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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Zelma Montgomery Murray, March 4, 1976. Interview H-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Workers have little autonomy

Workers did not have much leverage over working conditions because they lived in company-owned houses and could be put out. The company controlled the lights and the workers' sleeping and waking times.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Zelma Montgomery Murray, March 4, 1976. Interview H-0034. 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

BRENT GLASS:
Did you have any kind of insurance policy with the mill, or any kind of pension to take care of you when you retired?
CHARLES MURRAY:
No, no.
BRENT GLASS:
Nothing like that?
CHARLES MURRAY:
No, we didn't have nothing.
BRENT GLASS:
And there was never any policy in the mill about joining a union or anything like that?
CHARLES MURRAY:
No, no, there wasn't nothing said about it that I ever heard of.
BRENT GLASS:
Even when you would have like the stretch-out or something like that, when some people might feel like, "This isn't working out too good"?
CHARLES MURRAY:
Well, I'll tell you, these are company houses, see. You either worked thereor else. That's just the way it was.
BRENT GLASS:
What did you have to pay for rent?
CHARLES MURRAY:
Well, it's twenty dollars a month now, but back then you used to pay fifty cents a week, wasn't it?
ZELMA MONTGOMERY MURRAY:
Fifty cents a week for a five room house, and thirty-five cents for the three.
CHARLES MURRAY:
Fifty cents a week was what it was. It's been so long that I'd about forgot.
ZELMA MONTGOMERY MURRAY:
And they furnished the electric lights, and they put them out at nine o'clock. They said that was time to go to bed.
BRENT GLASS:
And how did you wake up? Did they have a whistle here?
ZELMA MONTGOMERY MURRAY:
They had a bell down here.
CHARLES MURRAY:
They had a great old bell that would ring at five o'clock.