FLOYD E. "RED" SMITH, 1969 -1977.
The old time craftsmen who intended the IAM to be an exclusive and
selective fraternity of highly skilled journeymen machinists probably spun
in their graves when Floyd Emery "Red" Smith was sworn in as the
IAM's tenth International President. Not only was Red Smith not a
journeyman, he was not even a machinist.
Born to a family of itinerant farm workers in a long-gone crossroads
village in Kansas in 1912, Red Smith's first and apparently only brush
with trade came in 1929 when he went to work for 25¢ an hour as a
machinist helper in a small shop in St. Louis after dropping out of high
school at the age of seventeen. . . .In later years, Smith recalled that
in travels to remote corners of Nevada he got to know IAM members in every
part of the state and gradually began to serve as a sort of informal
unpaid business representative for the Machinists Union in Nevada.
WILLIAM W. "WIMPY" WINPISINGER, 1977-1989.
Born the son of a union printer in Cleveland in 1924, Bill Winpisinger
got on the fast track early in life. As a burly teenager he was a
ferocious competitor, playing both ways on the line in high school
football and good enough at basketball to get a tryout as a catcher with
the Yankee farm club. Possessing a keen and questing intelligence he was
to much the rebel, too rambunctious and impatient for the faculty at
Cleveland's West Tech High School. Helped by a little push from the
authorities, he dropped out of the 11th grade a month after Pearl Harbor.
With the world at war and itching for more action than a class room could
offer, he went to work in a local machine tool factory. In later years he
recalled that this first brush with factory life, though brief, was enough
to teach him the evils of company unionism. In August 1942, four months
before his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the Navy. Over the next three
years he served in the Mediterranean, North Africa, England and was at the
beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He was on his way to the Pacific when Japan
surrendered. Though he credits the navy with teaching him his trade as a
diesel mechanic, he says it also taught him to distrust the abuse and
ignorance of autocratic authority.