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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tensions over unionization result in vandalism

Norman was not interested in joining a union, she recalls. She remembers some tensions over unionization at Plaid Mill in Burlington, North Carolina. Someone shot out the windows at the mill, and Norman remembers that troublemakers would break the window lights with rocks. The mill owners built a fence to try to protect the building and keep out union workers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. 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

MARY MURPHY:
Do you ever remember any strikes up at the mill?
ICY NORMAN:
Yeah.
MARY MURPHY:
When was that?
ICY NORMAN:
I believe it was in the latter part of '30 or maybe '31. They struck up there and I think they were out about two weeks. Then the old union would come to the mill and give out them old papers, wanted you to sign up. A lot of them did sign up. I never did sign up for it.
MARY MURPHY:
How come?
ICY NORMAN:
I don't know. I didn't understand all it was about. I didn't think it was a good thing to do, to be honest with you. So I never did sign up for it. But a lot of them up there did sign up for it. But they never did get the union. Three or four months they would be out there. Then they put that fence around the mill.
MARY MURPHY:
When was that that they put the fence up?
ICY NORMAN:
That there was along about '34 or '35. They'd be out there at the gate with them old union papers wanting you to sign up. A lot of them in the Burlington Mill did sign up. And one time they thought that they really had the union, but they never did get it. But I never did mess with it.
MARY MURPHY:
Did people come around and talk to you about why you should join?
ICY NORMAN:
Yes. I'd tell them I wasn't interested in it and they'd go on and leave me alone. I didn't know whether it was good or bad so I didn't mess with it. Something I don't know nothing about I don't like to mess with. So I just never did mess with it.
MARY MURPHY:
When they went on strike, did everybody go out?
ICY NORMAN:
Yes, they had shooting. Up there at the Plaid Mill they shot out the windows and they done right much damage up there. I know they'd all gang up up here, but I don't think there was ever any shooting up here. Down at the Plaid Mill it was. They'd throw rocks, break out the window lights. All of that while they was on strike up there. I believe Mayfair and Plaid Mill both was out.
MARY MURPHY:
Why did the people go on strike?
ICY NORMAN:
They claimed they wanted more money. [Laughter] That's all I could ever hear them say. They did do right much damage up there at Plaid Mill and Mayfair.