Standish Michael Keon (1913-87) was one of the ‘seven’ defectors from the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party at the 1955 Split. His narrow defeat at the subsequent election terminated a decade-long parliamentary career (state and federal) during which he had earned a formidable reputation — some predicted that he had the stuff to attain the highest political office. Despite this reputation, the published literature on Keon is scarce. This paper fills part of that void by exploring his period as secretary of the Victorian Public Service Association between 1939 and 1949. It particularly focuses on his successful prosecution of the Association’s campaign for an independent Public Service Board that brought him into direct conflict with Albert Dunstan, the longest serving Victorian Premier during the first half of last century. The paper shows that Keon’s secretaryship acted as a springboard to entry into the Victorian parliament in 1945. It also illuminates his style as a trade union official, a style confrontational and compelling. Through this evocation of Keon as militant trade unionist, the paper offers a counterpoint to standard assumptions about the anti-communist breakaways of 1955.