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Oral History Interview with Ivey C. Jones, January 18, 1994. Interview K-0101. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Ivey C. Jones took a job at the White Furniture Factory in Mebane, North Carolina, after high school and stayed there until new management closed the plant in 1993. In this interview, he recalls his sixteen years at the plant in a variety of positions, focusing on the period between the purchase of the factory by a competitor and the new owners' decision to shut it down. Jones's recollections emphasize an important change in one of the industries—in this case furniture—that have driven the economy of the North Carolina Piedmont for decades. The takeover of the White Furniture Factory brought a shift from a personal management style that responded to the needs of workers as community members to a more distant, profit-driven approach that put much greater stress on workers' economic contributions. Jones still resents this transition, which altered the atmosphere on the factory floor as demoralized employees, fearful for their jobs, struggled to meet escalating quotas. This interview highlights the fragility of the furniture industry by and the workers' struggle to maintain both their economic security and their humanity in a changing economic region.
    Excerpts
  • The importance of the White Furniture Company in Mebane, North Carolina
  • New owners change the atmosphere at White's for the worse
  • New owners change the atmosphere at White's for the worse
  • Black workers have more opportunities after a buyout
  • New management treats workers poorly
  • Black workers have more opportunities after a buyout
  • Basic security of employment at White's precluded the urge to unionize
  • Frustration with the callous decision to close the White Furniture Factory
  • Fears mount in the final days on the job at a closing plant
  • No gender discrimination at the White Furniture Factory
  • Previous factory owner's personal style is not replicated by the new ownership
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Furniture industry and trade--North Carolina
  • Furniture workers--North Carolina
  • White Furniture Company
  • North Carolina--Social conditions
  • Jones, Ivey C.
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.