Greensboro Local 947 History

Greensboro –Bits & Pieces of History

 Charter No. 947

IAFF Charter Application, October 31, 1947

IAFF President: Fred W. Baer

IAFF Secretary/Treasurer: Geo. J. Richardson

Local 947 Temporary President: George C. Wuchae

Local 947 Temporary Secretary/Treasurer: William L. Leonard

Organized by: W.P. Copley, President, State Fire Fighters Association of North Carolina


Local 947, Greensboro, NC

The International Fire Fighter, December, 1957

By: E.S. Lee, Local 947 Recording Secretary

            The following members have been elected to office to serve our organization through the ensuing year: C.N. Wilson, President; H.E. Koontz, Vice President; Edwin S. Lee, Recording Secretary; R.B. Kent, Treasurer; P.L. Brownand W.E. Fullington, Trustees and D.W. Moore, Chaplin.

            Just a year ago the 72 hour work week was installed in our fire department; and since that time the morale seems to be at a new high.  So, we would like to say at this time, many thanks to the fire department officers and city officials who realized our plea for better hours was founded on sound reasoning and hereby helped achieve the benefits we are now enjoying.  May we always work in harmony to better the working conditions of the fire fighters and our service to the citizens of our city.

            In the past, Local No. 947 has urged all new men and non-members to affiliate with us; and we are proud to say we have gained thirty (30) new members.  Just a few more and we would be a 100 per cent membership local.  To the few non-members, we urge you to weigh the facts and sign an application.

            Engine Company No. 7 has 100 per cent membership consisting of Brothers H.R. Newman, Captain, W.D. Hartsook, B.F. Schoolfield, R.F.Gulledge, H.L. Browning, W.M. Hyatt, W.H. Butler, R.A. Moore, and W.C.Allen, Jr.

            Local 947 extends a hearty welcome to the recently affiliated Local No. 1248 of Wilmington, N.C., and may their affiliation be one of Progress Though Unity.  President C.N. Wilson of the North Carolina Association of Fire Fighters and Fireman H.E. Smith, who pilots a plane in his spare time, flew to the port city to extend a helping hand to Local No. 1248, which was awarded their charter on September 26.

            Retirement has claimed a popular member of the fire department and Local 947, Henry C. Watson.  Clyde, as he was better known, entered the departmentJanuary 1, 1930, when he was assigned to Truck Company No. 1.  Later he was assigned to Engine No. 1 where he served for over twenty years; then to Engine Company No. 6 from which he retired on June 30, 1957.

            Clyde, being a music lover, organized a six-piece Combo Dance Band some years ago and has delighted many people in this area with the band’s fine music.

            He also mastered the barber trade and now is opening Clyde’s Plaza Barber Shop.

The State Fire Fighters Association of North Carolina

19th Annual Convention Agenda, Greensboro, NC

June 18-19, 1958

President: Clyde N. Wilson

Sec./Treas:  W.H. Copley

Wednesday, June 18th, 1958

8:30 A.M.        Invocation:        Rev. Joel T. Key

                        Welcome:         Greensboro Mayor George H. Roach

                                                Greensboro City Manager J.R. Townsend

                                                Greensboro Director of Public Safety W.H. Reeves, Jr.

                                                Greensboro Fire Chief C.W. Wyrick

                        Memorial Services: Rev. Joel T. Key


1:30 P.M.         Business Session

7:00 P.M.         Banquet

Thursday, June 19th, 1958

9:30 A.M.        Meeting called to order


                        Recess for lunch

1:30 P.M.         Business Session


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.”

Greensboro Local 947 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.


Greensboro 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 4th circuit 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.


Charlotte Announces Union Affiliation

The Hose & NozzleMay – June 1969

Charlotte firemen have become the first to re-affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The decision was announced at a press conference attended by HowardMcClennan, president of the organization.

Four firemen were installed as officers in the some 400 strong Local 660 . The group was organized after a federal decision knocked down a state law banning union membership among firemen and policemen.

The law was enacted by the General Assembly in 1959 and had the immediate effect of putting out of business the International Association of Fire Fighters locals.

The state law came under fire last year from a group of Charlotte firemen called the Fireman’s Assembly.  The group defined its purpose as social but it quickly became involved in the labor affairs.  The city ordered the group to disband, claiming it was in violation of state law and the group filed suit.

Before the law was passed in 1959, the IAFF had locals in Charlotte,Asheville, High Point, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, and Wilmington.

The new officers include W. J. Martin, president; Robert William Brawley, vice president; Robert Middleton, secretary, and R. D. McCall, treasurer.

All were former officers in the Firemen’s Assembly.