Keller: Strike disputes are not new

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015

With Shell and Motiva going on strike last week, it reminded me of a strike 60 years ago in Reserve.  

The employees of the Godchaux Sugar Refinery walked out over a wage dispute.

The local union was asking for a salary increase of ten cents an hour. The company agreed to give them a five-cent increase, with an additional five cents at a later date.  

The union refused the offer and walked out in April of 1955. The strike lasted 10 months.

I was on a 15-day leave from the Navy in the beginning of April.

The strike had just begun and my dad worked there. This was the only job he ever had.

He was a supervisor a little over a year and was obligated to work during the strike. I remember how it bothered him knowing that he had grown up, attended school and worked with many of the union members on strike.  

It was only one week after my leave was over and I was back on my ship when the Red Cross notified me my dad had died while on the job.

This was on April 26, 1955. He was only 48 years old.

The strike turned violent, and friends and family members turned against each other.

Without the local media coverage of today, the strike got national attention and was on the cover of a national publication.

Even though I went to school with Jeanne, I really didn’t know her other than she was quite, made good grades and was always pleasant.

It was years later when we dated that she told me she worked at Godchaux Sugars during the strike.

She worked in the engineering department as a secretary.  

She shared how two armed guards picked her up in the morning and brought her home after work.

She remembers the crude jeering and ugly comments as they entered and left the plant. For those of you who know Jeanne, I’m sure you find that hard to believe.  

Yes, it was a strike 60 years ago that damaged a community which would never be the same.  

With that said, I pray the Shell and Motiva strike will be settled in a short time without any trouble.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call 985-652-8477 or e-mail: