15 October 2010

Bob Haldeman Interview (33)

In some of the areas, like the smelter, you had a bunch of 
bohunks who were running the converters and the reverberatory 
furnaces and the roaster building. The first time I put a 
Chilean in the converter section, the whole converter 
group- -Americans and Canadians (and these were not university 
graduates; they were practical men) got word to the 
superintendent: "You tell Haldeman, that new man in the 
management, that we're going to quit if they put the Chilean in 
the same job as we are." 

I told the superintendent to ask them when they wanted 
their plane tickets to go home; I'd have them delivered to them. 
Two of them picked it up, and I filled the jobs immediately. 
Everybody became quiet; they suddenly realized that I wasn't 
fooling around. They had a Chilean engineer, a college 
graduate, in there running the shift. He ran it much better 
than the bohunks--the practical men. 

That started the thing going in management. About this 
time we had a tremendous breakthrough, and the remaining 
expatriates realized that they had to compete with the Chileans. 
It made a very healthy atmosphere [for the Chileans] to get up 
the management ladder, because they had really worked their 
tails off. The Americans figured they were down for three 
years, and they could do almost what they wanted. No way.

Sewell bunk houses

So it was very helpful. Then it became the place to go for 
the Chilean engineer, and we then had requests of the best 
people around to get on the dollar payroll. We started to 
hand-pick the people out of the industry [laughs], and we picked 
up an excellent team. I'll get to that later on. 

Swent: This you could do on your own authority? The board in New York 
didn't know what was going on? 

Haldeman: I didn't consult them; I told them. 

There was myself and Mr. Grant, and then we had a manager 
of operations, manager of service departments, and manager of 
personnel. We had the equivalent job in purchasing and 
accounting. Accounting was always held with an American under 
Kennecott's American accounting system; they have the hands on 
the cash box. I don't have any problem with that; that's 
perfectly right. But the fellow they had down there went along 
with us and hired Chileans under him. 

About '63 or '64, we had an opening for a manager in the 
service departments. I didn't have anybody I could put in that 
I would be satisfied with who could compete with a Chilean 
fellow, Nelson Pereira. He had been educated at the University 
of Illinois in the United States and at one time was 110-, 220- , 
and 440-meter AAU track champion. A Chilean! 

So we made him the first Chilean gerente. Well, that was 
earth-shaking. [laughs] Then he turned around and married the 
daughter of my Mr. Casarotto, and they had four children. Their 
daughter is the girl who married a son of my friend who worked 
in the Bethlehem Steel mines. Small world, eh? 

Index to Haldeman Interview

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