22 February 2011

Ch 59: Haldeman Interview: A Farewell to Kennecott

A Disappointing Farewell to Kennecott

Kennecott HQ in NYC

Haldeman: As the months rolled by, Kennecott had nothing for me. From
time to time I said, "Mike, what's with me? What are we going
to do here?"

He said, "Take it easy. Relax. You work on these papers.
We'll find something." It really worked out that by March of
1972, I realized that there was nothing for the bright boy from
Chile. I was being frozen out. In fact, they put me in an
office, well furnished by office standards, of somebody who had
left. I figured out who it was. Over the following months they
took out everything except one desk, two chairs, and a coat
rack. Then they took the direct dialing off the long-distance

So I said to my wife, "This is not for us. I don't want
any part of it. What do you want to do? You've been following
me all of these years; I'll follow you."

She said, "I'd like to live in a warm clime. I like
Florida." We had some friends who were in the U.S. embassy who
retired from the State Department and took up living in
Sarasota, Florida, on a small island, out in the bay, called
Bird Key.

Haldeman: So I said that was fine. I talked to Mr. Michaelson and said,
"Mike, I have a personal problem, and you people don't have
anything for me . "

He said, "Be patient."

I said, "I don't think that's the issue. Let's not get
into that. I've got my wife here, and I'm going to do what she
would like to do for the time that she has left. I think it's
only fair to her."

He said, "You can do what you want to, Buster "--that ' s the
way he always talked--"it 's up to you." He was nice with me.

I said, "According to the Chilean law and my work contract
in Chile, had I stayed on the payroll, under law I would have
had certain severance pay proportionate to the number of years."
Because I didn't qualify for the Kennecott retirement program.
I wasn't a Kennecott employee; I was a Braden employee.
Furthermore, at that time, in "72, I was fifty-four. From
fifty-five to sixty you had to be dying to get early retirement
for health purposes with reduced benefits. From sixty to
sixty-five it was if they wanted to give it to you; and at
sixty-five whether you liked it or not, you were out. I didn't
qualify for any of those things.

The Braden Mine in the late 1930s:

Mike said, "We'll see if we can't get you under the plan."
At this stage, I really didn't want to argue too much; I Just
wanted to leave the company. I was very disappointed that after
thirty years I got this kind of treatment.

So came April 1, my last day. No gold watch with
engraving, no farewell dinner. Michaelson said goodbye to me,
and Milliken didn't. I knew he caught the commuter out to
Darien, Connecticut, at four o'clock, so I called his secretary,
Melba, about three-thirty, and asked, "Is your boss going to

She said, "He'll probably take the three-fifty-five."
I said, "At three-forty I want to talk to him."
"What about?"
I said, "I just want to talk to him, Melba."

She called me back and said, "He'll receive you at three-

I walked in at three- forty and said, "Frank?"

"I want to thank you for everything you've done for me
after these years. As you know, I'm leaving today."

"Yes, yes. Well, wish you luck."

I just wanted to make sure I was more of a gentleman than
he. That's what I got from Mr. Milliken for twenty-nine years
of service.

Swent: Did he shake your hand?

Haldeman: Nope. He was at his desk; he was busy.

I told my wife years ago when I got into management, "One
thing about companies: they're cold, and you always must assume
that you are expendable at any time." Another thing, too: you
can't make any friends with any of the people who work under
you, because you have to be ready to fire anybody at any time.
The same way with the people above me.

And we started to prepare our own little retirement
program, which today I am living on--not on Kennecott. That was
the end of my days in Chile and with Kennecott.

Swent: Then you went to Florida.
Haldeman: So we went to Florida.

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