Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Anti-unionism in the southern mill town

Elmore reveals some of the anti-unionism in the mill town South, or at least in his section. Elmore remembers that he and others did not want to organize and their employers were adamantly opposed to the possibility.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. 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

BRENT GLASS:
Were the people in your neighborhood, were they sympathetic to the strike?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
They were against it.
BRENT GLASS:
Against it.
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
None of us were ever in favor of the unionization. We had heard too much of what had gone on in Massachusetts; that's the thing, I think, that poisoned the air. I think that if it had been unionization with local leadership it may have gone over better. I think it was a pretty tough element that came in there for organizers. They had quite a seige of that stuff in '17, '18, '19 and '20, somewhere in that time in Augusta, Georgia. And they tried to organize the John P. King, but old man Thomas told them, he said, "Go ahead and organize. But I'll throw the keys in the river and close the damn place up. As long as I'm here I'm going to run this plant the way I feel like it ought to be run. Now if you want a union go ahead, but you will not have a job here." And they never could touch that mill.
BRENT GLASS:
There were some strikes in Charlotte, weren't there?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Oh yes, north Charlotte. I don't know whether there was anyone killed, but there was a lot of shooting going on.
BRENT GLASS:
Around 1919, 1920 or something like that?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Oh yes; that was terrible. Then of course when I went to Tarboro in 1950 (October of '50) they had just gotten over that spring a very bitter strike, and they broke the union there on that. And they had been organizing. Ely Walker owned that at that time. I went down there as accountant in October, 1950. You had to be awful careful the whole time that I was there. And they fired me in '54; I mean, I never made any comment for or against the union. I just tried to stay away from either side of it.
BRENT GLASS:
What were the circumstances that caused you to be… ?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Well, there was a lot of people wanted it, and of course the management… I was secretary and treasurer, and the management and all were against it. I didn't feel like that I should get mixed up in it, that they had a president down there and he was the man to handle it.