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 History

From THE FIGHTING MACHINISTS, A CENTURY OF STRUGGLE
by Robert G. Rodden

FOURTH GENERAL SECRETARY TREASURER,
ERIC PETERSON, 1944 - 1959.
Born in Sweden in 1894 Peterson came to Rawlins, Wyoming with his immigrant family at the age of ten. His father was the town shoemaker. After completing grade school young Peterson went to work on the Union Pacific, first as a call boy, (Unlike a call girl a call boy's job was to get train crews out of bed) then as an apprentice machinist. Before completing his apprenticeship and becoming eligible for IAM membership Peterson found himself in the thick of the legendary 1911 strike against the Harriman lines. When the shopmen walked out Peterson walked with them. This was the strike that touched off the Person case and brought Wharton to prominence in the labor movement. Peterson became a member two years later, moving to Deer Lodge, Montana where he went to work as a machinist on the Milwaukee road. In later years, he recalled that the IAM had just negotiated a 41 an hour wage rate for machinists.

FIFTH GENERAL SECRETARY TREASURER,
ELMER E. WALKER, 1959 - 1965.
Peterson's successor, Elmer Walker, was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1900, and began his machinists apprenticeship with Swift and Company at age sixteen. After joining Local Lodge 121 in East St. Louis in 1918, Walker knocked around the Midwest as a tool and die maker for the next twelve years. . . After being appointed to the Grand Lodge staff in 1942, Walker was elected GVP and was assigned to the Great Lakes territory in 1945. When Hayes became IP in 1949 he transferred Walker to Grand Lodge to serve as resident GVP. Ten years later, at age fifty-nine, Walker became the IAM's fifth GST.

SIXTH GENERAL SECRETARY TREASURER,
MATTHEW DeMORE, 1965 -1969.
Born in Cleveland in 1903, Matt DeMore began peddling papers in a tough East Side neighborhood at the age of nine and was clerking in a hardware by the time the was eleven. After knocking around at various jobs, including blacksmith helper on the Michigan Central Railroad in Detroit and motorman on a Cleveland streetcar line, he got his growing family through the Depression working as a maintenance machinist at a company that later became a division of General Electric.
In 1935, DeMore led his fellow workers into Local Lodge 439. He advanced rapidly, first to the presidency of the local in 1936 and to directing business representative of District 54 in 1938. Over the next twenty-three years DeMore built District 54 into one of the IAM's largest and most progressive units. In the early 40's he once had his skull cracked when mounted police charged an IAM picket line in a memorably bloody strike at the Pipe Machinery Co.

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History

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