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0:00 - Introduction/ Background information

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Partial Transcript: "This is Sarah Milligan interviewing Suzanne Feliciano."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes graduating from Owensboro Senior High School and going to work at the General Electric radio tube plant. Feliciano heard that the plant was manufacturing radio tubes for communication equipment used in the Vietnam War. She says it was the best job available in Owensboro, Kentucky, particularly for women. Her mother had previously worked at General Electric.

Keywords: General Electric; Job applications; Owensboro (Ky.); Pay; Radio; Radio tubes; Working conditions

Subjects: Labor; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Women--Employment; Women--Employment--United States


GPS: Owensboro, Ky.
Map Coordinates: 37.7719074, -87.11116759999999

5:54 - Joining the union at General Electric/ Felicano's father's work, military and union history

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Partial Transcript: "So, you started really early in GE. Did GE at that point have a union?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes joining the union at GE and her marriage to her second husband. She recalls her father's experience during World War II and his work at the Whirlpool plant in Evansville, Indiana. She says that he had an idea that saved the company a million dollars but was not compensated for his effort.

Keywords: "Closed shop"; Consciousness raising; Evansville (In.); Fort Campbell; Ft. Campbell; GE; General Electric; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Joseph Kermit Coomes; Teenage marriage; Union; Whirlpool; World War 2; World War II; World War Two; WW2; WWII

11:51 - Feliciano's parents' family background and marriage

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Partial Transcript: "So, did your parents meet before he was in the military?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes her parents courtship while he was in training and fighting during World War II. Her mother was living in Detroit during the war. Family conflict arose because Feliciano's parents married in Detroit after her father returned from overseas instead of immediately coming home to Owensboro.

Keywords: Detroit (MI); Family relationships; In-laws; Marriage; Owensboro (Ky.); World War 2; World War II; WW2; WWII

16:16 - Feliciano's second marriage and divorce / Starting work at Kenco Plastics

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Partial Transcript: "Well, so, you, I kind of directed you away. Your second marriage to the paratrooper."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano talks about moving to Monterey, California to live with her second husband's family and the tensions she experienced with his mother. Feliciano and her husband had two children together and were married for ten years. She describes various jobs she held when her children were young. She began work at the Kenco Plastics factory in Owensboro around the time of their divorce. She recalls coming home with bleeding, blistered hands from the heat of the plastic.

Keywords: California; Children; Divorce; Fort Campbell; Ft. Campbell; In-laws; Kenco Plastics; Kentucky Electronics; Pregnancy; Typewriters; Waitress

20:45 - Working at Kenco Plastics

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Partial Transcript: "I can't remember if we were union or not. I believe we were."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano recalls starting work in October or November of 1976. She thinks that she had to leave her previous job at Kentucky Electronics as a result of conflict with management over her union activism. She describes working with plastic blow molds to make automobile parts. She says she liked factory work because she could think about other things or even read. She recalls the gender of people in various positions at the factory.

Keywords: "Blow mold"; Books; Factories; Factory work; Foremen; Kenco Plastics; Kentucky Electronics; Reading; Union organizing; Unions; Women workers

26:09 - Union at Kenco Plastics / Accidents, injuries and poor working conditions

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Partial Transcript: "When I went to work there they were trying to get a union in."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano recalls a personnel representative telling her that the laborers at Kenco Plastics would get a raise of a nickel over minimum wage as an incentive to avoid forming a union. She describes the reasons she was active in union work; at Kenco Plastics particularly. She remembers injuring her hand on a punch press the day before Thanksgiving. She describes another woman who was transferred to a quality control position after she had lost her arm in a work injury and other women who were injured on the factory floor.

Keywords: Cold; Heat; Hospitals; Kentucky Electronics; Lack of safety; Minimum wage; Organizing union; Punch press; Safety; Safety plate; Workers; Working conditions

30:59 - Going on strike

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Partial Transcript: "Just, the working conditions were just really bad."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano recalls a winter day when the factory was so cold that the women's hands were numb and they refused to work. Feliciano was fired for her perceived role in this action, prompting another sit down. Eventually an arbitrator determined Feliciano should not have been fired and she was reinstated. She describes continuing tensions with management.

Keywords: Arbitration; Arbitrators; Back pay; Cold; Firing; Foremen; Heating; Insubordination; Liaison; Negotiations; Plant managers; Police; Safety; Seniority; Sit down strikes; Strikes; Union representatives; Walkouts; Women laborers; Working conditions

38:59 - Organizing and running the union

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Partial Transcript: "Well, let's go back a little bit before we get to that point."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes how she had become the third shift union steward at Kenco Plastics and how she and her coworkers felt when she was reinstated after her firing. She recalls the changes the union brought about and how the union operated at a local level.

Keywords: Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen; Back pay; Bob Ballinger; Contract negotiations; Contracts; Human resources; Jess Pierce; Local 227; Membership voting; Pay; Personnel; Physical labor; Rate of pay; Safety; Strike; Union meetings; United Food and Commercial Workers; Voting for the union; William R. Ballinger

48:39 - A longer strike at Kenco Plastics / Being dragged by police from picket line

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Partial Transcript: "How did you decide to go about that?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes standing on the picket lines and intercepting delivery trucks during a strike over failed contract negotiations. She recalls forming relationships with the police monitoring the pickets because they were in the process of forming their own union.

Keywords: "Paddy wagon"; Antagonism; Civil disobedience; Deliveries; Jail; Journalists; Judges; Management; Picket lines; Picketing; Pranks; Press; Reporters; Secondary picket line; Supplies; Trucks; Women laborers; Women workers

57:25 - Class and gender discrimination in the work place

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Partial Transcript: "I remember the first night that I went to work there."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano recalls filing a grievance for a woman who was fired for missing work after being beaten by her husband. Feliciano continues to discuss the strike, and states she remembers the continuing contract negotiations during the strike.

Keywords: Blame; Contract negotiations; Domestic abuse; Foul language; Grievance; Poor; Poverty; Single mothers; Single parents; Solidarity; Strike; Unions; Voting

63:24 - The history of and need for unions

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Partial Transcript: "That's part of what a union does."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano discusses achievements of unions and how they have influenced the lives of union and non-union workers.

Keywords: "Voice"; Balance; Blame; Corporations; Eight-hour work day; Fairness; Grievance; Haliburton; Henry Ford; Inciting; Pay rate; Profits; Vacation; Wages; Workers

69:01 - Union training classes and conventions / Marriage to third husband, Ron Abshire

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Partial Transcript: "So, how did that relationship change and how long did you end up staying at this particular place altogether?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano recalls taking union steward training courses in Owensboro taught by Ron Abshire of the University of Kentucky's Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR). She talks about her relationship with Abshire and their eventual engagement and marriage in 1980.

Keywords: Children; Divorce; Grundy, Virginia; Kentucky Wesleyan College; Lexington, Kentucky; Marriage; Norma Rae; Ron Abshire; Sheila Hagan; Southern School for Union Women; United Mine Workers

76:23 - Leaving Owensboro and the union at Kenco Plastics

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Partial Transcript: "Was there any issue that you had leaving?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano remembers the emotional challenge of leaving the women she had worked with in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Keywords: Donna Morrow; Friendships; Owensboro (Ky.); Ruth Clark; Sheila Hagan

82:03 - Attending the University of Kentucky / Feminist activism on campus

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Partial Transcript: "So, how did you do in Lexington when you moved there?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes her studies and activities while studying for her bachelor's degree at the University of Kentucky. She says she met other women her own age and founded a women's group and a feminist newspaper called
"Emergence".

Keywords: Center for Labor Education and Research; CLEAR; Equal Rights Amendment; Feminist newspaper; Geraldine Ferraro; History; Journalism; National Organization for Women; NOW; Political activism; Political science major; Student newspaper; The Colonel; Walter Mondale; Women's movement; Young Republicans

87:52 - Illness and death of third husband, Ron Abshire

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Partial Transcript: "And so, I would see them, and I saw Ronnie a lot."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes her relationship with Abshire after they separated. She recalls his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and his death ten months later.

Keywords: Divorce; Lung cancer; Smoking

90:11 - Graduating from the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: "Oh, gosh, so you all separated after two years after you moved to Lexington. But I mean you were still friends and did you finish your degree in UK then?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes how she paid for college and was able to finish her degree in four years.

Keywords: Grants; Loans; Student loans

91:58 - History and operations of CLEAR / History of unions

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Partial Transcript: "Well, and that's part of it. And at that point I don't know how long CLEAR had been an organization."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano and Milligan discuss the purpose of CLEAR. Feliciano describes the history of the labor movement and the necessity for education about that history.

Keywords: Bonus Army; Center for Labor Education and Research; Crystal Lee Sutton; Douglas MacArthur; Flo Estes; Idenitity; J.P. Stevens; Joe Bella; Joe Hill; John D. Rockefeller; Knights of Labor Union Band; Ludlow massacre; Matewan (Wv.); Music; Norma Rae; Photojournalism; Ron Abshire; Union history; University of Kentucky; Values; World War I

100:35 - Working at the Southeast Women's Employment Coalition

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Partial Transcript: "What did you do when you finished school, your undergrad with political science?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano remembers moving to Lexington in 1986 to work for an organization founded by Leslie Lilly to help women without education find employment in well-paid fields like road construction and coal mining.

Keywords: Conflict resolution; Gender; Gender and race; Hilton Head (Sc.); Male-dominated jobs; Manual; Race; Race relations; Service jobs; Unskilled women workers

113:19 - Pursuing photojournalism

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Partial Transcript: "So, what did you do after you left that organization?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes why she decided to return to school at Western Kentucky University. She also describes the jobs she took after completing her studies.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Darkroom; Deeds of War; Film; Frankfort (Ky.); Freelance photography; James Nachtwey; Life magazine; Lima (Oh.); Mountain Workshop; Newspapers; Paris, France; Photographs; Service work; Student loans; Temp agency; Temporary employment; Under Fire; Vacation; Vietnam War; Waitressing; Western Kentucky University

119:48 - Working as photo editor in Vicksburg, Mississippi

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Partial Transcript: "And then left there and went to work as a photo editor at the paper in Vicksburg, Mississippi."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes the politics and racism she encountered while working in the deep South.

Keywords: "War of Northern Aggression"; Civil War; Politics; Racism; Yankees

123:24 - Changes in journalism and photojournalism

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Partial Transcript: "What made you choose to go down there?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes the lack of jobs for reporters and photographers and a general decline in investigative journalism.

Keywords: Agendas; Credibility; Filtering information; Investigative journalism; Newspapers; Opinions

127:51 - The current state of unions

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Partial Transcript: "So what are your thoughts? I know you're at a point in your life where you're evaluating where you're at and where you want to go."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano says she would like to continue to work but would not feel at home in unions after being away from the work for years. She thinks unions need to engage in "consciousness raising" in order to earn and sustain public support.

Keywords: Education; Lack of support; Membership decline; Unions

130:47 - Struggling to make a living in photojournalism

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Partial Transcript: "Well, I don't know. And as far as working in photojournalism, trying to do your own projects, for me the question is how do I make any money doing that?"

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano shares her own struggles and those of other photojournalists trying to find work outside of traditional media.

Keywords: Event photography; Freelancing; Magazines; New media; Newspapers; Pet portraits; Wedding photography; Weddings

137:44 - Losing passion for work and sense of identity

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Partial Transcript: "Well, you have done a lot of really interesting things. You have a lot of passion for what you do."

Segment Synopsis: Feliciano describes losing a sense of passion and purpose as she has left behind her work in union activism and photojournalism.

Subjects: Alienation; Equal Rights Amendment; History; Phyllis Schlafly; Tea Party movement