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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carlee Drye, April 2, 1980. Interview H-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Contrasting membership rates for the Steel Workers and the Teamsters

Drye speculates about declining membership numbers for the Steel Workers after its merger with the AFL-CIO in 1957. As the president of the Badin, North Carolina, local union, Drye helped to organize the merger and notes that he was also involved in the expulsion of the Teamsters with the merger. Here, Drye posits that the Steel Workers numbers declined, while the Teamsters numbers rose, in part because labor leader Jimmy Hoffa was "delivering the goods to them" and the rank and file workers were not concerned with rumors regarding Hoffa's link to organized crime.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carlee Drye, April 2, 1980. Interview H-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I was involved in the merger. I was also involved in kicking the Teamsters out of the CIO after the merger. And it amazes me, what was wrong with the thinking, that of all the international unions that have organized in this locality, and nationwide, why has the Teamsters continued to grow in membership and the Steel Workers, for one example, have declined in the total number of members?
Why is that?
The rank and file didn't care what Jimmy Hoffa did; he was delivering the goods to them. And if you want to get an argument going, even today, don't say anything detrimental to Jimmy Hoffa. Oh, I had my opinions about Jimmy Hoffa, too, now. He was a rough, tough fighter. He had to be, in the trucking industry. Maybe they're getting a little more mellow these days; I don't know. But I think the union movement overall hurt itself by kicking the Teamsters out. They should have accepted them and left them in the merger-accepted them in the merger-and then clean house. See, we got the cart in front of the horse, frankly, and that's my opinion. But I fail to understand [why] for the ten years after merger and then the expulsion of the Teamsters, they increased their membership and still are doing it.