Local 404 Members
Experience New Jersey
|With Lee Bracey (center) are
Groov-Pin workers, Local Pres.
Joe Miglino (pictured holding plaque to Bracey’s left) and Chief Steward
Richie Turkowsky (at right of Bracey).
A phone call taken by UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark
from a former UE member led to the return of a bronze plaque from the old UE
District Four offices and an opportunity for Local 404 members to learn
something of their union’s history.
Lee Bracey of Woodridge once worked in the office of the
large Westinghouse elevator factory in Jersey City. Shop workers belonged to
UE Local 456, and during World War II the office workers organized into Local
456 as well. In the early 1950s, during the raids on UE, the office workers
were enticed into the IUE.
Bracey missed the rank-and-file democracy and militancy he
experienced in UE. "Hell, I thought all unions were this way!" he
said. "I quickly found out this wasn’t true." Initially he wouldn’t
join the IUE, but being a strong union person he eventually signed up —
becoming local union president and, for a while in the mid-Sixties, a field
representative. He later worked for another elevator company.
BRONZE PLAQUE FOUND
He found the bronze plaque, which he remembers being mounted
outside the UE District Four offices, behind a filing cabinet when the IUE
moved its offices out of Jersey City. He’s had it all these years, and
recently boarded a train for New York planning to take the heavy plaque to the
UE headquarters — and was surprised to discover the office was no longer
there. He tracked the national office to Pittsburgh, and called Clark. (The
national office relocated in 1987.)
As a result of that call, Bracey was contacted by Intl. Rep. Bruce
Klipple, who invited the retiree to a shop meeting of Local 404 members
who work at Groov-Pin Corp., who were preparing their contract proposals for
their upcoming contract negotiations. Bracey reminisced with Klipple, Local
Pres. Joe Miglino and some Groov-Pin workers about the 1955-56
Westinghouse strike. Richie Turkowsky, a 39-year Groov-Pin veteran had
his own story to tell, about how he and co-workers in the early Sixties got
rid of IUE and joined UE.
Local 404 Pres. Miglino presented Bracey with copies of Them
and Us and Labor’s Untold Story as a token of appreciation for
preserving this small but important part of UE history.
UE News - 02/01