Box 14, Folder 12, Document 17

Dublin Core

Text Item Type Metadata



U.S. News & World Report



Atlanta officials moved fast
when 500 firemen struck.
Strikers were suspended with-

out pay. Shifts were lengthened
for firemen who stayed on their
jobs. Policemen helped man fire
stations. And the city began hir-
ing replacements for strikers.

aT re

weakened. So what happens now? Is
Atlanta burning?

Fire Chief C. H. Hildebrand, Jr.,
supplies the answers. By regrouping the
more than 250 firefighters who stayed
on the job, Chief Hildebrand was able
to get 19 of the city’s 32 fire stations in
full operation within four days after the
strike began.

All available firemen were put on

long shifts, and 89 policemen were as-__
signed fo the fire’ department—most of _

~ them to fill nonfirefighting

As a final step, the city
of Atlanta called into effect
a mutual-assistance pact with
the fire departments of sur-
rounding municipalities.

Atlanta’s fire chief says
that this opens the “possihil-
ity” of calling in 10 fire-
fighting units “reasonably
quickly” in the event of a
major fire, and an additional
half dozen or more from
more-distant points.

Chief is confident, The
19 stations reopened in At-
lanta operate 27 firefighting
units. Adding to these the 16
additional units that might

—"Atlanta Journal’’ Photo "
Fire communications desk—unmanned


Two thirds of the hremen in this ma-
jor Southern city walked off their jobs
on September 2 in a strike for immedi-
ate pay raises, They went out in viola-
tion of a Georgia State law, and they
stayed out in defiance of a court order
to return to work.

All of the nearly 500 striking firemen
were suspended without pay. Mayor
Ivan Allen, Jr., refused to negotiate
with the strikers. Instead, he ordered
acrecruiting drive for new firemen to
All the vacant jobs. we

The suspended firemen were given 10
days to show why they should not be

Mayor Allen says that most of the strik-.’

ers will be, fired, Thus, a major city is
left with its defense against fires seriously

be called in for an extreme
emergency would bring At-
lanta’s fire defenses back up
to more than three quarters
of normal strength, Mr. Hildebrand esti-
mates. That, he believes, should be
enough to handle anything.

Fire insurance underwriters appear to
agree. Jason Woodall, manager of the
Southeastern Underwriters Association,

“says there are-no plans to boost Atlan-

ta’s fire insurance rates.
Mr. Woodall says the association “feels
that protection for ordinary homes is

: reasonable.”

“Our concern,” he adds, “lies. in the
possibility of fires in the congested down-
town areas.”

Mr. Woodall notes that the fire un-
derwriters “prefer to give the city an
opportunity to work this thing out.”
Whether or not there are to be increases
in fire-insurance rates, he indicates, de-
pends on how long it takes to get the
fire department back to normal.

The trouble began last spring. At that
time the only union representing Atlanta
firemen was the International Association
of Fire Fighters, affiliated with the AFL-
CIO. This union has a no-strike clause
in its ‘constitution. The union asked the
city to reduce the firemen’s workweek
from GO to 56 hours.

City officials rejected that request on
the ground that such a move would
amount to a pay boost that would be il-
legal at that time of year under the citv

The Atlanta charter prohibits pay
raises after March 31 of each year, until
the beginning of the next year. City of-
ficials, however, promised to consider *
the shorter workweek at the end of the

A change of unions. Dissident fire-
men then broke away from the AFL-CIO
union and organized an independent
local called the Atlanta Fire Fighters
Union. Its constitution does not contain
a no-strike clause.

In June the independent union went
on strike to enforce the firemen’s de-
mands. The striking firemen agreed to
mediation without binding themselves
to the findings and went back to work.
The mediator recommended an increase
in firemen’s wages or a reduction in
working hours.

City officials accepted both sugges-
tions—not just one—but said both would
have to wait until January 1, in keeping
with the law.

The city’s offer amounted to an 8.66
per cent pay increase in cash, plus the
equivalent of a 7.14 per cent raise in the
form of a shorter workweek—in all, a
total of 15.8 per cent.

Under existing pay scales, beginning
firemen get $403 a month. On January 1,
the starting rate is to rise to $438 a
month. The top pay for privates is to go

--to $638 a month on January 1, from the

present $563.

Still not enough. The independent
union again struck on September 2, de-
manding that the pay raises be granted

Within hours after the strike began,
Judge Luther Alverson of the Fulton
County Superior Court ordered the strik-
ers back to work.

(continued on next news page)

5 Oi owt

mS Ween
ENB aecting)


itl eee


Labor Week

[continued from page 86]

. . « Wives of firemen
picketed city hall

State law provides that “no person
holding a position by appointment or
employment in the government of the
State of Georgia or any ayency, author-
ity, board, commission or public institu-
tion thereof, shall promote, encourage or
participate in any strike.”

The Georgia State government grants
charters to cities, and this is interpreted
as making the cities political institutions
of the State, and their employes subject
to State law.

Immediately after the order was is-
sued, Fire Chief Hildebrand served no-
tice that all firemen absent without
authorization should report at their next
regular shift or be suspended. A few fire-
men returned.

Mayor calls strike illegal. Mayor
Allen refused to negotiate with the strik-
ers on the ground that they were using
illegal means in an effort to force the
city to grant an illegal pay raise.

Firemen’s wives began sporadic pick-
eting of city hall and of the foperating
fire stations. Firemen kept their children
out of school, on the ground that the
schools were not safe because of inade-
quate fire protection.

The hiring of new men to replace the
strikers went steadily ahead. By Septem-
ber 8, the city had applications from
117 men, Of these, 51—32 whites and 19
Negroes—had passed written examina-
tions and were eligible to be hired if
they passed physical examinations.

/ ‘A handful of the strikers sought to go
back to work, saying they would like to

{ forget the whole thing. Officials refused
to take them back. ,

The replacements must undergo rigor-
ous training for three weeks before being
assigned to active duty. Fire officials esti-
mate that it will take at least a year to
rebuild the Atlanta fire department to
full strength.

City officials and officials of the AFL-
. CIO Fire Fighters Union, meanwhile,
claim that it is the Teamsters Union
that is really behind the fire depart-
ment’s troubles. They note that the strik-
ing firemen have their headquarters in
the Atlanta Teamsters Union hall.

“This is a power grab.” Officials
note, too, that Tony Zivalich, a Team-
sters organizer, sits in on all of the strik-
ers’ strategy meetings, and that Robert
L. Mitchell, attorney for the local Team-
sters, is the striking firemen’s lawyer.

“This is a power grab,” snaps an official
of the AFL-CIO Firemen’s Union. “The
reasons they give for striking don’t make
sense. They say they've got to have their

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Sept. 19, 1966

. . . Some fires started
by Molotov cocktails

pay raise right now instead of four
months from now, when the city has
agreed to give it to them. And for that
they are jeopardizing the safety of this
whole city.

“They want to put the AFL-CIO out
of business here and take over the whole
fire department. Then the Teamsters will
take them over and the Teamsters will
run the fire department.”

Since the strike started, at least two
fires have been started by Molotov cock-
tails. Whether these were thrown by
strikers, rioters or others has not been
established. ‘

A large warehouse and a sales office of
a tire company were destroyed by one
of the Molotov-cocktail fires. Damage
was estimated at several hundred thou-
sand dollars.

Another Molotov cocktail was tossed
onto the roof of a one-story home, but
the blaze did little damage. False
alarms have been numerous.

A Pay Raise That

Averted a Sirike

Western Electric Company and_ the
Communications Workers of America
have signed a three-year contract that:

© Averts a strike that had been threat-
ening for weeks against the manufactur-
ing arm of the American Telephone &
Telegraph Company.

© Provides pay raises averaging 17%
cents an hour for 23,000 installers of
central-station equipment, retroactive to
July 28. The company estimated the in-
creases at 5.5 to 6 per cent, or about 4
per cent on an annual basis.

e Permits reopening of the contract
on wages after 18 months.

® Increases fringe benefits by more
than 1 per cent over three years.

Under the new contract, hourly wage
rates for beginning installers will range
from $1.87 to $2.03 an hour. Top rates
will range from $3.70 to $4 an hour.

The union hopes the new contract
with Western Electric will set a pattern
for other subsidiaries of AT&T in nego-
tiations in coming months.

The pay raise for Western Electric’s
workers was well above the Johnson Ad-
ministration’s wage guideposts of 3.2 per
cent a year. But Joseph A. Beirne, presi-
dent of the union, contended that the
settlement was not inflationary. He said
the guideposts “were never designed to
be strait jackets.”

(Another Labor Week article, p. 90)

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Sept. 19, 1966

— aa

public items show