Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chapter 63 The Negotiator

When I had first gone to Uvalde I was working pretty hard, because the District was a mess when I got there. I was traveling about 4000 miles a month and working 70-80 hours a week.

Three months before we were sent to Uvalde, the Communication Workers of America and Southwestern Bell had entered into a contract calling for a number of changes in personnel policies. Several of the Chiefs had run their own show for many, many years, and they were not inclined to change. This, of course, caused a lot of union grievances and frequent formal grievances. At the formals you met in an office and every word you uttered was recorded so there was certain amount of stress in representing SW Bell in these meetings.

I practically memorized that contract and became known as one who really knew all the details of the terms. This helped a great deal in my clip_image001negotiations but several of the older Chief Operators continued to be unbending, which caused me a lot of trouble as well as stress and time. Most of the Chiefs realized that there was no future in continuing to fight the inevitable and conformed, but three of them refused to bend. “I have run this office for thirty years and have done a darn good job so why should I change now?” So unfortunately, I had to take two of them off the job and demote them. This was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Things did start getting better after that.

I had rejoined the U S Naval Reserve and was the Supply officer for a Construction Battalion in San Antonio. Driving to drills every Thursday night and back to Uvalde was a chore. However, it added to our income and I was adding years toward retirement from the Navy Reserve.

I have to admit, I did drive too fast in those days. I was driving 4000 to 5000 miles each month and much of that in the middle of the night getting home to Uvalde. One night I was coming back fclip_image001[5]rom a long union meeting in Laredo. I left Laredo about 11 PM and started those 155 miles to Uvalde. I had just left Catarina on my way to Carrizo Springs and I could see down the straight road for about twenty miles. Not a car in either direction or even a light from a distant ranch house. My Ford would rock along about 100 miles an hour but it had a manual choke that I could pull it out a little and get about 103 out of her. Well, I was rocking and rolling along and I topped a little rise. When my lights dropped as I started down the other side, I could not believe what I saw.

The road was literally covered with cattle. They had gotten out through some fence and were all over the road and in both right of way ditches. The ditches were not deep but they were wide from the pavement to the fence line. I remember driving over to the right fence line and across the road down into the left ditch and back up on the road. As I fought my way from one side of the road to the other all I could see was cows in front of me and on both sides of the car. When I emerged on the other side of the cattle I was shaking so bad I had to stop and get out of the car for a few minutes. It was an absolute miracle that I did not hit a single cow, though I did brush against more than one. That was the last time I ever drove that fast.

It was just as well. I had burned out two engines and when my good friend Horace, the Plant Superintendent, put the third engine my car he had them put a truck radiator. He also had them install a special five bladed fan in the car. That worked well-except in the winter I would drive all the way to San Antonio and never could get the engine warmed up enough to run the heater.

Photo of telephone operators found here.

Photos of Carrizo Springs found here.

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