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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Employers favor younger employees

Hanks remembered that new employees at the White Furniture Company made as much as veterans, and when the factory came under new management, many of the older employees lost their jobs to younger, more vigorous workers. Older employees used to complain that factory owners preferred speed to quality, Hanks remembers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. 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

Well, back when it used to be White's," you know, the pay raised. They was talking, "When we started, we didn't get a dollar a week or whatever"--that's what it sound like. Said, "Ya'll come in," said, "Ya'll just make as much as we do." And that was true, and they didn't like that.
PATRICK HUBER:
You mean, when you started there--.
BARBARA HANKS:
I was making as much as they were, and they'd been there, you know, twenty, twenty-five years. Which, you know, it was different times, but I guess they would say, "How can you do that?" That's true, but that's just how it worked. But then when Hickory took over a lot of the older ones like my father, they didn't do them right cause they wanted younger people in there because they'd be faster. They wanted to get on production. Where the old White's they really didn't care about production as much, they just wanted good quality. A lot of people say that's what messed White's up is when they took over, and they wanted to get more production out than quality. That's why my daddy went to Craftique is they just putting so much on him, and the older hands just couldn't handle it.
PATRICK HUBER:
Did a lot of them--?
BARBARA HANKS:
A lot of them quit and went to Craftique or just went other places, yeah.
PATRICK HUBER:
When did you father leave White's?
BARBARA HANKS:
He worked there about a year or so after Hickory-White's took it. He said it wasn't the same.
PATRICK HUBER:
Did you hear a lot of--? What did some of the other workers who stayed, did you hear what they were saying about the way that it used to be and the way that it was?
BARBARA HANKS:
Oh, yeah.
PATRICK HUBER:
[Laughter] What sort of things were they saying?
BARBARA HANKS:
Well, like they would just switch the whole routine. They were trying to just make it, I think, faster, like the hardware they got these--they used to put them on with screwdrivers and stuff--they started getting these air things where it goes [makes a noise] and try to get it on and get it on crooked and stuff. They'd say, "Well, we didn't used to that." They used to say a whole bunch if I can remember. [pause] . I'd have to just think on it. [pause] I don't know.
PATRICK HUBER:
But you'd hear that a lot, huh?
BARBARA HANKS:
Yeah, I'd hear how it used to be and how it is now. They would say they took more pride in their work then instead of trying to--. Now, some days they would, they would have that furniture rolling down that line, boy. And you couldn't do a good job with it going that fast. They used to say that if it wasn't right they would just stop it right then and get it right. But they done that, too, you know, Hickory-White's. We put out a good piece of furniture. You are gonna have faults everywhere, and employees is gripe about something.