Summary of Interview
Frank Gallardo was born and raised in El Paso, he started working at ASARCO because he had 3 uncles that used to work in there, he started working at ASARCO on August 26, 1972. His first shift on ASARCO began at 3 o'clock in the evening, he would go every Monday to see if there were any open positions for a job but for 3 years he didn’t get the chance, so one Wednesday he received a call from the industry to tell him that he was hired. He needed to meet some expectations such as the weight, that for that time was required to weigh 125 pounds and he weighed 119, and the nurse gave him a chance and told him that he wouldn’t last, and he worked there 27 years and 9 months. April 21, 1999, was his last day working there after almost 28 years, it was not only his last day, it was for around 100 people that were gathered on a baseball field. He started working as a labor pool that was shoveling dirt and making piles of that dirt, but he managed to get out of the 24-hour shift that they had and got into an 11-hour job that it was unloading. The minimum wage at that time was 1 dollar and 90 cents and he started with 3 dollars and 35 cents that was a huge difference and he worked a lot of hours and he even got a house in the first month of work. He says that those 27 years were hard work and he even saw people that died on the plant at a point where you could get traumatized from watching how they died. He had 2 injuries while working there, he had a mechanical issue and almost got his finger of the left hand amputated, but thanks to his coworkers and nurses, it was not amputated and the other accident was nothing compared to that accident, he was traumatized and he thought about not going back but he did. As time passed by the security of the plant was getting better so that created more confidence in him and in the other employees. When he survived the accident, he was given an award as well as his coworker who help him and they got medals for being hero and survivor. He has that the company was huge and had over 3000 employees over the time. His friend died at the plant because of a power problem, but the hardest thing for him is that his friend died in his arms and he says that he would do anything to bring him back for even seconds. He has a lot of memories as well as pictures and items that he used to use, and those memories are meaningful for him. He says that there were a lot of workers that got contaminated from the plant and he remembers them as heroes and respects them. He says that the plant melts material like copper or silver but the temperature in there was really high, at a point where you just get close and you started sweating. He attended at the time where they demolished the ASARCO towers in 2013 and he got nostalgic. The managers at that plant were strict on their work because there was a lot of risk in the safety, so they needed to follow the rules and have good conduct. He went to the plant that they have in Tucson, Arizona, and the workers at the plant were surprised that there was a worker that had work for 28 years and was proud of working in ASARCO. The workers at the plant at that time were 80 percent Mexicans and 20 percent a mixture of whites and blacks, and that shows how Mexicans are hard workers. The plant had a union where around 90 percent were part of it and they used to have meetings in order to make corrections and make a safer environment. There was a place called the Calavera where the I-10 passes thru, it was a place that was a cemetery, and he had relatives buried in there. When ASARCO hired him, he had the same wage for 1 year and it went up each year. He has a co-worker who transferred from El Paso to Arizona in order to keep working in the plants of ASARCO because it’s good pay, around 5000 to 6000 dollars a month. He says that it does not matter if the plant will move 100 miles of the city he would still work in there because as he mentions before it was a good wage. At the time he and his friend retired they received a 500 dollar check every week.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
1 hour 5 minutes
Interview with Frank Gallardo by Alejandro Garcia, 2019, "Interview no. 1715," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.