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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Labor organizer is sent south after the Baldanzi-Rieve split in the TWUA

Hoyman explains how he ended up working for the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) in the South during the early 1950s. Hoyman had been working for TWUA in New England, primarily Maine, during the 1940s; however, in the early 1950s when the organization was ravaged by the schism between labor leaders George Baldanzi and Emil Rieve, many of the organizers in the South left the TWUA with Baldanzi and joined the United Textile Workers (UTW) instead. Because of the split, Hoyman was sent to the South. In addition, he argues that the split was in part responsible for the failed attempt to organize strikes in Virginia and North Carolina in 1951.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0010. 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:
Between '50 and '52, the union became distracted by a very severe internal fight, which arose between the executive vice-president of the union, George Baldanzi, and Emil Rieve.
BILL FINGER:
He ran against him in …
SCOTT HOYMAN:
It had started at the '50 convention in Boston and it culminated in the '52 convention in Cleveland, with Baldanzi running a complete slate against Rieve. And being defeated. And the next thing that happened immediately after the Cleveland convention, which was in May of '52, was that a number of the locals that were pro-George Baldanzi, a small number compared to his support at the convention but still a significant number, tried to leave TWUA and go back into the United Textile Workers AFL with George and a lot of staff people that had supported him. And that's how I got South.
BILL FINGER:
How did that happen?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Somebody called me up and said, "Go to Greensboro, North Carolina." And I went.
BILL FINGER:
Were you caught in that dispute?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
I wasn't a Baldanzi supporter. He had very little support in New England. He had a lot of support in the South, at least in the beginning. And they wanted me to come down South because there wasn't any TWUA staff left in North Carolina. Everybody on the TWUA, N. C. staff—ten out of eleven, changed sides after the Cleveland convention.
BILL FINGER:
Let me ask you that. One of the things that I've read says that the series of strikes in North Carolina and Virginia, mostly southern in 1951 …
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
About 40,000 people I think, were out at one time.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
And It seems to be a recoup of Operation Dixie. This source blamed a number of people and says that for one thing, the union got distracted and that Emil Rieve had mixed up and proposed this strike for his political survival.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
I think that was true of both groups. It was a very unfortunate thing. The decision was made on striking not only by the staff people from here, but there was a national conference I think, in Washington on … which would amount to a wage conference by managers, local joint board managers and International Union representatives charged with bargaining situations. To determine what to do. This included people from New England and the Mid-Atlantic. And one of the questions was, what to do. Because the employers in the North had given something like 10¢ and the employers in the South would only offer 2¢. And I think both sides sort of got caught up in their own political rhetoric and said, "Well, the thing to do is to be very militant and take the industry on." And we took them on and it was not a good operation in many, many locations.
BILL FINGER:
You say that the decision was taken while the first ones were …it wasn't thought out?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yes. It's very hard to have a political fight and run a union responsibly at the same time. And the representation at the decision making level, my impression is, I wasn't involved in any of this, was very evenly divided and probably in the South, Baldanzi, who was very popular and spent a lot of time down here, would have had the emotional and political support of the big groups.