Durham Local 668 History

Durham – Bits and Pieces of History

Durham Local No. 668

IAFF Charter Application, August 16, 1940

IAFF President: Fred W. Baer

IAFF Secretary/Treasurer: Geo. J. Richardson

Local 668 Temporary President: C.H. Walton

Local 668 Temporary Secretary/ Treasurer: D.H. Jacobs

Organized by: K.J. Smith, Vice President, NC AFL, Raleigh District

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.

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, reports the organization the Fire Fighters in Durhamand 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 inHigh 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.

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


Durham Movement Grows Following Convention

The North Carolina FederationistOctober 1940

By:  M. F. Johnson, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Durham District

During the past thirty days Durham has participated in a variety of activities.  Some of our members have been attending their National Conventions, while others have responded to the requests of unorganized groups, in an effort to assist them in analyzing their problems.   Others have attended, with a great deal of enthusiasm, newly organized locals, one of which is the Fire Fighters Local Union, just organized with a membership at this writing of 59 out of a total of 60. It was my privilege and pleasure to sit in one of their regular meetings and to observe the intelligent, harmonious and co-operative procedure at this meeting, and to listen with pride to a motion that they affiliate with the State Federation of Labor and the Central Labor Union.

It is my sincere belief that the Fire Fighters of Durham have a grand local union, and one that not only organized labor, but the entire city and management will be proud of.

Local No. 668, Durham, NC

The International Fire Fighter, December, 1957

By: J.A. Daniels, Recording Secretary

                The following members have been elected to serve as officers of Local 668, Durham Fire Fighters Association, for the year 1957-1958; W.H. Copley, President; C.R. May, Vice President; J.A. Daniels, Recording Secretary; and E.L. Parrish, Trustee for a three year term.

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.”

Durham Local 668 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.

            Sen. J. Carlyle Rutledge, whose county of Cabarrus embraces the Cannon textile empire, demanded Simpkins apologize “for such an uncouth statement when it refers to one of the foremost citizens of this state.”  The young Craven Senator refused.

            Rep. Frank Snepp of Mecklenburg introduced the bill as an outgrowth of unionizing drive on the Charlotte police force.

            After the formality of ratification, the measure will prohibit state government agencies from entering into contract with labor unions.  It will spell out the power of government agencies to forbid their workers from joining labor unions.

Durham was an IAFF Local when Public Employees Unions were barred

in 1959 and one of the first to re-affiliate when the law was overturned.

The following three articles give a record of how the NC law

Prohibiting public employees unions was overturned in court.

IAFF May Assist Firemen’s Assembly

Hose & Nozzle January-February 1968

Three federal judges have given the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) permission to join the Charlotte Firemen’s Assembly in its fight to allow public employees to unionize.

Judge J. Braxton Craven Jr. of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4thcircuit and Judges Wilson Warlick and Woodrow Wilson Jones of the U. S. District Court for Western North Carolina handed down the decision.

The Firemen’s Assembly, consisting of 349 men from the 435-man Charlotte Fire Department, is challenging state laws prohibiting it from becoming a union.

Statutes Ruled Unconstitutional

The Hose & Nozzle, March – April 1969

A three-judge federal court panel has decided that North Carolina Statutes outlawing union activities by police and fire department employees are unconstitutional.

However, the judges upheld a state law which forbids local or state governmental units from doing business with unions.

The panel, composed of Judges J. Braxton Craven, Woodrow Wilson Jones and W. Wilson Warlick, handed down its opinion Tuesday.  It was turned over to attorneys for both sides with the request that they draft a judgment based on the opinion.  The judgment then will be declared the official decision in the case.

William A. Watts, assistant Charlotte city attorney, who represented city officials in the action, said it might take two weeks to draw up the judgment.

November Hearing

The opinion resulted from a hearing last November in U. S. District Court.  The Charlotte Firefighter Assembly and the International Association of Fire Fighters, a labor Union, challenged the state law.

The opinion called the antiunion law “void on its face as abridgement of freedom of association protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States.”

“The flaw is an intolerable overbreadth unnecessary to the protection of valid state interests,” said the opinion.

The judges said freedom of association is “an aspect of liberty protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and by the rights of free speech and by peaceful assembly explicitly set out in the First Amendment.”

“There is no valid state interest in denying the firemen the right to organize a labor union – whether local or national in scope.”

They found “nothing unconstitutional” about the law which “simply voids contracts between units of government within North Carolina and labor unions and expresses the public policy of North Carolina to be against such collective bargaining contracts.”

“There is nothing in the United States Constitution which entitles one to have a contract with another who does not want it,” the panel said.

Should either side take exception in drafting the judgment an appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court would follow.

The court declined to provide the injunction Charlotte firemen had sought to prevent city officials from enforcing the state law banning unions and providing criminal punishment.

The court said there “is no evidence that the solicitor….has sought indictment against any firemen or that he intends doing so.”

The judges asserted they “think it unseemly” for a federal court to take action against state or local officers “except in situations of the most compelling necessity.”

They said a judgment striking down the state laws “seems to us, on the facts of this case a fully sufficient remedy.”

  1. LeVonneChambers, the lawyer who led the fight for the firemen, said the “next step along the line would be repeal of the statute banning cities from dealing with unions or some judicial challenge of this section.”

Charlotte city officials had no comment.