Weakley Remembers: Tales from the Early Days of IBEW Local 1245
Editor’s note: Local 1245 founder Ron Weakley, who died in October 2007, loved to tell stories–from the early tumultuous days when the union was being organized, to the sometimes bizarre situations he found himself in during 20 years as the union’s business manager. He asked that these stories not be published until after his death.
I was chairman of the Electrical Workers statewide fight against the Right-to-Work (ballot proposition) in 1958.
Along with sending out stuff we made little slips of paper that said, These are union dollars,” and when our members went in to buy anything they gave this little slip of paper with their money to let everybody know who was paying for whatever they were buying. We were doing pretty good on that.
They had some radio and television coverage and invited people to argue about the right to work issue. One of the people who came in was Virgil Day, the vice president of industrial relations for General Electric. He took over running the management show, along with the Chamber of Commerce, for the right-to-work side. I debated him a couple of times.
Along with all of that, KSFO had a program of interviews. They brought me and Harry Bridges of the Longshoremen in and interviewed us together. During the conversation the moderator said, The telephone company and PG&E don’t have a union shop and yet they have a lot of people in the union. What do you think of that, Mr. Bridges?” And Bridges, of course, saying we had to have a union shop. Bridges said, Well, if I took back a contract like they have at PG&E and the telephone companies, my members would throw me out.”
That blew my mind. That was a dirty shot against me. So after it was over with I called him up and I really read him off and challenged him to compare contracts with me, which he couldn’t.