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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Non-union workers have no way to redress poor treatment

Miller and her coworkers, most of them African American women, endured the verbal abuse of their white foreman to keep their jobs. Until the arrival of the union, Miller and others had no way to address the foreman's habit of favoring certain workers or firing them with little cause.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. 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

BEVERLY JONES:
Can you tell me about the relationship between you and the foreman? Did black women have a nice or cordial relationship between…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, we had one of the toughest was the boss. He was a one-eyed fella named George Hill. He was tight! He was out of South Carolina, and he was tight. I mean tight! He'd get on top of them machines—they had a machine that altered the tobacco—he'd get on top of that machine and watch you see if you was workin' all right and holler down and curse.
BEVERLY JONES:
He would curse in your presence?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Curse and we workin'. That's what we had to undergo. Holler down and say, "D … go to work!" "GD … go to work there; you all ain't doin' nothin'"
BEVERLY JONES:
And you said nothing?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Nothing. No, you didn't say anything. You said anything, you went out.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall any problems black women might have had in regard to any women who might have gotten fired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Oh yes, quite a few of them got fired. Then he had some pets. A girl right over here on Roxborough Street was one of his pets. She livin' there now.
BEVERLY JONES:
What you mean by "picks?"
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
His "pets"—had some pets.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did they receive?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Give them a break, didn't work them hard like he did the rest of them.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why did some of the women get fired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
He just didn't like them and said they weren't doin' anything and fire them. If they didn't like you, they'd fire you in a minute. Some of them'd go over board to—I don't know what else they did—but anyway, he had pets on the job—quite a few pets.
BEVERLY JONES:
For no reason, he would just say, "You got to go."
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, he just tell them they had to go and that was it. Sometimes he send you home for two or three days, and then sometimes he'd fire you. Weren't nobody to take up for you, but when the union came about, you had shop stewards. They'd take your case to the foreman and discuss it. That's what I did; I was a shop steward.