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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with L. Worth Harris, June 11, 1980. Interview H-0164. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Unionization in the trucking business

Harris's company stayed out of the Teamsters union for as long as possible, despite the intense and sometimes violent pressure the union exerted. The company's relatively small size helped it remain non-union, but it did eventually unionize, at least for its New York runs. Harris recalls that trucking was a thoroughly unionized business in the 1930s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with L. Worth Harris, June 11, 1980. Interview H-0164. 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

You mentioned early the involvement with the union when you were going into New York. Were there any North and South Carolina members of, say, the Teamsters before World War II that you know of?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
Oh, yes. We were one of the very last companies joining the union over-the-road. I don't remember the exact year. It finally got so rough-they were abusing our drivers up and down the road-we actually asked them to join the union, because it was getting dangerous and the union was awful powerful in the North at that time. But we operated non-union except in New York City, as I said; we hired. . . . And later in Baltimore, Philadelphia, we worked out agreements the same way. But our over-the-road people stayed out of the union till the very latest. But some of the carriers that were bigger, of course, got in the union right away. They were big enough, like Associated (at that time, Horton) and Barnwell; and, of course, they were in it because they were too big to stay out of it.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And that would have applied to all of their drivers?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
Yes, sirree. They were one hundred percent union.
ALLEN TULLOS:
That would have been in the 1930's?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
Yes, I'd say they were positively a hundred percent in the union in the very early thirties. I don't know the exact time, but they were in years and years and years before we did, because we just simply weren't big enough to attract a lot of people, I guess.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So they would have had locals in North Carolina with presidents and elected officers?
L. WORTH HARRIS:
Yes, sirree. They were in half a dozen or more locals everywhere.