INTERVIEW: July 14, 1980
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Kenneth West and Nan Pendrell
INTERVIEWEE: Laura Hayward
WEST: Well, can I start by asking you, Mrs. Hayward, are you a native of Flint or this area?
HAYWARD: Yes, I wasn't born in Flint. I was born in Wolverine, Michigan, but I'm a Michigander.
WEST: And how long ago was that? When was that?
HAYWARD: That was April 13, 1910. I'm seventy years old.
WEST: And when did you come to Flint?
HAYWARD: When I was about four years old or so. Then we lived here a few years. My father had bad health and he had to get out of the factory, and we moved to a farm for several years, and then I came back again. I think we were away about four years. And then we lived in Flint ever since, my folks.
PENDRELL: What factory did your father work in?
HAYWARD: My father worked at one time in Buick 11. When he went to work there, I don't remember how much he made an hour, but I remember at the time there didn't seem to be any sides on the factory. You could just go along and you could just see the men working. And that was when I was small. Then he worked on the drop forge. He was a supervisor in there. And that was where his health got bad. And he had pneumonia one year and typhoid the next and then pneumonia and then typhoid. And then we went to the farm. And we were gone for maybe five or six years, up near Breckenridge. It's from the area from where my father was.
WEST: Oh, I see. Did you keep the farm then when you moved to Flint?
WEST: But you had been on a farm before.
HAYWARD: My father rented the farm because he didn't intend to stay farming, only until his health was repaired enough.
WEST: Did the plants provide any hospitalization?
HAYWARD: No, nothing, never heard of anything then, you know. Well, we had moved because for one thing my father's health was bad. And then our house burned; and our house burned in 1918. And I was about eight years old when we went back to the farm for that four or five years. And then there was no insurance. I don't remember whether it had elapsed or what, but I remember there was no insurance. And my mother had six children at that time. But we did have a very nice home. And I know she had a new washing machine and she had never used it. In those days it was something to have a washing machine, but it was one of these with the handle on, manual; they operated manually. And there was a screw or a nut missing and my father had picked it up and it was in his pocket. And then the washing machine was gone and everything.
WEST: When did you move back to Flint then, permanently?
HAYWARD: When I was about twelve years old, because I came back and I went to school.
WEST: Did you go through high school then?
HAYWARD: No, I went to tenth grade.
WEST: Did you have to get out to work then?
HAYWARD: Well, I did and I went to work. Oh, I did housework for a while. But when I was eighteen, then I went to work at the Bell Telephone Company office. I was all signed up and everything to go, but I couldn't go until my eighteenth birthday. And I had been signed up to go about six months before, but they weren't. I don't know whether they accept them any younger now or not, but I had to be eighteen. It had to be on my eighteenth birthday.
WEST: Was your father able to find work then?
HAYWARD: Yes, when he came back he worked for the city water department for quite a while. And then he did go back into the factory, the Buick factory. And he was on machine repair; he was a welder.
WEST: How were the wages in the factory then compared to the work or the wages that he was able to get working for the city?
HAYWARD: Oh, they were better. They were still better than the city. They had to be with the children that he had, you know, or he would have...no, we lived outside the city, too. We lived in the city; then we moved outside of the city and my father worked for the water department, the City of Flint, the water department. But then he had to come back. You had to move into the city because he had to be a resident of the city of Flint. But he worked there for two or three years. Then they were on WPA, you know. Then he, having several children, he worked all of every day, but he would have different crews working for him. And oh, they planned out the Armory, they did grounds and they did work like weeds and all that bit, like WPA did, you know.
WEST: Yes. Well, WPA did some work out at Bishop Airport, too.
HAYWARD: He didn't happen to be there. But he was with the Armory. And he was at different places in the city of Flint. I can't remember...
WEST: Do you remember what he was getting working for WPA?
PENDRELL: Well, they got the same thing nationally.
HAYWARD: Yes. I don't know, but you were allowed so much a day, so many days' work. Maybe if you had one child, you worked one day or a wife, you worked a day. But my father worked five days because my mother and father had a family of six. And then later they had, well they had another family of six. But during WPA times, I think they had about eight children then, eight or ten children then.
PENDRELL: This was before he went to work for the city.
PENDRELL: When he left the WPA, he went to work for the city.
WEST: Did you have older brothers and sisters?
HAYWARD: No, I'm the oldest.
WEST: You're the oldest.
WEST: So then you were in the position where you had to contribute too, I suppose.
HAYWARD: Yes, to support myself, practically, you know. And until I went to work at the telephone company, I did housework, you know for various, well not too many families. I did it for the Purchasing Agent at the Buick and for a storekeeper's wife. And their children were sick one time and when they come home I had them all greased up to a fare-you-well. I'd went down to a corner drugstore and bought Vicks and I had 'em all Vicksed up with flannels on them, you know, and everything. So then they got so that they weren't in too good circumstances, but they recommended me to these...right now I can't remember the name. The one family's name was Bliss, but the purchasing agent of the Buick. And they thought, well, if I took such good care of those children, I'd be good for their two grandchildren.
PENDRELL: What kind of wages did you get as a house worker?
HAYWARD: I got five dollars a week and I hadn't been there very long, only a couple, three, weeks, before Christmas. They gave me a pair of silk hose at Christmas, besides my wages and a bottle of perfume. I imagine it was cologne...perfume I think, to me, is what I can remember, and ten dollars in an envelope. I thought that was very nice, you know, for Christmas.
PENDRELL: Did you sleep in?
HAYWARD: Yes. I slept in and then I would have Saturdays or sometimes Sundays off. But these children had a huge room and we all had a single bed. And I got up. I helped with the breakfast and there wasn't a very large lunch or anything, but dinner at night. And they were very good to me; I liked them.
WEST: Well, we're getting down pretty close to the Depression now, aren't we, then?
WEST: The Crash.
HAYWARD: Well, in the meantime, what comes first? I was married in 1928 and I went to work at the AC, the first time. That was my first factory work in 1929, and I think February, March, April, somewhere in there.
WEST: Was your husband then, Frank Hayward, was he working at AC?
HAYWARD: AC, too.
WEST: Had he been in Flint long?
HAYWARD: No, he came to Flint in 1928.
WEST: From Canada?
HAYWARD: Yes. And they had come and I knew them about six months.
WEST: I see. Did he come specifically to find work in the auto plants?
HAYWARD: Well, they moved here. My father-in-law had managed a big fruit ranch in British Columbia. In fact, not lately, because after he had left, they got lonesome. They were out there for eighteen years. And my husband was two years old when they went there. And they managed this big fruit ranch for a Belgian syndicate. But my father-in-law had four hundred acres himself, but not of orchards. And they had Japanese and Chinese working on the fruit ranch, you know, because they had a siding in town. And then they had a big packinghouse. And if I'd had thought I was gonna tell you this I could have showed you some of the pictures. Big packinghouse where the girls packed during the season. One year they shipped eleven ton of Italian prunes----eleven ton, mind you. No, eleven carloads and it was sixty ton. And they used to have apples and pears, not peaches, so much. I don't remember; they didn't grow them. But there were two hundred acres of trees. And they were irrigated in the mountains.
WEST: Sounds like a very prosperous farm.
PENDRELL: But it belonged to the Belgian syndicate.
HAYWARD: Baron Harry somebody and somebody else. My husband played with the baron's children. And my father-in-law was very much involved in the liberal government in British Columbia. And he ran the MacDonald that became Premier of Canada later, you know. Then he kind of threw it up. My mother-in-law came east for about three months. Then he got tired of that business and they went in the pole business, like in the lumber, like the big telephone poles, because a lot of his land was wooded. And in fact, when they put the telephone poles out on the corner of our yard, new...we moved out here 1939 on the corner. This was where we separated the property and had these two small houses built, and we rented them out. And after my husband died and I wasn't supposed to be climbing stairs and on the corner it was a two-story house, a beautiful place. I've been sick ever since I left! But, anyway, some of those poles had come from Vernon, British Columbia. Who knows, they might have been still some from there, you know. But anyway, they came east and then they came and then they both went to work in the factory. And my father-in-law was on supervision at the time of the strike so. And we were deeply involved in the union. And one of the foremen, he was such a stinker and everything, you know. And my father-in-law told him one time, he said, "You know, Neil, if it comes to pass, they're going to get rid of one foreman before they're going to get rid of all these girls in this trim room," which is a lot of 'em. But he was always labor-minded.
WEST: Your husband?
HAYWARD: Yes, and my father-in-law, even though he was supervision.
PENDRELL: Well, if he came from Vancouver, he came from a labor province.
WEST: You were both working, then, in AC at the time of the Depression.
HAYWARD: My husband, he was working. And when he first got to work, he went down to an employment thing where they advertise for jobs, you know. And, oh, they had been going and going and going. So he heard them tell somebody that there was a job at the AC, and he hurried right out and he got over there before the other person did they sent. And he said, lord, he lost the slip, and he got a job. And they were building, workin' on this Dort Highway plant. And he was even pushin' a wheelbarrow. I can't remember. That was before I married him, though, when he was doing this, because he was working when I was married.
WEST: I wanted to ask you. You mentioned the Dort plant, then, of AC was under construction then.
HAYWARD: Well, a lot of it was built. And my husband then was working. But there was some of it, you know, they were expanding. But when I went to work, I went to work at the Industrial plant, to begin with.
WEST: Was that the original AC plant?
HAYWARD: Yes, and I remember I was working on bezels, but that was piecework. And I wasn't doin' too bad, accordingly, on that.
WEST: Well, now you'll have to inform me, at least, as to what that involves.
HAYWARD: We did bezels. It was a plating and the bezels are rims that would go around the instruments for an instrument panel. And they would be putting copper or nickel or chrome, you know, on the plating. And we wired them and have them boring and wiring them and they would hang in bunches. And then the men would dip them. They'd be so long in plating, and in one part of it and then they 'd go and it would be another part.
WEST: So you were working on that at piecework.
HAYWARD: Yes, and I went there in 1929.
WEST: How much could you make then, piecework, doing that? You had a flat rate, I presume.
HAYWARD: Yes, we had so many a thousand. Jeepers, you got me. I can't remember now.
PENDRELL: Did you work standing up?
HAYWARD: Yes. And then, like you know, the wires were hanging. And then work got slack. And they were laying off all the married girls. And I was married and I looked about ten----a hundred and three pounds----and I didn't get laid off. And then some other lady went and complained that I was working and all the married ones was laid off. And one of the girls told me the bosses said, "God, I didn't know that kid was married." Because so many people had lied their age, you know. And I was nineteen then. Well, then, work was slack for a while; and then one day I was doing my laundry at home and a knock comes at the door and Iva Wait came. And she used to be the nurse. And she was also sort of a dean up there. And she came and I went back to work first and in another department. Then I worked; then work was slack. Then I came over to Dort Highway. But before I came over there, I got transferred up into another department. And I can't remember how much we were making an hour. But I know the boss was riding me. And I was putting covers on speedometers. And the calibrators would be calibrating down the line. Well, some of the girls, calibrators, would go down the line and they would do some; and then they would go back and help the caser. My girls would stack me so they could come back there and stand longer and get away from the calibrating. And the other girl/lady had been on it seven years and I'm only on it just a few weeks, you know. So this foreman, oh, he was riding me and riding me. And he comes down and I told him, I explained that the girls got them ahead so that they could stand down and do it. And I said, "Anyway, Nina's been on this job seven years," so he started kind of yelling at me and everything else.
PENDRELL: Well, what did he want you to do?
HAYWARD: Faster, so I wouldn't be stacked up. And, you see, they were stacking me on purpose. And of course, it looked like I wasn't doing my job fast enough, you know, where the casers always had help, you know. So I was kind of wild, and one of the girls, her name was Rose Schultz at the time, which stood there. And I can remember standing right there casing and hot. Oh, I got mad and I'm nineteen and full of fire, you know. I took off my apron and I took off the gloves and I says, "You can give me a pass to First Aid. I'm goin' home; I'm fed up with all of this job." And I can't remember all I said. And this girl said my eyes were just blazing. And he toned down a bit. Then he's going to give me a few more days, you know. Well, then, between Rose and another girl, I decided I was going to stay. I wasn't gonna quit the job, because I did have a husband working, you know. And things weren't too bad for us at the time. So anyway, I stayed and I stayed. From then on he tipped his cap to me every noon. Good afternoon, or good morning, or his hat, you know. If I met him on the street, it was "How do you do?" and all that. So one day he come up. This has gone along a while and he said there's another job that I might want to have or maybe I would like to have. And I thought, oh, oh! He's caught up with me now. There was a job in Experimental and I got it, a better job and everything else. But then, too, then there was kind of a crash, like. And the wages all got cut. And we got cut down at one time to fifteen. I was getting fifteen cents an hour.
WEST: Now, was this piecework?
PENDRELL: My God, when was that?
WEST: Now, was this piecework?
HAYWARD: That wasn't piecework.
WEST: Straight hour. Had you been working on piecework when you were working on these speedometers?
HAYWARD: Yes. That was before things got so bad, you know. Before the Depression, like. But then they wasn't too bad, the jobs there. And that's when, that was in 1933. No it wasn't, either, it was 1932, when I became pregnant. And I worked for about three months and the girls helped me. I was so sick I couldn't keep a thing on my stomach, no matter what the doctors gave me; and I had to leave.
PENDRELL: And you were getting fifteen cents an hour then?
HAYWARD: Yes. So then my daughter was born in January in '33, and I didn't go back to work until September 1936. And in the meantime my husband is, the union is building up, you know, and my husband had joined the A F of L. But of course that was the one that was pending, you know, at the time.
WEST: I wonder if we could go back just a bit, before we get into the union. You were back at work, now and you're still married. Had the feeling against married women working in the plants subsided by that time? Were they rehiring married women then?
HAYWARD: Yes, because I went back, you see. I was married. But it was the one time that you were laid off first.
WEST: I was just wondering whether there was any feeling in the plant at the time when, there in '32, there's still a great deal of unemployment, whether there was a feeling against married women working in the plants.
HAYWARD: I don't know; not at that time, because I was laid off in '29, '30, about '30, something like that. I was laid off, but I wasn't off for very long. And I know I got called back right away.
WEST: Did any of the other married women that you know get called back, too? Do you know any others?
HAYWARD: Yes, but later. They got called back into the department; and we did have a very good foreman. He wasn't one of them that was...
WEST: Now, you talked about four men. And one thing that has always interested me as to whether there was any pressure on the part of the women to have four women, women promoted to the position of supervisors? Was there any thought of that at all?
HAYWARD: The only thing I remember was in 1929 or 1930, we had department clerks, that girls were clerks, you know, like for the general foremen or so. Later we didn't seem to have any. But at that particular time there were clerks.
PENDRELL: What did they do?
HAYWARD: Oh, they kept charge of all your slips that you turned in for work and everything that comes in, you know, what hours you worked and all of that.
WEST: Can you remember when it became possible for women to move into supervision in the plants?
HAYWARD: Truthfully, that only happened about six, seven, eight years ago.
WEST: That late.
HAYWARD: I don't think, unless one of the other girls would think that long. Now I had a brother-in-law that we used to live next door and he worked at the Chevrolet. And they've been gone about six years. And about a year or so before that, they had a woman foreman, a woman supervisor put over them at the Chevrolet. And this was an all-man department.
PENDRELL: How was she received?
HAYWARD: Terrible, it was the men had to teach her what the work was. She just went in there; she knew nothing about the work they had to do.
PENDRELL: How did she get the job?
HAYWARD: Because of minorities and women, women fighting for the jobs. To me, I wouldn't want to appear ignorant just in order to get a job. But then, of course, I'm not shovin' myself for up. To me, I think that, in a way, I voted for equal rights, ERA. But I don't think they're going after it entirely right. I think we're fighting for equal wages and all that. I think they could have held off a while on wanting to get into these men's clubs. I think that's one of the things that's killing the idea. Or don't you?
PENDRELL: No, I don't at all.
HAYWARD: The predominantly men's clubs.
PENDRELL: But you know, Laura, that very late into the fifties, very late into the fifties, women were harassed in these plants by foreman.
HAYWARD: You're right.
PENDRELL: Very late, long after the union and the union did not do, as I understand it, the national contracts, the international contracts all said, "no discrimination, fair employment practices." With women, times were good half of the workweek; and yet on the local level, in the local plants, regardless of the international contract, women were harassed. And I remember reading that 1951, I think, a woman complained that her foreman had said, many years after the union, of course, that she'd go out with him, or else.
HAYWARD: Oh, that went on a lot. That wasn't my point. I believe that if a woman is put on a job, I believe she should be able to do it. But I also believe she should have every advantage that a man has. I think there's to be no discrimination there, because she's a woman or whatever have you. And I don't believe in her sitting there, and it has been done, getting one wage and a man another. I don't believe in that. I think equal pay for equal work.
PENDRELL: How do you explain that into the fifties, in the local plants, not only here but all over the country, women... I'll tell you what I understand and see what you think. Women, of course, came into the plants during the war in droves. Well, you know this business about Rosie the Riveter. Well, they didn't come out of the kitchen. They were working women. They came out of stores, other kinds of factories, all kinds of other work.
HAYWARD: My mother worked during wartime in the First World War.
PENDRELL: In the First World War.
HAYWARD: When AC was Champion. I mean it was the Champion Company. And then she worked later, then. She worked along in about 1922, 1923, something like that.
PENDRELL: But I'm talking about thousands and thousands of women who came into these factories during World War II. Then the war is over, and the men start to say to the women, "Go back to the kitchen." Well, that's against the union contract. But on the local level, the men harassed the women, according to what I've been told. And I would like to know if you agree with that.
HAYWARD: Well, I have had to refuse dates. I've told 'em to go pick somebody else.
HAYWARD: I told 'em I have a perfectly good husband.
WEST: Was that in the period before or after the strike?
HAYWARD: That was after the strike, when I was at AC after the war.
WEST: So in that sense, there was no difference before and after.
PENDRELL: It didn't change; it didn't change.
HAYWARD: You see I left the plant in 1944. And all my work was in before that, when we were organizing. And foremens, it's like they say, were a good hand to give you a pinch. And one time I got a pinch. And I reached off and it was a girl kidding me. And she moved, she yelled, because she would have sure got a swat, you know. She was gonna let on that she was this foreman that was so hot on pinching, you know. Then she was playing a trick on me.
WEST: Did any of the men in the plants work close to the women? Or were the women and the men pretty well segregated?
HAYWARD: No, they worked close. There were men stockmen. And of course, you had foremen. And now in like the die cast, that was a die cast department where they make castings. Well, then they had a department they called the trim line. And they filed these, not bevels, but burrs off of these so that screws or whatever could go into these castings. And they filed these first.
WEST: Now on similar jobs, then, that men and women would be doing, was the pay scale radically different, in other words, unequal pay for equal work?
HAYWARD: Yes, it was unequal. But I didn't do a job. I wasn't involved in a job like that where a man did it. I was on production line, assembly lines; but none of the men worked on these particular lines. They were stockmen or bezeled in the die cast; they were all die casters and that. And of course the women weren't die casters.
WEST: You kept up then, though you were out of work. You kept up with your husband's activities, did you in the unions and talked about it?
HAYWARD: Even after '44. In 1940 I was recording secretary of Local 651.
WEST: Now I was really thinking of the period when you quit because you were pregnant. And then you said there was a period of time then before you went back into AC, but your husband presumably was still working at that time. And you said he got involved in union activities. You followed those activities, did you, pretty well? He got into the A F of L union.
WEST: Do you recall when that was?
HAYWARD: And then, you know, that broke up, 1934. You know I picked up one of his old, I see that button is here.
WEST: Well, this button you've shown me of the UAW-CIO dates back to August of '35, because that must be one of the very first buttons that were issued.
HAYWARD: That's at the time that the charter...I had scads of this stuff, papers from the 1937 convention in Milwaukee when we were there. But after I moved to this small house, I had seven rooms of furniture from the corner and you know, you're combining everything. And I have some others.
PENDRELL: Don't tell me you destroyed it.
HAYWARD: A lot of it. And I have some papers left. I had about, oh, a couple hundred snapshots of the strikers, the sit-down, what we've seen in Babes and Banners.
WEST: You still have those, of course.
HAYWARD: No, I haven't. I gave them to the archives at Wayne State. Nellie went out there and she was contacting us. And I got those pictures all out, and I had a list of who they were; each picture was numbered. And Roy Reuther riding a white horse and had never been on a horse before in his life. He was scared to death. And he was ridin' the white horse in the picture. And so she contacted us and I sent these pictures. I took some over when I went over and I haven't seen her in years. And she was going out to California to Genora Johnson Dollinger, as you know her. And she took the pictures and about the second one she picked up was the picture with her little kid with the banner.
PENDRELL: Where did she take the pictures? To Wayne State?
HAYWARD: Yes. I gave them, so when Genora sent them back, she thanked me for sending them out. And she was so happy that she told me she had a picture blown up of the little one, her two-year-old, with the banner, you know. And she wanted to know if I had considered giving them to the archives. And I hadn't; but I would have. I had barrels of stuff that they did say they were a wealth of information from then. It shows even Bob Travis and his so-called "friend" that was a stool pigeon and all of them, you know, of the strike pictures down there.
WEST: Travis had a friend, his so-called "friend," who was a stool pigeon. Do you remember who that was?
HAYWARD: Yes, and they called him Curly LaFave.
WEST: Never heard that name before. Do you know anything about him at all or what the connection was with Travis?
HAYWARD: Not so much. I think he was a Pinkerton man, if I can remember right. You know there were a lot of Pinkerton men. You didn't now hardly dare speak to your next-door neighbor.
WEST: Did Travis not know then, that he was a Pinkerton, then, for a while?
HAYWARD: Not at the time. Not at the time.
WEST: Was he exposed before the strike?
HAYWARD: I can't remember. I know I had pictures of them, snapshots.
WEST: Was he with Travis, do you know, when Travis came to Flint in the summer of '36?
HAYWARD: No, he didn't come with him. No he didn't come with him.
WEST: Was that later then, than that?
HAYWARD: Yes, that was while he was here, because the snapshot I have is he and Travis walking down the street.
WEST: Because we've heard of stoolies and that, but I hadn't heard of this one.
HAYWARD: Some of the things I just can't remember, you know. I can remember some things and then a lot of times, something will remind you of something else.
PENDRELL: So, is this LaFave man the man they called Frenchy?
HAYWARD: No. No, I never heard him called Frenchy, only Curly LaFave. Not to my knowledge was he called Frenchy. There was a Frenchy, but I can't remember his name. I don't know whether it was a...
WEST: LaDuke, I think.
HAYWARD: There was a LaDuke, Ted LaDuke.
WEST: Yes, there is a Ted LaDuke. It gets confusing. But at any rate, your husband was dissatisfied, was he, with the A F of L union?
HAYWARD: Well, they was getting nowhere; they got nowhere. And at the time, I think, that Delmer Minzey was connected with the A F of L.
WEST: Yes, he would have been president, in fact, of that local federal labor union.
WEST: And what did your husband think of Delmer Minzey?
HAYWARD: Not very much.
WEST: What did you think of him?
HAYWARD: Not very much.
HAYWARD: Because by this time we knew that the information was coming from Delmer Minzey. Because there at that time, too, there was some members or people from the du Pont connected with that A F of L. And the thing broke up. Then also they had got onto Delmer Minzey. So we didn't trust Delmer Minzey.
WEST: They had got onto Delmer Menzey.
HAYWARD: Yes, some of the members. Now all of the du Pont wasn't A F of L, but some of the members, years ago, had joined the A F of L.
PENDRELL: When you say the du Pont, what do you mean?
HAYWARD: The du Pont Company.
WEST: The local in Flint, do you mean?
HAYWARD: No, they didn't have a local. They was getting interested, some of them, in the labor movement; and it was with the A F of L. Because there was no CIO at that time, as we knew it.
WEST: Well, I'm wondering if by "du Pont people" you mean people locally from the du Pont Paint Company. They were involved in the union?
HAYWARD: Some of the people were.
WEST: I see; were they working people, then?
HAYWARD: Yes, but the du Pont was never organized. After a while they sort of saw the handwriting on the wall for a little while and they tried staying just a little jump ahead, you know, not a whole lot but just a little jump ahead. So then really they didn't get anywhere, people by organizing the du Pont. Because they were getting as much as we were getting, you know.
WEST: Right, right. But they were interested in this early period, 1934 there were some du Pont people who were involved. And they were friends of Delmer Minzey?
HAYWARD: No, they were interested in the labor movement. Now I don't know how many there were, but I do know of a couple. And one of them, he was an officer or something, in it. But they dropped out because of him. Because they figured that Delmer Minzey was the one that was helping the Pinkerton and everybody else, with the company knowing who they were, because at one time he was the group that had even tried to get back and to get control of the AC local.
WEST: Oh, I see. Now there was this A F of L local. Was there also a Works Council? Did AC also have a works council or what you might call a company union that was set up by the company?
HAYWARD: Oh, sort of, but not as I remember to a large extent.
WEST: You don't remember much about that. Did your husband, then, have any experiences with that A F of L local that particularly soured him, do you remember? Or was it just a general?
HAYWARD: I think it was just a general deal. And then afterwards he couldn't say a good word for the A F of L if he thought they were ever going to some of them or the Teamsters and them were going to go back again, he'd turn over in his grave.
WEST: So did he join the CIO then very soon after it was organized, as early as the summer of '35?
HAYWARD: As early as anybody was organizing.
PENDRELL: Who got him to join?
HAYWARD: I don't know that either.
PENDRELL: You don't know if it was Bob or Mortimer?
HAYWARD: I don't know. I can remember being to a meeting. Mortimer was at Hotel Dresden. I can also remember being to a meeting at the Capitol Hotel. And Mortimer was there. But my husband had been to some meetings that Mortimer and them were there before I was involved.
WEST: You didn't get involved then until September of '36, was that right?
WEST: Or were you involved when you were not a member.
HAYWARD: I was involved before and started goin' to the union meetings with him, too, you know.
WEST: Even when you were not working at AC.
WEST: Did he explain what he expected to get out of the CIO that the A F of L couldn't deliver; or why he preferred to go with the CIO?
HAYWARD: Well, all he considered was belonging to a union, and better working conditions. And at the time, too, that they organized then, my husband was getting fifty-two cents an hour. But there were truckers in the plant that had small children even that were only getting paid twenty-seven cents an hour. And that was the contrast.
WEST: So wages were a real factor at AC were they in pushing people into union activity.
WEST: Had there been any, you mentioned the liberal orientation of your husband and his father before. Had there been any specific union involved in it, for his dad, before he came to Flint?
HAYWARD: I don't know know whether they...I don't know; in Canada, I doubt it whether they were involved. My father-in-law managed this big ranch. And he was friendly with the leaders of the town and the government, the provincial government.
PENDRELL: That's when he was in retirement.
HAYWARD: And MacDonald was a liberal, very liberal. So I don't know. And we were young.
WEST: You mentioned wages as a factor and presumably the pressure on the job. Was your husband working at the piecework rates?
HAYWARD: No, no, he worked an hourly rate because he was a die caster. During that time he was a die caster. After that he became a utility man and had charge of two die casts. You see, the die-cast furnaces were already put in then.
WEST: Now that was a skilled job, wasn't it, certainly?
HAYWARD: Yes, but that was after.
WEST: And fifty-two cents an hour he was getting for what was really
HAYWARD: Yes, a die caster. He was getting fifty-two cents an hour. I don't think anyone was getting any more than he was in the die cast. I think they were getting all of the same amount.
WEST: Well those are low wages, I'm thinking, and particularly low if you consider that he was...
HAYWARD: When you get burned and burned your clothing, you know.
WEST: Did he come home sometimes...
HAYWARD: Burned. It was hot metal, you know.
WEST: It was hot work. Did they have any ventilation in the plants?
HAYWARD: Well outside, the windows. But you got burned, you know, with that die casting the metal.
WEST: But no fans or anything like that?
HAYWARD: Not in those days.
WEST: Did the machinery have safeguards at all?
WEST: I don't remember too many safeguards on machinery before those days.
PENDRELL: So they really got paid along craft lines, didn't they?
WEST: How many hours a day did he work then?
HAYWARD: Oh, he's worked ten, he's worked eight.
WEST: This is the period then, in '36, when things are picking up. But there's still unemployment. But people are working eight hours at least, sometimes ten hours a day.
HAYWARD: He was off during the strike and then he was off during the next strike and then we had another strike one time. But outside of that, he worked. I mean, we were fortunate in that way. But then, of course, too, they kept AC working because they could supply the competitive plants with parts.
WEST: I wanted to ask you about that. But before getting into that, do you know of any strikes or walkouts at AC from the time you were acquainted with it in '29 until the big strike in '36. Were there any that you might call...and it wouldn't be wildcat strikes, but walkouts.
HAYWARD: There weren't that...I don't know. It seems so some department got into difficulty one time. But I don't remember any details and I don't even remember the department.
WEST: Did any of the women, when you working there, talk about quitting, just walking out?
HAYWARD: You mean because of the strike?
WEST: No, before the strike because of the conditions of the foremen? You mentioned that you got angry once and threatened to quit. I wonder if there was any talk about collected action.
HAYWARD: No. And then at one time, the girls did complain about not getting money or more money or something. And we had a bunch of girls in there from the South. And they said while the Northern girls were arguin' over their wages, the Southern girls was workin' for the wages. And if the Northern girls had quit or something, they couldn't have got back, because there's always girls there to be hired, at the office or employment office, you know, not employment offices downtown, but at the factory. And, of course, like some of them factories, they'd say, if you don't like it, there's always somebody else that will come into work tomorrow.
PENDRELL: Now these Southern women, they were white.
HAYWARD: Yes. There were no...I know of one woman that had colored blood in her that was working on production. But I had known of that family from up north. And I never told and I won't tell now. She's dead, anyway. But I wouldn't hurt her family. But she worked. But there were other girls, and there weren't too many coloreds. They were on sanitation. But then we did have a colored lady and her name was Margaret Baird. And I can't remember whether she was on sanitation at first or whether she finally got on production. But she was a lovely lady.
PENDRELL: What does it mean to be on sanitation, Laura?
HAYWARD: Like housekeeping, cleaning, cleaning, you know. Now there's one girl, a college graduate, that was cleaning. And I met her in the restroom. And you go to college, now that was a case of we want them to go to school and to learn and all of that; but they're getting shoved right back. Now she should have had a better job. And she was more qualified for a lot of the work than the people that were working that were white. Usually they would all eat together. And you'd only see maybe fifteen or twenty, that I can remember, all set at the table for a particular shift. We tried to find Margaret Baird for our reunion in the backyard over at my daughters. But we found out later that she had passed away. But we tracked from person to person at first.
WEST: Did AC make any efforts to consciously recruit those from the South, then?
HAYWARD: No, they just came up here, up for more work.
WEST: Some of them, with their husbands, do you think? Were their husbands working at other plants?
HAYWARD: Well, some, but a lot of them were single, although there was a lot of Southern families come up. And at one time, too, they would come up. And at the time they didn't have no dole down there, you know. Maybe they lived on farms or something. Maybe they'd send 'em up butter and eggs and something. Maybe you'd have three or four families live in one five-room house. And then there was one section over here, over at the southwest, over in the Fenton Road area, that they called Little Missouri. They were all Southerners in that area, you know. And they come up to go and to work for the plants. But, you know, General Motors used to put ads in the papers down in the South.
WEST: Yes, I know. That's why I asked the question as to whether they made any special pitch to bring up women to work at AC.
HAYWARD: So one time they were going to bring up a couple of trainloads. They said they were nasty, and blacks. And I know a lot of people left town because they figured there'd be kind of a riot because the white people were going to meet the train and they weren't going to let them off.
PENDRELL: Here in Flint? When do you think that was, Laura?
HAYWARD: That was when I was just a little girl, because we went to a lake and I must have been about eight, nine years old then.
WEST: That would have been around the time of the First World War. I've heard that.
HAYWARD: And that would be after the war. That would be eight, 1918 and I was about eight. Our house burned and I lived down in this other house. So I was maybe about nine.
PENDRELL: Well, conditions amongst the workers must have been pretty awful for them to refuse to permit black workers to come in.
HAYWARD: Yes, because they figured they were bringing them in. And evidently, now I don't know whether men had been complaining or anything at the time about jobs or anything. I don't know about that.
WEST: Well, to get back to this situation then on the eve of this strike. You went back to work in September of 1936. How did you get back into the shop then? Did they call you back? Did you ask to come back?
HAYWARD: I went back and I was rehired, so evidently things were picking up.
WEST: What job did you have then?
HAYWARD: I was on production, on assembling.
WEST: Still piecework?
HAYWARD: Working in gauges; no, I was working by the hour. I can't just remember whether...
WEST: Were the wages any better then? This is about what, a three-year interval there? Did you notice that your wages had increased any when you went back to what they had been before?
HAYWARD: They had. I don't know; it seemed to me at one time I worked for thirty-five cents an hour, but I don't know when it was.
WEST: But they were hiring large numbers of people then, were they, in September of '36. Things were looking up.
HAYWARD: I think they were at least hiring a few because they took me back. And they must have needed someone, you know.
WEST: They had no idea, of course, that you or your husband were involved in union activities.
WEST: If they had...
HAYWARD: I probably wouldn't have gotten hired back.
WEST: Did your husband have to disguise the fact, then, that he was active in union?
HAYWARD: Yes, at that time they were, because it wasn't 'til about the strike time that they all put on the buttons. And then when they put on the buttons, they finally put 'em on all at one time. You know, if two people got talking together, I know I got reprimanded once. And I got reprimanded for stopping. I had been to the restroom and I met another girl at the end of the line. And I never said a dozen words. And, funny, I got reprimanded. I wasn't supposed to be up there talking. I was supposed to be working. And they figured I was talking about the union. But it was funny; that particular time I wasn't. And the other thing, you now you're trying out girls, you know. And you're talking. And some that you convince about the union once in awhile or sometimes you're talking and they're trying to see what you think of the union. And we're both working; we both belong to the union. And you're trying out the other one, but you don't know the other one belongs, you know.
WEST: Yes, yes.
HAYWARD: There was a lot of that.
WEST: Was that a new policy when you came back in September of '36 or had there been that policy before?
HAYWARD: No. Well, they didn't give you time to go visit girls a lot. But then, you know, you didn't hesitate. And you didn't stay in the restroom very long. But that was the time that later they picked up the matrons, you know. And you didn't hesitate, get in there and talk a long time about the union and everything.
WEST: I just wondered whether that policy against talking, and their sensitivity to that, might have been because of the union, that the union was active then.
HAYWARD: Well, they got more strict with it then, you know.
WEST: I had heard elsewhere that the AC had, in fact, planted these matrons near the restrooms and that sort of thing, with the purpose of picking up gossip about the union.
HAYWARD: Yes, and they would sit in there. But it was funny, you know. That was when you had heat. I've seen the time that before I had left before, or before union time, that I know one department I worked in, the restroom didn't have any heat. And it was cold in there in the winter. And each little booth like, didn't have a door. And this one, I can remember that one restroom. But you know, no matron would have sat in there, because it was too cold. But that is when they had them. But they had matrons on both plants then.
WEST: And they would sit in the stalls to overhear gossip?
HAYWARD: No, they wouldn't sit in the stalls. No, they would sit on a stool. Just sitting out and they would talk and you'd visit. I've met a couple of nice matrons that I talked to, only you didn't talk union to them.
PENDRELL: What were the job specifications for a matron? What were they supposed to do?
HAYWARD: Oh, like they come in under the plant protection deal. They came in under protection, like a security or that kind of thing.
WEST: So there was no...you knew what they were there for, in a sense. They weren't disguising themselves really.
HAYWARD: Yes. So you just was careful what you said.
WEST: Were there stoolies then, did you feel, among the people you worked with, then too?
HAYWARD: Yes. You didn't always trust everybody.
WEST: Did you get a sensitivity to who you could talk to? Did you pick that up?
HAYWARD: Later. You could tell who was chummy with a foreman. And the chummy ones, you was careful what you said. Although I would have to say, though, that there were different foremen that were really pro-labor. Because when I came out of the plant, this was going ahead further to be full-time in the union office, when I was recording secretary. Why, the general foreman told me that if there was anything he could do or any help he could give me or anything that he would happy to do so. And be sure and come to see him.
WEST: Why do you think that they would be favorable to the union, some of these foremen?
HAYWARD: Because some of them realized that the more benefits that production workers or everything got, eventually it was going to be better for them. And then, too, now we had one foreman that was sort of pro-labor and he was from, he was originally from England. Of course a lot of 'em over there are used to unions, you know, because of the mines over in England. And this was a long time ago, you know.
WEST: Did supervision know the attitude of some of these foreman? You know, the higher-up management.
HAYWARD: I think they did. But I think that they sort of soft-pedaled it, you know, for ideas.
WEST: Did you know any who did get fired because of the union activities because they talked?
WEST: No, people who worked with you, women and men, after September of '36, when you came back and the union activity was flourishing.
HAYWARD: Not anybody that was in my department. Now some of the girls that were more heavily involved, or the die cast; different ones of those were laid off.
WEST: Because of the union?
HAYWARD: Yes. And they got them put back to work.
WEST: The union did.
HAYWARD: Later, yes.
WEST: Was there any way of getting them back before the union became strong, that is, after the strike? Was there any way of getting them reinstated then?
HAYWARD: Not unless they went and bargained.
WEST: The reason I asked that is that my understanding is that the UAW-CIO was active. But Delmer Minzey still had that local going in AC and I wanted to know whether he was at all effective in trying to get people reinstated.
HAYWARD: Yes, because he and Irene Mitchell. One time Archie Jones and Harlow Pierce had went in, I think, to get Nellie back to work. She was off just a short time.
WEST: Was she laid off before the strike then?
HAYWARD: Yes, when they started organizing. And they were organizing quite a bit before the strike at Fisher Body.
WEST: So the strike, then comes late December of '36. And first it comes to Fisher 2 and then a few hours later actually to Fisher I. Were you and your husband, being in the union, were you aware that the strike was imminent?
HAYWARD: I didn't know that it was imminent. We knew the minute it was.
WEST: But you didn't have any foreknowledge then, that Fisher 2 or Fisher I were striking?
WEST: Had there been talk about the strike at these union meetings that you had attended?
HAYWARD: Oh, there'd been talk of strikes, but then you don't know whether they'd go through with it or not. They'd just say they ought to, they should.
WEST: When the strike did come, was there any thought that you would also strike at AC?
HAYWARD: No, no. We didn't think so because they weren't striking the Buick, either. But then the Buick was a competitive plant also, even though they were part of GM.
PENDRELL: What does that mean?
HAYWARD: They didn't want to get too many people out of work, you know.
PENDRELL: What do you mean about Buick being competitive?
HAYWARD: There was kind of a disruption. There was disruption like certain people getting in control. But it wasn't Bob or them. They were gone and it seemed to be different people. And you got the idea that people liked to build, to destroy.
WEST: Well, we can get on to the chronology as I understand it a bit. In the summer of 1937 after the strike, Homer Martin, who was president of the UAW, takes measures to get rid of some of the people who were of influence in Flint before. And Robert Travis is moved out, Ralph Dale, who had organized Buick, is moved out, Roy Reuther is moved out and all of them are moved out, apparently because they're Communists. And the stand that Martin denounces some of the leaders who were active in the strike as Communists. How did you feel about that when you were in Flint?
HAYWARD: We didn't like Homer Martin, either.
WEST: You didn't like Homer Martin. And so you didn't like what was happening to Travis and some of these other people.
WEST: And presumably, then, the Communists are taken out of influence in Flint, then, are they? Or is there a time when they tend to come back? Other people, not Travis and Reuther and those.
HAYWARD: No, I think that women, about that time, we got along. Got in with a five-man board that we were having so much trouble with, you know, that they had.
WEST: Now, the five-man board, was that over all of the Local 156, all of the various plants? That was when you had the amalgamated local.
HAYWARD: Yes, yes.
WEST: And the five-man board. Who did those five men represent then, at the top? Did they represent the various plants or were they appointed by Martin? I always wondered about that.
HAYWARD: Golly, I can't remember whether it was Martin or whether R. J. Thomas was in the deal.
WEST: Well, Thomas succeeds Martin, I understand. And there was a Fred Pieper and a Jack Little.
WEST: Oh, right. That's right. They came over, apparently they were appointed by Martin. And they came to take over the leadership of the UAW in Local 156 after Travis and Reuther are transferred out.
HAYWARD: Yes, and, see, I was a delegate, or my husband. We were all delegates to 156.
WEST: So you weren't happy then with this five-man board that Martin proposes.
HAYWARD: Heavens, no.
WEST: How long did that five-man board continue active then in Flint? Do you know, Laura?
HAYWARD: I don't remember. I don't remember if it was a year or a couple of years. I remember one time exploding at the Armory to this here man that was standing there in the brown suit. And I really was laying the law down about everything. And come to find out he had just been appointed to the five-man board. And that was Fred Pieper!
WEST: Oh, he was up from Atlanta.
WEST: Then the five-man board is out in one or two years later. And was it shortly after that that Local 156 dissolves into particular locals, plant-wide locals?
HAYWARD: Yes, we were chartered. I don't remember just when we were chartered, in '38 or something. The five-man board and there was an election and that was still 156, because Roy Reuther was running and Jack Little was running against Roy Reuther for the head of this Local 156.
WEST: And Jack Little won, didn't he?
WEST: Now, politically where was Little? Was Little then a left-wing?
HAYWARD: Sort of, yes. And Jack Palmer worked for him and helped get him elected. But they were sort of Martin men.
WEST: Oh, they were.
WEST: Well, Little then would not have been a Socialist. But he was running against Reuther. Was there any overtones of political conflict? You know accusations that Roy Reuther was a Socialist, he was a left-winger; he shouldn't be elected.
HAYWARD: Well, to begin with, I knew Roy Reuther was a Socialist. For all of the red baiting, they were Socialists. Because one time Irene Mitchell and her husband Norman and Frank and I were invited out to a man by the name of Bill Roy, and he was a Socialist. And Roy Reuther was out there. And they were telling us. I think we went out for dinner, unless it was right after dinner; I think we ate there. I'm not positive. It's so many years ago. And they were telling about what they felt was the advantages of the Socialist Party.
WEST: Did they convince you?
HAYWARD: No. To begin with, we were going to a special show that night. And we didn't know that we were being invited out for a long, long time. It was supposed to be for a little get-together and we were going to go to the theater. And they kept it going on and going on and going on; and we never did go to the theater. It was a Hawaiian picture and it was a double wedding. And I never did see that thing until twenty years later! But don't get me wrong. I liked Roy Reuther.
PENDRELL: Well, regardless of whether or not Roy was a Socialist, and his brother, nevertheless they certainly did not promulgate socialism as union heads. This union never did that.
HAYWARD: No, this was something on the side. It had nothing to do with union.
PENDRELL: 'Cause I'm going to read something to the class tomorrow night. You're just gonna roar when I do. It's from the Detroit Free Press about him. And, of course, you old-timers know what a lie it is.
HAYWARD: Yes, but they were all good organizers. They were good builders. Why should I care?
PENDRELL: Exactly. Did you know Will Weinstone?
HAYWARD: No, I didn't.
PENDRELL: Genora knew him.
HAYWARD: No, I didn't.
PENDRELL: Did you know Carl Winters?
HAYWARD: Yes, but not personally.
PENDRELL: What did he do here?
HAYWARD: I don't know. I don't remember. All I do know...
PENDRELL: He came after the strike.
HAYWARD: But I don't know. I knew of him, but I didn't become...
PENDRELL: I was just wondering if whether perhaps you thought that his activities...I don't know what they were...that his activities are what made you turn against Party folks.
HAYWARD: I can't remember. But in a way they seemed to be mixed up and sort of disruptive. And I had the impression----we had the impression----that they build to destroy. Now I can't explain it.
WEST: In Flint, this was.
HAYWARD: Yes. I can't explain it to you why I felt it. And then you just don't want to get in or tagged with a name that you're with somebody that builds or that's going to destroy something. And there was so much disruption in the union at the time then, that we felt that it was agitators. Now when we were organizing, to me no one was agitators but the Flint Alliance. But you know, they wouldn't believe me.
WEST: Well, there was certainly a great deal of disruption in Flint in the time of the factional dispute between the Martin and the CIO people.
HAYWARD: Yes, it was terrible. Oh, we've been to meetings on that Martin and I've been quizzed about him.
WEST: But you were with the CIO group, you and your husband, were you?
HAYWARD: We were Unity, CIO Unity.
WEST: Against Martin. It's interesting, because Martin, of course, accused the Unity group and the CIO of being left-wing, of being Communist. And he, apparently, built his whole case as it were on that.
PENDRELL: So you have the unique distinction, Laura, of being accused of being a Communist and a Nazi, together.
HAYWARD: Yes. Isn't that something?
WEST: That's hard to do.
HAYWARD: Little old mild me. And I would get so mad. Then one time I'm going to drop out of the union. I said, "I'm fed up with this arguing; I'm getting out." And a Pearl Rose that was at the AC and he's this Gib Rose you've heard 'em speak of, brother. He says, "Oh, Laura, don't give us that noise." He says, "Just about the time somebody come up with a good argument against the union, you'd be in there fightin' all over. So you might as well stay in in the first place."
WEST: Now, getting back to the period of the strike. We're still there. Did the union, the UAW, send out sound cars to AC at the time of the strike to try to encourage people to join the unions and that sort of thing?
HAYWARD: Yes, there were some cars out there at times. Genora had the idea that it was hard to organize the women at the AC. But of course, they were predominantly women, because seventy-nine percent of AC was women.
WEST: Did you think that they were more difficult to organize than the men?
HAYWARD: I didn't think so; but I was so busy with 'em that I wouldn't have noticed what she said.
WEST: Were you organizing actively in the plant among the workers that you worked with then at the time of the strike?
HAYWARD: Not so...I was organizing, but not so it could be too well noticed, because it wouldn't do me any good to get fired because I wouldn't be able to be doing anything in there, if I couldn't talk.
WEST: But you did talk union to people when you could.
WEST: Did these women come along, these women that you talked to, or were they reluctant to get organized? Were they scared to join?
HAYWARD: Oh, some were kind of afraid, but others weren't. You'd be surprised at the amount of women that we had join after we were there. And now a lot of women come in because when we got a union hall, we had to pay the rent and clean up the building up here on Franklin Avenue. In fact, my husband and I paid the first month's rent. Fifteen dollars. And I would go, after work when we'd be picketing. I'd be there for people. And at two-thirty we'd still be there when people would get out of work from the second shift and before they'd go on the third shifts, too and take dues, take money for people joining, without pay!
PENDRELL: The seventy-nine percent who were women, did they work on all the shifts one, two and three?
HAYWARD: Yes, there were women working on all the shifts.
WEST: When the sound cars came out to AC, did the management try to prevent that? Did they ever try to get people organized to rush the sound car?
HAYWARD: Not to my knowledge. I never saw them, if they did. They weren't out there a whole lot of times. Because truthfully they were busy over around the other plants, too, you know.
WEST: I understand from one document that I've seen that on the day after, or perhaps it was even the evening of the incident down at Chevy 9 and Chevy 4 when the union took Chevy 4 and the women were stood outside of Chevy 9, you know, breaking the windows as a diversion, that there was quite an event taking place at AC at that time, that night, I guess, or maybe that morning. That there were sound cars out there, the police and everything. Do you remember?
HAYWARD: No, I didn't remember that. But then I must have been in the plant.
WEST: You don't remember any incidents then, at AC, when things got pretty...
HAYWARD: Not that there was a lot of controversy. I know at one time there was a slight strike, or a strike afterwards that they weren't going to let the supervisor's cars in. But that wasn't that day, a day so close to the Battle of Bull's Run, or, as they call it, the Battle of the Running Bulls.
PENDRELL: Listen, Laura, how did workers on the second, women workers on the second and third shift get to work? In their cars?
HAYWARD: Some, and they rode...but there were buses, you know. Used to take buses to work.
PENDRELL: But they no longer exist.
WEST: And they were on strike at the time of the strike. Buses weren't operating at the time of the strike.
HAYWARD: Buses were on strike. And they had jitneys; they called 'em jitneys. Different people used their cars for picking up people.
WEST: And the union authorized some of these courtesy cars, didn't they?
WEST: Was there a time when the strike was on at Fisher 1 and 2 and you're still organizing. But was there a time when you were bold enough to wear your buttons and come out as union people? Did you ever reach that point while the strike was still going on?
HAYWARD: I don't think so. I don't remember. I don't think so. I know our department didn't have 'em on as soon as the die cast did.
WEST: But when the strike is settled on February eleventh and the first contract is negotiated, did you then come out into the open?
HAYWARD: Everybody had them on then that were union members.
WEST: What did you do? Just get together and decide you were gonna wear them?
HAYWARD: Yes, die cast had theirs on first. That's the plant my husband worked in. I think the die cast was wearing buttons though before the strike was settled, itself.
WEST: They didn't fear getting fired, then?
HAYWARD: The men, no. Just some of the girls. The men didn't get fired. My husband wore a button; he didn't get fired.
WEST: Are you saying there that they would have fired the women for wearing buttons?
HAYWARD: Laid off.
WEST: Laid off, more than they would the men.
WEST: Did conditions change at AC after the strike? Did you notice much difference?
HAYWARD: Yes, to a certain extent. But people talked union more. But you know they had the vote on, like for a union shop, you know.
WEST: Yes, that would have been a bit later. Did you notice any change in the attitude of the foreman toward the workers? Did they feel any more restrained?
HAYWARD: Yes, because you could talk a little bit then.
PENDRELL: Where did you have your suppers or your dinners during those shifts?
HAYWARD: In the cafeteria.
PANDRELL: Each plant had a cafeteria?
HAYWARD: No, the AC wasn't so large. Well, there were two cafeterias on Dort Highway, and then of course, a cafeteria on Industrial. There was a cafeteria there in so-called Plant 4 or like "Main Gates" if you're familiar with Dort Highway plant. And then there was the one down here on Davison Road and Dort Highway.
PENDRELL: And how long did you have to out and eat and get a bite and come back?
HAYWARD: Half hour. Some people went across the street to the restaurant. Some took their lunch.
WEST: Did you talk union then, at lunch?
HAYWARD: Yes, we did.
WEST: Now after the strike is over and you have this contract and the union now is recognized, at least for a time. Did the women start flocking in then, would you say? Did you find that you could organize much more easily then?
HAYWARD: Yes, you could organize more easy, but I don't know whether they just flocked in more so or not. But it was steady.
PENDRELL: Well, you know that as the war came the women flocked in every factory in the country.
HAYWARD: Yes, and then we had stewards in the plants then, you know, and they were taking initiation fees and dues. And the stewards had little books and they'd give receipts out. And they'd bring them in. They'd give a receipt and they'd bring in the book. And we would take them and file them and we had big files of them, you know.
WEST: Now the stewards, were there any stewards at all in AC? They'd have had to have been secret, of course?
WEST: But in AC before the end of the strike?
HAYWARD: Yes, but we didn't seem to think of them as steward. There'd be always somebody that well you could have thought of them. But they were just people that were taking up dues. Fifty cents, fifty cents.
WEST: But they were union people.
WEST: Were these stewards then, at this early stage, elected by the union people in the shops?
HAYWARD: Not at that time they weren't.
WEST: Oh, were they appointed then?
HAYWARD: They were appointed.
PENDRELL: By whom?
HAYWARD: The board or together they would take 'em up.
WEST: And then you had elective stewards after the strike?
HAYWARD: Yes, the departments would elect their own stewards.
WEST: I see. How many would a steward represent then? Do you know?
HAYWARD: Maybe his department or maybe a couple departments. And that would be, on the average, how many?
PENDRELL: How many stewards were women?
HAYWARD: Oh, let me see. There were a lot of men, maybe about a quarter of them. Seems as though there were more men; but we had women, too. I can't just remember.
PENDRELL: But you did have women stewards.
HAYWARD: Yes, there were some women. One of the women, too, was on the bargaining committee, later. And she was always coming in. She was collecting dues, I think, wherever she went. She'd come in and this is a dollar for this one's this month's due. And this is this month's due. And this is this month's dues. Edna McNamara.
PENDRELL: Is she still around in Flint?
HAYWARD: No, she isn't living. But she was one good union worker! And she was on the bargaining committee and she was a crackerjack. It would have been nice if you could interviewed her.
PENDRELL: Are any of her family around here?
HAYWARD: She has a son. Her husband died and, oh, what's his name, now? Tim McNamara or something but I can't...her name was Edna McNamara. Her husband was Tim. Roy McNamara.
PENDRELL: Roy McNamara was something else, wasn't he?
WEST: I don't recall.
PENDRELL: But if you could think of that name, we could try to talk to him.
WEST: These stewards, now, did more than just collect dues. They also processed grievances. Didn't they take up grievances of the people they represented with the foreman?
HAYWARD: Sort of, but the committeemen had the grievances that they would go...oh, maybe they would talk to a steward, too.
WEST: Oh, are you saying then you had a steward system and a committee system working together at the same time?
HAYWARD: Yes. Because the committee was the bargaining committee.
WEST: And so the stewards just took care of the dues, then and helped to organize. Did they have nothing to do then with grievances?
HAYWARD: Well, they could have been a liaison. They might have been a liaison to the bargaining committee member, you know, for that district.
WEST: But I'm thinking if a man on the job, or a woman on the job had a particular grievance against a foreman or a complaint, who would they take that grievance to?
HAYWARD: They'd ask for a committeeman.
WEST: For a committeeman.
HAYWARD: Or a committee person.
WEST: Not a steward. And this committee person, how many would a committee person represent then? Would that be more than a department or two?
HAYWARD: Quite a few. Some of the bargaining committees had, for a long time, seven members.
WEST: Representing an entire plant.
WEST: So then each committee member would represent a large number of people and couldn't know. What I'm getting at is, I wonder if each of those committeemen could get to know the particular episode or incident very well?
HAYWARD: Well, yes, because the grievances were all put down.
WEST: Written, I see.
HAYWARD: Written grievances.
WEST: Were they settled pretty well, or were there wildcat strikes at AC after the strike when the grievance procedures bogged down and you couldn't get a settlement? Were there other walkouts?
HAYWARD: It seems to me that there was a sort of a wildcat deal once, but it only lasted for two hours. But I don't remember what department it was and I don't remember what it was over. Maybe Irene Mitchell, did she remember?
PENDRELL: We have to go.
WEST: I think so. We're just about finished anyway. I just wanted to ask you one more question, because it would be worth talking about at a later time, if you were involved in any of the strikes that took place in Flint after the big strike. What I'm getting at is there were efforts to organize, I understand, at the Durant Hotel and Penney's, Mary Lee Candy Store. In other words, there was an expansion of union activity, an effort to make Flint a hundred-percent union town.
HAYWARD: I don't remember that. I remember the Mary Lee Candy deal. They tried organizing Mary Lee Candy and there was quite a lot of difficulty there. But I think they won it.
WEST: They did, you think?
HAYWARD: Didn't they?
WEST: I'm not sure. I haven't been able to follow the story enough in the Journal to know whether they finally got a contract or not. I know they did have some difficulty there.
PENDRELL: Do you know of any individual involved in that that we could go to see, Laura?
WEST: Of Penney's? There was a sit-down at Penney's that lasted for weeks, I think.
HAYWARD: I don't remember. I don't think I know anyone involved in that. I didn't know anybody personally.
PENDRELL: Would that have been in '37 when there was a wave of department store sit-ins? I was in one in Philadelphia.
WEST: There was an effort on the part of the UAW, I understand, to make Flint what they said it was, a one hundred-percent union town. And that meant organizing everybody.
PENDRELL: We were organized by Local 65, nothing to do with the autoworkers.
HAYWARD: It seemed to me that at one time there was a little difficulty at Woolworth's, too. But I don't know who was involved in that.
PENDRELL: We'll have to get those old records.