Wilmington Local 129 History

Wilmington – Bits and History of History

 Wilmington Charter No. 129

IAFF Historical Document – Charter Record, September 20, 1918

IAFF President: Thomas G. Spellacy

IAFF Secretary/Treasurer: William A. Smith

Local 129 Temporary President: Unknown

Local 129 Temporary Secretary/Treasurer: Unknown

Organized by: G. H. Stone, AF of L Organizer

Firefighters Organize Local Union in Wilmington

The North Carolina FederationistSeptember 1939

By: C. B. Kornegay, Vice-President

North Carolina State Federation of Labor

Things are popping fast here now.  Brother James F. Barrett was with us Tuesday and Wednesday, for the purpose of reorganizing the Building Trades Council, and gave us very able assistance along with Brother Smith and Brother Davis ofRaleigh, in organizing the Firemen of this city.  We signed up 45 in one night and feel that before the charter arrives every one will be signed up, and as usual Brother Gore assumed the same responsibility, and will remain with the Firemen until their charter has been received, installed, and the various officers instructed in their new work, so they will be able to function properly.

Foot Note:  Robert Glenn Davis was President of Raleigh Local 548 and helped organize the Wilmington Local in 1939.

Organization Growing in the Beautiful City by the Sea

The North Carolina Federationist, October 1939

By:  C. B. Kornegay, Vice-President

North Carolina State Federation of Labor

Our Labor Day celebration in Wilmington exceeded our fondest hopes.  We had gone into preparations for the occasion at a somewhat late date, and to tell the truth, many of us feared the outcome.  We decided, however, to have a parade and put on all the trimmings.  Forty-two business houses entered floats and cars in the parade; the City Fire Department, the City Street Department, and the City Police Department, all had excellent representations in the parade.  In addition to the above, there were 70 cars, trucks and floats in the parade, and all of these, with 1,300 Union men marching on foot, presented a most formidable showing.

Our newly formed Firefighters Local Union is going to town.  The organization lacks only one man of having a 100 per cent Local Union here.  This organization is already wielding a strong influence for the Labor Movement in Eastern Carolina, and their good work is being felt even in the far western part of the state.

City By the Sea is Making Real Progress

The North Carolina Federationist, July, August, 1940

By: C. B. Kornegay, Vice President

North Carolina State Federation of Labor

The Local Union of Fire Fighters is just about to the 100 percent top notch now. Before the State Convention opens in Durham we will have a real 100 per centUnion of Fire Fighters.

Vice President Smith’s First Letter

The North Carolina FederationistSeptember 1940

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

In the outset I would like to express my appreciation to my many friends and supporters at the Convention held in Durham.  It was with a grateful heart that I returned to my home city with the knowledge that our cause (Fire Fighters) had been placed before the convention and recognized as just.  Let me pay especial tribute to the Fire Fighters from both Wilmington and Charlotte; also to Brother Jack Moore of Charlotte, and many others, too numerous to mention here. Without their help I am sure we would have failed.  To all of you, let me say again, I thank you from the very depths of my heart.

Brother Davis, president of the Fire Fighters Local 548, Raleigh, andmyself visited Durham and were successful in signing up 53 of a total 62 members of the Durham Fire Department.  While there Brother A. E. Brown appeared on the scene and proved very valuable in signing up such a large percentage.


Fire Fighters set up State Organization in N. C.

The North Carolina FederationistNovember, 1940

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of labor Raleigh District

On October 29, 1940, delegates from all organized fire departments inNorth Carolina met in High Point to install charter, and elect officers for their new organization, “The North Carolina Fire Fighters Association.”

The convention was called to order at 10 A. M. by T. G. Womack, President, High Point Fire Fighters Association, who in turn introduced Brother Hugh Kilgore, Vice President, International Association of Fire Fighters, and presented him with the gavel.  Brother Kilgore presided over the convention until the officers were elected.  The first speaker on the program was the Honorable Arthur Kirkman, Mayor, High Point.  Mayor Kirkman delivered a short address of welcome.  Speakers following the Mayor:  George J. Richardson, Secretary-Treasurer, I. A. of F. F.; Brother A. E. Brown, A. F. of L. organizer, and Brother George Kendall, A. F. of L. representative from Charlotte, all of whom delivered most inspiring talks.

Most outstanding at this convention was the fact that everyone attending seemed to be in a serious mood, there for the purpose of transacting such business as necessary to bring about a closer fellowship, and understanding among all firemen in North Carolina, that we, by our collective action may work to the same end, and not at cross purposes.  By our action at this convention I think that everyone is agreed that we have marked the beginning of a new era for firemen in this state.  I am proud of the way the delegates conducted themselves.  With this spirit prevailing, we cannot fail, we shall go forward.

The convention adopted a resolution calling for a statewide civil service law covering all departments in cities having a population of 30,000 or more. With this in mind I urge the State Federation to lend whatever assistance possible in our behalf at this session of the legislature.


Internal IAFF Memo to Draw up State Charter

IAFF Historical Document – October 15, 1940

Mr. Clark:

            Following is a list of Cities to be placed on a charter for “The North Carolina Fire Fighters Association.”

  1. Local No. 548, Raleigh
  2. Local No. 638, Wilmington
  3. Local No. 660, Charlotte
  4. Local No. 668, Durham
  5. Local No. 673, High Point

Please send the charter to Mr. K.J. Smith, Sec’y-Treas., Local No. 548,2511 Stafford Avenue, Raleigh, NC.

                                                            Fraternally yours,

                                                            George G. Richardson



Wilmington Firemen Get Salary Increase

The North Carolina Federationist, October, 1940

By:  C. B. Kornegay, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Wilmington District

Wilmington’s Labor Day celebration with its monster parade and interesting program seems to have aroused our membership to greater activity than has ever been known in this city.  Many new members have been added to the rolls of our affiliated locals since Labor Day, and some good agreements have been obtained. Gordon L. Chastain, president of the Southern Cotton Textile Federation, was the principal speaker, and his introduction by Mayor Thomas E. Cooper added much to the constructive Labor Day program.

One of the inspiring results of the showing made by labor on Labor Day has been an increase in the wages paid members of the Fire Department, all of whom are members of the Fire Fighters Local Union.  Practically all of our members are employed full time.

Fight the Hitlers Abroad and the Hitlers At Home

The North Carolina Federationist, November, 1940

By:  C. B. Kornegay, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Wilmington District

Our Fire Fighters Local Union is making great progress.  Brother Cherry, our orator and labor statesman, reported on the organizations of the Fire Fighters inDurham and High Point since the August Convention of the State Federation of Labor.  The public, the property owners and the insurance companies in those cities will be the greatest beneficiaries of the organization of these Local Unions. Such has been the case here in Wilmington, and I am confident that the same will be true in High Point and Durham.  The Fire Fighters Local Union here is not neglecting the social side of life.  The Union has a fine softball team, and when they go upon the diamond in their blood-red uniforms, superb ball playing follows.  The ace pitcher, Bill Gleason, was given much credit for the fact that our team won the championship of the league.

Wilmington Unions Secure Municipal Recognition

The North Carolina Federationist, March 1948

By:  C. B. Kornegay, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Wilmington District

Organization is progressing slowly here.  We have two new Locals set up among the City Employees and the Firemen reorganized.  The City Council has recognized them as bargaining agents.  They are in process of working out some kind of an understanding with the City Council to cover their working conditions and wages.

Local 1284, Wilmington, NC

The International Fire Fighter, December, 1957

By: Clayton D. Burton, Wilmington President

            Local No. 1284 of Wilmington NC became affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters on September 27, 1957.

            Vice President E.C. Wilcox of the Twelfth District of the International Association presented the charter to C.D. Burton, the first president of our Local. Then President Burton initiated all the members.

            The officers installed were: C.D Burton, President; M.T. Gerock and J.W.Casteen, Vice Presidents; V.L. Smith, Secretary-Treasurer; J.C. Bryans and B.S.Wardenfelt, Recording Secretary; L.H. Wolfe, L.R. Frost and M.A. Powell, Trustees: R.D. Dyches and H.L. Sandlin Guards: Leroy Flowers and B.C. Keen, Guides: M.C. Casteen and Earl Williams, Representatives to the Central Labor Union, with W.B. Richardson and M.H. Hilburn as alternates; and R.D. Shipp and A.C. Herring, Chaplains.

         The Guests who attended the meeting were: Secretary-Treasurer W.H. Copley of the North Carolina State Fire Fighters; President W.M. Barbee of theNorth Carolina State AFL-CIO; and President George Bumby of the Wilmington Central Labor Union.

The following three articles give a glimpse of the history of how North Carolina Legislators

Declared illegal “Public Employee Unions” and “Contracts between Public

Employee Unions and their Employers.”

Wilmington was a Local at this time.

Hoffa Threatens Strike across Nation if Antitrust Laws Pass

Asheville Citizen-Times, Wednesday, May 20, 1959

BROWNSVILLE, TEX (AP) – James Hoffa Tuesday threatened a nationwide strike of all labor if Congress harnesses unions with antitrust laws.

            “They talk about a secondary boycott,” the short husky Teamster president said in scorn.  “We can call a primary strike across the nation that will straighten out the employers once and for all.”

            The antitrust proposal came from Senator John L. McClellan (D-Ark.) in a recent Senate speech, Hoffa said.  Some business interests have proposed in congressional hearings that all unions be put under antitrust laws.

            In Washington, AFL-CIO President George Meany made it clear Hoffa could not count on AFL-CIO Unions in any such protest strike.  Meany said “Hoffa’s threat is a pretty good indication, if any indication was needed before, that we were perfectly right in kicking the Teamsters out of the AFL-CIO.” “When legislation is enacted and we don’t like it, then it is our policy to seek out change through the legislative system and not through revolution,” Meany said.

            McClellan denounced Hoffa’s remarks as a threat against Congress and the people.  “Don’t minimize or underestimate the danger to our free economy and internal security that are involved in this threat,” he said.  “Such dangers do exist. They are real and sometimes something must be done about them.”

            The 300 delegates of the South Atlantic Coast District Convention of the International Longshoremen’s Union cheered Hoffa’s remarks should such a law be passed.  “The only answer is that if such a law passes, we would have all our contracts end on a given date,” the turbulent Teamster Chief declared.  From the context it was clear that he referred to all unions, just not the Teamsters.  “Such a uniform contract expiration would permit all unionized workers to strike at the same time.”

            Hoffa also alluded to the possibility of a nationwide strike in the current issue of life Magazine.  Hoffa is quoted as saying, “We may eventually have to do what labor unions do in Europe and call for general strikes.  We are organizing all transportation fields.  We are trying to create a conference of transportation unions.  So we are now in the position to control the strike issue.  If Congress is stupid enough to pass a bill banning secondary boycotts, we will fix it so all our contracts expire on the same day.”

            In Washington, Sen. Pat McNamara (D-Mich.), himself a onetime Teamster official said, “Any such strike would be suicidal, just crazy.”

Union Ban Clears House

Asheville Citizen-Times, Thursday, May 21, 1959

Raleigh (AP) – A proposed law to prohibit union membership for law enforcement officers and firemen passed the halfway mark Wednesday in its legislative journey.

            The House completed action on the bill with an overwhelming third reading vote after a supporter painted a picture of firemen pressing demands while cities burn down.

            The name of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa also entered the debate on the need for bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Snepp of Mecklenburg as an outgrowth of a Teamster’s organizing drive among Charlotte policemen.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

            Rep. Wayland Spruill of Bertie raised the prospect of idle firemen in the case of fire in arguing for the measure to outlaw union membership.  “Supposed they call a strike and said, “we won’t pick up a hose, we won’t put out fires unless you do what we want.”

N.C. Outlaws Union Membership for Firemen, Enforcement Officers

Asheville Citizen-Times, Thursday, June 4, 1959

RALEIGH (AP) – A ban on union membership for law enforcement and firemen became law Wednesday.  Bitterly fought by labor officials and spokesmen for firemen, its passage through the legislature echoed with the name of Jimmy Hoffa, Teamster’s National President.  Sponsors called it a needed bulwark against union bids for power.

            Fiery debate before the Senate enacted the measure with the voice interjecting the name of Charles Cannon, Tar Heel textile magnate.  “I’ve got a belly full of Charles Cannon telling the General Assembly what to do,” cried Sen. James Simpkins of Craven who lost an effort to send the bill back to committee. He called it a “hate bill” which he claimed would soil the state’s national reputation.