a period where it
was, you know, just touch and go, as far as we were concerned. We didn't
know whether the union would go or whether it would just pass by like
everything else. But we were convinced enough of the need for it. So
that no matter what, we were going to do what we could. So, in the
meantime, there were other things that were happening. You probably know
more about that than I do, Ron! But, if you remember, there were certain
shops. These mass production shops, like in Philadelphia and other
areas, that were not organized either. But these people wanted
organization. So the AFL, well you know that, so there's no need of you
and I going into it. But it seemed that there was a meeting, where we
had the meeting in Buffalo, New York. I didn't go. A fellow by the name
of Burkhart, who is now dead...
Schatz: Is he dead?
Stasik: He died several years ago. He went to
California, and died. A marvelous man. His integrity was impeccable. You
couldn't touch him. And honest and sincere. A little bit arrogant, I
would say, but a marvelous man. You couldn't find anything, you know,
that you could attack about his character. He was just one of these
people. He really was. He and Frank Gazdik and, I think, Bill Evan, went
to Buffalo. Then the AFL was smart enough to know that if they didn't
step in, ________, since the union was an issue at that time. They knew,
for example, the so-called 'left wing' had organized certain shops. I
think Lynn was one of them.
Schatz: Do you recall when the TUUL tried to organize
in East Pittsburgh? Because I think that happened in 1933 or 1934.
Stasik: Well, then this must have been part of the
TUUL. There was Emspak. Now, wait a minute. I don't remember. Was Carey
in then? That part is not clear in my mind.
Schatz: I think it was Carey and Emspak who were in
it at that time.
Stasik: They were?
Schatz: That was the first convention of the UE.
Stasik: That's right. In Buffalo, New York. Right,
right. But you see what happened before then, was when John L. Lewis had
that fight within the AFL and they threw him out. He and ten other
unions formed The Committee for Industrial Organization. And I think
Phil Murray. We had a meeting with Phil Murray. Phil Murray and David
MacDonald, who was Phil Murray's secretary. We met, I believe, at the
William Penn Hotel. Burkhart and I went down there. And we discussed the
question of uniting forces with these mass production unions.....what
would you call them......that had been expelled. What would you call
them, industrial unions?
Schatz: They were federal unions from the AFL. The
Philco and Schenectady. And Lynn and so forth.
Stasik: Right, right. No, now Lynn was in the UE.
Lynn was in the UERWA. The United Electrical Radio Workers of America.
Philco was in the AFL.
Schatz: In AFL. And the Westinghouse of Philadelphia
was in the AFL. Lexington something.....
Stasik: Yes. Lexington-Politin probably was. The
history of that! They had some good IWW numbers in there. So we had this
coalition of the two and I can remember, it was sporadic, you know? We
used to have these meetings on street corners and you'd have an audience
of a thousand, because that was during their lunch hour and you know
they'd talk and listen. I can remember my first speech. I was scared to
death. I hadn't said anything wrong, because, you know, you can't be too
brave when you know that you have to have a paycheck come in every two
weeks. And I knew that I was taking that paycheck in my hands when I was
doing this, because there certainly was no guarantee that we would.....
I hadn't said anything to my mother. But my sister, Evelyn and I would
walk together. I couldn't tell her one thing and have her seeing me in
different clothes and not know. So I said to her, "I'm going to
make a speech today." She said, "Oh, Marge, you're not!"
I said, "Yep, I am!" You know, my sister Evelyn, she's sick
now, I really feel very bad about her illness. But she was a gal that
allowed me to be my own person. While she didn't allow her love for me
to persuade her, she was really ____to back me up. She didn't say,
"Oh Marge, don't do it!" She says, "Well, if you feel
that you have to, you go ahead. I'll be there and I'll be listening to
you." And that was encouraging. So I can remember at that time I
thought, "Well, I'll probably go in and they'll give me my pink
slip." And you know, the only person that came up and said
something to me was my foreman, and congratulated me. I was really
stunned. A fellow by the name of Shaunce, I'll always remember. I think
that he came from a European background and maybe ______. How can we say
that all people who are foremen aren't union minded? Some of them may
Schatz: Had you had any union background in your own
Stasik: Oh, I think with my.....My father was a coal
miner. But of course, I think, during his period, I don't know that the
United Mine Workers was very strong. But if it was, he didn't....You
see, he was of limited education, and probably didn't know enough. My
brother-in-law, who is married to my sister Mary, is strong union.
Schatz: What union is that?
Stasik: UMW. He was a miner, too. Then finally gave
up mining, came to East Pittsburgh, worked in a shop. A good union.
Schatz: Was he in the union when you started to
become active? Was that an influence on your decision?
Stasik: Oh, no. No. I think the thing that influenced
me more than anything was my contact with the people at Brynmawr School.
I think that. And of course, my sister Ella's husband was a very strong
minded man who was progressive in his point of view. I remember he and I
used to have some arguments about things that I couldn't quite see eye
to eye with him at that time. No, I think it was an independent kind of
decision on my part. I believed in the cause because it was......., I
think seeing the depths of the depression, seeing people who didn't have
a thing, who couldn't understand why there could be so much
(indecipherable comments about suffering during the Depression.) I think
probably all that added up to make up my mind.
Schatz: Before you left Brynmawr, you'd been active
at the YWCA?
Stasik: I would go to the "Y." I've always
had the desire to learn, you know.
Schatz: Was that the Wilkinsburg "Y"?
Stasik: East Pittsburgh.
Schatz: East Pittsburgh? That's not that Wilmerding
one that just burned down is it?
Stasik: No, no. This was a "YW" that there
was a girl by the name of Dora Dite who got to speak to us. There
weren't many. There were about ten or twelve of us. We'd go once a week.
And we'd attend classes.
Schatz: What kind of classes?
Stasik: Oh, Curt Anderson taught us Economics. The
whole question of the economy. But he was a great disciplined force and
Schatz: A veteran?
Stasik: A veteran, yes. Also, the question of Marx
and (mentions several other controversial topics, indecipherable) . I'd
never heard of those things. I can remember this one day......And you
know, there was such a fear of Communism. I know the fear that I had.
Oh, that Communism was just some horrible creature from somewhere other
than the Earth! So this one day, Dora Dite, who was actually head of the
group, said that she was going to have some fellows by the name of Ben
Foley and Thomas Chain, I believe his name was, speak to us. And I was
never so taken in, in all my life. And I said to the other girls,
"They say they're Communists, but they're no different than we
are." It was a surprise to me, you know. I believed all the stuff I
heard. So, after awhile you could begin to wonder and question. So that
Schatz: East Pittsburgh was an old Socialist
Stasik: That's right.
Schatz: Was there a sort of Socialistic worker
presence in the town when you working there?
Stasik: I think that there was in a way. And even the
company Union there....I can't say it was different than other company
unions, because I just know about this one. But it had the facade of
being representative of the people. For example, you did get a chance to
elect your representatives. What they had was a representative in the
section where you worked and then you had one, main person who worked in
the shop from that division who represented you, together with
representatives from the company. Once a month they'd have a meeting.
And they would give you the news of what went on at that meeting. So
that, what happened was, you know, we were fighting the company from the
outside. Until someone came up with the idea, when you say about
Socialist influence. I don't know how much 'socialist' influence it was,
but let's say it was people who did a little thinking and said,
"You're stupid. Why do you want to fight the company union? Why
don't you try to get people elected on that committee and you expose
them from the inside? That's what they call "boring from
within." You've heard that term, I know. So that's exactly what we
did. We got people from every division and had Burkhart, who was an open
Communist, who never made any pretense at not being a Communist.
Schatz: He could do that without being fired?
Stasik: That's right. He was an open Communist. He'd
get up and say, "I'm a member of the Communist Party and I'm proud
of it." Where could you attack him?
Schatz: Did anybody else do that?
Stasik: No, no.
Schatz: No one else? Even though some of the others
probably were also.
Stasik: I don't know. Maybe they were. But they never
came out openly. But Burkhart came out openly, and people in that shop
Schatz: What section of the shop did he work in?
Stasik: He worked in the 'switch gear' division.
Schatz: Well, in Matles' book, he says he's a turbine
Stasik: Matles is wrong.
Schatz: What was his job?
Stasik: He was really a very good man. I think he's (Matles)
wrong. He was in the 'switch gear' division. And the turbine was
certainly in the 'generator' division, it would seem to me. I can't tell
you specifically what his job was. But anyway, to get back to what I was
talking about. Burkhart was elected. Bill Evan was elected in the
Factory Service Division. That was a tool and die type of department.
George Bush was elected from the 'switch gear' department. Frank Gazdik
was elected from printing. Let's see, Burkhart, Evan, Gazdik, Bush.
There was one other one.
Schatz: What division would it be?
Stasik: Let's see. There was 'switch gear.' That was
Burkhart. Bill Evan was Factory Service. Printing was Gazdik. Generator
was Bush. Let's see. Trafford?
Stasik: No. Metcalf didn't join until long later.
Until he saw we were....
Schatz: Switch gear was Burkhart. Bush was generator,
Gazdik was printing. Printing was a separate division?
Schatz: Was that literally the print shop?
Stasik: They used to print forms and things like
Schatz: So he was a printer?
Schatz: And the other was...?
Stasik: Bill Evan in Factory Service.
Schatz: Does Factory Service include Maintenance as
well as Tool and Die, like you know....?
Stasik: No, I think each division had its own
Schatz: But there's a central maintenance department
there too, isn't there? You know, where they have the sheet metal
workers and the carpenters and the electricians and the bricklayers and
Stasik: I think that in Factory Service you had
departments. Yeah, I think so.
Schatz: Were those the main people who were the
leaders of the union? Burkhart, Bush, Gazdik and Evan?
Schatz: Any others?
Stasik: Well, as far as I can remember, thinking
backwards, when we first started.
Schatz: Yes, at the very earliest.
Stasik: At the very first, they were the leaders, I
Schatz: Are there any others?
Stasik: Now there was a conservative element from
'switch gear'. A fellow by the name of Jackson. He wasn't a member of
the company union, but he made his contribution to the union.
Schatz: Was that Walter Jackson?
Schatz: I've seen his name. How about Patty Welsh?
(Note: Patrick J. Welsh is listed as Fin Secretary on union letterhead
Stasik: Patty Welsh. But he wasn't one of the very
Schatz: Where did he come from?
Stasik: Patty Welsh was from Factory Service. He was
a tool and die maker.
Schatz: What about Mike Fitzpatrick?
Stasik: Mike Fitzpatrick was also from Factory
Service, a tool and die maker. Tom Fitzpatrick was from 'generator'.
Schatz: Were Mike and Tom involved early on?
Stasik: You know, their names and faces don't come to
me real early. A fellow by the name of Terry McKay certainly does. Now
he was from 'generator.'
Schatz: Anybody else?
Stasik: A fellow by the name of Elmer Holzinger.
Schatz: Elmer Holzinger?
Stasik: Yes. And John Santen. S-A-N-T-E-N.
Schatz: And what did he do?
Stasik: John Santen was in the "I"
Division. Now what did he do? It's so long ago..... That's 46 years ago.
I was a young girl then. But these people were the ones that really
Schatz: Where did Holzinger come from?
Stasik: He came from Factory Service. He's dead now.
Schatz: Was he a tool and die maker also?
Stasik: Yes. A great one.
Schatz: And then I interviewed a couple other people
who I think were involved. Otto Yeager? Tool and die maker? No, he was a
machinist in generators. And then I interviewed George Modran.
Stasik: Oh, you did? Did you meet George? Did you? Oh
yes, he was an old timer.
Schatz: Was Modran involved with this group, too?
Stasik: Yes, you know, the thing is, you think of
George. And I know George is loyal and what a fine person he is still,
you know. But you see, they wanted.....They were good, they were
supportive, but I can't say they were the kind that stood up and took
a...... (tape end)
TAPE 1 SIDE 2
Stasik: Yes, George Modran. How did you ever find
Schatz: Uh, I haven't interviewed him yet, but I got
the name from Montgomery, who in turn got it from Tom Quinn.
Stasik: Oh, he did?
Schatz: I've interviewed Modran, but I haven't
interviewed Tom Quinn yet.
Stasik: You haven't?
Schatz: No, I haven't, but I will.
Stasik: Well, Tom isn't one of the first.....
Schatz: Speaking of this group as a whole, what ages
were they back at that time? Or of any individual, what age would they
Stasik: I would say, Bush was an older man, Gazdik I
would say...He would right now be close to 70, so deduct. Patty Welsh is
in his seventies. Holzinger died at an early age, but he wasn't....I
would say, if he had lived, he would probably be close to seventy.
Burkhart I think was older. Close to fifty at the time, maybe older.
Schatz: If we could, if any of these people you
remember well, if we could take them one at a time, and you could tell
me what you can about them? What kind of background they might have had,
where they came from, had they been in a different union before, had
they been active in the 1916 strike.
Stasik: Well, you see, what I would tell you wouldn't
be too factual. I really don't know too much. I think that George Bush
came from Turtle Creek and I think George was an old Socialist.
Schatz: He worked in 'generator'?
Stasik: He worked in 'generator.'
Schatz: Do you know what he did there by any chance?
Stasik: No, I really don't.
Schatz: And at that time, he would have been about 45
or 50 years old?
Stasik: Oh yes, maybe even older. Because he died
some years ago.
Schatz: He was a supporter of the Socialist Party?
Stasik: I don't know. I have no way of knowing
whether he supported the Socialistic Party. I think he was a registered
Democrat. But at one time, you know, Turtle Creek had a Socialist mayor.
As a matter of fact, a very dear friend of ours. As a matter of fact,
Betty Nelson, who just lost her husband recently, her grandfather was a
Cunningham, and he used to be Mayor of Turtle Creek. And as I understand
it, he was (Socialist).
Schatz: Bush, I think, was active in local politics?
Stasik: Sure he was. A fellow by the name of Simpson.
Oh, Bill Simpson! How could forget him? He was a white-collar worker and
a Democrat. A staunch Democrat. Bill was a decent kind of guy. He was
disjointed when he spoke, but a good person.
Schatz: Did he help you organize the union?
Stasik: Oh, yes he did!
Schatz: Even though he was a white-collar worker?
Stasik: Oh yes. Bill did. And he was very active in
the Democratic party in the community. Bill was. Bill Simpson. William
B. Simpson. (reference the same as William B. Simpson listed as
President of Union c. 1937?) He died of a heart attack.
Schatz: How about Gazdik? Can you tell me anything
Stasik: I don't know too much about Gazdik's family
background. He was a bright man. Bright. He knew direction, but I think
he had an exaggerated ego and really never understood the role of the
company. You see, the company had been successful in defeating them in
the attempt to organize. They thought, that the union, the way it was
constructed, that if you took out the foundation, it would crumble. So
what they did, is they took Burkhart and sent him on a troubleshooting
job in Texas. And we wanted him to come back and they kept him away for
a long time. Then they offered Frank Gazdik a job in Cleveland, with an
advertising firm. Did you know about this?
Stasik: Well, I can remember telling him at the time,
"Frank, I think you'd be making a mistake. I don't think you should
accept the job." But he was bright. And he really felt that he
merited this kind of a promotion. But it didn't last long. After they
got him out of there, they fired him. Well, we were successful in
bringing Burkhart back. And at the time, you see, people still had
recollections of the strike in 1918 (1916?) and how the leaders sold
out. And even if they didn't sell out, they had to have someone to lay
the defeat on. They could never say, "Well, the company did this to
us." They would always blame it on the workers. And Frank, after he
left....He made his contribution while he was there. Darn good! He put
out The Union Generator, the newspaper...
Schatz: Oh, did he?
Stasik: Yes he did. He started it.
Schatz: Where did he....at his own house or?
Stasik: No, we did it through the union, but he was
responsible for the contents, for getting it printed, for getting the
advertisements from the business communities. Where we really had the
businesses supporting that newspaper, we got enough money from the
running of the ads to pay for the printing of the paper. I thought that
was a valuable contribution. He did that. And also, did I mention his
name? (reference is to either Ebling or Gazdik) He was a representative
on the company union from the printing division. He was very vocal there
and he wasn't afraid.
Schatz: How old was he at that time?
Stasik: He was young. I think he was in his late
twenties or early thirties. But he wasn't as old as Burkhart. Ebling was
not an older man. He was in his early thirties.
Schatz: What did Ebling do?
Stasik: Ebling was in Factory Service and he was a
tool and die man.
Schatz: And had either of these people, Gazdik or
Ebling ever been in a union before?
Stasik: Not that I know of?
Schatz: I called Ebling.
Stasik: You did?
Schatz: Yes. He didn't want to talk.
Stasik: He didn't? That's too bad. Bill Evan was a
very quiet man. Had a lot on the ball. I think sometimes Bill didn't
get....I don't think he was recognized for the ability he had. He was a
good thinker. Very quiet. I think he was disappointed and disillusioned,
after the defeat. After the split, you know, it was pretty ugly. And the
people at the union shop, you know, during the McCarthy period. They
took a lot of razzing from them. And I think Bill felt he was too old
for that hassle. And I wouldn't condemn Bill. Because he made his
contribution and did a lot. Maybe he wants to forget.
Schatz: I understand.
Stasik: You do Ron?
Schatz: Yes, I understand. Who else do we have here?
How about Walter Jackson?
Stasik: I think Walter Jackson was a strict trade
unionist. Very strict trade unionist. I think there were mistakes made
within the union. There were mistakes made in that we allowed ourselves
to fight on issues that really weren't worth the battle at the time.
Schatz: Like what?
Stasik: Well, I can just recall one instance. The
question of Cardinal Mindszenty. Now if that wasn't stupid, you know!
Now if that wasn't stupid and if that wasn't a plant by the FBI, and
let's face it, we probably had FBI people in our ranks. I don't know
where. Absolutely. You take people at their face value, you know. You
don't know me and I don't know you. I think you're an honest human being
and that's the way we felt. I didn't feel that there would be this
dishonesty, this conniving, but it was there. And we were just too
stupid to sift it out. And some locals that were considered
conservative, you know, I think that they had more brains than we did.
And they didn't allow themselves to get caught up in this bruha. Hell of
a lot of difference it made to us whether Mindszenty was....What did
that have to do with the price of milk? It meant nothing. But they felt
as if, "oh boy, the world would come to an end.' As a result, you
had people who might have supported us on other issues, that were
important, who figured.....And then we didn't use our heads. For
example, on the whole question of the war, and I remember my husband and
I disagreed on this. It was a question of getting some money for an
ambulance for the people over in Great Britain. They had taken an awful
blast from the bombs falling on the cities. We opposed it. When I say
'we', I mean the so-called 'progressives',....in quotes! Now that was
stupid. If you're for people!! There were kids and women and children
who needed this. Why should we oppose it? It was wrong and we could have
supported that. And won the good will with a lot of people who had
sympathy for the British. Not only that, our own humanity should have
told us to do it. Our own humanity should have told us.
Schatz: Well, what made you do differently?
Stasik: Well, after all, it was an Imperialist war,
so-called. The people? What the hell difference did it make? They were
being bombed! I can see it now, but it takes a long time some time. You
know, I'm sort of thick. But you know, you ask about mistakes? That was
another one. And then June 21st! June 21st, to the exact day!! Then we
change our mind! Because Hitler invaded Russia. Now nothing can change
that quick! But certainly what was happening in Germany, what was
happening to the Jews in Germany, what was happening to the trade
unionists in Germany, was cause for us as trade unionists to be
concerned. What did we care whether Hitler had signed a non-aggression
pact with Stalin? That was their business! Our business was to be on the
side of our brothers, no matter where they were.
Schatz: Well, how would a decision like that get
made? Would some of the Communist members of the Union try to organize a
caucus or ?
Stasik: I think so. They did many things. I think had
we listened to Jackson......
Schatz: How was his view point different?
Stasik: Well, his view point, for example on the
question of aid to the children of the British. What do you do when you
fight? You antagonize a guy like Jackson, who was really an honest man.
So is that wise? It isn't. You have to choose where to do battle, and I
don't think we always chose the right things to do battle on. Now,
hindsight is always......
Schatz: Was there anyone else in that conservative
group beside Jackson?
Stasik: Jackson is the one that sticks to my mind,
because I think he was a decent kind of guy. You had good people. You
had fellows like Earl Gongawere. He was a darn good guy. Bill Harper was
what you would you would call conservative union. Bill Harper.
Schatz: Where did he work?
Stasik: Bill? Earl Gongawere was in Motor Division.
Bill Harper? Don't quote me on this. I think he was in 'switch gear',
I'm not sure. There's a question mark in my mind. Phil Conahan.
Schatz: Was he also from 'switch gear'?
Stasik: Phil was in Motor Division. He was a good
trade unionist. I would call him conservative. But a good unionist. But
you know, when the UE lost, in spite of it, we lost by a very small
margin, and you had everything against you.
Schatz: It was a hair's breadth.
Stasik: Right. You had the church, the government,
everything. Just everything. But the union did a good job of it. It
still is a darn good union.
Schatz: Was there any difference on other questions
between this more conservative unionists and aggressive unionists, other
than foreign policy questions?
Stasik: No, I think primarily it was foreign policy
questions. Yes, foreign policy.
Schatz: But in terms of say, your practice as a
unionist? Inside the shop, handling grievances, women's issues, would
there be any difference?
Stasik: No. No. I think we would have gotten support
from all segments. I think we had a group of darn good trade unionists
there. We really did. People that maybe couldn't agree with you on
issues of foreign policy. Some of them that wouldn't stick their neck
out on certain things, you know. But you can understand that. They had
probably seen defeat, were frightened by it, and therefore in their
heart.....I had a man come to me, and they'd say, "Gee whiz, Peg, I
used to wear my union button." I'd say, "You have more guts
than brains." And it was that if they'd see you come, we'd cross
the street, because we felt ashamed that we didn't have the guts to join
the union. And I thought, "Well, if you wear your union button, if
you speak on street corners and they see that you're still holding down
a job, maybe this will.....You felt that you had to do it. Your
conscience made you do. We've come a long .....But I don't know now.
(indecipherable) But we made mistakes. And you know if you 'do'
something, you're not going to do it right all the time.
(indecipherable) If I had to do it over again, I'd do it all over. Or
just think, you wouldn't be here seeing me!
Schatz: You had faction fighting from the earliest
days in the union, didn't you?
Stasik: Well, no, no. I don't think so. I was elected
by acclamation for three years. There was no factionalism.
Schatz: But now I read, I think, in those papers you
gave to the library, that by the time they had brought in Charlie Newell
as Business Agent, there was a lot of factionalism within the union.
That's why they brought him in from outside.
Stasik: No. No.
Schatz: That's wrong?
Stasik: That isn't right. I don't think so. My
feeling is, you know, you had to have Charlie Newell there. He was one
of the best teachers that I ever had. I didn't know a darn thing about
caucus or......You had to have business management, really. And what
happened was that Julius Emspak came in. Emspak came in and they looked
the situation over. Now we had in our files, the majority of the
people...a good segment of the people in the shop. And I think that they
realized that they needed someone there that could coordinate the whole
thing. I was the only officer on the payroll, outside. So they
recommended that a business agent come in. Charlie Newell came and it
was after that period of time that the union began to grow numerically,
grow financially. It had some direction. And I think then you began to
get the opposition.
Schatz: Now you had, as I understand it, a terrific
growth in 1936. Then when the recession came in late '37 and 1938, the
union really went way down hill and fell to about 900 members, according
to the records that I read. And that was the crisis that they brought
Newell in for.
Stasik: Oh, to protect the......Probably.
Schatz: It wasn't handling grievances. People had
quit as stewards. There were very few stewards.
Stasik: Yeah, we went through a period. I don't know
the exact date, but I can remember where everything was on a voluntary
basis. You know, you can stumble along. But there was no recognition,
there was no negotiations with the company. There was really nothing.
Then when Charlie came, things really began to change. The man had
direction. He had a good mind, and knew how to......
Schatz: Now when factionalism began there, I guess it
occurred. They forced Logan Burkhart to resign, didn't they, as
Vice-President of the Local, in 1940, because he circulated election
Stasik: Oh, yes. The Communist petitions. I can
remember. Yes. Yes. And he lost his job. He lost his job. Now who in the
union....? It was at the beginning. Do you remember? There was a period
when there was a real 'Red Scare' during the Roosevelt administration.
Schatz: Right. In about '39 or so. Is that correct?
Stasik: I think it was then that Burkhart was forced
out. During that. While he was one of the ones for the Communist Party.
And Burkhart was threatened with jail. That's the reason that they
dismissed him. There was a lot of...... It was sort of a divided support
for and against him. A fellow by the name of Joe Barron was working . He
was thrown out. He was fired from Westinghouse. It was a bad period of
time. Now that was before ______. I'll always remember Joe Barron. He
was a kind man.
Schatz: Where was the conservative element at that
time? Where was it based in the shop?
Stasik: Where was it based? Why, I think it was Motor
Division. You know it's strange. That was one of the most underpaid
divisions and yet one of the most conservative. In Factory Service,
'switch gear', and 'generator' you had a good, strong coordinate. Good
people. But you see, the whole question of Communism is a very frightful
one. Even today, in this so-called period of enlightenment. And let's
face it. What's happening tonight, because of what the man believes?
(reference to ??) I think it's frightening. And let's face it. This is
the issue. You remember in _____ "Untold Story".......what's?