Lord and Burnham

My father was working for Lord and Burnham, a company that specialized in greenhouses and hot water boilers. The name may still be prominent among the better boiler manufacturers. Most all factories, by 1941, were subsidized by the government and turned their efforts to the manufacturing of war material. Lord and Burnham built Landing Control Crafts and pontoon bridges. At Dad's suggestion I applied for work and was taught to rivet the corners of the Pontoons that supported the bridge tracks. The tracks became roadways for tanks trucks and troops. The superintendent of the projects congratulated me saying, "keep your nose clean and you'll be recognized". Dad told me it meant to stay out of the union. I eventually realized the greed and animosity the unions projected. The shop steward asked us to slow down. The shop steward (Bill Grant) was a loud, crude, uneducated drunk. My team of three men out produced the union team of riveters. The union didn't like that. Grants' job was to make us conform to union rules or join. I was asked by management to shape a drill bit for a new employee to counter sink holes in aluminum frames. When I left him the lad was doing fine. An hour later the shop steward led the supervisor and me to the drill site. The lad had destroyed fifty frames with the drill someone had resharpened. The union shop steward insisted it was my doings. Another incident occurred when a union team purposely distorted some rivets then attempted to blame us.

I addressed management and the union pointing out how thousands of our men were living in mud and slime, giving their lives so that we could collect our fat salaries. How their lives depended on us getting this material to them. I told them what I thought of underhanded tactics of slowing up production. I proved to them that the cooked up riveting job was not ours because I secretly marked our jobs after the attempt was made to blame me for the aluminum drill holes. I know management was on my side. But somehow the union had me put in the yard piling lumber. I never joined a union or sympathized with strikes after what I saw of the war efforts.

During the war when a person was hired, that company had a permanent hold on the employee unless he was given a written release. The company could also claim the person was indispensable, which meant the draft board could not summons him or her. This may have been what management meant when they told me to keep my nose clean.

Being extremely irritated I told a young secretary I wished for a written release. She was new and didn't fully understand the rules, otherwise I could not have left Lord and Burnham. I'm sure she was not fired. I'm sorry I caused her a severe reprimand.

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