Raleigh Local 548 History

Raleigh – Bits and Pieces of History

Raleigh Charter No. 548

IAFF Charter Application, February 4, 1938 – Received February 7, 1938

IAFF President: Fred W. Baer

IAFF Secretary/Treasurer: Geo J. Richardson

Local 548 Temporary President: K.J. Smith

Local 548 Temporary Secretary/Treasurer: R.G. Davis

Organized by: C.M. Fox, AF of L General Organizer

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 special 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 every one 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 every one 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 is 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 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


Raleigh Groups Entertain Two Labor Conventions

The North Carolina FederationistAugust-September 1954

By:  J. E. Tyson, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

Raleigh Labor groups very successfully entertained two Labor conventions this summer:  Raleigh Typographical Union was host to the Virginia-Carolinas Typographical Conference and the Raleigh Firefighters Association was host to the N. C. State Firefighters Convention.

Both conventions brought into Raleigh some of the finest citizens of North Carolina.  That is one thing that Labor possibly does not capitalize on as it should. Each convention was full of splendid personalities with the high caliber leadership that is needed to keep Labor on the march in this State.  The conventions were a magnificent demonstration of what is to be found throughout the North Carolina Labor Movement.

Local No. 548, Raleigh N.C

International Fire Fighter, December 1957

By: B.T. Fowler, Local 548 President

The Raleigh Fire Department and Local 548 have made progress in several fields during the past year.

            A new four-wheel-drive, 750-gallon pumper was placed in service on July 9, to replace an old pumper at Station 4.  Now we have all late model pumpers with the exception of one truck which we hope will be replaced in the near future.

            The City Council has approved the purchase of a new 100-foot hydraulic control aerial truck.  In addition, a lot has been obtained in the new Lockwoodsection of the City upon which will be constructed our No. 7 Fire Station.

            Members of the Fire Department along with other city employees were granted a five per cent (5%) increase in pay, effective July 1, 1957.

            Brother M.E. “Doc” Perry, a veteran of 42 years in the fire service, retired on August 16, 1957.  He was stationed at Central Fire Station on that date.  Local 548 presented him with a ring as a token of appreciation of his many years of service and brotherhood.  The members extend to Doc our best wishes for continued good health and a long retirement.

            The 72 hour work-week was initiated in Raleigh on September 29.  These shorter hours were secured largely through the efforts of Chief J.B. Keeter, who is still an honorary member of Local 548.  We would like to express our deep appreciation to Chief Keeter for this successful achievement.

            A number of promotions have been made and we now have Captains C.R.Bosemen, C.L. Wall, S.J. Talton and Brother J.T. Wall has been made an inspector in Fire Prevention Division.

            Brother H.E. Partin was elected Vice President of the State Fire Fighters Association of North Carolina, from the Raleigh district at the State Convention inAsheville.

            Our recently initiated members are: Brothers G.C. Hodge, JamesAtkinson, John Gray, J.T. Ward, R. Barnette, A. Grimshaw Stell, Joe Ray, J.D.Partin and W.G. Hedrick.

            Our current officers are: B.T. Fowler, President; J.R. Moody, Vice President; H.L. Gosnell, Recording Secretary; H.D. Jones Secretary-Treasurer; and H.B. Williams, A.E. O’Neal and A.L. Perry, Trustees.

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.”

Raleigh Local 548 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.

Raleigh 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.