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 He asked that these stories not be published until after his death.
Rudy Samm was the head of a local of the Teamsters in San Francisco. He was a real hard-nosed goon type. He decided to try to raid our PG&E Clerical. So he opened up a room in the Palace Hotel (in San Francisco), and after work he invited all the clerks to come over and have drinks and snacks. Every night after work. And they were coming over. They were drinking his liquor, eating their stuff and everything. He figured he would woo them in the Teamsters.
I decided to counteract that. The Board approved us getting a room at the hotel and we opened up the same thing, to counteract Samm. Of course the employees liked both. They could go both places, and drink and eat.
I had an ex-big husky lineman heading up the operation. He was a good-looking guy. The clerical girls thought he was really something. So little by little we ran Samm off and I thought it kind of funny that we out-serviced him.
The Western Federation of Teamsters, out of Seattle under Dave Beck at that time, another guy named Brewster was head of the federation, that’s all the Teamsters on the West Coast. He decided he was going to raid us by taking away our truck drivers because he found we had more truck drivers under our contract than he had truck drivers under any trucking company (contract). So he said he was going after us and the telephone company because we had too many truck drivers, that they should be in the Teamsters. I told him to buzz off.
Then he threatened he was going to stop the line trucks and harass the drivers. So the first one they did was up in Redding. They stopped the truck driver, and the truck driver and crew said, What’s going on?” They started harassing them. They just got stuff off the truck, like axes and all that, and went after them, and they took off.
So I told Brewster this stuff has got to stop. We met in Seattle and had a talk, and I told him if he didn’t stop it I was going to do this, that and the other thing. He said, well, they had come to the conclusion that they would back off, but, as long as our truck drivers had as much or more, equal to the Teamsters drivers, they wouldn’t bother us. But if it came down to where they were making more money than we were then they were going to attack us again. That was just his way of backing off.