Members of Electronic and Space Technicians - Local 1553 – Have a Long, Proud History with carpenters, Union
In the 1940’s Americans were caught up in the war effort. Those who weren’t serving their country overseas were busy at home, helping build the trucks, ships, and tanks necessary to put the allies over the top.
Entrepreneur Howard Hughes put his resources to work in that effort as well. He designed and built a giant plane – almost completely out of wood because aluminum was in high demand for the production of bombers that had a battle proven record. He didn’t want his new troop carrier to put a strain on that vital resource. But in order to use wood he needed carpenters, and so he turned to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters for skilled workers. In fact, more than 800 U.B.C. members worked on the Spruce Goose.
At the time, the carpenters thought that 100’s of planes would be built. As it turned out, with the end of the war, only one was ever built, and it flew only once, for a very short period of time, in Long Beach, Ca., In 1947. However, even after the war, when the Spruce goose project was shelved, the Howard Hughes’ Tool Company continued to expand, and U.B.C. members adapted to the new work. In 1953, Hughes created Hughes Aircraft, and many more members turned to the Carpenters Union for fair representation. In 1958 Hughes bought an Oceanside electronics firm and the membership base expanded once again.
In the 1970’s, leaders of Local 1553, commonly referred to as Electronic & Space Technicians (E.A.S.T.) began a massive organizing effort. This drive resulted in the U.B.C. representing a majority of the workers, even though there was almost no work being done that would be considered traditional carpenter work.
Today, although both the Spruce Goose and Howard Hughes are long gone, and the company has been divided and sold many times over,the United Brotherhood of Carpenters is still representing these workers. Local 1553 members do a variety of work for a number of different companies. Over the years members have worked on complicated satellite and missile systems, helicopters and planes, but no matter what the project, they have remained proud members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
Some of the above pictures are courtesy of "The Evergreen Aviation Museum"For much more information about the "Spruce Goose" please visit them at: