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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jim Pierce, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0012-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Difficulties of labor organization in Texas in the 1950s

Pierce briefly discusses what it was like to organize workers in Texas during the early 1950s, when he worked there for the CIO and the IUE. Pierce focuses on tactics employers used to dissuade organization and the difficulties of trying to hold integrated meetings. Overall, Pierce argues that labor organization was a dangerous endeavor in Texas during these years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jim Pierce, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0012-3. 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

WILLIAM FINGER:
What was harder about organizing in the fifties than say in the late forties. You were younger in the forties so your perceptions have changed … but, I mean, was the political atmosphere tougher, or was the mood of the workers not as much pro union or what were the factors?
JIM PIERCE:
I found it very easy to organize the workers. Your opposition from the companies were … was horrible. They used a lot of goon squad tactics. They attempted to turn a community and the churches and you know groups like that against you. You were denied facilities, you know, for meetings. We held a hell of a lot of meetings under trees and in the dark and out in the woods and out on the roads … well in Texas too. It was hard and particularly since we were under direct orders and certainly agreed with these orders not to have segregated meetings. It is pretty damn hard to have an integrated meeting in East Texas or Louisiana in 1952 or 1953, when you were organizing a saw mill out in the middle of a rural area … it was hard, but fun.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was it dangerous?
JIM PIERCE:
Looking back, I guess we were pretty stupid. Yeah, it was dangerous, darned dangerous.