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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Roy Lee and Mary Ruth Auton, February 28, 1980. Interview H-0108. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Wanting to work for himself, not for a union

Auton shares his belief that southern industries keep unions at bay by paying their workers at or better than union rates. Auton himself was never interested in joining a union; he just wanted to do his job without interference.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Roy Lee and Mary Ruth Auton, February 28, 1980. Interview H-0108. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think the fact that the textile industry is not organized has anything to do with the fact that wages keep on being so low in textiles? Do you think a union could help get the wages higher in the textile industry?
ROY LEE AUTON:
It would get it higher here in the South, so that's the reason the union keeps trying to get down here. But a lot of the mills is paying better to try to keep people from voting it in. Now the union won't mess with Duke Power; they don't even try to get a-hold of them, because Duke pays a lot higher wages than the union scale is. So what's the use to pay to belong to something when no chance of it helping? The closer the union gets to a mill, they get a little nervous, I guess, because they'll give a little raise. You can notice that; it'll happen every time. If one mill goes union, the rest of the mills within a certain distance of it will give their hands a little more money and try to keep them satisfied. And as long as the hands don't vote for it, they can't come in. They can't keep them from having an election, but if the union don't win they can't come in.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why do you think it is that people around here don't vote for the union?
ROY LEE AUTON:
I don't know. I've just been one individual working for myself [laughter] , and let everybody else do what they want to do.