UAW Local 848

Jefferson Plant Makes the News

Jefferson Plant Makes the News

by Gene Lantz

The front page of the Metro Section of the November 9 Sunday Dallas Morning News talks about the old Jefferson facility in a way that might bring up some historical information and some present-day bitterness.

It says that 29,000 people worked at the plant at one time, but it says the time was after World War II, which is inaccurate. The heyday, of course was not after, but during World War II. We were UAW Local 645, with 22,000 members, and the original builders and owners of the plant were North American Aviation, a subsidiary of General Motors.

According to the Dean of North Texas History, UTA Professor George Green, they built the plant in a Grand Prairie cornfield in 1939. They anticipated, by two years, America's entry into the World War.

The plant was padlocked at the end of the war, and all the employees were informed, by a radio announcement, that they no longer had jobs. The eastern side, called "Plant A" in their day and "Building One" in ours, soon re-opened as Temco. They stole as many tools as they could from the "Plant B" western side, and went on to make popcorn machines and do every other kind of work they could get.

In 1949, Vought Sikorsky moved its Connecticut operations, and a number of Yankee aerospace workers, to take over "Plant B." They continued to be a major part of America's defense arsenal through the Korean and Vietnam wars. The two plants were combined into Ling-Temco-Vought, and then LTV. The two UAW unions combined into Local 848 in 1962.

Generations of aircraft workers spent most of our waking lives in the plant before it closed last year.

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