Warren Murphy: Union Bust

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    Union Bust
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Union Bust: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When a giant transportation union controlling all air, train and truck traffic is born, not only does this conglomerate pose a threat to the local leaders, but the entire country is at risk until Remo Williams moves in to dissolve danger in a deadly game.

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***********************************************

* Title : #007 : UNION BUST *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *

***********************************************

CHAPTER ONE

What were they going to do, kill him?

Jimmy McQuade had worked his installer crew to the limit, and he wasn't going to work them one more hour, not if the district supervisor got on his knees and begged, not if the president of the International Communication Workers threatened to kick him out of the union, not if they raised the double overtime to triple overtime like last week, during Easter.

His crew was falling asleep at the job. A half hour before, one of his senior linemen working outside made a mistake a rookie wouldn't think of, and now the old man assembling one of the gaggle of WATS lines connections had passed out.

"Okay. Everybody off the job," said Jimmy McQuade, shop steward of Local 283 International Communications Workers, Chicago, Illinois.

"Go home and sleep. I don't want to see any of you for two days. This overtime pay isn't going to do dead men any good."

Heads lifted. One young man kept working on his knees.

"We're going home. We're going to rest. Somebody shake the kid," said Jimmy McQuade.

A gray-haired worker, telephone cords strung around his neck like leis, patted the youngster on the back.

"We're going to rest."

The young man looked up, dazed.

"Yeah. Rest, Beautiful, baby. I forgot what it was like."

He curled over his installer's box on his tool holster side and snored away in bliss.

"Leave him. Nobody's going to wake him," said Jimmy McQuade.

"It's about time," said an installer dropping his tools at his feet and making his way across the stacked beams and sacks of concrete to a bucket the men used to relieve themselves.

The plumbing had been installed, but so rapidly and by so few men that the toilets did not work. Some of the plaster was falling and it was only a day old.

The management had brought in carpenters to repair that by putting up plaster board. The plasterers did not object. Some of the men, Jimmy McQuade knew, had objected to the local president of the Plasterers' Union. What they got were little envelopes that paid them for the time they would not be working. Like typesetters in newspapers when advertisers brought in pre-set ads.

The difference was that the plasterers had nothing in their contracts stipulating such payment. But that was the plasterers. Jimmy McQuade was communications and he had worked at his job for twenty-four years and had been a good installer, a good supervisor, and a good union man. Supervisors were rarely made stewards. But the men trusted Jimmy McQuade so much that they insisted a rule of Local 283 be altered to allow him to hold both posts.

The amendment passed unanimously. He had to leave the union hall quickly because he didn't want anyone to see him cry. It was a good job until this building.

All the trade unions involved were secretly griping about it, he knew. Which was strange because there was more money coming in on this job than anyone could remember. Some of the electricians bought second homes on this job alone. It was the overtime. Some rich lunatic had decided a ten-story building would go up in two months. From scratch.

And if that wasn't weird enough, the telephone system they wanted would have been ample for the Strategic Air Command headquarters. Jimmy knew a couple of men who had worked on that one. They had been screened as if they were going to personally get the plans to the hydrogen bomb.

Jimmy McQuade had been screened for this job. That should have warned him. He should have known there would be something screwy, that just maybe he would find himself not a shop steward or a crew supervisor but a slave driver working men sixteen-hour days nonstop for two weeks to meet the district supervisor's order:

"We don't care what else isn't ready. They want the phones. And they're going to get them. The phones have to be in and operating by April 17. I don't care what expenses, what delays you have. April 17."

That was management. You could expect that sort of excitability from management. What was surprising was that the union was worse. It had started at the screening.

Jimmy McQuade had not known it was a screening. He had been invited by the international vice-president himself to union headquarters in Washington. The union would pick up his lost time. He had thought at first he was going to be appointed to some national labor post.

"I guess you want to know why I asked you here," said the international vice-president. He sat behind a desk remarkably like the one used by the vice-president of the phone company. Although here the window opened to the Washington Monument instead of Lake Michigan.

"No," said Jimmy smiling. 'I thought we'd play pinochle until the summer, then maybe go golfing until the fall."

"Heh, heh, heh," laughed the vice-president. He didn't sound as if his mirth were real. "McQuade. How good a union man are you?"

"I'm a shop steward."

"I mean how good?"

"Good."

"Do you love your union?"

"Yeah. I guess so."

"You guess so. If it were a choice between the union or going to jail, would you go to jail? Think about it."

"You mean if someone were trying to break the union?"

"Right."

Jimmy McQuade thought a moment. "Yes," he said. "I'd go to jail."

"Do you think union business is anybody else's business?"

"Well, not if we're not doing anything illegal."

"I'm talking about giving information about union business to people outside the union."

"Hell, no!"

"Even if they're some kind of cops?"

"Yeah. Even if they're some kind of cops."

"You're a good union man. You've got a good union record and a good work record. There's a job starting that's important to all good union men. I can't tell you why, but it's important. And we don't want to go advertising it around."

Jimmy McQuade nodded.

"I want you to select a fifteen-man crew of good union men, good workers who can keep their mouths shut. It's a job that would call for more than fifteen men, but that's the minimum, absolute minimum for completing this job in time. We don't want to be using any more people than we have to. If we had time, I'd do the damned thing myself. But we don't have time. Remember. Men who can work and keep quiet. There will be plenty of overtime." The vice-president reached into his large desk and brought out two envelopes. He held forth the fatter one. "This is for you. I find it good policy never to let anyone else know what I'm making. It will serve you well to follow it. There may be a lot of pressure in this job, and what may be a small friction at the beginning, becomes a bigger one later on. This smaller one is for the men. Don't take it out of the envelope in front of them. Individually, personally on the side."

The vice-president handed Jimmy McQuade the smaller envelope.

"It'll take me about two weeks to get the right crew," said Jimmy McQuade.

The vice-president looked at his watch. "We got you for departure from Dulles in forty minutes. Maybe you can make some phone calls from the airport. You can also make a few from the plane."

"You can't phone from an airplane, a commercial liner."

"That should be your biggest worry. Believe me, on that flight the pilot will give you anything you want. Take a stewardess, too, if it won't tire you out. You begin tonight. It's a small suburb outside of Chicago. Nuihc Street. That's it. Funny name. It's a new street, named by the builders. Actually it's just an access road now. For the bulldozers and things."

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