Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Resisting efforts to unionize the glove-making industry

Little pushed back when the Textile Workers Union sought to organize his workers. He hired a lawyer who specialized in union-busting, especially through the psychological manipulation of potential members, and prevented the union from holding elections. While he seems to think that mountain people are ignorant and susceptible to union manipulation, he was not above doing the same to prevent the union from getting a foothold.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. 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:
Have you had any labor organizing problems in your plant?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
We had one at the Banner Elk plant once that we whipped out(
JACQUELYN HALL:
ARTHUR LITTLE:
They went up there among those ignorant people in the mountains and just made them believe they'd get everything in the world. And we had to combat it It never did get to where they had elections.
JACQUELYN HALL:
didn't even get to that.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
No, it didn't get that far.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What union would it be that's organizing the glove industry? Would it be the Textile Workers' Union?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
This was the Textile Workers' Union of the AF of L-CIO.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you combat it?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
I got a lawyer in Charlotte; he was an anti-union lawyer. He come up here and worked with …
JACQUELYN HALL:
There are some pretty famous Charlotte lawyers like that.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
I think his name was Kennerly or… We had him to come up here and help us for a couple weeks. It was expensive, but it was worth it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What can a lawyer do in a case like that?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
He just had experience in how to persuade people and how to use psychology on them. Just like, you know, you study psychology in school, how to sway people's minds and tell them, "You know that this can't be." Well, they told them they could drink beer on the job, and then they'd get so many payrolls() free every year, and all that kind of stuff. All kinds of things, tell you anything.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So he just would go in and tell …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
We run some of them off, too, for faulty work, that was working with it. Oh, we had to go to court. We was in court in Boone for a week, but we won the case and got rid of them. And then it never did get to elections. No, we never heard any more from them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What would cause the court to intervene in a situation …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Well, I wouldn't say it was court, too; it was the National Labor Relations Board. They hold hearings just like court.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So somebody would complain to the National Labor Relations Board, and then you'd have to go in …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Yes, that's right. They'd bring complaints against me, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you think the people in the mountains are a different sort of people than the people in …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
It all depends on the locality. I guess maybe it's not their fault, but a lot of people in the mountains have been pampered by the government. You know, you've heard of the Appalachia people.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
You know, you can ruin people. Been given too much by the government, in some sections of the mountains. And a lot of it's up through West Virginia out here. From here . And when you get a training program in there, why, you pay them to go to learn to train. They're not interested in learning anything many times. Many times they're not. You've heard the quotations how much train somebody to learn to do a job? The government being there'll help you(