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 He asked that these stories not be published until after his death.
We had a traumatic experience with our first president, a guy named Frank Gilleran. He was a Troubleshooter over in Stockton. He came from the old 1245 [prior to its amalgamation with the CIO group headed by Weakley in the 1940s].
He announced that he was president and he was appointing all committees. And he was appointing the negotiating committee, and he included appointing himself. I didn’t care much for that. You’ll see in your by-laws, constitution, the president appoints all committees. But, negotiations is a different ball game. The IBEW considers the business manager responsible for negotiations. So you work out the committee the way you want, but that’s the responsibility of the business manager.
Well, the first meeting Gilleran went to, he gave away the store on some apprentice program or whatever we had, just gave it away. Afterward I berated him and I told him, You’re off the committee. Quit interfering with me or we’ll straighten it out with the International.”
Well he poo-poohed (that), but I got the president and the secretary together and they laid down the law to him. They told him to get the hell out, and keep out of the negotiations or they’d kick him out of office.
But in the meantime, one day we were having negotiations and the company remarked that they knew pretty much what we were doing because he mailed them every month the Executive Board minutes. The president of the union! Jeez, I almost died. [Weakley imitates Gilleran]: And here’s a committee list.” And I begged them, For God’s sake don’t tell anybody this.” Because look how it will look to the membership. It would make them disgusted with the union. So luckily [the company] shut up. He [Gilleran] later on was defeated.