(first?) design for the Machinists emblem was submitted by delegate
Frank French, representing Lodge 12 in Houston. It was chosen over
several others submitted. The figures on the design were a flywheel,
friction joint caliper and Machinist square with the initials of the
organization between the spokes of the flywheel. . . ."The
flywheel is significant because it generates a lot of power once it
gets started." The connection with the trade is clear since
most shops in those days were powered by stationary steam engines
with large flywheels. Brother French explained that the calipers
signify "that we extend an invitation to all white male persons
[sic] of civilized countries who are practical machinists. The
square signifies that we are square and honest."
In The Beginning
1888 - 1900
When the Knights started to fall apart, following
the Haymarket affair, Talbot saw an opportunity to
create an order
exclusively for machinists. Many, if not most, of his shopmates had
undoubtedly belonged to the Knights of Labor at one time or another
during its heyday. . . .
Carefully, slowly, he felt out others in the machine shop. He went
visiting at night, talking to groups of two or three gathered at the
homes of fellow workers. Undoubtedly, word was passed back and forth
over lunch boxes and was whispered around lathes and milling
machines. As a result of such ground-work, Talbot and eighteen other
machinists met secretly on the evening of May 5, 1888. They came
singly or by two's or three's to an engine pit where they were
sheltered by surrounding locomotives from snooping stooges or spies. .
No minutes were kept, no written records survive. But it is
reasonable to believe that none imagined that from this gathering
would come one of America's great trade unions, the only
international directly rooted in the struggle of Southern labor.
From the beginning the others acknowledged Talbot's leadership and
he accepted the task of building something out of nothing. . .
.Circumstances surrounding his premature death suggest he may have
had a short fuse. But during the few short years he led his union he
provided the rock-like qualities needed for a firm foundation.
Originally these nineteen machinists called their organization the
Order of United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers of America. They
adopted and adapted the rather grandiose terminology that had been
used by the Knights of Labor. Tom Talbot became Grand Master
Machinist and William L. Dawley, another of the original nineteen,
became Grand Secretary. This was the beginning of what has come to
be one of the largest and most influential organizations of workers
on the North American Continent.