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Paul Jennings, Electrical Workers Co-Founder; on Nixon Enemy List

September 13, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Paul Jennings, co-founder of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers who earned a spot on President Richard M. Nixon's enemy list, has died, the union announced Thursday.

Jennings, who died Monday at 69 in his Long Island home after a long illness, helped found the IUE in 1949 and was its president for 10 years.

The other founder was James Carey, a tough negotiator who was the IUE's first president until 1964 when he lost to Jennings in a close election. (Carey had appeared to win a narrow victory but the Department of Labor ordered a recount, which gave the presidency to Jennings.)

Jennings discarded Carey's policy of independence and sought cooperation from related unions, especially in bargaining with such industrial giants as General Electric. He called his strategy "coalition bargaining."

The IUE won a contract from GE in 1966 but two years later GE made an offer and, true to habit, refused to budge. A strike resulted, and the IUE formed a coalition with 13 unions involving 147,000 workers. The strike lasted 102 days.

After the strike, GE abandoned its bargaining practice.

The IUE was founded as a rival to the United Electrical and Radio Workers of America in protest of the other union's policies. In 1972, Jennings led a major drive against the reelection of Nixon and became one of 16 national labor leaders on the White House list of "political opponents," made public by the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

Illness caused him to retire in 1976.

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