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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Role of local unions in the formation of the TWOC

Pedigo discusses the role of local unions in the formation of the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC), and subsequently, the formation of the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), which Pedigo went to work for in 1939. According to Pedigo, his local union in Roanoke, Virginia, was quite active in this process and he contends that other local unions likely were as well. His comments are indicative of the relationship between local unions and the efforts to organize them on a grander scale.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. 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

Well, when did you first hear of TWOC? Did you read about it in the paper?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
We knew about that, of course, because we were in the local and we were …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Getting the newspaper?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
We kept up with that and we were instrumental, the people in our union were instrumental in getting TWOC established to start with. We were well briefed on the conception of TWOC.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How did that happen? Did you go to meetings?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
No, Sidney Hillman was one of the founders, Sidney Hillman, John Lewis, Emil Rieve were some of the top people, George Baldanzi … they were some of the top people that got together and Hillman was Amalgamated Clothing Workers and Lewis was the Mineworkers and they bankrolled the thing from its inception. It caught on. There was never any doubt in our minds as to what direction we were going, whether we were going with the TWOC or …
WILLIAM FINGER:
But you yourself in Roanoke, how did you do it? Did you go to meetings or …
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Oh yeah, every membership meeting there was pretty thorough briefings on the thing. As a matter of fact, this John Kabler that I mentioned had been elected, I believe, head of the old Dyers Organization and was bringing it in. So, we knew all about the thing step by step as it occurred.
WILLIAM FINGER:
At the local union level …
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
I don't say that all the members knew about it, but everybody that attended meetings knew about it. We, in turn, were saying that this is the thing and that …
WILLIAM FINGER:
I just didn't know if at the local union level, there were discussions about it.
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Oh, yes. As far as my local was concerned, and I assume that is true of other locals.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Then, so you had Hillman and Lewis and they made their committment?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The organizing started and TWOC was set up.
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
That was the first time that we ever had anything to work with, you know. TWUA, when it was established, had no money at all except borrowed money, or gift money from Amalgamated and the Mineworkers. I went on the staff at $25 a week, which was …
WILLIAM FINGER:
On the TWOC staff?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
TWUA. I went on the staff just following the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in '39 and I went on to stay for $25 a week, which was $7 a week less than I was making in the plant.