50 years ago
June 14, 1963
Evidence of a death struggle between two vast union empires as the larger attempts to “raid” the smaller, broke into the open today in Oneonta.
Scene of the first “skirmish” of what may develop into a “hot” engagement between the Communications Workers of America and the Communications Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was the open air of Lewis Street in front of the New York Telephone Company garage.
Key participant yesterday was vision organizer W.F. Bowers of Atlanta, Ga., who appeared in front of the telephone company plant to pass out Teamster literature to telephone workers as they filed in and out of the building.
The youthful and personable southerner engaged in joking give-and-take conversations with company personnel during his stay but the half-laughing repartee only thinly covered the obvious intent of the Teamsters (and Mr. Bowers) to take over the membership of the CWA, in Oneonta as elsewhere.
A grim reminder that this was all for real came when a Telephone Company official, Thomas Hebert, warned the organizer not to try to stop trucks coming out of the building, saying, “… I’d hate to have somebody run over you …”
“Ah can’t help it if they stop by themselves,” retorted the organizer, and, grinning, said, “If Ah got to be run ovah by a truck it might as well be a Bell truck.”