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Local 243 Celebrates
Sixty Proud Years


Harry Kaplan, son, retiree Eleanor Roddy and guest
Vincent Baldino and Pat Barile Franklin "The Hawk" Wells with Willie Phillips and Daisy Wells
Top photo, retired Field Org. Harry Kaplan, son, retiree Eleanor Roddy and guest; above right, long service employee Franklin "The Hawk" Wells with Willie Phillips and Daisy Wells; above, retirees Vincent Baldino and Pat Barile; right, retirees Mike DeDomenico and Frank DiNicola.
Mike DeDomenico and Frank DiNicola

Local 243

On June 5, more than 350 members, retirees and friends of UE Local 243 came together to celebrate 60 years of hard work and struggle to improve the conditions of workers at Sargent and Company.

Gathered together were the men and women who have made Sargent a well-known and respected manufacturer of building hardware. Once locally and family owned, Sargent is now a division of the Swedish multinational Assa Abloy.

Sargent has a well-deserved reputation for good wages, benefits and working conditions. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when Sargent had a reputation in New Haven as a hell hole of a factory, a time when the average wage was 50 cents an hour for those on piecework, and less than that for hourly workers. Women workers started at 21 cents an hour.

That was before UE Local 243 was chartered on May 15, 1939.


In presenting UE Local 243 with its 60th anniversary charter, Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark commended Sargent workers for setting a shining example of a rank-and-file organization committed to aggressive struggle to improve the conditions of its members.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Sargent workers would not have the level of wages and benefits and the kind of working conditions they enjoy today were it not for organization, unity and a willingness to struggle," the national officer said.

Clark noted how immigrant workers, predominantly Italian, and African-Americans, had welded unity and together built a tough, reliable tool for obtaining justice for workers in Local 243.

Although chartered in 1939, it took two more years of organizing — and a political campaign to win defense contracts for Sargent — before workers won an election and company recognition of their union.

By 1942, Sargent workers had won their first UE contract, gaining wage increases, paid vacations for the first time and many other improvements — the beginning of 60 years of progress achieved as UE members built a powerful union at Sargent. By uniting a diverse membership, UE achieved and sustained great gains; today, Sargent workers are among the highest paid manufacturing workers in Connecticut. Two particularly important gains made this decade were the addition of Martin Luther King Day and Columbus Day as paid holidays.

Local 243 President Raymond Pompano and the officers and executive board of the local honored the nine most senior UE members in the plant:

Franklin "The Hawk" Wells (45 years), Robert Graves (42 years), Robert Cox (41 years), John Luzzi (41 years), Frank Rubino (41 years), Frank Walters (40 years), Butch Tarquino (40 years), Larry Henderson (38 years) and Ted Zilinskas (38 years) all received recognition from the Local for their dedication and commitment to building their union.

Among the attendees were nine retirees who started at Sargent in the early days of the local union: Tony Buonome (1941), Charles Ruocco (1942), Tom Guarnieri (1945), Mollie Watts (1946), Lamar Robinson (1947), John Longobardi (1947), Andrew Ferrigno (1947), Chick Bojacki (1947) and Guy Zito (1948).


"The retirees built our foundation, and it’s up to our current members to be the best we can be for our children and our neighbors," said Pres. Ray Pompano.

Chief Steward Tony Izzo remarked that "UE 243 is always there!" In the recent telephone company strike, during the Yale university strike, in any labor struggle in New Haven, Local 243 is always the first union that is contacted for support, he said.

In a surprise gesture, the executive board of Local 243 honored Pres. Ray Pompano for his tireless service to UE. The award was presented by Izzo.

Current members and retirees danced until late in the evening to music provided by UE Local 243 member DJ Mike Nelson.

Back among old friends, retired UE Field Org. Harry Kaplan was singled out by Sec.-Treas. Clark for his crucial role in assisting Local 243 during his 39 years of service to the union.

Also in attendance to pay tribute to UE Local 243 were District Two Pres. Judy Atkins, Local 299 Pres. Dorothy Johnson and New Haven Central Labor Council President Bob Proto, along with Intl. Rep. Dave Cohen and Field Organizers Mark Meinster and Paul Ryan.

After an evening of celebration, Local 243 members left having reflected on their local’s storied history and ready for another 60 years of achievement.

UE News - 06/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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