After their defeat in 1985, LTV management went on an entirely new tack. Supervisors and foremen began going to "sensitivity" classes and new programs were launched to try to regain their employees' previous devotion to the company.
The Local re-elected Carroll Butler and B.J. Meeks to leadership. After his election in 1990, Carroll Butler became the union president with the most years of continuous service in our local's history. Among the many accomplishments of his tenure are: computerization of the local's business affairs, strong solidarity efforts toward other unions, help for community projects, strengthening of communications with the membership, ongoing organizational efforts resulting in near-record high levels of unionization, and the bringing together of the union's archives.
LTV had continued their long-standing policies of acquisition and divestment of various other companies, and they ran into deep trouble in 1986. They had become the nation's second largest steel producer after acquiring several steel companies. When the market did not develop as they had hoped, they chose bankruptcy. They also tried to put the employees' pensions money into the same bankruptcy fund as all their normal debts. Local 848 retirees played a role in getting laws passed that would protect retirees' benefits when companies go bankrupt.
The union local had learned an important lesson in 1984. When the 1988 contract negotiations rolled around, the local was primed and ready. One of the local's many accomplishments had been the formation of an ongoing Family Auxiliary to support the union's activities. All of the elements were in place for any kind of struggle that might develop; consequently, LTV gave in early and the local enjoyed another contract that was the envy of the industry.
In 1989, the local honored longtime International Reps Roy Kinney and Pancho Medrano, Sr on their retirements. Because of the example that Local 848 had set for other UAW locals in 1984-85, the local continued to be a controversial topic as American unions began to adjust to the new national situation.
While Local 848 healed its divisions and prepared for future contract struggles, the union movement in America began to find its footing in battle. Local 848 pitched in with solidarity activities. For example, President Butler was thanked by a leader of striking Greyhound drivers in 1990 for the help our local gave.
Pittstown miners, Delta Pride Catfish workers, New York Daily News employees, and other unionists began to win victories over very difficult odds. The outlook for the future began to brighten.
In 1990, the UAW International ruled that the local's re-election of the Butler-Meeks team was unfair. They supervised another, very contentious, election that featured uncommonly crude slanders against Meeks and Butler. Butler won a third term, but Chairman Meeks was replace by Coy Click. Although the New Directions movement remained strong until the UAW convention in San Diego in 1992, it was essentially finished at Local 848. After several changes, the UAW International Union assigned Darryl Greer, the top leader of the UAW Staff Local, to serve as the Local's International Rep.
BJ Meeks was a long way from finished, however. He was re-elected in 1993 for yet another term as Chairman. Mike Hall came seemingly from nowhere to defeat Carroll Butler for President. On his first day, Hall carried out his campaign promise to laid-off people by initiating a previous proposal to win layoff benefits under federal programs. Within a year, Local 848 layoff victims had the best benefits ever enjoyed in the aerospace industry!
Hall and Meeks were easily re-elected in 1996. By 1999, Meeks had decided not to run again. Hall campaigned hard but was defeated by a relatively unknown candidate, Chuck Stanley, in a sweep whereby six of the top leaders of the local and a large number of other representatives were defeated. The new Chairman was former Committeeman Rocky Wagner. Both Hall and Meeks pledged to help the new leadership.
For a fuller picture of the great history of our local, please browse through the archives in the union hall.
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