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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 >>

The state of the hosiery industry in the South

Rogin offers his perspective of industry in the South during the years he worked there for the Hosiery Workers Union (1937-1956). Rogin argues that it was a "mixed industry," especially for hosiery workers, with a range of efficiencies. In addition, he addresses unique challenges posed by the migration of northern labor organizers into the South.

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

WILLIAM FINGER:
I was just curious in kind of your impression of the state of the industry. I know that, you know, World War II really put the textile industry firmly on its feet, with the war orders.
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
Well, there was no question that the industry in the South was a mixed industry: that is, there were some efficient mills and there were some inefficient mills. The efficient mills paid a little more; but they must have been making money, or could have with a decent management, because there was still at that period (the early days) … enough of a differential between northern and southern wages. And in hosiery this was particularly true. In hosiery this was particularly true; there's no real question about it. A low wage industry tends to be wasteful of workers (you know, everybody knows that); you're wasteful of workers, and you also don't care… You have enough workers around so that you don't enforce your rules very much: that is, a guy goes out, you know, if you fuss with him, and so on, all that kind of thing. Now, later on… And the industry was already an old one; that's the other thing about the South. When I went to work a hard time getting people to understand. I don't know yet what effect it has on your organizing, and so on, but it really is a thing. [Interruption] A lot of northerners went South organizing for the hosiery workers and textile workers. I remember—when did Cash's book, Mind of the South come out? About '33, '34, later?
WILLIAM FINGER:
Yes, a little later, I guess.
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
A little later. We tried to get it. I guess I sold more copies of that than were sold outside of academic communities, because we used to give it to everybody. It was a hard book, but at least they'd have some understanding of the South when they went down there.