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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Cole, May 10, 1981. Interview H-0311. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A textile mill strike turns violent

Cole does not understand those who would oppose unions, he says. He goes on to describe some violent incidents strikers were involved in, including destroying the water main that contributed to powering the mill.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Cole, May 10, 1981. Interview H-0311. 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:
Did other people go around and try to get more people to join the union?
ROBERT COLE:
Yes, and some went around and tried to get them to lay out the union. They was some that worked one side and some the other.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of people were against the union, and why were they against it?
ROBERT COLE:
Lady, I just can't understand that as to why people didn't want them to have a union and get paid for their work. I never did have to pay no union dues until I went back this last time to the mill to work, and then I had to pay so much a week.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kinds of things did they say against the union?
ROBERT COLE:
Some said that the workers didn't want to work, some would say one thing, some another. I think they blowed up the water line that came in Elizabethton during that strike.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the strikers blow up the water main?
ROBERT COLE:
Yes, I'd say it was the strikers that done it. I wasn't there, but I'd say it was the strikers.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did they do it?
ROBERT COLE:
To cut the water off.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did they think would happen? Why did they think that would help?
ROBERT COLE:
Well, I don't know what they thought about it. They cut the water off in Elizabethton and that would stop them all.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And that did what?
ROBERT COLE:
Would stop them all. The water came from up here in Hampton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That would stop the plants from running?
ROBERT COLE:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did anyone talk about blowing up the plants themselves?
ROBERT COLE:
Not that I know of. There was one man that got his house blowed up, but I don't know who did that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was he a striker or a non-striker?
ROBERT COLE:
He was with the strikers, but he wasn't working at the plant.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You don't know who blew up his house?
ROBERT COLE:
No.