International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers
= Audio Available Online
Ray Abner is a retired general chairman of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers (IBF&O). His experience with the L&N Railroad began during his childhood in Eastern Kentucky. Main Topics: Childhood and early years in railroad boarding camp. Experience as a telegrapher; transfer to position at the South Louisville Shops after being furloughed in 1936-37; early union organizing at the South Louisville Shops; definition of the terms "fireman" and "oilers" and the relation of semiskilled and unskilled workers to the IBF&O; work responsibilities of the laborers; role of the IBF&O during the 1955 strike against the L&N Railroad; responsibilities of the general chairman of the IBF&O; changes brought about by equal opportunity employment legislation; reflections on union activities including accomplishments, labor and management relations, and cooperation from the national office for local problems; historical importance of the railroads to Eastern Kentucky.
Mildred Bradley is a retired worker at the South Louisville Shops. She was among a large group of women hired by the L&N Railroad during World War II. Main topics: Early life and jobs before employment with L&N; early working years at the L&N (good description of cleaning diesels and working with brick masons); postwar years; unionization and the importance for women; 1955 strike observations and experiences; limitations on women workers who continued to work at the South Louisville shops; background on International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers; special tools and aspects of Mildred Bradley's work; work experiences of father, Jess Davis; reflections on race relations in Kentucky and on the L&N Railroad. Wrap-up: comments on work including examples of how she dug the pits under the diesels and other heavy machines, and more explanation concerning union activities and records; reflections on what might have been if times had been different and compliments paid to Ms. Bradley.
Rebecca Smith is a retired South Louisville shops employee. She was among a large group of women hired by the L&N Railroad during World War II. Main topics: early life and jobs before employment with the L&N; work experiences in Shop 13; work experiences in Shop 14; importance of the union (International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers) for women workers; reflections on race relations at the South Louisville shops; condition of the rail cars cleaned by Smith; limitation of facilities for women employees; limitation experienced by women employees that made transition to the skilled crafts difficult; work experiences at Strawberry Yard (good description of all phases of work done by women); additional work experiences after returning to the South Louisville shops; wrap up and personal items about Ms. Smith's life.