William ‘‘Winpy’’ Winpisinger

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Mar 10 12:10:54 MST 2001

The New York Times, December 13, 1997, Saturday, Late Edition - Final

William W. Winpisinger, a fiery, left-leaning labor leader who battled
management, politicians and sometimes his fellow unionists as president of
the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, died on
Thursday at a hospital in Howard County, Md. He turned 73 on Wednesday and
lived in Ellicott City, Md.

Mr. Winpisinger sometimes called himself "a seat-of-the-pants socialist,"
and he spoke and acted accordingly. Although his union of skilled workers
was sometimes considered relatively conservative within the labor movement,
Mr. Winpisinger advocated mass labor organizing.

In an era when some top-level labor leaders were hard to distinguish from
the management negotiators they faced across the table, Mr. Winpisinger was
almost a throwback to the days of labor titans like John L. Lewis and
Walter P. Reuther.


Thomas Petzinger, "Hard Landing" (Random House, 1995):

Frank Borman had known the international president of the machinists’ union
for years. He was William ‘‘Winpy’’ Winpisinger, rotund and irascible, full
of bombast, with ideological leanings as far to the left as one could reach
in mainstream politics. Winpisinger and Borman loved fast cars. The
machinists sponsored an Indy-class race team, and the two men frequently
sat together at the Indianapolis Speedway, the same racetrack once owned by
the erstwhile Eastern chairman, Eddie Rickenbacker.

So Borman could confer with the union chief freely and confidentially when
Winpisinger was in Miami for an AFL-CIO function on Friday, February 2 1,
1986. Although the pilots and flight attendants were also resisting
Borrnan’s plea for 20 percent pay cuts, it was Charlie Bryan who most
worried the Colonel. Was there anything Winpy could do?

Winpisinger was in a desperate fix. To the extent that he admired his
friend Borman he mistrusted his own local president. Winpisinger thought
Bryan had made himself into a king, so much so that people sometimes
mistook Bryan for the international president of the machinists’ union.

"Charlie hears voices," Winpisinger told Borrnan.

But at the same time, Winpisinger was painfully aware that the
rank-and-file resentment against Borman was powerful and still building.
Borman had gone to the well once too often. And in any event, Winpisinger
was mostly powerless under the union’s constitution to control Bryan.

Winpisinger gave Borman a pep talk. Just keep bargaining, he said.
Everything will work out. But in encouraging him to continue pressing, the
international president left Borman with the indelible impression that he,
the mighty William Winpisinger, would step in at the last minute and sit on
Charlie Bryan if it was necessary for saving Eastern Air Lines.

Frank Borman left his meeting with Winpisinger heaving a sigh of relief.
Maybe he could, after all, fix Eastern. Maybe, just maybe, he could
checkmate Charlie Bryan.

Louis Proyect
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