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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working for the Hosiery Workers Union in the South

Rogin discusses his first experiences working for the Hosiery Workers Union in the South. Around 1937, Rogin made his first visits to Charlotte, North Carolina, among other locations. Rogin describes his perception of the South and his ties to southern labor organizers through his work at Brookwood Labor College. In addition, he emphasizes networks among labor organizations by explaining how the hosiery workers were associated with national organizations such as the Textile Workers Organizing Committee and the United Textile Workers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. 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

I started work Labor Day in … '37, and we had a convention of the union in the South in Charlotte in May, I guess, of '38, so that was the trip South.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So you didn't work with the T.W.O.C. at all then, did you?
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
I worked with the T.W.O.C… no. By the time I was… Well, the hosiery workers were part of the T.W.O.C.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The hosiery workers were part of it, then.
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
They were an affiliate of the U.T.W., originally; they were a separate union. But the U.T.W. was a very ineffective national union, and so if you wanted to be effective there were the federations. One was the hosiery workers and the others were the dyers. The hosiery workers were effective all through the twenties; the dyers became effective in the thirties with the New Deal. The hosiery workers split in the twenties—split in 1919, I guess—one group feeling that the U.T.W. stood in their way, and they became independent. But they had come together, oh, in '23, '24, back into the U.T.W. And so they ran their own … they paid the small per capita to the U.T.W. (which is all anybody did, I guess). I went South for the hosiery workers. And I had some association with the TWOC. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
WILLIAM FINGER:
What's the first thing you remember coming South? Had you ever been South before?
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
I'd never been South before; I'd never been further South than Washington.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You had heard the southern situation discussed at Brookwood?
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
Oh yes, we had southern textile workers and … some blacks from the South at Brookwood, and so, you know, there was talk about it. And one of the fellows that came out of Marion I got to know, and I guess I got to know a gal that came from Knoxville, both of whom had been at Brookwood a little bit. And I talked to them; I got some feel of it from them.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What were their names?
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
It was Larry Hogan (and I was often mistaken for him) and Helen Gregory. And Larry Hogan was probably killed by somebody running his car off the road when he was organizing for the hosiery workers, before I went to work for them. He was up to Brookwood, as graduates tended to come up—Helen Gregory the same. But she came out of Knoxville, a Knoxville hosiery plant.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It was pretty tough going, then, when you
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
It was tough going when I came down. The hosiery workers had had organizers in the South; U.T.W. had organizers in the South. And a lot of people that were around Philadelphia had southern experience. "Tiny" Hoffman, Alfred Hoffman, was the research director of the union, and I had known him through Brookwood (he was a Brookwood graduate), and we used to talk about it a lot. He told me about Henderson; he told me about Marion, and so on. There was another fellow by the name of Eddie Callaghan. He was a hosiery worker, but he was in that part of the hosiery union that had stayed with the U.T.W. He was a U.T.W. organizer in the early twenties in the South. And if you remember, the U.T.W. had, I guess, a great deal of North Carolina organized for about ten minutes in that period, in the sense that … I guess it was around '20 or '22 there were some strikes. And anyway it washed up. But he was the organizer that was in there.