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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 >>

Aftermath of the Oneita Knitting Mills Strike of 1973

Hoyman talks about the aftermath of the Oneita Knitting Mills strike in 1973—a victory for the workers and the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). As elsewhere in the interview, he again discusses the nature of collective bargaining and all of the factors that go into the success or failure of a strike. In addition, he reflects on how the Oneita strike relates to other TWUA negotiations that were ongoing in the South at that time.

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:
Well, the significance of the Oneida strike, and this is-one of the reasons why the international backed it, was that it is in the middle of a cluster of companies. Wellman is one. Little Georgetown Textile with only seventy people is another. We are in bargaining there. It is on the outskirts of Andrews. The Santee River Wool Combing plant in Jamestown, which is twenty miles from Andrews. We had an election there two years ago and we are still waiting to be certified and I think that we will be. And so, there are some plants in a similar situation farther away. We can't afford to get beaten in those situations. We can't afford to walk away from them. We only have two choices, either to strike and win, hopefully, or just stay in it, persist and that is a deliberate decision by the union of long standing, which I certainly prescribe to, that any company where we win the election is not going to get rid of us. One way or the other we are going to be there. If we don't have enough strength to strike, we'll keep on doing one thing or another to stay alive and hopefully get strong enough. And the effect of the strike on Wellman and on Georgetown Textile and on Santee River Wool Combing, both as to the management and as to the people in the plants, is quite significant. And we are going to, because we are in a circle there, we've got three or four thousand potential TWUA members, plus the unorganized plants. I'm not even talking about them, I'm talking about those campaigns where we have already had elections. So, Benton is staying right there. He's not going anywhere. He's going to look after the other plants that I'm talking about in Charleston, it's largely black, half black and in Andrews and also keep in touch with the people in Wellman and Santee River Wool Combing. So, it has a very important effect. And the other thing is, we've got a company in there that is debating which way they will go. It has a very important effect then. So, you know, you don't talk about strikes too much in the average organizing campaign, you can't avoid it really if the company raises the issue, but the company usually likes to talk about strikes, corruption of the union, violence, union bossism, those three or four issues. But I think this helps other textile companies that aren't already decided and makes them consider the alternative of trying to work out a reasonable agreement. And we hope that the Oneida Company, once they sign a contract, our interest in regard to them becomes very, very different. We hope that they won't go broke. We hope that they can put everybody to work and they make a good product and because the interest of the people that we represent actually depends on our ability to negotiatee for them a share in the company's profits. In '71, the company lost money. It's not a big company and they lost money, in '72 they made money. And I think that one reason that they settled in July, 1973 was because they were losing money, boviously, and this is a great year to be making underwear. It's just a great year and they sell to a lot of big chain stores and I'm sure that the strike was turning their year into a loss. And I will be very much interested in their 1973 financial statement when it comes out in February of '74.