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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, December 12, 1974. Interview G-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Fear biggest obstacle to labor unions

Workers were motivated by fear of harassment and job loss when voting against unionization.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, December 12, 1974. Interview G-0039. 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

LEWIS LIPSITZ What accounts for those defeats, do you think? I mean, some people say that there is fear involved.
EULA MCGILL:
There is fear. Fear is the main thing. LEWIS LIPSITZ What are the fears about?
EULA MCGILL:
Well, fears change. I think that fear is still the main factor that motivates people's voting against the union. I think that the reason for that fear changes as times change. Now, when we joined the union in the '30s, we didn't have much to lose, as my mother said, "I'm just eating and sleeping." And someway or the other, I was going to eat and sleep. I was fortunate, I had a sister and I had hand-me-downs. I never had bought anything for myself. I had no money. My mother made clothes out of whatever she could or I wore my sister's hand-me-downs made over for me. It wasn't for fear of losing the job then, for the most part. It was the fear of being harassed by the police for each little thing, or the company police, being put out of the company house, even the ministers would get in the act and you would go to church and your minister was up talking against the union and those things, I think, were the fear of the people, of being ostracized by the church and being harassed and their children being put upon at school by the children from anti-homes. This went on in the '30s. It spilled out into the schools just like some of the race issues do today.