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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jefferson M. Robinette, July 1977. Interview H-0041. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Belief in unions, but only when managed well

Robinette was not interested in joining the union that led the 1934 strike, although here he says he believes in unions, provided they are run well.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jefferson M. Robinette, July 1977. Interview H-0041. 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

CLIFF KUHN:
Do you remember anything about a company union being formed? Not the United Textile Workers, but one within the Plaid mill itself, of the employees here in the Plaid mill. I talked to one lady who had a little card that was signed by Mr. Williamson, I think, here, and said …
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
No, I don't remember nothing about that. But this woman that wouldn't move out there that they bayoneted said to me one morning when I was going to work, she said… They was all right in front of that door; I went in at that door all the time there. They was all out there at the fence and around. She says, "Well, you son of a bitch, you. What are you going to do when we win this strike?" I said, "Well, I ain't going to do nothing till you all win this strike" and just walked on. That's all I said.
CLIFF KUHN:
Who was this woman who said that to you? She was one of the picketers or strikers?
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
She was on the picket line and just said that to me. And I didn't pay no attention to it, you know. I just went on like I didn't hear. And that's the way most of them passed them up. I looked for Mr. Jim Copeland to get killed out there. He'd get out there amongst them. But they never did do anything to him.
CLIFF KUHN:
So most of the people who worked there, what did they think about the union?
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
Most of the people that worked out there, whenever they come in to close it down… They come in one day to close it down. The overseers had orders if they done that, just to shut them down and go on , and that's what they done. They closed the dye house down one time. We had some stuff running through, and we told them, "Just let us run that out" and they could have it. And so we just run that on out of our dyestuff so it wouldn't ruin it and closed it down. The next day, then, started it back up.
CLIFF KUHN:
What did you think about the union? I know you didn't join.
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
I think a union's a good thing if it would run right, but I didn't think stuff like that was what the union really was. And I still don't think it. I'll tell you, I think unions are all right if they don't go to the extreme with it. I think a union's a good thing. But there's so many cases just like that that they go to the extreme with it, cause trouble and don't benefit no body.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did they ever have any other times when they tried to unionize here?
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
No.
CLIFF KUHN:
Or anywhere in the area?
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
No, that's the only time that I ever remember them having any trouble with a union out there.
CLIFF KUHN:
Is the way that you feel about the unions the way that most of the people feel about the unions?
JEFFERSON M. ROBINETTE:
I think that most of the help out there, that's the way they felt about it. They went along with the company they were working for pretty good. They had some few that didn't.