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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, Fall 1973. Interview E-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Negotiations process and decision to strike

Hoyman explains negotiations between representatives of unions, such as the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), and textile companies, such as Oneita Knitting Mills. According to Hoyman, there are three options for workers during such processes—to accept the proposed contract, to stalemate and continue negotiations, or to strike. Here, he explains how that process unfolded in 1972, leading to the strike of the Andrews and Lane workers in 1973.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, Fall 1973. Interview E-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

SCOTT HOYMAN:
… one of the negatives was that the company was represented by this guy Bill Smith. And Smith is an old adversary of mine. I spent off and on, about four years dealing with him for another plant. It's a branch plant of the Ray Vestis Manhattan Company in north Charleston, an abestos and rubber plant. And we spent from 1966 to 1970 and went through, we won an election in '66, we went for two years, they refused to continue bargaining, we had a new election, we felt that was the fastest way to get them back to the bargaining table, we won it by the skin of our teeth, challenged ballots and I then came back into bargaining as negotiator for the union and we bargained for a whole year and … well, it's a long, it's another story, a fairly long story. But the fact that Smith turned out to be the company lawyer didn't make me feel especially happy. And in Garco, we sort of ultimately got a contract before he left the scene, but we improved the contract after the company sort of dropped. And in this case, we got a contract when the company overruled.
DAN McCURRY:
Could you talk about how a man like Smith can make a difference in negotiating?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Well, there's a formula in negotiations. For beating the union or wearing the union out and it's very simple. It's a proposal which usually says no to check-off or dues and no on arbitration of grievances. And then when you push those companies, they'll concede the right to strike. We refer to this as the "Blakeney Formula." Whiteford Blakeney is a lawyer in Charlotte who is the Stevens counsel. He has been since 1963 and in that period of time, the last ten years, I guess, I have bumped into clients of his in negotiations for three or four companies. And the formula is always the same. Well, Smith imitates that formula to a greater or lesser extent, in both Garco and Oneida, he would not agree to the check-off and in both cases, he did agree to arbitration. And he offered us in both cases what I would call a highly restrictive contract, in terms of workers rights in the plant. Such as, senority rights and he likes to make proposals like "no bumping." Well, in the South, where we often have contracts of low wages, relatively low wages, we make a big thing out of seniority, because people take a real satisfaction being able to control their own physical place in a plant, particularly in a plant with three shifts. And then, seniority may mean that you go to work in the daylight, instead of going to work at midnight. And choice of machines, choice of jobs, it's a very important part of bargaining. And his view on that would be highly restrictive. So, this is the formula and in essense, what you do is to insist on a contract proposal which is very unsatisfactory and the union has about three choices. We have the choice of refusing the proposal and striking. We have the choice of accepting the proposal after long negotiations, but finding ourselves unable to make the union work to furnish satisfaction to those people. The members. And then the third choice is a stalemate, to continue bargaining. And that could go on for four years. So, in Oneida, we began the negotiations in February of '72. Roper, Benton and myself were involved at different times and it ended up with Benton and myself and we made a decision down there to strike the company. That is the second big decision.
DAN McCURRY:
Once you won the election, you mean.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yeah. The first big decision from our point of view is do we go after them. The second is what do we do when we get them and we engage in bargaining for about a year, less than a year. Before… about six or eight months before we made a decision that if we could, we would ask the people to strike. And we then staff the plant out real good. One or two people and then another one or two staff people. And Washington, Hope and Benton were the three people in there for some long period of time. And then we counted noses and made the estimates and talked to the committee about what they thought that we could do …
CAROLYN ASHBAUGH:
The committee of workers, you mean?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yeah. The negotiating committee. And we had an excellent committee. They were tough. Dorothy Gleason, who comes from the ILG, and …
DAN McCURRY:
Chick Cook?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yeah, the cutter, Richard Cook, they are tough. And black people on the committee, Loran Pope, I would rate her as a very important person. They hadn't had the same experience with the ILG, but they knew what they wanted. So, that was how we made that decision. The major decision for an international union to make is to embark on a strike of this kind in this part of the country.