The Truth About NATLFED

NOC, WROC, EROC — Revisited

What exactly IS the purpose of a national office as compared to a regional office or even a local office central?

In the beginning, there was darkness – okay, let’s get serious.

When the earliest fledgling entities were only on the east coast, the coordination and direction were overseen by a State Operations team that drove around in a crate.  If the car stank, it could have been the parent car to “The Green Onions” (west coast folks will get a chuckle from that one).  With the expansion to California, it became apparent that the nomadic lifestyle of the team had to settle down and take roots.

A location secured, a permanent headquarters established yet it hung no red banners over its doors.  This office also served as a safe house.  It’s important to note that we’re not talking about the answering service in Manhattan where messages are taken and mail is received, with diligent receptionists calling every half hour with the code and mail cadre picking up parcels 2-3 times a week.  That’s the address that appears on the calendar, not the one where authorities raid once every twelve years.

It was called NATLFED Central Operations or NCO for short.  Yes, just a handful of people took care of the national administration.  There were other parts (fractions) of the organization that needed leadership as well, but as NATLFED was the largest fraction of the time directing its growth and direction was priority.  Not exactly a pizza that is evenly divided into pieces or sections or fractions like math class, if that helps you understand.

The name change occurred several years later as the other fractions began to catch up with their growth and expansion.  To reflect truly the site’s purpose, it became National Office Central.

It does get confusing if you don’t understand the structure of the organization in terms of the fractions.  We have said it before that people confound the party with NATLFED as if interchangeable but they are not.  NATLFED is just one piece, one fraction.  Yet this confusion is understandable when you remember that NATLFED is the largest fraction with an open end to the masses.

We can take a moment to boast a little about the power of the Workers Benefits Councils, which have the power to generate ancillary organizations to augment the available resources for the membership base.  That’s how Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals was born, by the way, and thus an avenue to build and expand the Medical Fraction.  So on, so forth, all that good stuff you see.

When efforts on the west coast started catching up with the east coast, it became evident that regional offices were needed to oversee the direction and growth of the mutual benefits associations and their arenas.  Western Regional Office Central (WROC) was established in San Francisco.  [I’m not sure when it was changed to Committee for Occupational Safety and Health for Attendants and Domestics (COSHAD), other than a vague sense of seeing the WROC traffic envelope at the STO desk before the raid and the COSHAD traffic envelope after the raid.  West coasters, let’s hear you’re version.].

National planned the strategies and campaigns for the arenas, directed their implementation, ensured that the locals did not miss opportunities or needs.  The primary emphasis was NATLFED, but you have to remember that the other fractions enjoyed expansion.  National saw to that growth as well.  Several unions formalized alliances with the organization, the party that is, not NATLFED.  Different types of organizations evolved including business and banking ventures.

Money to support this was needed.  From the earliest days of the brownstones to before, once there was more than one arena, the entities began fulfilling a ten percent commitment to support the leadership.  Ten percent of all revenue and resources from all organizations go to the national leadership.  Even that wasn’t enough to support the ever-expanding apparatus and campaigns, leading to the development of the businesses.  In the earlier days, the entities were very good about the ten percent.  During the slump periods, they were very remiss in their obligation, leading to awkward phone calls from the zit faced WPC recruits acting as liaison trying to ask for the 10% (and ultimately the national operations manager grabbing the phone).

The locals sent reports to regional liaisons, going through a structure where systems reported to OPS and OPS sent reports up the chain adding comments as appropriate.  These reports were reviewed by the regional liaisons, who then consulted as necessary with field directors for guidance/instruction.  Before orders were sent back down to the entities, they were approved by the field directors and then the national operations manager.

Not all reports went to the liaisons.  Some followed a different course, commissar reports going to the Political Bureau, money going to FC (it used to go to National OPS until the trio was installed, and the Old Man didn’t trust two of them with the money, so couriers stopped by the FC desk first before taking the traffic upstairs) (now you’re wondering which two he didn’t trust – one was a revolving door).

Most of the reports directly concerned the mutual benefits associations and their basic strategies.  Some of the more progressive arenas such as Suffolk had reports of interest to various other fractions such as the medical or legal fraction, etc.

By now, hopefully you can understand the growth that necessitated a growing staff of national and regional leadership.  The difference from submissions from COSHAD to NOC was that additional layer of review by the regional staff along with copies of orders they sent back to the west coast entities.  When there was a west coast liaison, she reviewed all materials.

Some of you are probably thinking – that’s all well and good but what was the difference between the National Operations Manager and the NOC Operations Manager?  And we have a bingo!  National OPS was just that – operations manager for the organization overseeing the day-to-day, etc.  The NOC OPS was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the facility.  National OPS had to have the freedom to get on the phone, talk with an entity and not worry about dinner running late because a facility operations manager would take care of the dinner.  A bad example, sorry.  Hey, people like to eat and when you take away food, they get pissed.

There was also delineation between national systems coordinators and NOC systems coordinators.  The office supply coordinator was a NOC facility staff position, not even warranting a full-time staff.  National Procurement was responsible for working with the locals to provide tools to bolster and increase donated resources, whereas NOC PRO was responsible for procuring donated materials using the CCMP front to offset costs for the NOC facility.  You can see how it gets a little muddy.  National systems coordinators and facility staff coordinators were not equal in capacity.  In addition, the national systems did development including a National FIIN system that field tested pitches at the penthouse apartment, developed big ticket fundraising campaigns and shared the tools with the locals.

For whatever reason, the Old Man never formalized Eastern Regional Office Central (EROC) as a separate entity from National Office Central (NOC).  It certainly was the intent.  Working at National did not automatically make you a national leader.  It depended upon your status and standing along with assignment.

Some would argue that the true national leadership was the central committee.  Yes, that is true, and central committee members are scattered between the field entities and regional offices.  One requirement is that all arena operations managers must be central committee members.  The directors of fractions are always central committee members, and work directly at the national office.  The central committee never met as a whole due to the impracticality of transporting all of the members from the west coast to the east coast.  Instead, west coast met at one location and east coast met at another location, with central committee members in the field joining the meetings to participate.  Then the quorum of quorums would meet to ensure there was unity in what both sub bodies discussed and had final authority.

Consensus was very important.  Consensus was all or nothing.  Everyone had to agree or there was no binding decision.  It was asked that if the dissent was a very select few or even one, to submit to the body, even while in disagreement, to vote in consensus and work as part of the group to implement that decision.

This process eventually became corrupted when central committee members began to be deliberately excluded from the meetings.  If they weren’t at the meeting, well it was said consensus was still achieved because they weren’t there to dissent and they were still honor bound to implement that decision.  This practice thrived after the Old Man’s death.  Kind of made a mockery of the whole thing – why not just kick the person off the central committee?  There were several persons expelled from the central committee including the revolving door.

But we digress…let’s get back to the national office.

The Old Man was always interested in setting up the national headquarters at the Pressmen’s Home, the old headquarters for the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union of North America.  You can look it up on Wikipedia.  The union utilized the facilities from 1911 to 1967, eventually relocating to an area more accessible in modern times.  Start your map programs – it’s near Rogersville, Tennessee.  It was entirely self-sufficient including a hydroelectric power plant, office buildings, sanitarium and a trade school.  The Old Man liked its historical worth.

So what was the difference between NOC and EROC?  Some people who were there will tell you it was one and the same, those that didn’t understand there was a subtle layer between the regional operations and the national operations.  Of course, when your national operations manager is cooking dinner for you because it’s her turn, I guess the lines could become blurred.  Lead by example.

As Women’s Press Collective started recruiting more cadre per year than all the entities on the east coast or the west coast (it’s true, and some might even say more cadre than both coasts combined), you had these people that never spent a day of organizing suddenly appointed as liaisons to entities.  This caused frictions (not fractions) when some punk nose twenty year old started barking orders to people like DR in Suffolk, a freedom rider from the sixties, an early founder and leader with years of organizing under her belt.  God, she must have been throwing up every time that snot nosed brat started reading straight out of the EO.

So that was one problem with the lack of separation.

Another problem was COSHAD self-elevating itself to the same level as NOC.  COSHAD was NOT equal, did not have the duties or obligations for overseeing the national campaigns or strategies, didn’t even have to worry about the different fractions.  Yet it certainly visualized itself as on parity.  The Old Man used to call the OPS to put her back in her place.  This problem worsened with the departure of the west coast liaison, the official line that she was on indefinite medical leave but in reality, she had told the Old Man to go screw himself before walking out the door for the last time.

There was a shift, however, as cadre numbers continued to decline.  There was an exodus of cadres after the failed date that occurred for years.  Several original founders just up and left – okay, not just up and left but that’s the short, SHORT version.  The heyday of 90-100 cadres at NOC was reduced to 30 or so cadre, with so many raw recruits from the WPC that didn’t know a damn thing about strata organizing.  There was a change in understanding, easing up on the reins, “COSHAD can handle it” when it came to most west coast matters, but this sometimes came in conflict with national strategies.

There were several periods where national leadership feared COSHAD would take the west coast entities and split, form its own party and compete with NATLFED or even try to take over NATLFED.  One such period occurred when a red trade union leader was placed in a national leadership role ordinate to the operations manager.  The Old Man took charge of that one.

Of course, this is somewhat ancient history in the scheme of things.  While NOC and EROC still are not separated, the notion of NOC as physically housing the national leadership is very clearly understood and COSHAD as a regional leadership clearly understood.  At the same time, east coast regional leadership is very clearly delineated from the national leadership.  Pack up your troubles and just move to Tennessee, already.

So who got the 10%?  National.  Period, end of question, it went to National.  Not NOC – National.  It amazes us that some people claim otherwise, that COSHAD kept the 10% on the west.  It wasn’t theirs to keep.

Well, enough about the regional offices and the national office.  How does it work at the local level?

I like to use Suffolk as the example because it was the original flagship arena, fully developed with numerous strategies and campaigns, generating ancillary organizations, a thriving service center, multiple field offices and support groups.  No other arena came close.

An arena operations manager is in charge of all efforts within an arena.  In the event that one is not designated, the ordinate is the point of production entity operations manager at office central.  Operations managers are always party members.  Please don’t confuse a volunteer running the office for a day so the cadre could run off to a unit meeting as an operations manager.  If the organization still actively used POPS and TOPS, we would say POPS (Permanent Operations Manager) had to be a party member whereas TOPS (Temporary Operations Manager) did not but should preferably be a friend of the party or tabular cadre.  A support group operations manager was always subordinate to the office central operations manager, just as a service center operations manger was subordinate.

This might seem wordy and partially personalized but it’s the best you’re going to get today.  Most former cadres don’t like discussing such things in public forums.  The whole east coast versus west coast thing is still misunderstood.  In corresponding with a recent departee from the east, national understands its scope and breadth.  There is better compartmentalization to allow delineation between the national and regional roles.  About a couple of months ago, a west coast departee still had the notion of parity between the administrative offices.


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