It all started in early 1954. The abandoned Spartan School of Aeronautics, used to train WWII pilots, was about to be put back to work.
First National Bank proudly proclaimed the new industry and provider of jobs in a large News-Record advert.
In March, 1955, employees voted to go union, with the United Steel Workers. The plant immediately closed until further notice. President L.K. Newell claimed that the plant had been operating at a loss since its opening, and that it couldn’t afford to pay a unionized staff.
But, it wasn’t long until workers were called back. The company received a spanking from the National Labor Board for firing eleven workers involved in organizing the union in the fall of 1954. The workers were hired back with back pay the next year.
Things settled down after that, and the company expanded into production of “blitz cans,” large containers used as motorboat gas containers and also as receptacles for drinking water. Then, on July 1, 1960, a startling announcement was made:
Crane immediately increased the facilities’ size and set up new equipment.
All went well for six years. The plant and the workforce prospered. Then in January 1966, a decision was made by the workers with profound effects.
On April 6, 1966, the Teamster-led workers went on strike. The strike drug on, and things got ugly at the picket line. As the negotiations continued to fizzle, a September meeting was held by the NLRB to determine if the plant was treating the striking workers unfairly. The decision was rendered in favor of Crane. Crane strikers were restrained by the National labor Board the next month over threats of violence.
Crane began moving equipment out of the plant, and on December 28, announced that the Miami location would be closed permanently.
Thus ends the twelve-year saga of the manufacturing facility on SE 22nd. Who knows what might have happened had the workers stayed with the more docile United Steelworkers? But they were clearly unhappy with wages, so they acted, as they had the right to do.
Today, the location is inhabited by Westco Home Furnishings Home Office and Distribution Center, a much-appreciated business and employer in a town that’s endured some tough times.
3 thoughts on “The Coming and Going of Crane Company”
My dad, Roy Parmley, was employed at Crane…….I was a 8 year old kid and was on the Pickett line with him several times and remember altercations at the gate with non – strikers …..wasn’t nice…..He had me go to the car or get way back out of the way……
I worked for Crane for about a year after graduating From N.E.O. working in the Drafting and Engineering Dept. I left before The strike took place probably around 1965. It was good job experience for me. When I left for Tulsa, Ok.
My father, Everett W. Springer was the chief plant engineer at Crane Co. He was responsible for the contracting and arranging for the construction of the actual building that was to become Crane Company. As mentioned in an earlier article – Dad worked for US Radiator Corp. located in Johnstown, Pa. In 1960 that company was bought out by Crane Co. and Dad was transferred from Johnstown to Miami, Ok where he oversaw the construction of the new facilities. This was 1960 and was the year my love for Miami, Ok and Oklahoma in general was born. I started school at Will Rogers Junior High in the 7th grade. Went through Will Rogers and then on to Miami High School where I spent my Sophomore and Junior years. My Dad was promoted to Regional Plant Engineer and was transferred from Miami to Chicago, Il. I had to forego my senior year at MHS and instead graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Il. The following year, I came back to go to and graduate from NEO A&M. Other than my short stint in the US Army, I have been a resident in Miami (1972 – 1995) and Afton, Ok (1995 – present). I have been a resident of Oklahoma since 1960 and consider Northeast Oklahoma to be my home. The people and the area are the finest on the planet. Even though I did not actually graduate from Miami High School I have a MHS Senior Class ring 1966 because back then, we ordered rings during our Junior year. I have always considered myself part of the “Class of ’66”. I have made many friends over the years and appreciate the fact that the Class of ’66 always invites me to attend the class reunions.