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Title: Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976. Interview G-0040-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: McGill, Eula, interviewee
Interview conducted by Hall, Jacquelyn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 208 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-19, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976. Interview G-0040-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0040-2)
Author: Jacquelyn Hall
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976. Interview G-0040-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0040-2)
Author: Eula McGill
Description: 243 Mb
Description: 59 p.
Note: Interview conducted on September 5, 1976, by Jacquelyn Hall; recorded in Atlanta, Georgia.
Note: Transcribed by Patricia Crowley.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976.
Interview G-0040-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
McGill, Eula, interviewee


Interview Participants

    EULA McGILL, interviewee
    JACQUELYN HALL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
I came across a report that Louise Leonard McLaren wrote in '37. She was traveling through the South talking to people and trying to recruit students for the Southern Summer School for Women Workers.
She met you at a State Federation of Labor meeting in Anniston, Ala. and you were one of the people that she really wanted to recruit for the school. She talked to you about workers' education, and said that you were going to try to help raise scholarship money and recruit students to go. Do you remember anything? Do you remember that?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. That was back in the thirties.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, in '37.
EULA McGILL:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you never went to the Summer School yourself?
EULA McGILL:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they try to get you to come?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, seems like some girls from Anneston went. You see, a part of that time we were spending [unknown] with Textile too. We were spending time actually helping to organize both, both Textile and Clothing during that time. It seems like Louise Browning from the Utica Mill there in Anniston went; I just can't remember anyone else at the time.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But were you not interested in going yourself?
EULA McGILL:
I was interested, but I was involved in organizing and I couldn't take the time off to go.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you sympathetic toward the idea of residential workers' education at that time?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, yes, I am. I've always been interested, because I don't think these one or two days' seminars on workers' education really have the effect

Page 2
it ought to have and really prepare the workers good enough to be real leaders. I think they need more time to study it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you think workers' education should accomplish?
EULA McGILL:
Well, I think it should accomplish. . . . So many times the seminars that I've been to more or less don't give enough labor background history to make a person feel when they're talking to workers or the particular leaders of the rank and file workers in the shop— [unknown] I hate to use that word "rank and file," because [laughter] I don't feel like I'm nothing but a rank and filer [laughter]. But some people, they want to make the distinction between the paid representatives on the staff and what we call "rank and filers" (but for the people who are working the shop and are the local union leaders). I think in recruiting people who you want to be the leaders in an organizing campaign, you should be prepared (or the people who are talking to people should be prepared); it helps them in talking to workers to help them to understand the philosophy behind the labor movement. I think it helps to give them more confidence in themselves when they're discussing the need for organization to know something about the early struggles, and to know something about people who have tried and failed and kept trying again, and kept failing maybe again and trying again over and over, so that people won't become impatient if it don't happen as fast as they want it to happen. And I think if they understand that and are able to convey that to the potential leaders who are helping to organize and to build the union in the shop it makes them more effective. It makes them be able to talk more and to put down some of the . . . . If a person comes and says, "Well my father was in the coal mines or in the steel mills or in the textile mills, and they tried to get a

Page 3
union and they got fired, and the struggle they went through," then they think, "Oh, what's the use of [unknown] putting up a fight for it, because you may fail." They're so afraid to try because they might fail. And so many people who did try and failed and may for a while become discouraged, if they really had the unionism in them and believed in it they'd keep fighting for it. I think it's only the people who let temporary setbacks put them down and hold them back that are . . . I won't say harmful, but they are the people who won't make leaders. You have to have the determination to still believe although you fail.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In your work have you had the time, or have you tried in your own work to provide that kind of workers' education?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. I think that everyday workers' education, every day if you have time to talk with workers not to always talk about current problems, but to let them know where this movement came from, so that it'll help them overcome the temporary setbacks they have by putting the courage in them to keep on—not to become impatient and give up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you come across any of the WPA workers' education projects in the thirties?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, in Greenville, South Carolina I did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh really?
EULA McGILL:
They had an organization in there, the WPA workers, in Greenville.1Let's see, we used the same hall when I was working up there. I was up there for a little while on [unknown] what was the Wing Shirt Company. And they had a good group of organized WPA workers organized up there. Oh my goodness, let me think of that fellow's name: John Bolt Culbertson.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.

Page 4
EULA McGILL:
John Bolt was kind of the leader of them, and he was a young lawyer there at the time in Greenville. And he was working with them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. Did you know Alice Spearman Wright in South Carolina?
EULA McGILL:
No, I didn't know her. I didn't work much in South Carolina. I think that was my only work in South Carolina until the late sixties.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, I wanted to just talk about some of the campaigns that you were involved in after World War II. Could you tell me something about [unknown] Cluet-Peabody?
EULA McGILL:
Well really, we got the first contract in Cluet-Peabody in '41; in February of 1941 we got the first contract. [unknown] The cutters had been organizing in Troy for a good long while. We got the first contract in the plant in '41; I believe it was February of '41. I didn't spend much time. . . . Then I went back to Knoxville and worked on the Hall Tate campaign, and in on the Palm Beach shop also, until '43 when I became business agent in LaFollette. And then I was business agent in LaFollette until '46, until the latter part of '46.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you weren't [unknown] closely involved, with Cluet-Peabody?
EULA McGILL:
Well, not after they got the contract signed. I helped in the organization here in Atlanta with May Bagwell through part of '39 and part of '40. Then it kind of seemed to simmer for a while there; we couldn't get enough interest. And May held it down pretty much alone until the break-through came in '41.

Page 5
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for how much more successful the Amalgamated was in organizing the South than, say, the TWUA was?
EULA McGILL:
I think that we had. . . . For the main part, companies that we organized during that time were . . . well, Manhattan (including Peabody) had no history of unions. But I think it came through the hard work and the statesmanship of Sidney Hillman; I think a lot of it was due to his personality and the way he was able to, well, sell the union to the employers (or at least to get them to resist). . . I mean, they didn't resist. He was able to persuade them, in other words, that he thought the union should be advantageous to them in certain ways as far as cooperation. If they really wanted the cooperation between the workers and the management which they claimed, I think he finally convinced them (including Peabody and Manhattan) that this was the best way to get it. That's my feeling.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. Also, Amalgamated had a stronger base in the. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Yes, we had a base in the clothing, and we had the financing and the resources, I think certainly more than the textile unions had.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So as the plants started moving south after World War II Amalgamated could organize them as they moved south, before they got too entrenched.
EULA McGILL:
Yes, yes. Well, you take the Publix Shirt [unknown] Corporation. We organized them in the thirties. They had one shop in Knoxville. And they were in Pennsylvania, mainly in the coal fields, and I think that people were more union-orientated in these areas up there. And we were able to organize the Publix Shirt, which was S. Liebowitz and Sons then; it later became, in the forties it changed to Publix Shirt Corporation. Again, I think that. . . . Well, Mr. Liebowitz himself, Mr. Harry Liebowitz who

Page 6
was one of the owners, told me in the forties that he wouldn't operate without a union. When the union tried to organize him in Pennsylvania he resisted because he thought they were going to come in and try to take over his business. But once he dealt with them and saw that it was really helpful to him in having knowledge of what was actually going on in his plants (which he would never have the knowledge). . . . He told me himself that he felt that if he came to one of his shops and the workers wanted to complain to him personally about something (maybe some supervisor or some plant manager), that they weren't afraid to tell him of their complaints and grievances, because he knew when he left there the union was there. If the supervisor, if they would want to take retaliation against the worker, they felt that the union would protect them. And he felt that he knew more about what was actually going on in his plants [unknown] through this corporation. He didn't resist the union; he told me very frankly that he wouldn't operate his shop without a union.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, did the Amalgamated make a strong commitment to trying to organize the South in this period, during and right after World War II?
EULA McGILL:
Well, they joined with the CIO in what they called Operation Dixie. I think we gained more; we pretty much acted on our own. While we wanted to cooperate with other unions, we have felt that our industry was such that we had to do it ourselves, because of the type of industry we had. And we felt that we could do it ourselves better. Although we cooperated with other unions, we wanted to pretty much run our own organizing campaigns. And we did have from time to time help from some CIO organizers in the fields in some of our campaigns, but we always ran our own campaigns. We felt that our industry was a little bit peculiar in the type of work they

Page 7
did and the type of problems they had, [unknown] being a piecework industry. We were able to talk to the workers more about the problems than someone, say, that came out of other plants like steel. Any other union wouldn't be able to talk with the workers; only the workers who came out of the plants themselves was able (and then some representatives was able) to discuss the day-to-day problems that occurred in the garment or clothing plants.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me a little something about Operation Dixie.
EULA McGILL:
Well, it didn't last very long, and it didn't pay off as well as. . . . There was a lot of publicity.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you think went wrong?
EULA McGILL:
I really don't know, because most of the time during that time I was involved in administration work. And I only came back on the organizing staff-really not on the organizing staff, but into some organizing situations—in the latter part of it. I was still primarily a business agent, and only helped out part-time in some of the organizing things. And I wasn't as involved in that organizing as the other staff that was primarily organizing, because I was still doing servicing in LaFollette. The only campaign that I worked in [unknown] Operation Dixie was not involved in it, but it was considered to be part of it) was the Henry I. Siegal situation in Bruceton, Tennessee. And I was still working as a business agent, and went in there to help out trying to organize the Bruceton plant of the Henry I. Siegal Company, of which we had one plant organized in Dickson, Tennessee. And that was the only organizing campaign I was involved in during that whole Operation Dixie.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now in [unknown] '47, at the time in which you and Mary Martin. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Morgan.

Page 8
JACQUELYN HALL:
. . . Morgan were threatened by a mob in Knoxville?
EULA McGILL:
No, in Bruceton; it was in Bruceton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In Bruceton. Oh, she was from Knoxville; Mary Morgan was from Knoxville.
EULA McGILL:
She was from Knoxville, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was that about? How did that happen?
EULA McGILL:
Well, of course that area was primarily a rural area. Bruceton, Tennessee was a railroad junction; it was really a railroad town. But most of the workers in that plant came from neighboring counties where it was rural—practically no industry whatsoever. And anyone who would have known that area at the time would have understood the people's fear of losing the first paycheck [laughter] they ever had had from public works—what we used to call public, going out and working. That's what farmers and rural people used to call working public works; it wasn't anything like we think of public works today, as being government sponsored like WPA. But that's the way people used to call public work. It was prompted by those people from that—I can't think of the name of the county it was in. Bruceton was in Carroll County; it was right on the edge of the other county. I want to say Humphries County, but I don't think it was. But anyhow it was rural, completely and absolutely: no industry whatsoever. And those people came out of the rural areas, and they really thought the company would close. And too, a lot of those people had invested money to build that plant. We were able in an earlier charge against the company to stop deductions from their paychecks to pay for the building, and to get money back after they'd made deductions on the building. After the deductions were made it caused the people to fall below the minimum wage, and we were able to obtain back

Page 9
pay, the difference in what they actually received and the minimum wage after the deduction that they had signed up to have deducted out of the check to help pay for the building.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So how did this particular incident develop?
EULA McGILL:
They were the townspeople; it was primarily a banker there in the town, in Bruceton. Of course, he had great animosity for us, because he was pretty much left holding the bag [laughter] for that building, that had been built and the workers were supposed to pay for it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, did a group of people confront you while you were on the picket line?
EULA McGILL:
No. What actually happened in Bruceton was that we had the strike in Dickson. We had had a union in Dickson for quite some time; I believe it was about '42 or '43 that I was sitting talking to two people from the Hall Tate shop one night. They were at my room at the hotel there in Knoxville. And his brother was a machinist, a sewing machine mechanic, in Dickson, Tennessee, and he was trying to get in touch with his brother because they had walked out. We had been in there before and were unable to organize because those people had also paid for the building. And they had resisted the union over the years; all during the thirties we had tried to organize in Dickson and failed. Griselda Kuhlman and several organizers had been in there, and they had been framed on charges and things. We weren't able to get anywhere. So I got in touch with the office, because I was tied up with the situation there and wanted to know what had happened. And as a result we obtained a contract in Dickson. So we had to have a strike over there for some demands that we felt were necessary. And during this time we were trying to organize the Bruceton plant, and we brought it out in

Page 10
sympathy with the Dickson —or tried to bring it out; didn't get a majority come out. And of course we had quite a bit of skirmishes on the picket lines—not from the town people at that time, but mainly the bosses who were trying to come through the picket line the first day. Then they got an injunction against us, and there was no more skirmishes on the picket lines. But we were hurting the company to the extent that they wanted to get the picket line away so that they could ship; they were having a little trouble getting the goods in and manufactured products out. Most of the truckers were observing our picket line. The townspeople and the farm people, not the workers, were the people who confronted Mary and I. They thought they could run us out of town. I guess they figured that that would end it. Then of course after that happened the railroad men got so embarrassed because this happened in the town, because practically the whole town of Bruceton were connected to the railroad; the people who lived in the town of Bruceton were railroad workers and were [unknown] organized. Then they came to our rescue and tried to help all they could to give us protection—it was particularly in the town of Bruceton, and as I say most of the workers didn't come from that area. They traveled from the next county up to work, [unknon] the people who lived outside the county.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I saw that at the '48 convention in the proceedings there's a little exchange where it had been rumored that you and Mary Morgan had been run out of town, and you correct that misimpression.
EULA McGILL:
Well what happened, that morning before we were out of bed—in fact it was real early, I guess it was around seven o'clock—we were living in the home of a Methodist minister, and he came in there and told me some men was outside and wanted to talk with me. So we got up and went

Page 11
to the door. And the spokesman for them was Hillsman Taylor, who was a [unknown] town marshall or constable or something. And Hillsman said the people wanted to talk with us. I guess there was a hundred and fifty men out there all trampling the minister's yard. So I said, "Well, couldn't one or two of you come up here to tell us that, and not have everybody out there trampling Mrs. Melton's [unknown] yard and her flowers?" And that kind of set them back, because I said, "They are residents here." Then Hillsman and one of the newspaper men came inside. And we sat down at the dining room table, and I asked him, "How did you get here so quick from Memphis?" And he said, "Oh, I got a call this morning at two o'clock." So they wanted the publicity of it, I believe; it was a newspaper man that told me. And he wanted to make a picture of us. . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who had wanted the publicity?
EULA McGILL:
. . . the mob—because that's all you could term it, a mob. I said, "How did you get out here so quick from Memphis?" And he said, "I got a call this morning at two o'clock." So evidently they just telephoned him and headed him out there. He kept insisting that he make a picture of Mary and I with our suitcases. And I said, "Well, I'm not going anywhere." He kept insisting. And I said, "No, I'm not going to do it." We went to eat breakfast at a little restaurant up town, and when we came out he made a picture of us coming out of the restaurant. Then later when the paper came out he had already written it as if we had been run out of town; so that's why he wanted the picture with a suitcase, to back up his story. He had already actually written the story, evidently, because when the Commercial Appeal came out on the street (we got it that afternoon) the story was

Page 12
written that they had run us out of town. So that's why I wanted everybody to know that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well did Hillsman say to you, "Get out of town."
EULA McGILL:
No, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they actually threaten you?
EULA McGILL:
No, he just come up and said that these men wanted to talk to us, and that they wanted us to leave town—-now, because he'd been pretending to be quite friendly with us before, Hillsman Taylor had; and after that, why. . . . Well, I guess he was pretending, according to the newspaper man, pretending to see that everything would be peaceful. So actually I can't remember the man's name that did the biggest talking; (I can look back through the records or find out) later the company hired him as their guard up at the plant. He was from the next county too, and he wasn't very well respected by the people in Bruceton. I cannot remember the fellow's name; his nickname was "Rabbit" [laughter]. I guess that sticks in my mind more than his real name. But he told me he wanted us to get out of town. And I answered him; that's when I said to him, "Now look, couldn't one or two of you have come up here and told us that instead of bringing out a mob on the lady's yard and trampling her flowers?"
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have any more trouble with threats after that incident? Did they just disperse?
EULA McGILL:
Well, after the railroad men. . . . They called a meeting on a Sunday, and all the railroad men came. And they said they didn't intend to have that in the town. They called upon, they talked to Hillsman Taylor and the mayor of the town, and let it be known that they wasn't going to tolerate anything like that in the town; that we had been behaving ourselves

Page 13
and not breaking the laws, and that we had a right to be there. I think that had the effect of keeping them from doing anything actually to us openly.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now Gladys Dickason was chairman of the CIO Southern Organizing Committee at that time? Was she involved in Operation Dixie? She was on their staff?
EULA McGILL:
No. At that time technically Gladys was head of the research department. But then she'd taken over as southern director for the Amalgamated.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I see.
EULA McGILL:
Of course she may have been on. . . . As usual they have some people from every union that's involved in a drive like IUD has now. They have people from all the unions participating and helping advise on meetings and planning and things like that. But Gladys was research director and also southern director of the union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you were working under her?
EULA McGILL:
Directly under her.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now the Hall Tate campaign in Knoxville, you never got a contract. That was an unsuccessful. . . ?
EULA McGILL:
We didn't get a contract until another company bought them out, a company that we had a contract with. They closed down and dissolved the business as Hall Tate. Then Henley Tate, a nephew of Mr. Sam Tate who was one of the owners (William Hall and Sam Tate owned the business). . . . They were making suits for Steins, Steins Stores. Over the labor controversy Steins, they withdrew their work from the Hall Tate Company after the strike we had at Hall Tate in '49. And then Sam Tate and a man called Breezy Wynn

Page 14
(I think his name's Herman; we always called him Breezy), he went into making pants. Then later the firm was bought out by a company we had a contract with in Pennsylvania, and it's been a union shop ever since. Hall and Tate doesn't have anything to do with the company now; Henley stayed on for a while with the company as manager of the plant. He may have some stock in the company; I don't know if he's still associated with it or not.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You went to LaFollette, then, in forty-. . . .
EULA McGILL:
I was in Roanoke, Alabama working with the Palm Beach shop. And at that time John L. Lewis had pulled the United Mine Workers out of the CIO, and he had set up two groups: one called United Construction Workers, the other was District Fifty. As I understand it District Fifty was to organize in byproducts of coal and things more directly associated with coal, and the United Construction Workers was kind of a catch-all organization that took in everything else. So they were trying to get the people in the two shirt factories that we had organized in LaFollette to join their union, and of course using the mine workers' name, the United Mine Workers' name to try to attract them to this. And they couldn't make any success; they couldn't get anywhere with the people. They wouldn't join. So Franz Daniel and Ed Blair was in there at the time, and they were attacked and beaten. And Franz was shot; he wasn't actually shot, but the bullet lodged in a thick wallet that he had in his pocket, in his coat breast pocket. And Gladys called me to come up there. And that's how I got involved in LaFollette, because they felt that a woman would be safer in there than a man, and a woman maybe could not be openly attacked. However I didn't depend on that. I was very careful not to be out after dark and

Page 15
not to go anyplace except the union hall and the restaurant and to the hotel where I stayed. But the men would sit out in front of the hall, carloads of men, and watch us all day long. Evidently they thought they'd scare us. But we went ahead about our business just like they weren't out there. Of course we knew they was there and we were prepared. So they didn't actually. . . . So I went to LaFollette then at the request; that's how I came to LaFollette in the early part of 1943.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now this was [unknown] at Atlas and Reade Shirt. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Well, they weren't called Atlas. . . . Originally they were called Atlas and Reade. The Atlas plant became Southeastern Shirt Corporation, and it was Southeastern Shirt Corporation at the time. And the Reade plant became Imperial Shirt Corporation; they were bought out by different companies.
JACQUELYN HALL:
They had been organized by the Amalgamated in '37.
EULA McGILL:
Yes, they was organized in the thirties.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you know anything about that original drive? Zilphia Horton, I know, was in it.
EULA McGILL:
No. Zilphia and Elaine Wright and Charlie Hand, mainly Charlie Hand and Elaine Wright. Zilphia was in there for a short while after it was organized, for a short while.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I know they tried to put her in as business agent, and the workers didn't like. . . .
EULA McGILL:
No, they felt they ought to have a man. I was the first woman business agent they ever accepted in LaFollette.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there any question raised when you came in about your being a woman?

Page 16
EULA McGILL:
No, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did they accept you so readily?
EULA McGILL:
Well, I knew the history of LaFollette, being working in around Knoxville and Middlesboro, Kentucky. I'd met these people at meetings and all. I don't think they looked to me [laughter] as a woman [laughter]. I'm thinking now of the first meeting with them. And I knew the history and I talked to them, and I explained to them that we were in there to work together. If they didn't trust me, now was the time to say it. So at the very outset we got off on the right foot, and we had a wonderful relationship with those people.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now a lot of the miners were the husbands of the women who were organized in the shirt plant, isn't that right?
EULA McGILL:
I want to say now that the United Mine Workers, the men in the mines and the representatives of the United Mine Workers, were never in no way involved directly. They stayed clear of it. In fact, I knew some of the representatives, having worked with them all during the years, and they apologized to me for what was going on, because they knew me. And I worked very closely with them on the OPA and the War Manpower Commission; I sat on that representing the CIO in that district, and the representatives of the United Mine Workers. And none of them, I can say that I never saw a representative of the United Mine Workers, and as far as I know no rank and file miner was ever involved.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, who were the people who were involved?
EULA McGILL:
There was an ex-sheriff, Clifford Lay, was put on the staff and Silas Huddleston.

Page 17
JACQUELYN HALL:
Silas Huddleston.
EULA McGILL:
That don't ring a bell with you?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, he was involved in the Yablonski murder, wasn't he? That's the same person?
EULA McGILL:
Same person, Silas Huddleston. Silas Huddleston was a miner from Caryville, Tennessee, and was president of one of the locals down there. And he went on the staff of the United Construction Workers; they put him on the staff. And he was the leader of that, and I'm pretty sure he was the leader of having Ed and Franz beat up. He was the leader and the one I always have done my talking to when it was necessary to talk to him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was he like?
EULA McGILL:
He, to me, was, I think—and that's what makes it so sad about what happened later. . . . When I read it in the paper and they mentioned LaFollette his name popped in my head. And one of the friends of mine up in there sent me newspapers and everything, and sure enough, he was involved. When it came on I just said to myself, "I'll bet Silas Huddleston's involved in that in some way." There was another man who was never. . . . Pat McCulley worked for the United Construction Workers, but he was never, I never saw Pat in any of the mobs that tried to rush our union hall or give us any trouble. I never saw Pat in it. I had known Pat; I had never known Silas Huddleston before, but I had known Pat McCulley. He was a miner and they put him on the staff. I never saw Pat; I don't believe that Pat was ever involved in it, because I never saw him. And I did talk to him once after I went to LaFollette.

Page 18
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now who was the sheriff or deputy?
EULA McGILL:
Clifford Lay. . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was his role?
EULA McGILL:
. . . was sheriff, and he was put on the staff.
JACQUELYN HALL:
While he was sheriff?
EULA McGILL:
No, he got defeated as sheriff, and they put him on the staff for the United Construction Workers. Then he later ran for sheriff and was defeated, later on.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Because of his role?
EULA McGILL:
I don't know. I'd say, I think it had a big part to play among other things (that I can't prove, it's best not to say) involved in some running of whiskey out of Kentucky. It was supposed to have been his automobile that hit the guy and killed him and didn't stop. Anyway, he was defeated as sheriff. He got back in as sheriff; I believe he was elected one time, and then a man named Rose Kitts defeated him. And that was the end, as far as I know, of his career as a law enforcement officer.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was his involvement in this jurisdictional dispute ever raised as a campaign issue against him?
EULA McGILL:
Not openly. You didn't do things like that in the mining area; in the mining area you had to have some more subtle ways to actually fight. I had calls from rank and file miners saying they'd come help me, but my position was that I didn't want to cause a conflict in their [unknown] unions. And I never accepted their help. I didn't want to cause any more trouble. I thought we could fight our own battles, and I didn't want to get any of the rank and file miners involved to the extent that they might get into trouble. I had a group of miners come, and I went and met with them and sat down and

Page 19
talked with them. And I told them at that time they were just causing trouble in their own union, and since their union was involved I thought it was better that they stay clear of it. And that's why I say, the United Mine Workers didn't directly try to cause any violence. I have to blame the United Mile Workers 'cause they were paying the bill. But I know the people who knew the miners the day the mob came down there and tried to break in our union office (and finally did break in) and we had a fight.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What happened when the mob broke in the union office?
EULA McGILL:
People told me that there was no miners involved. There were taxi drivers and just anybody they could pick up. I know there was some taxi drivers; they had organized the taxi drivers into the United Construction Workers in that area. They only owned the cabs. In fact, I was afraid to even ride a cab during that time; I didn't know who anybody was. I walked, because I didn't have an automobile. My car had torn up, and I was unable during the war years to get cars. And I didn't have an automobile, so I'd walk anywhere in the town I wanted to go, unless somebody (one of the workers) had a car.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me about this incident when they broke into the union hall. What happened?
EULA McGILL:
Well, they kept trying to get the people to join their union, and they didn't have any success. A few people would join. They had four or five of the women who worked in the old Reade shop (which was called the Imperial Shirt) that was involved, I know. One of them had been a forelady, and she was afraid of losing her job as a forelady. And I think she was afraid that the union wasn't going to accept her back into union membership because of her activities previously. And at that time we had a

Page 20
[unknown] union shop, and you had to be a member of the union. And the firm had talked with me about accepting her back in the union. And I told the firm that I didn't have anything to do with it, that when the time came for her to go back off of supervision into a bargaining unit job that I would do what I could. But I did not know how the people felt about her, and what had happened in the past I had no knowledge of it, and that I could not give them any assurance that she would be accepted in the union because I didn't have a vote (I only had a voice). And I had been talking to the people more or less about it, the officers of the union, and discussing it with them that she was going to come back. But they used her and a few others that were disgruntled for some reason. But they couldn't get the majority, because we did service the people; we had a good contract, as good as anybody had in those days in the shirt plants. The people were very happy with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. We had, of course, people who (as every union is not perfect). . . . But we had very good meetings, good support from our members. We had a good union, and they just couldn't get anywhere.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were most of these workers women in the shirt mill?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, yes. I didn't involve any of the men. I told the men to stay out of it altogether, the few men we had in the plant, because they would be victims of violence. And I told them to stay clear.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did the women respond to the threats of violence?
EULA McGILL:
They held their heads up and went on, until they started shooting in their houses and beating up their husbands and threatening. The pressure got a little bad after they finally put a picket line out and wouldn't let the people into work. They put a picket line up and

Page 21
wouldn't let the people in to work, and that's how they finally got one of the shops; they never did get the other. But they came. We was having a meeting over at the hall, and they came up. We had the door locked. There were seventy-five or a hundred guys and one or two women, and the people who knew them said they worked in Jellico. They were not workers from our plants; none of the workers from our plant was involved in this. And they were trying to get the door open, and they couldn't get it open. They kept trying. Frankly, we had clubs inside the hall to protect ourselves. And every time they'd stick their finger through the crack one of the girls would hit their fingers, and they yelled. A cop was standing outside, the policeman, watching all this. And they yelled back to him and said "They've got clubs in there." And he came up and asked me to open the door. We opened the door, and he stepped back and let them in. Then them women beat the tar out of them [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
Really?
EULA McGILL:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did they beat them?
EULA McGILL:
They sent seven of them to the hospital. They used their scissors on them; a lot of them had their scissors, and they'd cut.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did any of the women get hurt?
EULA McGILL:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the men not fight back?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. They tried to fight, but they couldn't fight. Them women was terrors. They were trying to get to me. Some of the women took me back in the back of the hall and made me stay back there. They knew that they were after me. And I didn't like it [laughter]; I wanted to stay out

Page 22
there and fight too. But a bunch of the women took me in the back of the hall.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
EULA McGILL:
I didn't see anything. I saw bottles of whiskey in their hands, and I figured they'd try to use the bottles of whiskey. In fact, there was one guy there, one of the Musish boys. His father told me later; he called on me, (his father was a representative of the United Mine Workers) and he asked me if his son was over there. And I said, "I don't know him, but I understand he was." He said, "Well I assure you, he won't be back." And I never saw him at any more of the fracases we had over there. In fact, the first day they put the picket line at the Imperial Shirt Plant, that plant had their clocks set to get off five minutes earlier than the other plant. No, I'm getting that backwards: the Southeastern Plant (because it was furthest from the restaurants and the bus station), they had their clocks set to give them equal chance to get into restaurants and on the bus in the afternoon, to get a seat. For some reason or other that's the way the people wanted it. So when I came out at noon, out of the Southeastern shop, there was a man standing out there, and he said, "We want you all to come over to the other plant at noon; we're going to organize it." And I said, "Well, I thought it was organized;" that's what I said. That tipped me off. And as I was going on to the hall I met one of the city councilmen. He was going home for lunch; he walked that way every day and went home for lunch. And I told him I was expecting trouble, so he turned and went back. I went on over to the big plant (what we called the big plant, the Imperial Plant), and there was a great gang there. And most of the women stayed in the plant and didn't come out. And I got in the plant. They didn't know

Page 23
who I was; those people out there, they didn't know me. And I think a lot of those men were brought down there that day under the impression that plant did not have a union in it; they did not know what they were there for. I went inside the plant and alerted the union officers and the stewards, and most of them stayed in. The few who came out, when they tried to come back in after work, why we had to fight to get them in. We fought all through the hall of the plant, and finally got some of them in. But the majority did not come out; they stayed inside the plant all during the lunch hour. So the company then shut the plant down because of the trouble. We had a wage opener at that time, an opening to discuss a wage increase at that time. That opened for an election. So by the time the election came around there had been so much violence and shooting and threats and everything that we lost it, slightly lost it. The day before the election I had practically every union member in the hall for a meeting. But the fear of not being able to get into work, I think, caused them to vote for the other union. [unknown] And then the day after they lost the plant couldn't operate, because the people didn't go into work. They came to the union hall.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think the same people that may have voted. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Against.
JACQUELYN HALL:
. . . against the Amalgamated came, and still stayed out of work?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, that's right. They came to the hall instead, they were so upset over losing. I think they all thought that enough would vote to put it over—and almost did. We almost did. But there was just enough of them that was frightened; I'm sure that's what it was. And the plant manager called me and asked me to tell the people to come to work. And I

Page 24
said, "Well, you're kind of calling the wrong people, ain't you?" I said, "We don't represent those people anymore." And I said, "I don't care what happens." "Oh," he said, "I know you better than that. You do care." Some of them never went back to work; never worked another day in that plant. Didn't never work no more in the plant; and one's retired out of Arrow [unknown] Shirt Plant that was involved in that and never went back to work in that plant no more.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was any legal action taken against the mob at all?
EULA McGILL:
No, no. I'll tell you, I felt then as I feel now (and I told Bro Potofsky when I talked with him). He told me just to leave. When they begin all this fighting he asked me, he said, "Why don't you just leave and let them have it?" More or less that's what he said. And I said, "These people don't want to leave our union, and I don't want to leave. I want to stick with them." And he said, "Well, hire you a good lawyer; that's all I can do."
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did he mean by that?
EULA McGILL:
Well, to protect me in case of any frame-ups or anything. I felt this way: that I did not want to bring any legal action against another union member. And that's what I told Silas Huddleston. He came down there later, he and five men. And I got in the door and I said, "What do you want?" And he said, "I'm coming in that hall." And I said, "Not as long as the Amalgamated's paying rent on this hall you're not coming in." He said, "I represent those people." And I said, "Well, if you represent them, you go rent you a hall and take them to it and represent them. But you're not coming in this hall." And I said, "I want to tell you something, Silas." I said, "You're not going to do me like you did

Page 25
Franz Daniel and Ed Blair." I said, "I know you don't have guts enough to do it yourself, but in case you have any idea of having somebody do something to me you're going to pay for it. I'm going to see that you pay if anything happens to me." And he said, "Well, I hope nothing doesn't happen." I said, "Well you better, because you're going to pay for it. I'm going to hold you responsible." So only I and the secretary-treasurer of the local was [unknown] And she got behind the door with a .45, 'cause they'd beat her husband up. And he was a very frail, sick man, not able to do hard work. He worked in the bus station restaurant, and they had come in the restaurant there and beat him up trying to make her quit the Amalgamated. And she had a .45 [laughter] standing behind the door; she would have killed him. I'm trying to think [unknown] But they won the election.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was this the most violent campaign that you were involved in, the most violent period that you were involved in?
EULA McGILL:
Over a longer period of time. [unknown] Actually, the pressure and the anxiety [unknown] before they finally actually had to take it by main force with physical violence; the pressure of the people and all, I'd say it went on the longest. And it was quite embarrassing, coming from a so-called union. That's what I told Silas that day; I said, "It's very embarrassing to have to stand up and. . . ." I said, "We have a hard enough time to organize without two unions having to fight each other." That's the way I felt about it. And I still say today I'm proud of the way we acted. They would have never been able to have won the election if I had not agreed to the company. The company asked me, and the mayor of the town and a good friend, Mr. Charlie Russell (who was a very

Page 26
good friend of mine who ran the hotel—and I was at that time living in one of his houses); they came and talked to me about getting the plant open. And I agreed. I said, "Well, there's nothing I have to do with opening. The company can open any time they want to as far as I'm concerned." And I'm still proud that we did not attack another union; we did not attack any of their members; we just merely tried to protect ourselves. I'm proud of it, although we lost the shop. And, I'm sorry to say, a lot of the people knew they was making a mistake. But they'd rather work that way than not to work. Most of the people still feel today (well, of course, that's a long time; the old-timers know). . . . In fact, there's a new group of workers in there now. They tried to take the other plant, but by that time Clifford Lay had become. . . . He didn't go back in there, and he was the sheriff at the time this happened, county sheriff. The first time he ran he ran against an old man who was already in his seventies, and he did defeat that old man—barely defeated him. And he went back in, and it was during the time he was sheriff this was happening. After all this violence he resigned as sheriff (I'm pretty sure it was under pressure from the governor, Governor McCord, because Charlie Russell told me that he went to see the governor). He resigned, and they put the former chief of police there in as sheriff. He went outside of town and hired—no, he didn't hire him, but the city hired—a man from outside as chief of police. And the climate was much better; they couldn't get by with doing the violence to us in the other plant, although they tried. They tried every way that they could. The local management there was playing with them; they thought if they could get rid of us. . . . They knew it would be a weaker union that wouldn't understand our work, and they were really playing footsie with this other union. But the people resisted.

Page 27
And we had to call a strike of our own during that time for violation of the contract. They tried to run some scabs in, but they didn't get to first base. I told the chief of police that we weren't going to stand for it. He said, "I'm not going to have any fighting." I said, "Well, if the scabs show up there's going to be some fighting; and I can go to jail as well as anyone. But there weren't enough scabs. [unknown] Our people there were stronger, and the pressure couldn't be put on because they knew with the new sheriff, the acting sheriff. . . . I'm trying to think of his name. But he was a very fine person. He was a railroad detective, and he had been chief of police during the time. And he did his best to try to get us. . . . He came and talked to me, and he said he thought he had some good leads as to who had beat up Franz Daniel and Ed Blair and wanted my permission—or wanted me to prosecute. I told him just what I told you, that I did not want to get involved and try to cause any trouble in another union. And he got a little bit disturbed then. Henry Sutton his name was; Henry Sutton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You said you were living in a Methodist minister's house at first?
EULA McGILL:
In Bruceton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, in Bruceton, I'm sorry. Right.
EULA McGILL:
Oh, I'd left Bruceton and went to LaFollette.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes [laughter]. I just started thinking about that.
EULA McGILL:
But, you see, LaFollette happened before Bruceton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, yes.
EULA McGILL:
You see, after we lost the big shop I had the small shop. So I started helping out in organizing campaigns some, because I just had this one shop.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I was just wondering about whether that was unusual. Was he allowing

Page 28
you to live in his house because he was sympathetic toward the union?
EULA McGILL:
Who?
JACQUELYN HALL:
The Methodist minister.
EULA McGILL:
Very sympathetic, and she was too. She had lived there, and he was her second husband. And I cannot remember . . . it's terrible that I can't remember the name.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you get any support from the churches like that in any of your. . . ?
EULA McGILL:
Oh no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you get active opposition in your organizing efforts from the churches?
EULA McGILL:
In some areas, especially in the textile. Not so much in the garment plants. I never had open opposition. Of course, most of the people, they'd say, "My pastor told me not to have anything to do with the union." There was some churches back then that called the CIO the mark of the beast. Well, I think the main thing would be more. . . . Most of the churches that the workers went to, it was my feeling that they had to support their church because nobody had money that went there. And all the money the church got was what these workers got, and they were afraid of a'losing it. [unknown] I'm pretty sure that was the motive in them telling them not to have anything to do with the union. I'm sure it was that more than anything else.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were serving on the OPA Price Panel during this time that you were involved.
EULA McGILL:
During the World War, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And Hillman was national co-director, I think.
EULA McGILL:
Of the War Manpower Commission.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Of the War Manpower Commission, yes. What was your role in it?

Page 29
or what was the OPA Price Panel's purpose, and what kind of role was labor trying to play in that?
EULA McGILL:
Well, we more or less, the people who worked in the OPA were a voluntary board. When they couldn't straighten out violations of the code they would bring them to us, and then we would take action. That was what we'd do. We'd have a meeting and take up what the investigators and checkers who checked the stores had. Of course it was labor, the public (whoever that is: housewives), business—a panel. That was the purpose of the OPA, to try to keep everybody in line.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And to try to keep down inflation: was that the overall purpose?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, and to try to keep people from selling tallow for margerine—you'd be surprised, but that happened [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
Selling what for margerine, tallow?
EULA McGILL:
Beef tallow, or some kind of liquid stuff. I looked at it; I don't know what it was, but they were selling it for margerine. A lot of things like that you had to watch. [unknown] And very careful about meets and things being sold, that it was a proper inspection. And prices particularly: they'd check the prices, and they had to post their prices. A lot of the stores would not report or post their prices; had a terrible time with some of the stores getting them to post their prices. You couldn't tell if it was a violation unless they posted them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I noticed that the '46 Amalgamated convention was in Atlanta.
EULA McGILL:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It wasn't?
EULA McGILL:
It never has been, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Never has been?

Page 30
EULA McGILL:
Never has been no Amalgamated convention in Atlanta.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I thought that was unusual. I wondered if they ever met in the South.
EULA McGILL:
There wasn't one in '46. '44, and the next one was in '48. We didn't have one in '46 during the war. Wait a minute now, wait a minute. Had one in '44. No, we skipped from '40 to '44. We did have one in '46; we skipped from '40 to '44 during the war. And in '46, Atlantic City, I guess, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Atlantic City, that's what it was, yes. I looked at some of the proceedings for that convention.
EULA McGILL:
That was right after the LaFollette thing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And you were speaking in favor of a commitment to the southern drive. Griselda Kuhlman was also talking about her experience in the South. I was wondering whether you felt that the union did not make, whether you were trying to push the union to make a more serious commitment to the South. Was there opposition to that?
EULA McGILL:
No, there's never been no opposition. But at conventions you always feel like at revival meetings, that you have to keep praising the Lord [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
[laughter] I see.
EULA McGILL:
You always have to keep the members who are delegates. . . . After all, the money comes from the national office, and the delegates in the convention is the supreme voting power. And you're doing that to impress the members, the delegates from the locals all over. We have to get our money to organize the South from the other locals.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. So the question was how much money was going to be there?

Page 31
EULA McGILL:
To impress the delegates there of the need to organize the South to protect their conditions. That's why we were making the pitch.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You mean delegates from locals outside of the South?
EULA McGILL:
That's right, that's right, because normally that's where they were from. We are the largest single joint board now in the Amalgamated. The membership is beginning to shift, but at that time we had (in '46), I think we had . . . I don't guess we had over eight locals in the South. I may be wrong. It seems you can almost name them because it was not a big thing: Knoxville, LaFollette, Atlanta, Americus, Ga., Dickson, Tenn. I don't know the ones, I didn't work in Mississippi; we had some in Mississippi. We didn't have a single one in Alabama at the time. We had one in Montgomery; we had a shop in Montgomery that was in the Amalgamated (all black). And in Neils: now it's the National Coats out of that shop.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What effect did the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 have?
EULA McGILL:
Well, let me see. I've got the list somewhere in all them things past.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. I can look that up. What effect did that have on the Amalgamated and on your work?
EULA McGILL:
Well, any time that you have—now this is my experience—once you organize a shop, most of the manufacturers would rather have everybody in [unknown] because it's still divided when you have two groups more or less in controversy and competition with each other, unless you are able to get an overwhelming majority to sign so that they pretty well don't look to see if the boss is giving the favoritism to the people who don't belong. You have people that don't belong accusing the boss men of favoring the union people,

Page 32
occasionally. As far as organizing, I can honestly say that a lot of people have said to me (whether they mean it or not), but I have had more people to say to me, "I'd join the union if everybody had to join. But I don't want to join the union and the rest of them get what I am getting and not have to help pay for it." Now that's honestly the truth; I've had a lot of people say that. And it's surprising the workers who do not know this; it's surprising [unknown] the workers who do not know that there's laws that they don't have to join anything to work in the union shop. And they get really upset when they find out [laughter] people were working there and getting the same thing they were without helping pay for it. And as far as organizing, it's always been hard. If it's not one thing to combat it's another. It has hurt and certainly hindered organization, because more and more the law is weakened. The company gets up every day and says, "I don't have to do nothing; you can't make me do nothing. You can organize the union if you want to, but there ain't no way. . . . You have to come to me, and if I don't want to give it I don't have to give it." And the law has become pretty much. . . . A lot of the workers don't have much confidence in it, because they see so many ways the company can get around it. And there's so many slick ways they can say what they want the workers to think they said without actually saying it. Then too, the workers are afraid to file a complaint [unknown] if they violate the law; they are afraid to back it up and give a statement and face them in it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
A whole spate of right to work laws were passed in the South after Taft-Hartley, weren't they?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. They had to do that because, see, Taft-Hartley still give us the right for the union shop if the majority voted for it, and we was

Page 33
winning the elections overwhelmingly for the union shop, because workers wanted to join. They'd feel that everybody should help pay to defray expenses. And we were winning. If they left it to real union shops, the majority voted for it—I mean, a two-thirds majority had to vote for the union shop. And we were winning, and we practically lost none. Once you could win the election it was very easy to win the union shop, because most people felt that, "Well, if I'm going to have a union here, why I should join it and help." The average worker will join the union if they see some benefit to it. The few dollars they pay in dues is not what keeps people out of the union. And too, you can't have a voice unless you're a member: can't attend the meeting, have nothing to do with elections of officers. It was easy to win the second election for a union shop. And these powers-that-be begin to work to try to get state laws (which are very much easier to get passed).
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about the requirement that union officers had to sign anti-Communist affidavits, or affidavits saying that they were not members of the Communist party? Did that have a very negative effect on the union?
EULA McGILL:
At first. Now it's pretty much a routine. People are a little more sophisticated. But I know the first ones who signed, the workers would look at you when they was elected officers and you handed them one of them papers to sign. They wondered, "Lord, what in the world? I am not a Communist; what do they want me to sign this for?" They felt like I do about it; "you're asking me to say that I'm not? I haven't even been accused or suspected, and here I am trying to prove that I'm not." They resented it. I think it's become a matter of routine now. They understand better that they're not being accused of anything. But it's still something that I think

Page 34
is terrible, to have to prove you're not something before you're even accused or suspected. And if a person's going to [laughter] work undercover, they'd sign it anyway. It's just a farce as far as I'm concerned.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You went back on the staff as an organizer in '52.
EULA McGILL:
'52, for straight organizing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And what was your first assignment? You went to Miami? Gladys Dickason asked you to come back on the staff as an organizer and sent you to Miami in '52.
EULA McGILL:
No, my first assignment was in Livingston, Tennessee; that's the first assignment. I went there and worked with a group on a shirt plant in Livingston, Tennessee. And there we were confronted again with the same group, the United Construction Workers. They came in and got on the ballot, and we lost the election by thirty votes. They used every tactic: called us Communists, used loudspeakers, and threatened to beat us up—the same old routine.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you deal with being red-baited, being called a Communist in those different situations?
EULA McGILL:
It never worried me; I didn't let it bother me, because I don't thin the workers paid any attention to them. In the first place to the average worker the Communists is a word to them; it's a dreadful word, but they didn't pay any attention. I think they knew that this group was just . . . that was propaganda they was using against us. We brought some of our, in that campaign at Livingston, members from LaFollette who had confronted this group before. We brought people out of the shop. One girl, the miners threatened to withdraw her mother's miner's pension, and she had to go back to the shop.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you prefer being an organizer or being a business agent?
EULA McGILL:
It doesn't make any difference, you know. I think sometimes I

Page 35
feel that a business agent is more rewarding, to see some good you're doing. When you're organizing sometimes you feel like, well, you're out here to get these people out on a limb, and you have to fight. You worry yourself to death, afraid that something'll happen and you're not going to be able to protect them. And they don't follow your advice a lot of times. And when they talk union they're going to talk union, and you try to advise them how to do it so that the boss won't catch them off-guard so we can protect them with whatever the law can protect them with [laughter]. And you worry constantly about it, that maybe somebody is in there talking and they don't know really how to protect themselves. And if they get fired you worry yourself to death. I know when I first started organizing, when anybody got fired I tried to get them back in there. I had no relief or nothing. I used to spend most of my paycheck keeping people up who got fired, families. They had no income. Organizing is a heart-breaking job in a lot of respects. You feel sometimes that you're back with your head against a stone wall. But all in all, you know that it has to be done, that you have to keep at it. If you don't, well, you can slip backward a heck of a lot faster than you can go forward. If you don't keep up the battle, why you'll slip backward.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, you and Ed Blair, then, were assistant organizing directors under Gladys Dickason, right?
EULA McGILL:
We more or less divided up the South.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Two of the strikes that I know about during that time were at Water Valley, Mississippi and Newberry, South Carolina. Were those the two . . . ?
EULA McGILL:
Let's see, Water Valley was first. Well, see, I worked there

Page 36
and organized Leeds, Alabama and a little plant out in Bessemer, Alabama during that time. No, Water Valley was first.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was it at Water Valley that Ed Blair was shot?
EULA McGILL:
No, he was never shot at on an Amalgamated picket line. He was shot on a picket line with the IUE in Columbus, Mississippi, when he was on the picket line with them. [Interruption]
EULA McGILL:
See, I didn't work much in Mississippi; I just came to help out when Ed needed it, especially help in a strike.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So he was really in charge of. . . ?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, he was in charge. I didn't have to work much there. He liked Mississippi; he handled Mississippi altogether. I just went in a time or two in Mississippi to help him out. I went in in the Seminole campaign.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were the states that you were in charge of?
EULA McGILL:
Well, he and I split it. We pretty well worked together, whichever way. I usually worked over this way. I used to kid him and ask him wasn't there no inbetween Mississippi or Miami. He liked it. He took care of mostly Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you working out of Atlanta?
EULA McGILL:
Well, we was working out of our car, mainly. Nashville was the southern office. And I just really didn't have an office; technically worked out of the Nashville office, but I was hardly ever there. I was in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you really most of the time just lived on the roads?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. I haven't been no one place very long except when I was a business agent. I was based in LaFollette, then I was based in Huntingdon,

Page 37
Tennessee; anywhere. [unknown] Very seldom I lived in Nashville.
JACQUELYN HALL:
This Newberry contract was one of the first victories in South Carolina, wasn't it?
EULA McGILL:
In Charleston, South Carolina, we had a shirt company which we got without too much trouble. (We had to strike for a contract.) A lot of these companies where we already had contracts for major shops, why, we just had to have a card check. We never signed a contract, though, without having a card check or an election, a card check and getting certification from the board: have an impartial person check the cards against the payroll and certify the signatures. We never just signed the contract.
[unknown] Had a card check and then negotiated the contract, with the exception of Huntingdon, Tennessee. Didn't do that in Huntingdon, [unknown] we had a contract. Publix was one of the best companies in the South. It was my favorite company as far as labor relations.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Publix?
EULA McGILL:
Well, it's the old S. Leibowitz Company; [unknown] Publix Shirt Corporation it's known as now. They changed their name along in the late forties to Publix Shirt Corporation; it used to be S. Leibowitz Sons.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they have plants in other parts of the country and in parts of the South, or was that the only one?
EULA McGILL:
No, not then. They had Pennsylvania and they had one in Knoxville. They made jackets; things that's booming today, they made them then. Then they went out for awhile of jackets. And they never could convert that, never could get a successful conversion from jackets to shirts. So they built this plant in Huntingdon, Tennessee and started making shirts.

Page 38
We had a complete union shop there. We came on the contract without having an election, every new shop they owned. And now they've got four, I think: that one in Huntingdon; Columbia; Macon, Georgia; and they've got one in Mississippi (it was bought from MacGregor).
JACQUELYN HALL:
The next campaign that I remember us touching on before was the Majorette Sportswear.
EULA McGILL:
I wasn't involved in that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, you weren't there?
EULA McGILL:
No, I wasn't involved in Majorette at all. I don't know where I was when that was going on. After I left Tennessee the only organizing in Tennessee I did was at. . . . Ed pretty well handled Tennessee and Mississippi, and what little there was in Alabama. And Miami and pretty well the rest of the area was where I was supposed to be. I didn't work over in Majorette. I worked some in Decherd—that was later years, though—organizing Decherd.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was the company there?
EULA McGILL:
Let's see, what was that old shop— It's closed now. [unknown] owned it. What in the world was that? Hmm, can't remember.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me a little about how the structure actually worked. Did you have organizers working under you that you sent out?
EULA McGILL:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How many organizers did you have?
EULA McGILL:
Ed usually sent out the organizers. See, he usually had me to go mostly to places he didn't want to go. To tell you the truth, I mean that's the way he wanted it [laughter]—though I used to tell him he gave me the situations he didn't want.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of places would that be?

Page 39
EULA McGILL:
Just, you know, where Ed didn't want to go. He'd call me up and say, "Hey, how would you like to go over there? How about you handling that?" I didn't care where I worked. [unknown] . I worked everywhere he didn't want to work, you see—of course I didn't care about Mississippi. I liked the people in Mississippi, but I couldn't stand that country; that's hot and blech! I liked Tennessee and the Carolinas [unknown] Let's see, I was in Newberry. I was back in Birmingham for some reason or another. Well, I know Water Valley was after LaFollette and Newberry; I think it was. It couldn't have been; well, it must be about the same time, because in '52 I was in Livingston. And then I stayed for a while in Huntingdon to try to direct that campaign at Silgill. And after that they sent me from there to . . . I believe I went to Miami, and got the first contracts in Miami. [Interruption]
JACQUELYN HALL:
I think we stopped where you had just come back on staff as an organizer in '52 with Ed Blair. And you went back to Livingston. [Omission]
EULA McGILL:
Which was in progress when I got there. And I headed up that campaign where we had another run-in with our friends—I don't know if it was District 50 or the Construction Workers by that time. Sometime during that time they disbanded the United Construction Workers, and District 50, I think. [unknown] Dennie Lewis was head of the United Construction Workers; I think he passed away and they just combined it all into District

Page 40
50 long about that time. So they entered into it too; I think that was the cause of us losing it. So I went from there. . . . I was in Newberry after that, that's right, because I remember I was working in Newberry. . . . See, I went to Newberry in the organizing drive, and then I later came back and served as business agent awhile, for a little while in there. We were on strike there and in Columbia. You'd be working over here awhile and then you'd go over there [laughter] awhile in the same year, because we had a strike in Columbia with Bud Burma there later in the fifties and I was there. But after the Livingston campaign I went to Miami, I'm pretty sure. And we got three shops. And Murray Gerstein was put in charge of the Miami area, so I left there. That's when I went back to Newberry; for some reason or other I had to go back and serve as business agent for awhile. And I helped organize the Campus Shirt plant in Spartanburg with Ida Mae McIfee. And we didn't have any success there. We had some Board cases and got some people reinstated, but we never were able to get a majority.
Then I think I went back to Huntington to start that campaign. No, we went back to Livingston to see; there was some rumblings of people that wanted a union. We went back up to Livingston, and there wasn't enough interest. So then we went into a campaign and a strike at Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee and got a contract at that plant there. From there I was working on Livingston and helped out when they had the strike in Mt. Pleasant; I had to go in there and help with that situation.
And where did I go from there? Let's see. I think that's when I came to Bremen to start a campaign on the Sewell Manufacturing Company. And I was in there about two years, and went through about three elections. Had to have run-overs due to them violating the law. That's when the Board made the

Page 41
decision that you couldn't use the race issue. That's where the ruling came that the race issue should not be injected into an organizing campaign. An unfair labor practice was the race issue. And we had two elections set aside.
JACQUELYN HALL:
The NLRB made that decision?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, based on our charges. That's what they used, the race issue.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did they do that?
EULA McGILL:
They put out leaflets showing black and white people together, saying "Do you want this?". About that time, you know, was when there were the riots of the 1954 Supreme Court decision for integration. And they made it so strong we filed charges and used that as one of the reasons. The Board ruled in our favor. We had another election and lost it. They used the same things again, violated the same laws. So the second time we got it set aside we decided there wasn't no use doing it again. They didn't mind violating the law; they'd just do the same thing again. And during the time I was there then the Decherd situation got hot. I went up there, and we had to strike that plant.
Then I came back and there was a walk-out in. . . .
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
EULA McGILL:
In '65 or '66, I guess it was about that time, we had contacted a few people at the Warren Sewell Clothing Company in Bowden, Georgia.
People walked out on strike. [unknown] And as a result of that, why, we signed up a majority of the people. But we lost the election, and we lost that election over the race issue, I think. I think it was a predominant factor that caused us to lose that

Page 42
election, because while there was nothing we could prove. . . . There were three actually separate plants, separate buildings. I called it the Compound: a coat shop and a topcoat shop and a pants plant, particularly suits. The day of the election the Board agents came down to inspect the polls, something no company had ever done before. Took us all through all the plants, inside, outside, walking across dirt, and took us in the last building where the election was going to be held last. It was not necessary to take us through all those buildings, and I thought at the time there was something funny. Usually the company will take you in the door nearest the polls and that's all they'll let you see. But they took us through every one of the plants, walked us through. And the men holding the election, among one of them was Maynard Jackson who was working for the NLRB. That was the first time I had ever seen Maynard Jackson. So we had the election. And that night after the election was over and we were back at the union hall some of the people asked me if he was a Negro, asked me if there was a Negro holding [unknown] the election, asked me if he was a Negro. And I said, "Well, I don't know"—and I frankly didn't, because Maynard was light and I didn't think about it. But that's what had happened. All during the day they had gone around and said, "See, who they have holding the election. They've got a Negro holding the election." And I think that caused us to lose it. And then I realized why the company had paraded us all through those plants, so they could let the people see Maynard.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there a big upsurge in using the race issue against the union after '54, or had that been done all along?
EULA McGILL:
It had been done, yes. Oh, the CIO, we were known as, they called us Negro lovers and Communists. Even some of the AF of L groups, while we was separate, used that even in talking to people when they were

Page 43
trying to get them to join their union instead of ours. They used the same thing that the bosses used on us, especially the [laughter] United Garment Workers. They used the same tactics the bosses did, calling us Reds and nigger-lovers and all this kind of stuff.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did the United Garment Workers stoop to tricks like that so much?
EULA McGILL:
They needed shops, I guess; they wanted membership. They went everywhere we went. We'd go start a campaign, they'd be right there the next day or two. I know for a fact that they'd tell the company, "Look, don't you want us instead of those Communists?" They'd get the company to help them. And I think that deal was made with Salant and Salant, because we were in a campaign with Salant and Salant—had been in a running campaign with Salant and Salant since the thirties since they come into the South. We had never been able to make [unknown] headway. But after World War II we begin to make some headway and we won a couple of elections. And lo and behold, overnight one weekend they signed the contract with the United Garment Workers for the rest of their plants. And as far as I knew they had no campaign going in there, but they signed contracts. How many members they've got in the joint I don't know. And some of them are still under contract today with United Garment Workers, and we have some in our union. But the ones we've organized, we've had to win them with elections; they'd never had an election as far as I know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, after World War II the garment industry moved into the South at a rapid rate.
EULA McGILL:
After World War II yes, because a lot of things was changing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How has that affected the union, the movement of the industry to the South? How has it affected the union as a whole? Has the union moved

Page 44
with the industry?
EULA McGILL:
Well, predominantly the heads of the industry are still in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, still based there. The plants may be here, but they're based there, so the union has to be based back there. We have the largest joint board [unknown] in the Amalgamated, the Southern Regional Joint Board, eight southern states, southeastern states.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But that change has meant that as the industry moved into the South. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Although we're the biggest joint board we're still the poorest [laughter] in money.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Really? Why is that?
EULA McGILL:
Well, we're newly organized. We're so widespread the expenses are more down here, while the northern shops are pretty well concentrated their facilities can be used. Down here we have to have almost separate facilities for every local union. We still have to depend on the membership in the North to help us; they still are. They're paying practically the entire expense. They pay all the organizing expense and the biggest degree of the servicing expenses from [unknown] the national office still.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were saying earlier that before World War II most of the membership, or at least a majority or more of the membership were men who worked in the plants.
EULA McGILL:
Well, I'd say a large portion; if not the majority, darned near it. And in Pennsylvania in shirt plants, they began to go into shirt plants in Pennsylvania. But predominantly it was men's clothing that was made.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't men move into work in the garment industry in the South after World War II?

Page 45
EULA McGILL:
I don't think they'd ever been used to that type of work. They'd done rougher work. As a rule, most of the people who came to this country and started off in the garment industry had come here for this type of work. It just don't work out once they've done manual labor with their hands, farming and rough work; it just don't work out as good. Now, a lot of young men during the war—and they're beginning to get a few men back on sewing machines. . . . There are some men now, a few coming in our shirt plants in north Alabama and taking sewing machine jobs; you're finding it happening. And there's nothing wrong with it: they make good operators because they [unknown] used to run the industry. The hand work was mostly done by women, but all the sewing machine jobs practically were done by men in the old clothing days. And shirt workers too, a lot of the shirt workers were men.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So what proportion of the membership are women now?
EULA McGILL:
Oh, the overwhelming majority: I'd say ninety percent if you don't count our warehouses. There are a lot of women now, you know, of course since women can't get any jobs they work at jobs that used to be thought of as predominantly men's jobs because of the actual heaviness of it. With technological changes it's easier to do, and women can do them easier than they used to. Certain jobs that I used to think were really too hard for women: those old buck presses and lifting those big heavy cartons of shirts and clothing. A woman's just not as strong as a man, let's face it. But with the new types of equipment being brought into the industry it makes it easier for both men and women. Any more we don't have men and women's jobs, even before the Equal Opportunity in Employment Act.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, most of the officers of the union have been men, in spite of the fact that it was a predominantly female industry.

Page 46
EULA McGILL:
I think that was because the women allowed it to happen and never considered themselves able to lead. I think they felt pretty well content to play the soldier role. I know that most of them that I knew of, most of our business agents (a lot of our business agents) were women. A lot of the leaders on the local and district level were women—well, for the very reason that I tell you, that a lot of the women, they look up to a man.
JACQUELYN HALL:
They do look up to a man?
EULA McGILL:
I think they certainly have, and I think they'll do it to a big degree. They'll feel that a man can deal with another man better—and, too, a lot of the bosses. I guess I was about the first woman business agent in the South. I believe it's safer to say that I was the first one to be taken serious, was able to be treated on an equal basis in dealing with them. I had very few men that I dealt with when I was a business agent that ever tried to belittle me or to think of me as unable to do the job, or felt that they were superior to me, or had any qualms about dealing with me. And certainly Gladys Dickason had the respect of everybody, whether they liked her or not. She was respected for her brains and her ability to do the job by industry.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about by other people in the union?
EULA McGILL:
Oh, the other people in the union definitely. Sometimes there was a little even in the union. Men are men [laughter] and they're going to be a little jealous about a woman. You have to be careful how you handle these men; if you're smarter, sometimes you've got to let them think it's their idea [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you do that?
EULA McGILL:
Yes, yes. I've always sensed. I had one guy one time. I called Gladys and I said, "I can get a settlement but he ain't going to agree

Page 47
with me. You're going to have to send somebody with pants on." And he came in and he said yes. He wasn't going to say yes to me. So I called Gladys and I told her, "He ain't going to say yes to me. Send anybody." A guy come in for thirty minutes, and I introduced him and gave him some kind of a title. And the agreement was signed [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
How could you tell that that was going to be the case?
EULA McGILL:
I just had a feeling. I knew I was winning the arguments. And the plant manager there, I'd known him for a pretty good while, and I'd always gotten along with him. Before his superior came in the picture I pretty well figured that the plant manager thought I was [unknown] right. It was just a hunch I had that the guy wasn't going to give in to me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think that you would be, hypothetically, if you had been a man, in a different position in the union today?
EULA McGILL:
No. No, I don't think so, I don't really think so. I don't think I've ever been discriminated against because I was a woman in the union. No, I don't think so, because there were just other women that had more seniority and were certainly more capable of being on the board than I was. I feel that way. I certainly felt that those people had been in the union longer than me. And certainly Gladys Dickason was far more able. She was a professor of economics; and I'd certainly rather have seen her sitting on the board than me, although I did have more seniority than her. [unknown] I felt they deserved the recognition.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You haven't seen men be promoted over you or receive more recognition than you received?
EULA McGILL:
No, no. No sir, I've always been equal to anybody that's been

Page 48
in the South, with the exception of southern directors.
JACQUELYN HALL:
This is an impossible question, but you say (and I think this is true) that most women are content to play the soldier role and content to work behind the scenes to make their contribution.
EULA McGILL:
Oh, I've never worked behind the scenes [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
I know. How do you account for the fact that you have not followed that kind of traditional role at all?
EULA McGILL:
Well, I've always had my say. I never stood back. I always opened my mouth, whether it was right or wrong; I had my say. Luckily I've been right more than I've been wrong. And I've never hesitated to speak my mind, and to anybody in this union from Hillman on down. I wasn't fearful of them. And if I had have been I'd have still said it, because I felt it needed to be said. And I have never had anything but cooperation from everybody in the union that I've worked with and talked about.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When you first started out as an organizer, did you have any trouble with being hassled by men in or out of the union as a young woman traveling alone [unknown] in an unusual, independent way?
EULA McGILL:
Well not only that, when you're out. . . . I guess I was about the first woman organizer on the road in the thirties. You had to be very careful because a lot of women were suspicious of a woman who would get out and travel alone: "This must be a tough customer to get out and do that." You had to first win yourself. If I went to visit or talk to a man about joining the union I first tried to talk to his wife. And I used to have flack from a lot of the guys when we started organizing women's auxilliaries, before women went to work like they do now. I used to try to get women's auxilliaries to help us with the union label movement, consumer movement and

Page 49
the Women's Trade Union League to get the women active. They laughed at me—-I think they meant it but they pretended they was kidding—that our place was in the home, you know. "You ought to get married and settle down," you know: they used to tell me that. And too, men, you know, you had to be very careful about hotels. Salesmen was always trying. . . . They figured if she was on the road traveling she was on the make, you know. You had to be careful how you handled. . . . You couldn't make friends. You can today; you can strike up relationships and talk with people on a friendly basis around places without being figured that you're an easy pickup. But that was not true when I started on the road. They just figured a woman out on the road like this was traveling for other reasons, you know. I think some of the young women today have to be very careful not to be misunderstood. So I wasn't too friendly with nobody.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the male organizers have a lot more freedom in that regard?
EULA McGILL:
No. You know, a lot of women hassle men; men have trouble running from women. A lot of the men have that kind of trouble, that have to be very careful not to make a woman mad. I used to see it, you know, and I'd try to help the guys head it off, because it could cause trouble. I used to tell the men organizers, "Look, if you go with one the others'll get mad at you. And you can't go with them all, so it's best to leave them all alone and treat them all alike." Some of the women would join the union just, you know, if they liked the guy's looks or something like that. That's nothing unusual; it happens in everything.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, I guess until 1970 or so, for almost twenty years, you pretty much have lived on the road from the time you left LaFollette. Could you tell me a little bit about what your daily life was like?

Page 50
EULA McGILL:
Well, organizing is pretty much a twenty-four hour job. Of course I had a home, and I took my summer clothes down and left them in the winter or went back in winter and got my summer clothes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In. . . ?
EULA McGILL:
Birmingham. But I, for the most part, had to take everything I had with me in the car. I might go home once a month sometimes; sometimes it'd be maybe three to six months. I have been away from home six months before I got back home again.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And you'd stay in motels in different places?
EULA McGILL:
Yes. Stayed in the motels most of the time. And you'd be on a lot of campaigns; especially in the early days in the thirties you might get you a furnished room. We had to save money back in those days, and that's the reason that if we was going to be in a place any length of time we'd try to get into somebody's home and rent a room. I lived with a couple of ladies in Middlesboro for a long time; they lived alone and rented out rooms. Then they had a couple living in another one of the rooms, a man and his wife. And I lived in their home just like I was at home—had the run of the house. Then in Huntingdon I lived in the home, because there was no hotel there. I lived in a bedroom in the home of a man who'd been sheriff there for twenty years. He and his wife—-his kids was all gone—they rented me a room. Not that they rented rooms, but I had no place to stay, so they agreed. And I lived in their house for about four years.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who have your closest friends been over the years? Have they been mostly other organizers?
EULA McGILL:
Mostly the people I worked with, because I never had any time to spend. I never had time to make friendships outside. In the early days

Page 51
a lot of the people was afraid to have anything to do with you; usually all your associates were people who you worked with. And you didn't go out with them socially because they were frankly afraid that people would find out that you was for the union. And then too, you just didn't have time to make any friends outside the union. Of course I have had some of them, good friends outside the labor movement. Never had too much time with them; never had time. In organizing work [unknown] it's pretty much twenty-four hours a day. In the morning when you get up, then you have your breakfast. You start planning: if you're making a leaflet you're working on a leaflet, or you're planning or working with your files and keeping them up-to-date and getting prepared. You'd go out at night. You'd visit people in their homes, see if you could work up a committee and to get people who you think will be instrumental in getting other cards signed. And sometimes you just have to give them out one at a time. That can consume four or five hours a night. By the time you visit two or three people you've made three or four major speeches, and it's tiring. When you come back you can't go to bed and go to sleep because you've got to unwind. And by the time you get into bed it's twelve or one o'clock. I've always been a person who's up in the morning; I never have been able [laughter] to lay in the bed. I get up in the morning, and I eat my breakfast, read my newspaper and then get to work. You work on leaflets. You have to listen to what's going on. You read the county papers to find out who's who. You get a lot of information: you find out who knows who, and find out all you can about the town (what's the predominant religion, how the company ships their stuff). You find out everything you possibly can about the town and everything that goes on in it. You almost have to. You know, you can hear somebody

Page 52
talking and almost sense. . . . If you hear a name called you know who they're talking about. You read the county newspapers to see who's having a family reunion, who the kinfolks are; you know the burials, the obituary column, the birth column [laughter], everything else. A lot of the times lately the companies usually put out a newsletter, and you want to read that and find out what's going on in the shop. And it's constantly you're either working or thinking or planning.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What has the nature of your work done to your private life?
EULA McGILL:
Well, it hasn't constricted my private life, because I always found time to have recreation. I've always been interested in music of all kinds. I think it's very bad for a person to get hung into one thing and not have no outside activities. But as far as any other thing other than music or shows. . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
Have you ever been drawn toward settling down in one place and having a house?
EULA McGILL:
No, no, no, no, never had those desires.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You never have?
EULA McGILL:
No, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You never had any regrets about not having that kind of a. . . ?
EULA McGILL:
If I retire I'd have to have something to do; I'd have to have something to be in. If I ever retire I don't think I could ever really retire from the labor movement. I might have to retire, to go off the payroll, but I'd always want to be active in some way—certainly not with senior citizens though. I don't believe in categorizing people out here. I think everybody ought to be mixed together. I think putting the old people out together and the young people out together is the worst thing

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that has ever happened to the civilization. But I'm very interested,I've always, always been (years back before it become popular to even talk about it) in the atmosphere, the environment and pollution; been very interested, especially in the polluting of our streams. That's one thing that I don't know what can be done about it, if anything. I don't know if anything can. I think people are destroying themselves for the sake of the almighty dollar, and maybe that's the way it was intended to be. But I certainly want to do everything I can to make it a cleaner place for people to live. I'd like to do something like that.
I was reading [unknown] last night about the apathy of people who are giving their reasons for not going to vote, and I thought they were the most silliest reasons I ever heard in my life. And I hope I never become so whatever-it-is. Practically all of these people were saying that they didn't see no sense in voting because all the politicians are crooked. Well, why are they? Simply because they themselves, they didn't do nothing about it. And I think that we—and that's another thing I'd like to work with, especially young people, to make them interested in trying to change things. It doesn't have to be this way; it doesn't have to be this way. We can change it. But we've got to get into a position to know what we want to change to. If we don't know what we want to change to, then that's the cop-out. You're coping out when you say, "I ain't going to vote because they're all alike, and things are going to be this way anyhow." It means that you don't have the solution so you want to blame somebody else. You're going to stay out and say, "Well, you done it," instead of getting in there and seeing what you can do. If you don't get in and work inside some political party then you don't know what's going on, and you don't know what they're doing. You

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can learn by getting involved. Maybe you can enter something, you won't know a thing about it. But if you get in there and get involved, then you'll learn something about it. You can't help but learn if you've got any intelligence at all. So there's just so much to be done there's just no use in nobody not [unknown] being interested. And I think that's the best thing that anybody can do, if they want to do it that way. Some people want to have a house; me, I wouldn't want it. If I have one room in a little place to make me some coffee, that's all I want [laughter]. I've never been interested in money. I wanted to have enough to make a living and get by, but as far as being interested in money to make money, I just found out a long time ago that nobody can get rich in a lifetime honestly. You have to be some kind of skulldugger or some kind of land boss or some kind of maneuverer.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You had a brief second marriage, didn't you?
EULA McGILL:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Along in the fifties or something? When you got married were you thinking of getting out of organizing and settling down?
EULA McGILL:
No, no. That was not the intention when I married, but then when I married him he wanted me to quit. And that caused the trouble; I just wouldn't want to do that. I'd been alone too long and worked too long; I would never give up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he decide after you got married that he wanted you to?
EULA McGILL:
I don't know; who knows? People sometimes change. You think you know people, but you don't know them 'til you really live with them. I think he was a little jealous of my activities, [unknown] He was the type of person who wanted to be the boss. He always said he was

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a westerner, and western men, they didn't need a woman to do things for them. I mean, all this came afterwards [laughter].
JACQUELYN HALL:
[laughter] Well, what about other men that you've known or been involved with over the years? Have you had that problem of men being sort of threatened by your work or your strength?
EULA McGILL:
No. Oh, I had a long good friendship with one man. It was . . . more than, I'd say, a friendship, but healthy in a lot of ways. I never had any intimate relationship with nobody in the labor movement. I felt that was something that you had to keep apart from your work. I've always felt that if you want to work in the shop, a lot of the girls tried to go with the bosses and things like that. Me, I felt that that was something you had to keep separate from. And I felt that way when I got in the labor movement. And I wouldn't say I might have found somebody. I might have found somebody and I would have gotten him, but I didn't. And I never looked, never tried. I always kept my social life apart from my work. So because of the fact, though, that you had to be very careful being a woman of who you made friends with (men friends with), why, the person I met was through [unknown] Mary Morgan, whom I trusted. She had a friend and he brought a friend, and we went out together. And all the years until he passed away, why we were good friends—nothing more. It never entered my mind ever wanting to marry him,
JACQUELYN HALL:
You never thought of marriage?
EULA McGILL:
Him or nobody else, because I was burdened with a mother and father to help support, and I had a child to raise. And I just couldn't, I didn't entertain ever marrying again until years later.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you feel any conflicts about having your parents mostly take

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care of the raising of your child?
EULA McGILL:
Oh no, it was the best thing that ever happened because, as I said, I've always had to work. And having my mother and father able to take care of him was the best thing that ever happened.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He never felt any resentment?
EULA McGILL:
No, oh no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Or that you should have been around?
EULA McGILL:
No, none whatsoever.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's great. Oh, you had not ever been involved in any kind of issues involving women specifically, any kind of women's rights issues?
EULA McGILL:
Not at that time, because, as I tell the people in the Coalition of Labor Union Women [unknown] there, we don't have the same problems that they have. We don't have the problems in our union that they seem to have. I tell them quite frankly, "Don't wait 'til they offer it to you. Go out and fight for it." That's what I did; I fought it up in a man's world. And I think they could do it. They have to qualify and pay their dues. They can't step in. It's not their fault that they weren't hired; it was the men's fault where in that job they weren't hired. It was the company's fault, so don't blame the men in there because the company didn't hire you. The company did the hiring, but you have to get in there and show them. If you get in there and show them, I think most of the people (men) will. . . . There has been women in unions where it was predominantly men, a big majority of the men. They've had the recognition, but they earned it and showed they earned it. I won't say all of them has gotten there that could have gotten there. But some of them sat back and whined and don't try.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When was the Coalition of Labor Union Women organized?

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EULA McGILL:
When was it organized? Before I got my leg broke. I didn't get to go to the first meeting because I wasn't able (at that time my leg was broke and I was on my crutches). I think it was December '73.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you see that as an important or significant organization? What do you think is going to come of it?
EULA McGILL:
Really, I don't know. Really I don't, because the way I feel about it is the way I feel about a lot of the black separatists. They fight for equality, then want to run out and divide themselves. I mean, I just don't see . . . that it's going to. . . . That's not going to be the way they're going to change things, I think—whatever they're going to change. Now, I've worked with them and do what I can to try to help those who think they need it in any way, shape or form. But the main thing that I am going to do, I want to do. I knew it would fail if it kept going like it was, and a real trade unionist had to get in there and try to run it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In 1970 a new organizational structure was set up, wasn't it? And your position changed somewhat? You became area organizer?
EULA McGILL:
Well, that's because of more joint boards. We set up more joint boards. The entire eight southeastern states is just too big for one person or even two people to try to direct. And we got more shops in the union; we got more joint boards. And all the states had a joint board. Alabama had two joint boards; Tennessee had two joint boards in it. And they split it up and put the organizing [unknown] under the direction of the joint board managers, with an organizing director attached to each joint board. And the staff worked under this organizing director with the joint board manager really as the director overall. In this area we had the Georgia joint board, but at that time we didn't have any joint boards in the Carolinas.

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And I was made organizing director of Georgia, North and South Carolina and part of Virginia, not attached to a joint board. And until we got the Carolinas-Virginia joint board, or until they put me back in the administration and made me joint board manager in Alabama they had to split this area up, because it was too big. They put the Carolinas under the Carolinas-Virginia joint board. It works better; it's more direct.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And that's when Dickason died at that time and Charles English. . . .
EULA McGILL:
Yes. Well, Charlie had really took over. Gladys had gotten sick and had to retire before she passed away. And Charlie is still southern director and manager of the Southeastern Regional Board, which carries all the eight southern states, southeastern states. And he's over the whole thing. But it's running a lot better. Because traveling's not involved, people can work closer to their home, where it used to be that we had to go from. . . . We didn't know one day where we was going to be the next a lot of the time. We had organizers spread so far out working under the director, and the director couldn't possibly make the situations as often as they should have to help and assist and advise, and to direct wherever necessary. It's working a lot better this way.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now what is your position exactly now?
EULA McGILL:
Well, I'm still director of organization in Georgia and manager of the north Alabama area joint board. I'm kind of in charge of administration of the locals and organizing in north Alabama.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I see. What is the real difference in your work between these two situations?
EULA McGILL:
Well, organizing is trying to organize new shops. Of course you've got to deal and know all about the laws and everything that goes with

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organization, protection of the workers and the workers' rights. And actually in the right-to-work states you have to be very careful to keep your union strong, to see that the business agent is not only a business agent. He has to be an organizer too. And administering the contracts, and negotiating new contracts, and carrying on all the business of the joint board, tending to all the business—and there's a lot of it [laughter]. For the joint board you're clearing house for all the locals. They handle all the books and everything for the locals. And I have to see that the money's spent right, watch that: in fact, run the union. So that's about all I can say about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
[laughter] That's all the questions I have. Is there anything else that we haven't talked about, or anything that you think we should?
EULA McGILL:
No. Oh, we could talk about a lot of other things, but I think we've covered it pretty well [laughter].
END OF INTERVIEW
Journal of Negro History