My Father Said, ‘You’re Going to Work at EB’

Ron Britagna: Third-Generation EB Shipfitter

My grandfather started working there in 1915 as a shipwright. He lived in New London and would row across the river on the weekends to keep the furnaces burning on the steam cranes.

When my Dad, Elio, was 16 he went right to work as a shipfitter. He worked his way up. He was very well-liked.

He didn’t care of you were the sweeper or the head guy. He treated everybody the same. He was fair and tough. You could have a fight and a minute later it was forgotten. “OK, let’s get the job done.” He retired in 1976.

I was 18 when I started. It was 1958. One day my father said, “You’re going to work at EB.

You’re going to be a shipfitter.” I never thought a lot about it. I had a good time. I learned. I moved around a lot. My last job was as the manager on the Dallas.

The Management Club started in the late ’60s because the company wasn’t treating supervisors with respect. People weren’t getting raises and they were getting let go for no reason. A guy in the pipe shop became president. We all paid $25 to join.

They got these pins made up that said USA – United Supervisors Association. EB said, “If we catch you with them on your badge you’ll be fired.” But we had 700 members. We had the power. The company decided it was best to sit down and talk.

The ’60s were wild and crazy. By today’s standards you’d never believe it.

At Christmas they put up grills and everything in the yard. Even my Dad’s office. You’d go in there, “Hey, you want a drink?” Everybody brought food in and they had big parties and then you all left. They went to Elfie’s and El Bolero for a hydraulic sandwich – a beer, a shot and a beer.