Laurie Rushmeyer, L. Boyd Deal and Others Interviews

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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JUDITH HELFAND: All right. That’s a great one. Oh, do it again. Did you get it?

LAURIE RUSHMEYER: Baby does video.

HELFAND: All right.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: Now, what’s a union going to say about this? Where’s your (inaudible)?

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: I have a question, George.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

HELFAND: It’s a little off the beaten path.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

HELFAND: Is that OK?

JAMIE STONEY: Just do it (inaudible). We’re rolling.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Let me just get a focus on her.

HELFAND: OK. Patricia, you’re gonna listen to what your mommy’s saying. You can’t be loud now, OK? OK? It’s important what she’s saying.

RUSHMEYER: Don’t jingle your money.

HELFAND: Don’t jingle your pennies. OK.

RUSHMEYER: I get to keep it.

HELFAND: OK. Could you talk about the places you organized, and you know the night I met you.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: OK. Can you talk a little bit about that?

1:00

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, um, it’s like -- organizing is like an up. It’s a high because you get to see people, you know, in -- not on the job. You get to see people in their homes, you know, out on the street. You get the fee- you get the feedback, and when you get that excellent feedback that you’ve been hunting for so long, it just pushes you up there, and you -- and you have nowhere to go but up, you know, and emotions run high. Uh, some people see you, and they, like, shy away from you because they don’t know how to take you. But when people accept you and they want to listen to what you’re doing, it gives you the f- that -- that’s what keeps you going and keeps you going, till it’s all through.

HELFAND: Now, be specific. I wanna hear you say something like, “Sometimes we had to organize here. Sometimes we had to organize here.”

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: Can you talk about --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: -- is that OK to talk about that truck?

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, OK. Oh, yeah. One...

HELFAND: The truck.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, one night, we, uh, had -- we decided -- we had people who couldn’t come to shift meetings, so we decided we’d go to them. So, myself 2:00and Mary; uh, we loaded a van that was headed for Statesville, and there were people on there, and they’re like, “I don’t know anything about a union. Can you please tell me?” you now, “We just wanna know.” Uh, we got -- the trip was from -- or 45 minutes long, but it did- it wasn’t long enough because they didn’t have enough time to get all their questions answered, and, you know, we were like -- I was like running over with the information, and Mary was like, “Well, you can do it on your own then. I don’t have to with you anymore.” And, uh, it was -- it feels good just to enlighten people when they come at you.

HELFAND: OK, but I -- what I want you to say is -- just talk about the night time.

RUSHMEYER: Oh.

HELFAND: It felt kind of surreptitious to me --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: -- and it felt -- was it secret, sort of?

RUSHMEYER: Well, it, it felt like you were behind enemy lines, you know. You were doing something the company didn’t want you to do anyway, and, uh, you know, it wasn’t against the law. It was, you know -- it was just our way of getting to the people, and if the company knew we had gotten on that van, I think they’d have had a heart attack. They couldn’t have stopped us, but, 3:00uh, they would’ve truly been upset, because they didn’t want these people to know what was going on. And I felt as if, you know, you know how a spy feels behind the lines? Does anybody know I’m on here? Should I let anyone know I’m on here, you know? And if I do let anyone know, you know, what’ll happen? It, it was just a thrill.

HELFAND: OK. It’s just -- it’s always been a -- this very powerful --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- image with -- it’s at night --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- and it’s just these -- you know, the headlights.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: And I knew you were on that truck because I was right behind you, and I couldn’t imagine what kind of question -- if they were frightened or what kind of questions they were asking you --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- and what the general, uh -- what that level of, of fear might’ve been about.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: So, could you just sort of talk --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: -- a little bit about the night time -- the, the fact that it was at night? And, um, is -- was that -- is -- did that represent how difficult it was to try to explain this to folks --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- if they were afraid?

4:00

RUSHMEYER: OK. In the industry after 11:00 p.m., it’s dark out, and you wonder, you know, “Hey, they already know you’re gonna be on it.” The driver of the van knew because we asked her permission, uh, but when we got on, we didn’t know what we would get.

GEORGE STONEY: I’m sorry, could you start again and explain what the van is?

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: You know, that these women live really far away --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

RUSHMEYER: Right.

HELFAND: -- from the mill, right?

GEORGE STONEY: And, uh, this is a company-sponsored -- um, they come -- they -- the van, isn’t it?

RUSHMEYER: No, this is a personal vehicle.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, then that --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: -- oh, that -- we should know that because I was getting the impression this was a company vehicle. Do you see?

RUSHMEYER: No. OK.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: All right.

HELFAND: OK, but -- and if you could frame it for us --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: -- in terms of like it’s difficult to do organ- you know what I mean --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- in terms of the challenge of --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: -- of organizing and...

RUSHMEYER: OK. OK. Um, it’s 11:00 p.m., the end of the shift, and we’re trying to reach people who haven’t been able to come to shift meetings. They ride a van that’s owned by this lady that I work with. She provides transportation for people who live far out of town away from the mill, but 5:00they’re -- they work there. Uh, the people on this van are just like me. The only thing is they just ride it together, and, uh, when we got on, we didn’t know -- I didn’t know whether they were like -- you know, they were all black, and the organizer that was with me, she’s an excellent lady, but, you know, I didn’t know if they would accept her being on the van with me. So, she started asking the questions, and they, like, wouldn’t say much except for, you know, little things that they had heard. And then they asked -- questioned, “What would we get out of this union?” and I told them, “It’s just what we want, if we are willing to work for it.” Uh, to organize on a van in the middle of the night going many miles away and just to know you have one ride back, you know, it’s sort of strange. Even though I was born around these parts, it’s still strange, you know. You see the image of night riders or, 6:00you know -- and you don’t know whether your ride home is gonna find you, or if somebody is gonna stop them or what. And just to get -- just to get to your destination and get that information across to the people who, you know, you’re trying to reach; that was the only thing that kept your mind, you know -- kept my mind away from whatever imminent danger there could’ve been. Uh, cloak of night riding is sort of, well, en- energizing.

GEORGE STONEY: Has there been, uh -- has there been any or much phy- uh, physical threat in, in all your organizing?

RUSHMEYER: Um, as far as physical threats, I’ve had none. I’ve had people who walk up to me and tell me, “I don’t like union people,” you know, but I say, “I’m not a union person. I’m just a person who wants to fight for my rights.” Um, and then when they realize, you know, “Hey, that’s what the word union means, you know, to fight for what you need and to stand up 7:00together,” then the dislike sort of dissolves. But in the light of company when, when you’re around company property and comp- when you’re on your job, people don’t really show outward because they’re afraid that, hey, they’ll be labeled as a union person.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, way back yonder, for example, in the Loray mill, they fought unions very hard, and, for example, they had a, a group called “The 100 Mean Men” literally --

RUSHMEYER: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: -- who were their enforcers, and their spies, and so forth. Is there anything like that now?

RUSHMEYER: Uh, we had a, a note committee formed. It was supposed to have been run by un- by company workers against the union workers, uh, but we know throughout that it was generated in that campaign to say, “No,” and all the shirts -- t-shirts cost money. I don’t care where you buy ’em. All the shirts that were distributed, practically every employee, even management wore 8:00one, had at least one and were asked to wear them every day. Uh, that’s -- as far as we could say committee-like, uh, no, but you know who you can talk to and who you can’t, people who are like -- you know that they’re on their way up; maybe a worker who might wanna be a supervisor. Uh, that worker could be just the same as I, but her goals may shoot higher. Uh, if she wants to work for the company, she has to stand up for the company. That’s the kind of person that you have to be weary of, and you, you know, after a while being around it, you know who you can trust and who you can’t. And even though they’re management level, you know what you can tell them and what you can’t because you know that they’re for the company, and they’re gonna be for the company to keep their job.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, so there’s not the physical threat that there was back in the ’30s, but there’s a- another kind of much more --

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- sophisticated kind of opposition. Maybe you could describe that.

RUSHMEYER: OK. Uh...

9:00

GEORGE STONEY: And just say that, “We don’t have physical threat so much, but...”

RUSHMEYER: OK. OK. Uh, we don’t have physical threat as far as bodily injury or anything, but, uh, we did have one incident in the parking lot. We had some cars that were vandalized. Uh, the company put up a poster stating that they would give a $500 reward for information leading to who may have vandalized the cars. Uh, it was on a day that, uh, we had other union workers from other Fieldcrest plants come down, and they came to show their solidarity with us. Uh, before -- we knew that they got on those buses at 3:15, and we knew that they were out of town by 3:30, but the vandalism was reported the next day and said that it took place at night. So, uh, you know, it left that question in everyone’s minds, “Hey, did tho- did they bring those union workers in to vandalize the cars?” but, uh, if you put it together, you know, and you have 10:00one grain of intelligence, you know, it may have been a setup, you know, ’cause no one has ever come forward with information. Security has never picked up on any clues as to who may have done it, and the posters far and few between now, but you may see one or two. Uh, the threat now is of your livelihood, of your job. With this economy, as tight as it is, no one wants to lose their job ’cause no one -- if -- you know, once you lose it, you don’t know where you’re gonna end up, whether you’re gonna end up at McDonald’s flipping burgers for three and a quarter, or whether you’re gonna end up maybe at NGK. You might strike it easy, you know, and get a good job like that, but the odds between it, you know, are far and few between. And that threat of losing again, losing what you have; that’s the most powerful hold that the company has on us, you know, of those who are afraid.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, in back -- way back yonder when people lost their jobs, they went to another mill.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: They couldn’t get a job at another mill, unless they had a recommendation from the mill they came from --

11:00

RUSHMEYER: Right.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and they couldn’t get a recommendation, and so they kept using the word “blackballed”. “I got fired, and I got blackballed, and we have traced them all over the south.” Is there anything like that happening now?

RUSHMEYER: Oh, we had two workers that come to mind that, uh, were fired. One was fired the night of the election. The other was fired the night he came in. He was on leave. He came in to vote, and they fired him. Um, they looked for jobs everywhere, you know, but there are none. It’s like the market has dried up, as far as they’re concerned. Uh, the mills around here; they hang very close. You know, Fieldcrest will not give a recommendation to be hired by anyone no matter what your situation was for leaving ’em, but in their situation, I feel that a -- one was a working boss man. I mean, he had the highest credentials. He had never gotten written up in 25 years of being in the 12:00plant, but he can’t get a job anywhere else, you know. So, it’s still around. Blackballing still happens, you know, they just don’t call it those terms anymore, and people don’t look that close at it, you know. They just say, “Well, he lost his job. Too bad,” you know.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, now, again, the kind of thing you described as being among the workers was very different when everybody -- or almost everybody lived in the mill village.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, did you ever experience mill village life?

RUSHMEYER: Um, no. I never lived in a mill village. Um, I was like -- I think I had a, a prejudice mentality against it because I knew Kannapolis was a mill town. I was raised outside of Kannapolis, and the cities here -- the schools are run by the Cannon company, the Cannon family. Every time you read, there was endowment given to the high school, or given to the middle school, or whatever. They -- they got a shopping center. They got a new bank in, you know. The Cannon company worked to get it in here, and, uh, when you work for 13:00the Cannon family, you knew you would be taken care of. They would take care of you and your children, but when the family sold the business, it was no longer, “We’ll take care of you.” It was that the people who ran the business wanted to have everything, and they have everything. They own the Cannon Village shopping centers. They own the parking lots. They still own some of the mill houses, even though they want to get rid of ’em for the land. They don’t consider what they’re taking from the community. They just consider what they can, you know -- what they can just draw off of it.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when -- you grew up here?

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And when you -- when you were growing up, you didn’t know that eventually you were gonna have a, a right to have a job in that mill, did you?

RUSHMEYER: No, I never knew that ’cause it was like...

GEORGE STONEY: Just say that again.

RUSHMEYER: OK. I didn’t know that I had -- when I was growing up, I, I 14:00thought of mills as, you know, an excellent place to work, you know, good money, excellent job, good benefits. I didn’t know that I’d be working in the mill, you know, and then go in and really see the light of day. To see a mill now, you, you walk in the gate, you do what they tell you to do or you get out. That’s the only right you have in a mill. Um, as far as being taken care of, uh, your personal time, they don’t bother you much because, you know, you’re off your job, but it’s like it takes your personal time to get over the stress of your working time. So, they’re still infringing on your personal time, and they’re not giving anything to you. The benefits have all but dried up, you know. You pay $92 a, a month for family coverage. They say, “We can’t pay it because the doctor charged you too much,” you know. I can’t go in and say, Doc., charge me this because my insurance won’t pay anything over it ’cause he has his prices, and the insurance company, which is owned by the 15:00company, has their prices. So, we just get caught in the middle. It’s a squeeze, you know, completely.

HELFAND: What -- how much -- what -- what’s, what’s your hourly wage? I mean, I don’t think we have a real concept of what you make and what you have to do with -- how you have to stretch that.

RUSHMEYER: OK. Uh, hourly wages run from $6.98 as a production worker in my area, washcloth. Uh, $7.07 for an hourly worker; a PDR, a sweeper, you know, a maintenance person is what they call ’em now. Um, you work seven -- $7.07 for eight hours a night. Fifty-six dollars and fifty-six cents does not cover your medical, your house, your car, your kids, your food, your clothes. It just doesn’t take care of the necessities, you know. So, if you work a production job, you know, you work the hour job, they’re gonna have you working every minute of that eight-hour day because they -- if you’re sick, they’re gonna find something for you to do. So, why not work incentive. My incentive rate is 16:00$6.98 an hour. As much as I can produce, I can take it home with me, you know, or I can have it on my paycheck, and when you work incentive, you work, ’cause you know you’re taking it with you. If I can do 10 hours a night in a -- in a eight-hour night, I’m gonna do it if it -- if that’s what it takes for me to survive, you know.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, way back yonder, the, the mills did a lot of for the people, so long as they behaved themselves.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: I mean, I’m putting it pretty blunt, but that’s pretty much what it meant.

RUSHMEYER: Right.

GEORGE STONEY: But they also got in- involved in supporting the churches, and then the churches had to have preachers who took certain attitudes and so forth. Is there anything like that going on now?

RUSHMEYER: Oh, we had that come alive. It ca-

GEORGE STONEY: “That”; what do you mean?

RUSHMEYER: The, uh -- the company helping out the community, helping out the church, helping out, uh, other groups in, in the community. Uh, we had that 17:00come alive in our campaign. We had a church -- we had -- we had this racial issue that was brought to light by company. It wa- the organizers never said, “Well, ’cause you’re black, we’re gonna pick you to organize ’cause you’re white.” It was, “Oh, come in if you want. If you don’t want, then you don’t have to, but the company got on the bandwagon and they said, “Well, OK. We’ll do this. We’ll take the black community, and we’ll pit them against the white community.” They went into the community churches. Uh, there was one church in particular. They told the pastor if he would just write a letter and form a committee called “The Concerned Citizens of Cabarrus County”, that they would back him up, you know, they would help him out; whatever his needs where inside that church. Uh, he went along with ’em, and he wrote his letters, and he made his speeches, and he told this congregation how he felt about this union thing. And, you know, he rea- he really hurt himself ’cause he split his own congregation in half. OK. You -- he had 18:00workers. He had workers, more workers in the mill in his congregation than most churches do, um, and then when the campaign was over for all the other churches that stuck together to help, you know, just the workers, to have that right. They supported us to have that right to unionize or to run this campaign, and he himself was left out in the cold because the, the ministers withdrew from him. His congregation was split, and the only thing he got out of it was a van for his church. So, you know, it wasn’t really -- it really wasn’t worth the struggle because he doesn’t live in the Kannapolis community. So, he didn’t know really what he was doing to the people. He was just doing what he felt he needed to do.

HELFAND: What’s the legacy of Papa Cannon -- Charley Cannon?

RUSHMEYER: Oh, it’s a very...

GEORGE STONEY: Hold on, just a moment.

HELFAND: Can you say...? Oh.

GEORGE STONEY: Judy, could you move back a little bit --

RUSHMEYER: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: -- because I want to get more for hand movements and --

HELFAND: Sure.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and stuff within the...

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible). I’m just trying to...

19:00

HELFAND: Would it be -- should we let --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s fine.

HELFAND: -- Tish sort of run in and be a, a bit -- a regular kid?

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Would that be helpful?

GEORGE STONEY: Sure. Yeah. OK.

HELFAND: OK. Tish, if you wanna like, you know, talk to mommy while mommy is talking a little bit, that’s just fine.

JAMIE STONEY: Tish is having too much fun back here.

HELFAND: Tish.

RUSHMEYER: She’s finding everything to mess with.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: Well, call her --

GEORGE STONEY: Just --

HELFAND: -- to you.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: -- just let her -- let her out.

HELFAND: OK. Tish.

RUSHMEYER: Come here, little momma. Which way you goin’?

GEORGE STONEY: Going under the table.

RUSHMEYER: That’s the funnest.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. OK now.

RUSHMEYER: Oh, you want her to be right here by me?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. OK?

RUSHMEYER: OK, that’s fine.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, now.

RUSHMEYER: OK. The Cannon legacy was, uh, very great on the Kannapolis community. Um, they helped with not only the churches, and they not only build the Y, uh, they still now give endowments to areas they feel that need it. Uh, they still care for the community, even though the mill does not belong to the 20:00family anymore. We know that they’re gonna be there as long as they have the means, you know. We know that the Cannon family will stand behind whatever they feel, you know, that the Cannon -- that this community needs. As far as, uh, the other legacies that were left, it’s like a rape, you know, with Murdock, who was the owner after the Cannon family. He just came in and, uh, he sold mills. He took jobs. He stole the pension, which hurt most people here, you know, and he didn’t have to stand behind and see what he -- the ruins that he left because he’s a, uh, absentee landlord for buildings, for parking lots, you know, for other businesses, and that’s all he is.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, it’s interesting to me to compare a community where for whatever reason, there was a strong feeling of paternalism, and, and you see 21:00that here.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: You see good houses. You see, uh, strong --

RUSHMEYER: Come here, momma.

GEORGE STONEY: -- some schools. You see all this kind of thing --

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and then when that disappears and, uh, an absentee landlord comes in, and I like to use that word, you see something else. Could you just talk about that?

RUSHMEYER: OK. Um, when an absentee landlord is in control, you kn- you know that, one, that’s his property, whatever it may be; a building, a lot, a, a business. The only thing you get from that is maybe some commerce. Some other businesses may come in because he’s here, uh, but as far as the upkeep on the property, on the businesses, it’s like it just falls to ruin because all he wants is the profits that come out of it, and that’s all he’s going to put in. Anything he can put in, he, he, he doesn’t put in where he’s gonna -- know nothing is coming back. He only puts in where he can take out. And, uh, 22:00then after he found out that the company wasn’t running as well as it should’ve run, he sold it off. And he sold it to the Fieldcrest-Canno- to the Fieldcrest company, and, uh, they in turn are like nightmare compared to Murdock, you know. He wa- he, he was at least interested in assets that were coming out of the company, but with Fieldcrest, they wanna change everything. They wanna change the way you do your job. They wanna change the way you report for your, uh, sick leave. They changed the way you do your insurance. They changed -- it’s just a total turnover, and people who aren’t used to dealing with paperwork, they’re not used to dealing with increased insurance costs, and nobody’s paying their bills, and all they see is their credit going downhill, you know. They feel hurt. And then, well, they said, “Well, management's in. Well, talk to management,” is the thing now. We talked to 23:00management, and we still get the same answers we got before, you know, “I’ll see what I can do.” It’s not helping you get your bills paid, and it’s not helping you to get your problem solved. It’s just helping you to get them away from you, so that they don’t have to answer any more questions.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, what about, uh, politics? The unions, uh --

HELFAND: Tish, shhh…

GEORGE STONEY: --the, the -- in the past, many of the mills, as we’ve been told, told people how to vote, and they got very much interested in, in local politics, and the sheriff particularly because the sheriff protected the mills, and so forth and so on. Is anything like that going on, and if so, what can the union do about it?

RUSHMEYER: As far as, uh, politics for this area, um, it’s like attacking a man’s, uh, intelligence. He doesn’t want to be challenged on it. Uh, with 24:00the company, we know if we don’t do what the company wants, what- for whatever reason, then we know that we get cut off at the knees, you know, and sometimes just pushed on out the gate. Um, but the Fieldcrest company is not really into our home politics, you know, because all their interested in is profit, you know, and we see that. They show that to us every day. All they’re interested in is profit. Uh, politics; whether we go -- whether we go for the new, uh, water lines or the new sewer systems outside the city, they really don’t care, you know. It really doesn’t matter.

GEORGE STONEY: So, it’s a very narrow thing.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, it’s very narrow.

HELFAND: I said “Charlie Cannon” before, and your face lit up. What comes to mind when I s- when we say “Charlie Cannon”?

RUSHMEYER: When you say Charlie Cannon, you say, uh, jobs, you say stability. 25:00Uh, the Cannon company had oh, 18 plants just in the Kannapolis, and Concord, and Salisbury area. Uh, we knew with every job, there would be a person to do that job, you know. And you didn’t go in and, and work all night, and work all night, and work all night and come out exhausted. You went in, and they expected a reasonable amount of work from you. It wasn’t --

HELFAND: Really?

RUSHMEYER: -- yeah. It wasn’t that you went in and just worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, you know, ’cause it wasn’t like that. They gave out, uh, promotions for safety, you know, that were earnest. After so many hours without, uh, injury or without reported accident, you got incentive, and it wasn’t ice cream, you know, it wasn’t a towel. It was the incentive, and it was that they were car- they cared about you. They cared about the worker enough to know that, “Hey, this man needs health insurance. We’ll scout and 26:00get him the best we can find, not create our own.”

HELFAND: That happened -- that’s, that’s what...

RUSHMEYER: That’s what Charlie Cannon -- that’s what Cannon family means.

HELFAND: So, would you need a union with Charlie Cannon?

RUSHMEYER: With Charlie Cannon, you wouldn’t need a union.

HELFAND: You wouldn’t even want one?

RUSHMEYER: No. No, because with Charlie Cannon, the job I have now, I would have my set work. I would have my set rate. Orders come in or orders don’t come in, he still gonna work me. He may not work me six and seven days when the orders all pile up, but he’ll work me five days, and he’ll work me five eight-hour days, and I won’t have to worry about that 12-hour shift, and I won’t have to worry about the Saturday and the Sunday, even though the overtime is nice. It was there if you wanted it, and you could train anywhere. You could learn any job inside that -- any, any mill, but now, you’re, you’re like, if you move from one job to another now, you learn the job, you stay there, and you’re bored for the rest of your life, unless you take the 27:00chance of moving out of the plant or moving out of the area. Then you take the chance of being bumped out because when lay-offs come, the last hired, first fired.

GEORGE STONEY: Now we --

[break in audio; break in video]

GEORGE STONEY: -- and what he did in the 30’s that this town doesn’t seem to know about.

RUSHMEYER: Hm. Now, tell me. I was wanting to know.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: Well, I just (inaudible), but before you do that --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: -- how do you know about this about Mr. Cannon ’cause you didn’t work for him, did you?

RUSHMEYER: No, I didn’t work for him, but I have, uh...

GEORGE STONEY: Just say, “No, I didn’t for Charlie Cannon.”

RUSHMEYER: I didn’t work for Charlie -- well, I did work for Charlie Cannon because I worked ’77 and ’79, and I worked in the weave room. OK? In ’77 and ’79, a weaver had a weaving job.

HELFAND: Yeah.

RUSHMEYER: And, uh, when it came down to, uh, changing warps, you know, it’s, it’s a timely job. It’s a heavy job. Uh, when it came down to smashing that warp to get that loom started back up, when it came down to fixing it, I had somebody there who would do these jobs for me in ’77 and ’79. When I 28:00went back in, in ’82, I didn’t have these people. I had a warp man who would bring it in and tie it up, and I had to smash it, and I had to provide my own filling, and I had to blow off my own loom, and, and the only thing I didn’t do was the -- was the main -- mechanical part of it.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: That was -- that’s the difference in the Charlie Cannon way --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: -- ’cause with Charlie Cannon, you had a weaver, you had a smasher, you had a warper, you had a knotter, you had a filling person, you had a fixer. With Fieldcrest, you have a weaver, you have a knotter, and you have a fixer, and there’s three people gone. And that weaver is the one that picked up the slack.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: They do those other three jobs.

JAMIE STONEY: How much does that cut your production?

RUSHMEYER: It doesn’t.

JAMIE STONEY: I mean, are you...?

RUSHMEYER: You may cut -- they may cut out a number of looms, OK, but with that number of looms cut, you know something else is coming.

JAMIE STONEY: But when they took the three people --

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: -- you had six people working with you.

RUSHMEYER: Right.

29:00

JAMIE STONEY: Now you have three.

RUSHMEYER: Right.

JAMIE STONEY: What’s your to- what’s your output drop?

RUSHMEYER: OK. The output has not dropped.

JAMIE STONEY: So, they’ve sped everything up to keep it there.

RUSHMEYER: They sped everything up. We had, uh -- in ’85, I was told there was 10,000 people that voted in that election in ’85. In ’89, we had a little less than 7,300. That many people are gone, but the output is still the same or more. So, these reduced numbers doesn’t mean that the production's gone down or the output's gone down. That -- those increased numbers -- those decreased numbers means that production is holding steady, and we’re the one that’s taking the backlash. We’re the one that has to put up with it.

GEORGE STONEY: How much of that’s due to, um, more modern machinery?

RUSHMEYER: Not much, because as I can see it, uh, the only modern machinery that I’ve seen them invest in for myself is they took out the, the old -- the smaller looms that we had, the Jacquard loom, and they put in a (inaudible) loom, but the (inaudible) loom was there in ’83 because I remember when it 30:00first came in --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: -- and my cousin was a weaver. He told me, “Oh, it’s a wonderful machine, and it just goes, and you just make money, you just make money.” And the loom is larger. It’s two of the smaller looms put together. Uh, that’s one of the more modern, you know, that I’ve seen. Others are vats that I’ve seen in bleachery. Instead of it being the smaller units --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: -- they have these gigantic units, and I can put me and you into, you know, but one person has to see to six of these.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Well, Judy while you're closing the door I want to ask her another question.

HELFAND: OK. Let me get that.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh. Yeah, OK. We have been following the fate of the -- what’s happened here after the, the ’34 strike. And what Cannon did himself, and we have documentation from the National Archives of all this because the unions made protest. All the union leaders, practically all the 31:00union leaders, were fired and blacklisted.

HELFAND: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: The unions protested, Cannon fought it for th- almost four years before the Cannon company finally made a settlement of about -- it amounted -- it didn’t amount to very much. It amounted about two month’s pay for --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- each person, but that was what was going on, and yet, we don’t find anybody here knowing that that was the kind of thing that Cannon was doing back then.

RUSHMEYER: No. Uh, the same thing goes on now. We have wor-- we had 25 workers who were, uh, dismissed for one reason or another, so -- most of it, they call it “insubordinate,” you know, to management. These people that were dismissed from the mill for one reason or other just because they participated in the campaign -- I did more than they did during the campaign, you know. I 32:00feel that, hey, what I did none of them did less than, but why am I still in the mill, and why are they out? OK, uh, like it, uh, like it or not, as long as the company has power, they do what they want to do.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, that’s interesting that Cannon was doing exactly the same thing --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- back in the ’30s, and nobody here seems to know about it. All --

RUSHMEYER: Right.

GEORGE STONEY: -- they know is, “What a wonderful guy Papa Cannon was.” Why?

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, because, uh --

GEORGE STONEY: Just, uh, explaining that.

RUSHMEYER: -- well, OK. Papa Cannon had the Southern mentality of, “We do not air our dirty laundry in public.” And if we -- if blacklisting was going on in ’34 and no one knew about it, it’s because they kept it extremely quiet, and they paid dearly to keep it quiet. But with businesses now, it’s like, “Well, hey, we’ll do however we please,” and as long as the public 33:00doesn’t hold them accountable, they get away with it.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, they were, uh, reminding people of what happened way back yonder in these meetings. Could you talk about that?

RUSHMEYER: Um, in those meetings -- I only got to go to two of them, OK? But the one -- even though I didn’t go, I saw the impact after the meeting. Uh, and then, I saw the little --

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, sorry. You have to start again.

HELFAND: Could you --

GEORGE STONEY: And tell us about the meetings.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: -- could you explain -- “I saw the impact of those captive audiences.”

RUSHMEYER: OK, OK. Uh, the captive audience meeting was, “At 3:30 p.m., we’re going to meet, and we want you to go. We want you to go.” And people would ask, “Am I getting paid?” “Yeah, you’re getting paid.” And as long as they weren’t get-- they were getting -- still getting paid, they went to the meetings. And, uh, it was -- it was hard to see how they could still go and still suck up the garbage that was being given to them. But all they felt 34:00was, “Hey, I’m still getting paid, so I’ll just go to the meeting, and I won’t make any fuss.” And the impact of those meetings was fear, you know -- the kind that you don’t want to look at in the light of day.

GEORGE STONEY: What kind of garbage?

RUSHMEYER: The garbage of, “The union’s coming in, and the plant’s going out. Gates are going to be locked. Jobs are going to be gone,” you know. “We’re going to go to Mexico, we're going overseas. You’re going to use your job.” You know, you get into the union. Uh, you know they’re connecting with the mafia. Somebody’s going to get hurt. And then, the next thing we heard, strikes. “You’re going to be shut out. They’re going to make you -- (inaudible) going to make you go to the street. You’re going to lose your job, and we can bring anybody in here to take your job we want.” And the impact of that meeting that focused on strike, it was -- to see a person 35:00go in with an indifferent opinion, you know, or trying not to show which side they were on -- to see them go in that meeting with that feeling and then come out and hear and just to see, you know -- they didn’t want to discuss it. They didn’t want to talk to you. They wouldn’t even come -- you know, and a lot of them came back to me after meetings, but they wouldn’t come to me. And I, you know, just did not have the -- didn’t know why, because I wasn’t in the meeting, you know. But as time progressed and I find out, that was the most violent part that they could show. They picked the worst parts of all strikes from anywhere, and they showed this to these people, people being beaten, people losing their automobiles and baseball bats, and people attacking gates, and it was just terrible.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, it’s interesting to me that back in ’33 and ’34, there 36:00were literally hundreds of thousands of Southerners who were members of the textile workers union.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: I mean, there were over 100 locals in -- in this state alone, and yet, almost nobody talks about that. I wonder why.

RUSHMEYER: Uh, at one time, I tried to talk to my father.

GEORGE STONEY: Just a moment. We’re going to get this as soon as the --

[break in the audio; break in video]

RUSHMEYER: -- out of your system?

GEORGE STONEY: All right, now.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: (inaudible)

RUSHMEYER: Get down, monkey. You’ll fall. Ready?

TISH RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, now, you were telling about your father.

RUSHMEYER: At one time, I tried to talk to my father about a union, and, uh, this was -- this was years before I had even thought of going back into the mill. And he told me -- he says, “Well, at one time, there was a union. And they came in, and they took the money from the people, and they left them high 37:00and dry.” And I didn’t know what, you know -- what those words did or meant to me then, but I do know now, because you know, it’s still being used. In every campaign that ever comes up, you go to the union. They’re going to take your money, and then they’re going to (inaudible). And it still -- you know, it still rings, whether it happened or whether it didn’t. But it still rings in people’s heads, “That’s what a union is about,” that it’s only money, and that they can’t make the company do what the company doesn’t want them to do. And it -- it’s -- that’s the one of the parts that make organizing so hard, you know? When people had faith then, and whatever happened in the past to crush all the conf idence, you know -- it’s very hard to 38:00rebuild that confidence back.

GEORGE STONEY: Beautiful, beautiful.

HELFAND: Yeah, one second. You were telling me about this -- first of all --

RUSHMEYER: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- tell me about this shirt, tell --

RUSHMEYER: This is my armor. (laughter) This shirt is my armor, and I wear one every day. When I got to work, I wear a shirt.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, we don’t -- sorry, we have to do that again, because we -- we --

JAMIE STONEY: No, we’re rolling. I just --

GEORGE STONEY: -- well, yes, but we didn’t see enough of the shirt.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

HELFAND: OK. You know what, sweetie? Can you stop touching Jamie and come near your mommy? It would be much more helpful.

JAMIE STONEY: Well, I like her touching me. It’s just where she touches me.

RUSHMEYER: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: She’s trying to pick my pocket now.

RUSHMEYER: Oh, get away from the money, honey. Uh, this shirt is part of my armor. It’s -- it’s to say, “Hey, I stood then in ’91 for the union. I’m still standing now for it.” This one guy says, “Well, you know, this girl, she has a shirt. And you don’t know what color it’s going to be, but she has one on every day,” you know. And I -- yeah, it makes me feel good 39:00that people recognize it, you know. And I know sometimes, people feel like, “well hey, it’s over. Why don’t she just let it drop?” But if I fade into the woodwork now, you know, what happens to the people who stood and -- and -- but didn’t have the strength to come out like me, you know?

GEORGE STONEY: What keeps you going?

RUSHMEYER: Uh, what keeps me headed towards unionization is to know that one day, that company that I worked for will have to answer and give an account to what they have done to so many other people, and that the future generations that go inside that plant are going to be able to go in with respect, are going to be able to go in with something other than a paycheck. That’s what keeps me going.

GEORGE STONEY: Beautiful. OK, I think we can --

JAMIE STONEY: I’m on the logo.

GEORGE STONEY: -- OK, I think we can quit. OK.

HELFAND: Laurie, what is the worst thing that you have seen in the last year in 40:00terms of intimidation, in terms of people’s being turned around?

RUSHMEYER: When they picked one employee and they isolate it, and they say, “Look at that girl over there. She’s brand new. Do you want to be like her? She doesn’t have anybody to talk to. She don’t have no friends.” And they do that, because one day, my plant manager walked in, and I -- I saw him, and he saw me. And they introduced me to him, and I got this wimpy handshake. You know, come on. Be real. You don’t want to know who I am, because you already know. You know, and he’s like -- puts on this fake smile, and he tells my supervisor, “You watch her. Watch every move she makes. I want to know about it.” And my supervisor says, “OK, boss.” And that’s (inaudible), “Well, hey, she’s been watching me. Well, before hi-- her has been watching me, you can come on out, and all of y’all can watch, and the 41:00company can go haywire.”

GEORGE STONEY: Is, uh -- is your supervisor black?

RUSHMEYER: No, she’s a white lady. I had a man during the, uh, campaign, and he was one of these, uh, “I’ll do what the company wants me to do so I can keep my job.” He didn’t go much further beyond that. But this lady that I have now, she went through, and she told her, uh, Hispanic, Laotian, and other workers -- got their interpreter and said, “Vote -- vote for them, or we’re taking your green card. You can’t vote in this election. You’re not an American citizen.” And she did things like this, but this is -- this is her position. She is a minister’s wife, but she went so far out as to threaten these people.

JAMIE STONEY: So she’s bought and paid for.

RUSHMEYER: She’s bought and paid for, completely, yeah. But she and I don’t really talk. I guess she’s afraid I might mention the U-word.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, great.

HELFAND: OK, this was great.

42:00

GEORGE STONEY: OK, that’s a wrap.

HELFAND: Thanks a lot.

[break in audio]

GEORGE STONEY: Cynthia, uh, tell these people what you think is the most -- has been the most effective means the union -- uh, the company has used to get people afraid.

CYNTHIA: It was the meetings they had.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, just start out with, “I think the most effective...”

CYNTHIA: The most effective thing on the people was the meeting they had and the movies they showed them. The movies were terrible. I just got to see them myself, and it was making fun of -- it was actually making fun of the workers, making them look like dumb hicks. And the -- that -- the movie about the strikes is what bothered me the most, and I know it bothered a lot of people. And I’ve watched the news all my life, and I’ve never seen nothing like that. It was a made-up bunch of mess, I think. What do y’all think?

L. BOYD DEAL: I think it’s one of the best forms of brainwashing that any industry ever dreamed up to suppress the people that, uh, really don’t have a 43:00hometown newspaper that gives a fair view of, uh, what is happening in the hometown. They slant the news all in favor of the company owner. You never read anything at all (phone ringing) in the Daily Independent about what the working class of people are faced with in (phone ringing) their daily working and daily --

GEORGE STONEY: Hello?

DEAL: -- eight-hour shift or twelve-hour shift.

HELFAND: What’s been going down --

GEORGE STONEY: Yes it is. We’re just making some, uh --

HELFAND: -- in the last year?

DEAL: -- scenes from a movie here now.

CYNTHIA: Rate cuts and, uh, strike outs.

PEGGY: More of the same.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, yes, she is.

CYNTHIA: Basically the same.

HELFAND: One second. Why don’t we let (inaudible) take this phone call? All right. Now, (inaudible), I came in here the other day. Everyone was real natural, sitting around, and they were angry, really angry, about what -- (break in audio; break in video), and that’s one of the things that we’re trying to 44:00understand, is how that kind of fear is perpetuated and where it comes from and...

CYNTHIA: The fear comes from generation to generation. It’s been -- and it’s born in them and bred in them, and it’s passed from generation to generation.

MARY: Well, to me, since, you know, I’m an outsider -- to me, this is just like -- and, uh, y’all probably heard me say this -- it’s like a plantation.

F1: Mm-hmm.

MARY: And you know, this --

CYNTHIA: We’re the slaves.

MARY: -- big company is, you know, the master, and -- and the workers inside that plant is just slaves. And -- and people have been -- it’s been, like you say, passed down from generation to generation, and people don’t know any better. They want better, I think, now, but I think that one of the things during -- you know -- this campaign and this year after the campaign is the retaliation, the firings, and -- and people, you know, still are -- got in their 45:00mind about the plant closings. And, um, if -- if they do speak out, you know, the master is going to come down on them, the supervisors and everything, and you’re going to lose your job. And that’s what we hear, you know? “I can’t speak out because I’m going to lose my job.” No -- you know. And we’ve had people come in here that’s been fired since then, and you say, “Well, did you speak up during the election? Did you say anything?” “Oh, no. They told me that I -- if I did, I’d be fired.” And I asked them, “Where are you sitting at now? You’re fired.”

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: And you know, it’s just this -- it’s fear that, you know -- you don’t know how to get it out of people, because --

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: -- people never know from one day to the next where they’re going to have the job or not with this company. But yet, they’re afraid to speak up --

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: -- and say, “You’re doing this wrong.” They’ll come down here and tell us, you know, and we’ll get phone calls. “I just want you to know how 46:00dirty the company is,” you know. “Well, will you participate? Will you,” you know. “Oh, no. If I do that, they’ll -- they’ll fire.” Uh, it’s just --

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: -- amazing that there’s that much fear in this town like there is.

CYNTHIA: Well, in one of the movies that I saw, they brought up Charlie Cannon. They always hold Charlie Cannon over these people, and I don’t know how long people’s going to have to live before they forget Charlie Cannon. Do you?

DEAL: No, it’s really amazing, the type of brainwashing that has went on in these movies.

CYNTHIA: Mm-hmm.

MARY: And see, Charlie Cannon basically started this fear, because he made people -- yeah, you know. Charlie give them a job. He let them live in their company houses. He paid the light bill and the water bill, kept the house up. And then, you know, when Murdock came in here and he sold out the houses out from and under them, and I’ll -- you know, Charlie treated everybody just like 47:00you would a child. You know, “You’re all my children, and I’ll take care of you.” And then, when Murdock came in here, the people basically didn’t know how to take care of theirself.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you hold on just a moment?

HELFAND: What you’re saying is so important, and it’s so natural. Would it be OK if we got a little bit of you having this discussion, since you’re in it already, Mary?

MARY: Just get the side, OK?

HELFAND: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: All right, yeah, OK.

MARY: I won’t look at you.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, well, that’s what you -- that’s what you face.

HELFAND: Fine, fine.

CYNTHIA: Well, (inaudible) why not yours.

HELFAND: OK. What were you saying about a plantation?

MARY: It’s -- it’s, you know -- it’s just like a big plantation. This whole town is a plantation. And you know --

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: They’ve been the masters for years, and the people are slaves.

CYNTHIA: They’re slaves.

MARY: And you don’t -- you know, “You don’t buck me. You don’t,” you know, “because if you do,” you know. Th-- they can’t sell you, but they can sure put you out of work.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

48:00

MARY: And, um -- and people just, you know -- they -- they’ve been living under this. And like I said, Charlie Cannon was the master, and that’s all the people knowed. You’ll hear some people that says, “I don’t like Charlie Cannon,” you know. “I didn’t like him.” Then, we’ve had people tell us they like Murdock because they think Murdock came in here, and all this work he did downtown on the buildings and everything -- you know, our town was dying and all. And here come Murdock along and see, he -- they -- in their mind, he has saved their hometown, even though the man stole from them, treated them like dogs, and everything. But you know, this is true (inaudible). You know --

CYNTHIA: Yeah.

MARY: -- we -- we’ve heard this.

CYNTHIA: It’s true.

DEAL: I know you have. I just (inaudible) --

MARY: And now, here, Fitzgibbons comes along, and he’s still kicking people.

CYNTHIA: He’s the master now.

MARY: And he’s the master now.

DEAL: Yeah.

MARY: And --

CYNTHIA: “Just trust me.”

MARY: -- all, and so -- “Trust me,” and the people just turned right around. It -- it’s just been inbredded in them to trust somebody, and -- and you 49:00know, I wonder why people want to be supervisors and all. But to people here in this down and all, you know, a lot of them who are maybe younger, they look up to those supervisors.

DEAL: They do.

CYNTHIA: Yeah, (inaudible).

MARY: You know, maybe it’s not even the money --

RUSHMEYER: Is it?

MARY: -- to these people -- of being a supervisor -- which I know that plays a big part in it. But to them, it’s that -- that they’ve got people --

RUSHMEYER: They’re the overseers, see.

MARY: -- oh, they’re the overseers.

RUSHMEYER: They’re the overseer to the master. They --

MARY: Mm-hmm.

RUSHMEYER: -- they do his bidding no matter what he says, and then he doesn’t have to get his hands dirty.

MARY: That’s right. So, um --

DEAL: You’re right, Laurie.

MARY: -- you know, and it is just a fear, you know.

CYNTHIA: When we tried to get the union in in ’85, Murdock came through shaking everybody’s hands. And I saw women actually kissing him.

DEAL: Yeah.

MARY: Uh.

CYNTHIA: And he was stealing us blind, and we thought he was bad until Fieldcrest took over.

DEAL: Peggy, you’re too quiet.

50:00

PEGGY: No, I’m just listening. I’ve --

DEAL: I think you need to say something.

PEGGY: -- sitting here thinking because I -- I can’t be one of these people that are in fear of it. I was raised here, you know, all my life.

CYNTHIA: Me too.

PEGGY: But something inside of me says that, no, I don’t fear anything but god.

CYNTHIA: That’s not right. That’s right. That’s right.

PEGGY: He’s the only one --

DEAL: That’s what you're supposed to fear, only God.

PEGGY: -- that can make me or break me, you know?

CYNTHIA: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: And in this last year, since I’ve been work and on leave, I’ve seen that, you know -- it’s not a matter of Fieldcrest can put me out. It’s a matter of -- of God can put me out, and that’s the only one.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

DEAL: Amen, amen.

PEGGY: You know? And that’s what I tried to tell the people during the campaign, that -- stand up for your rights. You’ve got to do it sooner or later because the whole rest of the country is already standing up to theirs.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

RUSHMEYER: That’s it.

PEGGY: You know? Uh --

DEAL: (inaudible)

PEGGY: -- we can’t be like sheep forever being led to slaughter.

DEAL: That’s right.

MARY: That’s right. But where you’re a strong enough person --

RUSHMEYER: You don’t have everybody that’s that strong.

MARY: -- (inaudible) and you’re -- you -- you know, it’s very unusual in this town to find people like sitting around this table here.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

51:00

MARY: And I -- you know, there’s -- there is -- we -- there is people that voted against the union in this last election that wanted it --

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

MARY: That actually wanted the union, but they --

CYNTHIA: And was afraid.

MARY: -- went in there and voted no because of fear.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

MARY: Because of the movies that was shown, the strikes, the lies that was told to the people, you know.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

MARY: And they are so conditioned to listening to the supervisors, you know, because of what I’m saying that -- you know, this power that, for some reason, the supervisor -- it doesn’t matter --

CYNTHIA: Yeah.

MARY: -- what kind of a person they are or anything else, but the supervisor is a supervisor.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

MARY: So --

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, the history that has governed all this for the last 60 years doesn’t seem to be very well known. It’s -- all the people know is fear, uh, that when the union came, there were -- the troops came and so forth. How much do they know about the kind of organizing that had been done by your 52:00parents and grandparents?

CYNTHIA: That -- we’ve come a long way, baby, as they say, because used to -- people was afraid to say the word “union.” But now, we got people that will stand up and tell them they want a union -- people like us. So we have come a long way.

MARY: Basically, a lot of the people in the plant -- not a lot, but some of them knew about the ’30s and all, which the company -- that was the first thing they jumped on was the strike that they had here in the ’30s, you know. So that brought it -- that -- you know, they -- it wasn’t -- it was laying in the back of their minds. So when they said that, it brought it out to some of the older ones, and the older ones were talking to the younger people, “Oh, my parents went for a strike in the ’30s,” you know, “and they lost everything they had.” You know, so -- you know, it did, even though maybe we, 53:00as organizers, don’t think that that has an effect on people, but it does. You know, because -- like one woman called here one time, and she said her granddaughter voted against the union. And since then, the company had really been coming down hard on her, you know. And she said she listened to the older workers in the plant, and I’ll bet you that a lot of these older workers were people that had family during the ’30s --

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

MARY: -- that went through the strike, and you know --

CYNTHIA: Right.

MARY: -- this was what they were preaching.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, Cynthia, you had a different experience --

CYNTHIA: (inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: -- didn’t you? Yeah.

HELFAND: Except she didn’t know about it.

CYNTHIA: Right. My ancestors were for the union. I had an -- a great uncle that was an organizer, and I didn’t know it until all this came about. And the people saw me on TV, and they started telling me. And he was an organizer in the ’30s, and my great-grandfather on my mother’s side belonged to a 54:00union in 1900. We got proof of it. He -- we got his minutes to the meetings and all that.

HELFAND: In what town?

DEAL: That’s wonderful.

CYNTHIA: So -- and I didn’t know that I had union blood in me until then.

DEAL: Oh, that’s great.

CYNTHIA: And it’s running on both sides of my veins.

DEAL: That’s good. I knew you was doing good.

HELFAND: Cynthia, what town was this?

CYNTHIA: And I was so -- that was the best surprise I’ve ever had in my life, huh?

HELFAND: What town was that, that your gra-- great-grandfather --

CYNTHIA: My great-uncle? Kannapolis and Gastonia and Concord.

HELFAND: And then, the -- the union book that you found when you’re uncle -- where your grandpa --

CYNTHIA: Nineteen-oh-one and 1902.

HELFAND: In Salisbury?

CYNTHIA: In Salisbury, at Cotton Mill. They called it Salisbury Mill, and they called the union Textile Workers of America.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, we have been up to --

DEAL: That’s great.

GEORGE STONEY: -- the -- we have been up to the museum here, which is, in effect, a museum to the Cannon family. It’s called a textile museum, but 55:00it’s really to the Cannon family.

CYNTHIA: (inaudible) It’s a monument to the Cannons.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

CYNTHIA: A shrine.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, where are the workers?

DEAL: Well, uh, most people in the mill, like Cynthia, they said it’s a tradition that -- that, “Grandfather had this kind of problem, and he was scared to join the union. He’s anti-union,” and it’s just handed down. But then, everybody thought the great savior for Kannapolis was Mr. David Murdock. Well, he came in, and he made out like he’s going to really be our friend and really, uh, help us, and the biggest thing he did was change downtown. And like you just asked, where is -- are the people? Well, these same people said -- told me, in the mill, that (inaudible), “He saved us. He saved our town.” But I went downtown one day, riding around, and nine out of ten cars are from out of state or out of town. And I -- I used to -- could see, uh, 50 to 100 people that I worked with up in the plant walking the streets of Kannapolis. Now, they’re just visitors. This is a tourist attraction. Uh, 56:00he took our town, stoled our town from us.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

DEAL: It was in the deal of buying the mill -- he actually stoled our town.

CYNTHIA: That’s exactly right.

MARY: That’s right.

DEAL: You could rent a place down in Kannapolis at that time for $200 a month -- I mean a nice building. And now, it’s $2,000 a month.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

DEAL: He took $104 million of my hard-earned retirement money, which it was legal to do by the federal government, who was too stupid -- our congressmen and senators are too st-- stupid to stop these loopholes of letting the super rich rob the poorest people on the face of the earth here, in Kannapolis, and everywhere else. I feel sorry for the people everywhere else. This is the next big scandal that’s going to hit America. It’s not the S and the L this time. It’s going to be your retirement plans is all going to be drained off by your rich Republicans in this country, and they’re already aiming at it right now. After the election, you will see the biggest, uh, swindling of your 57:00retirement money, and the government knows the loopholes are there. They won’t close them. They say it’s legal, and the people -- all they got to turn to, so, “Well, the United States government’ll back us if we lose this.” That ain’t what it’s supposed to be about. You’re supposed to leave our funds there. We put them there.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

DEAL: He’d run off with $104 million, took $39 million in his pocket legally, and how much more illegally we’ll never know. And then, he’ll not in-- ever come back to Kannapolis because he’s ashamed to be seen in Kannapolis, and I think that’s a disgrace.

MARY: I don’t think he’s ashamed as much as he is afraid.

PEGGY: Absolutely.

MARY: Because when he did come in here during the campaign, he had the state troopers --

PEGGY: Had to sneak in.

CYNTHIA: That --

MARY: -- he had to sneak in, and he wouldn’t let the people know that he was coming in when he did that, you know. And if it hadn’t been for the union, uh, all the people wouldn’t have got that 30% back that they were cut on that. They’re still getting in right now. But up until that time, until we brought 58:00publicity and all on Murdock, these people had their pensions cut, you know. Sure, they may have got $14 a month, but he cut it down to maybe $9 a month.

DEAL: Sure did.

MARY: You know.

DEAL: I’ve seen that.

MARY: And, um, so he wasn’t -- he wasn’t ashamed to come back, because I don’t think somebody like him is ashamed, you know. But he was afraid to come back. He was afraid of the older people in this town -- is exactly what it was.

CYNTHIA: The -- before we voted in ’85, he got on television and told the people, “Trust me,” just like, uh, Fitzgibbons did.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

CYNTHIA: And as soon as we voted and they voted the union down, he got on his million-dollar Arabian horse and said, “Adios, amigo. I’ll see you all later.”

DEAL: That’s true.

CYNTHIA: And he left town with the retirement, with everything.

PEGGY: Cut 3,500 jobs out too.

DEAL: Yeah.

CYNTHIA: And then, Fitzgibbons had the gall to say, “Trust me again,” and the people -- I guess they fell for it. I don’t know. They fell for 59:00something. But 3,000 of them didn’t fall for it -- we’re proud of that.

DEAL: (inaudible)

RUSHMEYER: I feel like, you know, it -- I was raised outside of Kannapolis. Uh, and I was here for 18 years, then I left this small little area, and I saw some other part of the country. And I saw a place -- it did -- uh, I’m not talking about paradise, but I was -- I saw a place where I could work, and I could be treated like a person, and I had my rights to disagree with the boss man and not get fired. Uh, when you’re exposed to, uh, another type of lifestyle, and then you come back to this style, and then you come back to this mentality, it blows your mind that it is still here.

F1: Mm-hmm.

F2: Mm-hmm.

60:00

RUSHMEYER: That we’re still living before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

DEAL: That’s right.

MARY: Because slavery is still in effect here.

RUSHMEYER: We’re still living in that time.

GEORGE STONEY: Cynthia, you say you have got to go. Tell us your last words.

CYNTHIA: Well, I’d just like to say to the people that did vote yes that I’m proud of them. I’m very proud of them after I saw the tapes that the company showed them, and I wish that the other people would just realize that they don’t have to be afraid. And that’s it. I got to go to work. And see, I didn’t get fired. I stood out and stood for what I --

F1: That’s right.

CYNTHIA: -- believed in, and I hadn’t got fired yet.

F1: Still standing.

CYNTHIA: And they don’t have to be afraid.

HELFAND: Why didn’t you get fired?

CYNTHIA: I don’t know. I guess I run my job, is all I know.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me s-- make another suggestion.

CYNTHIA: All you have to do is run your job. They can’t hire you for standing up for what you believe in.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me make another suggestion, and this comes from history. They select a certain number of people so they --

61:00

CYNTHIA: To fire.

GEORGE STONEY: -- can frighten everybody. They’ve got to have people like you to run the mills, but --

CYNTHIA: And they take people and make an example out of them. I believe that.

MARY: Well, you look at L. Boyd.

CYNTHIA: Like here’s one right here.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

CYNTHIA: I know he ran his job, but they just chose him to make an example and scare people, and it -- it did -- it done it. It done what --

DEAL: But I want to thank God that we do have a, uh, system in America that’s still in place when you got the, uh, Act II people with, uh, lawyers to take you into these federal courtrooms to give you a -- a day of justice. And I had my day of justice, and I thank God for it. And I tell you what -- I embarrassed them to death. There was nothing on my record for 30 years of employment that said I didn’t do my job. There was nothing on my record for 30 years that said I was ever a -- abused my absenteeism. I was never out over 8%, never written up one time. And yet, the only thing that they could come up with -- 62:00and this is the dirty tactics of Jim Fitzgibbons and his dirty lawyers, Roberts and them -- they assassinated my character on the outside of the mill, which has nothing a -- absolutely at all to do with you running your job from 3:00 to 11:00 in the plant. Now, anybody can make a mistake and lie, but the way they try to slant the truth in the courtroom -- I think the federal judge seen through that, and I know within my heart that that federal judge seen the truth, and the truth’ll set us all free, brother.

CYNTHIA: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: Thank you, Cynthia.

CYNTHIA: You’re welcome.

HELFAND: Oh, Boyd, wait -- do you have to go?

DEAL: No, I’m going to just let Cynthia out.

CYNTHIA: See ya'll later. You too, L. Boyd. I love you too.

DEAL: Love you to death.

CYNTHIA: (inaudible) loves you too.

DEAL: I know he did.

CYNTHIA: You know he did.

HELFAND: Did they fire you because you were active?

F1: They did.

HELFAND: Mm.

GEORGE STONEY: Cynthia, I need to get your signature -- just this, yeah.

63:00

JAMIE STONEY: Did they fire you because you were active?

GEORGE STONEY: Thank you for (inaudible). I hope it didn’t make you late.

DEAL: Yes, uh, my, uh, supervisor at that time kept warning me personally, and he would, uh, threaten me different ways about, “If you don’t straight up, you’re going to lose your job.” So I was smart enough, and I thank God -- I give God the credit for this, because I was really just another textile worker, just believed their lies for years and years. But then, it was like God come down upon me and said I had to do it. I’m not that much of a Christian person, but if God picks you to do something -- like when Saul was on the way to Damascus, he picked him. And he was not a righteous man, but he picked him to do something, and I feel like God picked me to help these people get out of the 64:00poverty situation here in Kannapolis that I know that they’re in. And I got sisters that worked there 50 years that draw like $18 a month. Two sisters put over 100 years in with Fieldcrest-Cannon draw less than $50 a month. Now, you show me any kind of justice in that, and I think that’s a sin. But I was fired to plant fear in people. I was fired on election day last November -- I mean last August the 23rd. And my boss man said that, “We’ll get you, and we’ll embarrass you,” and they did. They rode me out like Jim Baker. It was shameful. They rode me out in a limo with two plain policemen. They had four other (inaudible) standing by, hiding like I was some kind of criminal and enemy that they wasn’t sure of how he was going to act. I was told that I was a snake in the grass because I believed in my constitutional right that the 65:00United States government told me I had. I had four brothers in World War II. I and another brother served after the war, yet I came back here, and like Laurie said, after you’ve seen the other parts of the world, and you come back and you see that they still suppress you -- they wouldn’t let my best buddy go to the movie. They wouldn’t let me go to that movie. They told him, and he served -- his name is Ernest Alexander. He served in Vietnam. He served in Saudi Arabia, and his girlfriend served in, uh, that wartime situation there, and yet, they were told they couldn’t go to see this movie. Now, why would you be -- if you are an American, why would you be suppressed from seeing a movie?

F1: Right.

DEAL: I mean, why can’t you have the right to go see that movie?

HELFAND: The movie -- the company movie?

DEAL: The -- the movie that we just witnessed here this morning.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, I’m --

HELFAND: Just -- just say, “Those -- the co-- they wouldn’t let him go see the company movies.”

66:00

DEAL: Right, well, we wasn’t allowed and given the constitutional right to go see a company movie.

JAMIE STONEY: Can you do that again, L. Boyd?

HELFAND: Yeah, you --

JAMIE STONEY: I’m just changing the shot a little bit.

HELFAND: -- yeah, you were just saying that they wouldn’t let you and your friends go see --

DEAL: Yes, I had, uh, friends that spent a lot of time in the service, and they came out, and they had served two wars. And yet, they were told, just like me, “No, you cannot go see this company movie because we know you don’t believe our way, and you might be a threat to us inside of that little room. You might say something out of line, Mr. Deal.”

MARY: This is supposed to be the freest country in the world and all, but it’s not. Because when you step inside those gates --

RUSHMEYER: (inaudible).

PEGGY: (inaudible).

MARY: -- your rights, you leave them on the outside. And that’s why I, you know -- I say that it’s just like a plantation.

DEAL: It is.

67:00

MARY: Here in this town, and -- and you know, and the company treats the people this way and makes no bones about it, you know. It’s just like they’re proud. You know, “We control the whole town. If you don’t do what we say in here, we’ll get you outside and (inaudible).”

PEGGY: That's right.

MARY: You know, and you know, it’s amazing, but it does happen. It is -- it works on people’s minds, and, um, what it’s going to take to change it here, I don’t know. You know? I’m like Cynthia. I’m proud of the 3,000 and something votes that --

RUSHMEYER: Mmhm.

MARY: -- we got with what y’all people went through during that election, you know. You know? Because they -- they really put the people through. You’re talking about June, uh, 12th to August the 20th and 21st, y’all were -- you know, y’all were hit every time you went in that plant, and, uh --

DEAL: They added to my job twice during that period of the election, which was 68:00about 90 days. They added to my job twice, and I’m not no dummy. I was in supervision 15 years and on production 15 years. I knew what they was doing. I was wearing my Act II badge to work. I was signing up people in my department. I had 75% of my department signed up on the second shift. I’m proud of that. But they scared -- with these movies, they scared the same people, and I doubt if I had 55% on election day because of these movies that they slant the truth.

GEORGE STONEY: What was in the -- what was in those movies?

DEAL: In those movies, it’s all slanted, uh, towards fear, fear of tomorrow, fear of the future. “If you let these outsiders come in,” which, uh, we don’t. We let them tell us how to set our union up. They show us how to organize and set up our union, but we run our union. We’d have leaders like this lady here, Peggy, running our union for us, and we trust her, and she would be a good leader. And one of the proudest moments I had during the whole 69:00campaign was when this lady here and three or four of her friends sat on a panel, and they did -- thank God -- let them on TV. And I -- I found out and made a tape of it for her. And I was so proud that these four people -- like Mary said -- suppressed at works, put fear in them. “We might let you go. We’re going to run you off if you don’t do our way.” But they got on television and done a wonderful job of telling the American people the truth. But the company frowned upon that very much so, and I appreciate there’s a few good Americans like Laurie that’ll stand up and tell the American people the truth. And, uh, it’s sad that your newspapers in these local towns are local controlled by one man, and they will not put stuff in there that gives a fair view of the whole picture. It’s always slanted to the rich man, mill owner’s advantage.

70:00

PEGGY: I think it’s like George said, too. When they’re picking out different people for different purposes, whether it’s to fire them or -- or to eliminate them from the meetings and things like this, I think they also pick out people that they’re a little bit afraid of, and I think I was one of those because for one thing, I was a single person. It’s hard to pick on a single woman and fire her because she’s going out and speaking for a union when she knows it’s her right to organize. It’s another thing if I weren’t doing my job, if I weren’t being on time, if I weren’t showing up at all, things like that. But then, when they singled me out and said that I couldn’t come to their meetings and watch their movies, then half of the people on my shift joined with me and wanted to know why, because I was sitting out there running a machine. I was still on the payroll. I was still a member of Fieldcrest-Cannon, but I wasn’t allowed to go see their movies, and the automatically said that I was a troublemaker, that that was the reason I 71:00couldn’t go, not that I was trying to organize a union or that I was being disruptive in the -- in the plant, but that I was a troublemaker. And when I called my supervisor on that, they sore that 19 people lied. Nineteen people didn’t come back from his office and -- and say that I was a troublemaker because he didn’t say it, because these were my friends.

GEORGE STONEY: I thought you were only measured in that plant by your production.

PEGGY: No.

RUSHMEYER: No, you’re measured --

PEGGY: No sir.

RUSHMEYER: -- you’re -- you’re measured, uh -- before the campaign came about, you were measured, one, by race. If they felt you would, uh, do company bidding for them, and they needed a black face in, they’d put it in. If they felt you’d do company bidding for them no matter what it was, w-- whether it was to just run somebody else’s job because they were ready to run them off, they’d pick you. They’d measure you by how you stand out in your -- in your 72:00peers, the people you work with. If they respect you and they don’t like the -- why they respect you, then they pick on you then. See, things like this didn’t just start at the campaign, and people just didn’t realize it. But it was escalated, see, because when I first started working in washcloth department, I was a real quiet k-- type of person because I knew I couldn’t just charge in and be me, because I knew a lot of people wouldn’t accept me because I stand on what I believe, and I know what I know. And as -- it’s been said once before. I have but one man to fear. That’s my creator, my God.

DEAL: That’s right.

RUSHMEYER: And see, you can’t bring that -- you can’t bring that feeling with you and -- and just let it out, because everybody won’t accept it, and you know you’ll be prosecuted for it. But once they found out I was a good worker, once they found out I came in on time and I did my job and I picked up knowledge as I did my job of other people’s jobs, they let me roam in my 73:00department as I pleased. They picked me, “Oh, well, she do good. Let her have that job tonight. She’ll do it good. While he’s out, let her do that job tonight.” But when the campaign kicked off, and I -- they saw me standing on that gate -- no more. “Laurie, you stay on your job.” “Well, so-and-so’s out. Don’t you need help?” “No, that’s all right. We’ll run it short. We’ll let it stand.” See that’s what -- that’s where it escalates. When your opinion reflects in more than one person around you, then it escalates. That’s when you become the one they pick on, you -- they prosecute. And when they feel they can’t handle you and you’re out of control, then they fire you.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me ask you a question that -- people talking about the ’30s, many people have told us, you know, old people who -- and particularly people who weren’t in the factories but who lived in the towns -- they said, “Well, only trashy people and irresponsible people got messed up with the union.”

DEAL: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: Was there anything like that now?

74:00

PEGGY: Same thing.

RUSHMEYER: Yeah, they picked on a -- a coworker of mine, works in my department, uh, Benny MacIntyre, and they said he was dirty. They said -- “See, he has brown lung. He contracted it from his job with Cannon Mills in the card room because of the high cotton dust.” OK, so they had to take him out of that department and put him in washcloth. They said, “You going to follow a man like Benny? Benny’s dirty. Benny’s got brown lung. He probably smoked ten packs of cigarettes a day.” How do you get brown lung but by cotton dust? And how’s he going to get it in his home? “The people at the gate are dirty. The people at the gate don’t work. The people at the gate are lazy. People at the gate are just looking for a free meal ticket.”

DEAL: True.

PEGGY: A lady told me, you know -- one day, she, uh, stopped me down there and asked me, and she was (inaudible). And she was asked me -- it was past (inaudible), but she asked me. She said, uh, “Just why is it do you think we need a union in here?” And I told her. I said, “Well," you know, I said, “the people were telling us how hard they had to work, the -- the more work the company was putting on them, and how they were being treated.” 75:00“That’s a lie,” she said. “That’s a lie,” said, “The only people that wants a union in here is just sorry and lazy and don’t want to work,” you know.

DEAL: That’s the --

MARY: And I said, “Well, m’am, you -- you saying that, you know, that you’ve got it easy in there?” “That’s right. That’s right. I’ve got it easy.” Said, “They’re just a bunch of liars,” and I said, “Well, m’am, there must be an awful lot of liars in that mill.”

DEAL: Three thousand.

MARY: Mm-hmm. But you know, they -- they brainwashed other people that -- that -- the people that were standing up for their rights, you know, they point out, “Well, you wouldn’t want so-and-so (inaudible).”

DEAL: Yeah, that was --

MARY: That’ll be your (inaudible).

DEAL: -- brought up on me, Mary. Uh, I had people --

MARY: You know.

DEAL: -- feeding me what they’ve seen in this, uh, movie and what went on there, and they come back down and told me, said, “L. Boyd, they brought your name up in that movie and said you was running for steward already, said what you were doing was campaigning to be a steward leader and said, uh, they said, ’Who’d you rather go to? Had you rather go to that Deal Boyd down there, or 76:00come to us, the one with the big heart that’ll listen to your problem, and one that’ll sit down, and one-on-one, we can discuss your problem.’” Well, we know what one-on-one can get you.

PEGGY: Absolutely -- nothing.

DEAL: (phone ringing) For 100 years, 1897 -- almost 100 years -- say 90-something years it’s been. “We can sit down and talk to you people and work everything out.” They ain’t worked nothing out --

PEGGY: That’s right.

DEAL: -- if you ain’t got a union to work it out with you and for you.

MARY: Absolutely right, but you know, they do -- they paint the union people as trash.

DEAL: Yeah, they told me, “Them dirty misfit people from out of town, L. Boyd,” said, “What do you follow 'em? We thought you’re smarter than that,” said, “I can just look at how they dress. They’re not even up to the standard.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, Lord, help me to control my actions Lord, and help me to understand where these people are coming from.” Because like Peggy said, I got enough common sense -- and I thank God for it -- to know 77:00what the Constitution of the United States says, and I thank God that I know most of it.

MARY: But goes back, a lot of it, to your politicians too, that -- you know, ignorance of the American public. You know, they -- people didn’t realize what y’all people had to go through with in that plant. You know, a lot of people in this country don’t realize that. And then, when you -- you know, all they see about unions is what they see on TV. If there’s a strike here, there’s a strike there -- they don’t see, you know, all the -- the good that the union has done. It’s just like a -- you know, you see what the bad teenagers do, but you don’t see what the good teenagers do.

PEGGY: Mmhm. That’s right.

MARY: And you know, and they do -- they just -- they just print us as outlaws and hoodlums. And this fear in, you know -- inside the plant, you just have to work in it. And until the American public will wake up as to what’s going on 78:00out there, and we can get some politicians that realize what workers in these plants had to go through, you know -- y’all shouldn’t have had to go through an election like y’all went through.

PEGGY: Right.

MARY: They broke every law in the land --

DEAL: Indeed.

MARY: -- as far as the labor laws in this election, and they knew they were breaking them, but they knew that -- that when they were found guilty that all they’re going to have to do is to post a notice on the board saying, “We broke the law. We did this. We did that.” We need some teeth in the labor laws that says, “Mr. Fitzgibbons, if you get up there and you break the law, you’re going to pay a fine of $1 million.” You know, and we need politicians that’s willing to stand behind the workers in this country and see that we do get justice, you know, because that’s all we want. We’ve got an election going on right now, and you know, and -- and we’ve got a guy standing 79:00up there, saying this free trade bill is going to add jobs to this country. Well, we all know better.

PEGGY: That’s right.

MARY: And then, you know, they use that against the workers here in this country. “Well, if you don’t do what I want you to do, we’ll move our plant to Mexico.” And you know, they -- they’re just adding more fear to people and all, and I think, you know, that the American people are going to have to wake up as to what is actually really going on in these workplaces out here.

PEGGY: That’s where I’m like L. Boyd. I thank God there’s a few of us that will stand up and try to tell these people that are asleep, you know, what needs to be done.

MARY: That’s right.

PEGGY: Because if we don’t get more of us, then we’re not going to get anywhere.

MARY: That’s right.

PEGGY: And we’ve already -- we’ve reverted back to the ’50s.

MARY: (inaudible).

PEGGY: We’re getting paid less than what we were then.

MARY: We’re reverting back to the ’30s.

PEGGY: Yeah.

MARY: Exactly what the people went out on the nationwide strike for in the ’30s is exactly what is happening today.

PEGGY: But a company now that has progressed 60 years is paying us less than they were 20 years ago -- that’s ridiculous.

MARY: Mm-hmm.

80:00

HELFAND: But is it just about pay?

PEGGY: No, it’s not about pay.

DEAL: No.

PEGGY: It’s -- it’s about your -- your pride and your respect for yourself. You know, a person -- you’ve got to have respect to get up every morning. When you look in that mirror, you’ve got to respect that person that’s looking back at you. And how some of these people can -- can just throw everything out the window and get up and look at that person every day and say, “Oh, you’re a great guy,” is beyond me. Because if I don’t stand up and speak for what I think is right, then obviously somebody killed Mary out here in the street and just walk on by and never say a word. You know? And it’s -- it gets down to that matter. This is the same thing. They’re killing us, and they’re doing it on a slow, eight-hour, a 12-hour-a-day basis, but they’re doing it nevertheless. Murder is murder. It doesn’t matter how you do it.

GEORGE STONEY: What about this 12-hour business. I thought we’d look back, way back in the ’20s, the -- certainly by ’33, the 12-hour-day was ruled out 81:00in the mills, and it hasn’t come back until recently. What about that?

PEGGY: Well, it’s come back in Fieldcrest, and not many of the people like it.

GEORGE STONEY: Just, say, “The 12-hour day.”

PEGGY: Mm-hmm. The 12-hour day has come back to Fieldcrest, and I think, eventually, they’ll get it in all the plants. I don’t think they’ll -- they’ll waste much time now.

DEAL: You know what the big advantage of the 12-hour shift is, is to cut down on overtime pay.

PEGGY: Absolutely.

DEAL: Uh, it’s so sad that, uh, these people are getting up towards my age -- 55-65 -- and they tell me, “Weaving is a hard job.” And that’s the ones that seem to be the first to go on your 12-hour shifts. Well, I meet these people every day, and they tell me, “L. Boyd, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it. I’m 65, so this 12-hour shift’s killing me.” I said, “You know, if they loved us like they said j-- uh, Fitzgibbons says he loved me, why didn’t he give me a choice to vote whether I wanted an eight-hour shift or a 12-hour shift?” He said, “L. Boyd, I’m not going to be able to 82:00make it until I’m 65. I’m going to have to hang my job up.” That’s what they want. They saving overtime pay, and that’s the bottom line, is how we can cut our expenses, not what we can do for the man that’s made us rich like we have made them.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, the big difference, as I see it -- [break in audio; break in video]

DEAL: -- you were talking about 12-hour shifts or it would give us a chance to vote, if it wasn’t already there. It would give us a chance to vote down in our local union hall, not -- not at some national headquarters -- at our local union hall, number 36 here or whatever number we’ll get, and say, “Do you people want 12-hours or do you want eight-hours?” That’s the American system. It’s supposed to work like that.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, finally, for me, the big difference that I see between now and in the ’30s was that back then, almost everybody had confidence that they 83:00had in Roosevelt and his administration, people who really cared about the working man. What have you got now?

MARY: Absolutely nothing.

PEGGY: That’s it.

DEAL: The only difference there that I see is that my dad told me that he’s seen women go to the fences back in the ’20s, now, and feed their babies through a fence because they wasn’t allowed to go home and nurse their babies.

F1: That’s right.

DEAL: They were so pushed up on their job to get their quota met for the day that they just let them go to the fence, and that’s the only thing that I see, sir, that hasn’t went back to the ’30s and ’20s, is the breastfeeding through the fence. And that did happen.

F1: Yeah.

DEAL: And that’s where the next step is, if we listen to Brother Fitzgibbons and his way of doing things.

HELFAND: Mary, you were saying that, um -- George, what was your -- your initial question?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, a question about, uh, the administration.

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MARY: The only time that we hear anything from the administration is at election time, just like now with Mr. Bush running, you know. He’s now concerned with jobs, but the way that -- in my opinion, the way that Mr. Bush’s concerned with jobs is he’s going to let these companies, you know -- they can move overseas and all and take people’s job, and it’s putting the American people more in this fear that they’re having to live with now, you know, because all you hear is, “Your plant -- we’ll close your plant.” It’s a fear that they’ve -- these big corporations have over the workers. You know, “You come in here, and you better do what I say do.” You know, “You better forget a union. You better forget having any rights whatsoever. Yeah, we’ll put the 12-hour shifts in. We’ll do whatever we want to to y’all people because if you don’t let us, we’ll take this plant, and we’ll move it.” And the -- the laws are such that these -- these giant corporations can do this, 85:00and not only the giant corporations. And you know, uh, and I feel sorry for the Mexican people, too, because our government and their government is exploiting them. And what it’s basically doing is is turning the American people -- they -- they don’t want to show their anger at the bosses and the company, so they’re showing it at the -- the Mexican people when they’re being exploited too. They’re down there treating them -- paying them 50 cents an hour. They’re, you know -- they’re not giving them any rights whatsoever down there either. They’re having to -- living in shantytowns, no water, no surge. They’ll go out and get a -- a -- a drum that they’ve had chemicals in and use it for water and all to have these jobs here that -- our American companies 86:00are going down there, and -- and they’re depriving us, and they’re depriving these people too. And they can s-- they can see the -- the supervision that goes with them, they live on the American side of the border in these fine homes and drive over every morning. When they get through with the product, they can bring it back into this country, you know, and they’re making a huge profit. And the people of this, uh, the -- of America and Mexico are suffering. And how, you know, a man can stand up unless he lives in his little ga-- glass house up there, you know, and he’s got no concept. And all he’s thinking about is making his rich friends richer.

GEORGE STONEY: The strange things to me, though, is that in the last three summers, I’ve found very, very few people who have any feeling of bitterness 87:00towards the people who own the industries and build these big houses they see around town. They may have anger ag-- at their secondhand, their supervisor, but it doesn’t seem to go any further up.

MARY: That’s -- that’s it. And see --

DEAL: I’m just baffled by that.

MARY: -- as long as they can pit the American people against the Mexican people, you know -- yeah, we’ve got anger, but our anger should be at the ones causing it, not the ones -- you know, because they’re affected just like we are. The Mexican workers are, you know -- they’re being exploited just like we are. But instead of the American people, all you can hear is, “The Mexicans are taking our jobs.” It’s not the Mexicans that are taking our job. It’s these big corporations that’s moving their plant across the border, and that’s where the anger should be, and that’s where the revolt should be, is against this. And the only way that, you know -- if the people will register 88:00and get out and vote, and vote, you know -- know what they’re voting for. Don’t let Mr. Bush get on TV and say, “This free trade bill is going to bring in jobs to this country,” and believe the man. Study it, and then you’ll know. And, uh, place your anger on him.

PEGGY: They’re leaving the people that are here from Mexico. Uh, even though they may live in shanties there, if you go around Kannapolis and look, they’re living in shanties here, because they’re living in mobile homes that don’t have doors and windows on them. The flies are eating them up, or their children are -- are just mosquito-bitten to the word “go.” They don’t have enough money, even though they’re working for Fieldcrest, to take the children to the doctor, or they’re not on the -- the insurance plans or something. You know, so they really haven’t gotten any better, but yet Fieldcrest will tell them, “Well, if you vote for a union, then we’re going to deport you.”

MARY: Mm-hmm. They’re exploiting them here, too. They’re using the Mexicans 89:00and any foreigners again the -- the American worker here in this plant, because when the people do come up here, they do think they’re better off than what they were, and -- and in most cases, they are. They’re a lot better, even though they live --

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

MARY: -- in the conditions, but they’re still a lot better off than what they were in Mexico and -- and -- and, uh, Cambodia, you know, and all. And so, you know, then in -- in the plant, you know, these people will go in there, and they can’t speak English -- a lot of them. And they, you know -- they want their family hired if they can get them over here, so the company uses that. “You get out there. You work hard. You don’t stop,” you know, “you show the other workers up. And then, when your brother comes up here, we’ll hire him, your sister,” so you know, we’re being exploited everywhere in the world.

PEGGY: That’s right.

HELFAND: It sounds like the way they used to get the workers from the mountains to come down to the mill villages.

MARY: Mmhm.

PEGGY: Uh-huh. Absolutely.

MARY: That’s exactly what it’s --

DEAL: The same tactic.

MARY: -- all it is, and this is going back, like you say. I mean, we’re not 90:00progressing in this country. We’re regressing.

PEGGY: We’re going backwards. That’s right.

MARY: You know, we’re going back to what caused the nationwide strike, you know.

PEGGY: Because there are still homes in this -- in this town right here that do not have running water, that do not have toilets.

DEAL: Absolutely.

MARY: But you know, the fear now is -- back then, you didn’t have to worry about a company saying, “I’ll move your plant to Mexico if you don’t do what I say.” So they have got a, uh, greater weapon against the American worker nowadays than they did in the ’30s.

HELFAND: But they could evict you back then, couldn’t they?

PEGGY: Oh yeah.

MARY: Well, they could do that, yes, but at least you didn’t have to worry that they would take this plant and say, “We’ll move it over the border.”

GEORGE STONEY: Wait a minute. That’s the way a lot of those plants got from the North down to the South.

PEGGY: That’s right.

MARY: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: They were running away from unions then.

MARY: Mm-hmm, that’s --

GEORGE STONEY: So the same.

MARY: -- yeah, but it was in the same country.

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PEGGY: And as this is what they’re saying, well, these smart Yankees came down to these dumb Southerners and put them to work. Now, we’re going to take it to the dumb Mexicans, and we’re going to turn it around on you.

MARY: You know, and it -- it really makes the Southern people mad, and I’m a Southerner.

PEGGY: Absolutely.

MARY: You know, because they’ve got us pictured. Your giant corporations have got as pictured as we’re still barefooted and pregnant. We have our outhouses and all this, you know. And then, when they come down here -- and we’re proud people, and we are hard-working people. We -- you know, we’ve got a lot of pride. We want to get out here and work and make a decent wage and all, and they play on that and all. They play, but they still -- in their mind, we’re still the old, ignorant Southerners that will work for nothing and --

PEGGY: And take anything you hand them.

MARY: -- and take anything you hand them. And we have got a forgiving nature. You know, I think it was showed in this campaign that -- Murdock get up there 92:00and give a speech saying, “Give me one more chance.” Two weeks later, he sells the plant. Then here, five years later, Mr. Fitzgibbons comes along. He gives basically the same speech. “Give me another chance.” And what Murdock says just flew out the window. “Well, now, this is Mr. Fitzgibbons,” you know. “He seems like he’s a nice man,” and you know, that’s -- that’s -- that’s a lot of our philosophy here. You know, you -- you forgive, but how much can we keep on forgiving?

DEAL: Well, five years ago, all we heard in this area here was imports of cloth was killing us. Oh, if our government didn’t put a clamp and a ceiling on the imports of yardage of goods sent into this country, that the American people were going to lose our jobs. Well, what fascinates me is the policy that Fitzgibbons and Fieldcrest has got right now is worse than the import of cloth. They are importing people on green cards. I don’t know -- I’ve been told, 93:00but one Mexican -- that he bought his card. Whether that’s true or not, I do not know. But what is the difference between taking my job with an import of people than an import of cloth? To me, it’s worse to bring an import of people here when I’m at the unemployment office every week, and it breaks my heart to see that they hired 20 Mexicans last week and -- and when I was down there, and only about three true-blooded Americans. I’m not against foreigners. I love any race of people. But I do think that charity begins at home. The Bible --

F1: Absolutely.

DEAL: -- teaches that. The Bible tells you that a nation divided shall fall. A house divided shall fall. In America today, you have 10 million families a year going under because the house is divided. What you’re going to see in America is not America that got attacked by some Communist nation like China and went 94:00under. You’re attacked by your own government, allowing green card people to come in here and take your jobs and your kin people’s jobs and the people of your loved ones away from you and say, “We’re here to help.”

HELFAND: L. Boyd, can you find a job?

DEAL: I have looked, and the -- the only jobs I’m offered is minimum wage jobs. And I -- I told them that I was trying to get something closer to what I was used to. I cannot pay my bills on minimum wage, or I can’t pay my bills on the unemployment salary. I am looking and seeking employment.

HELFAND: How --

MARY: But you know, it -- let me go back. I’m sorry to interrupt, but let me go back to what L. Boyd was saying. And see, you know, there is some resentment there --

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

MARY: -- of the foreigners. But you know, that’s what I’m saying. The company is using this, and as long as you keep the people divided, that -- you 95:00know, they’re out there fussing while they’re, you know -- these Mexicans are doing this, or these Asians are doing this, you know, and all. Well, that’s keeping the -- you know, it’s -- it’s part of the company’s strategy. You know, “Keep these people divided,” and they fuel this resentment and all. And as long as you keep the people divided, then they’re going to leave us alone. We can do what we want to, to people.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me tell you two other big changes between now and -- and the 30 -- early ’30s. One is the role of blacks in the unions here. They were hardly in the plants back then.

RUSHMEYER: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And the other is women leaders. We’ve talked to a lot of women who were in the union back then, but the -- at best, they were the secretaries who did the typing.

F1: Yeah.

96:00

GEORGE STONEY: But they didn’t -- if, uh -- they went out on the picket line, but they never made the speeches. They never -- talk about those two changes.

MARY: Well, I’ll tell you the -- you know, the women -- and this is not putting L. Boyd and people like that down. But the majority of the outspoken people during this campaign here last year in Kannapolis was women.

DEAL: Yeah, I agree, 100 percent.

MARY: And they were -- they were single women like Peggy, you know, that didn’t have a husband. You know, maybe they were widow women, divorcees with kids, and all. And you know, they had more guts than a lot of the men did, you know, to speak out.

DEAL: I agree 100 percent.

MARY: And all, and they had more to lose than a lot of these others. But I don’t -- you know, it’s -- it seems like it’s been that way more and more and more, that the women are -- they’re the coming out and they’re going to be, you know -- they’re going to be heard now, you know? That this idea of 97:00keeping us in the kitchen is long past. You know, we can go to the kitchen, but there’s other rooms beside the kitchen now.

PEGGY: Well, so many of them have to -- have to not only bring home the bacon, they have to cook it too.

MARY: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: And so many of them are getting tired of that because the men come in, and they’ve worked their eight-hour day, and they sit down, prop their feet up, and that’s it.

DEAL: Yeah.

PEGGY: The community, the children, the -- the PTO or the union campaign or whatever is just something for you to go do, dear. “You get involved if you want to, but I’m going to sit here with my feet up.” So I think the American woman has got to the point where she says, “OK, fine. I’m going to take the ball, and I’m going to run with it.”

HELFAND: Did your mama do that here?

PEGGY: Yeah.

HELFAND: Did she grow up here too?

PEGGY: Mm-hmm. She originally came from South Carolina, but she was a woman that spoke her terms too, and she taught us to do the same thing, that we knew what we were brought up with and we knew what we stood for. And I’ve taught 98:00my children that way, and they do the same thing -- even my grandchildren do, because my grandchildren played an important part in this past campaign. They got out, and they handed out leaflets. One of my granddaughters wrote poems for the union, and you know, she wants to be a -- a lawyer when she gets grown, and she’s working on that now. And I want to see her get these things done, but in order to do that, we need to instill in her that she has the ability to go forth and do whatever she wants to, that this is America. We’re still the land of the free and the home of the brave.

MARY: Well, I came from a different background, you know, than that. And I -- my mother was the type of woman -- she stayed at home. She had eight kids, you know. And, um -- and she remembered the ’30 strike, and that was always, you know -- and whenever I’d say, “Mother, I’m going [phone ringing] out to try to organize,” she’d say, “You’re going to get in trouble,” because basically, [phone ringing] that was all she knew, you know. And she was a -- she was a good Southern lady, [phone ringing] but you know, you just -- you 99:00don’t make waves.

GEORGE STONEY: Just a moment. I want you to repeat that because that’s too good to miss. [break in audio; break in video] You were raised in a different tradition.

MARY: Yeah, I was raised in a different tradition. You know, like I said, my mother was a good Southern lady. You know, there was eight of us kids and all, and you didn’t make waves. You know, you just -- you know, she -- basically, she didn’t take that much, but you know, it was her idea of -- you forgive, and you go right on. And she remembered the ’30 strike, you know, because in my home town, it was there too, you know. And, uh, she had a brother on the picket line and everything, and so then, when I got involved in the union and all, she just couldn’t understand this at all. You know, she just -- and I could tell her I was going on -- working on a campaign to help organize another plant, and you know, her statement to me was, “Mary, you know, you’re going to get in trouble. Don’t do that.”

GEORGE STONEY: What town was that?

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MARY: This was Rossville, Georgia. It was, uh, the, uh, hosiery mill there in this town, you know. And there was -- the National Guards was in there. There was a man killed. She knew him. And she remembered that her brother was out there, and her father was inside working. And, uh, this is a very small town, smaller than Kannapolis, so you know, it -- it was just in her mind that this was unions, you know. And -- and I would try to educate Mother that, you know -- about the union, and I think, you know, that she finally seen, before she passed away, that, you know, it wasn’t -- the union wasn’t this big, bad booger out there that was going to wreck your whole life, you know. Because she seen that -- that I was getting out there doing it and that nothing ever happened to me, which I think, basically, she wished I hadn’t. But I think her idea of the union -- I think I changed it. And --

101:00

GEORGE STONEY: Now, going on to -- to the role of blacks in the union. You know, in the early ’30s, very few people, uh, blacks worked in the mills. Those few who did belonged to one of the white supervisors literally al-- you know. They -- they were completely beholden to them.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: It’s changed so much now.

MARY: Well, you know, I’ve heard tales that -- that the Cannons would take some of the black women that they had here in the plant and take them to their home. They would babysit, you know, cook, and all for the Cannons and all. And you know, uh, the -- it has been a big change, because I remember when the first black woman that they hired came into my plant and all. They had men, but they were on the -- they cleaned the restrooms. They did this. You know, even the black men, the jobs, and then when the Civil Rights law was passed, and the first black woman, you know, came into my plant. And so, you know, basically, 102:00the blacks know, but I think, you know, it -- they’re forgetting a little bit that if it hadn’t been for the unions helpin' fight their cause that they wouldn’t be in the mill today, because union --

PEGGY: Well even here, in Fieldcrest, uh, back in the ’80s and the ’70s, uh, in the finishing departments, we only had black ladies then on the third shift. We didn’t have them on the first and second.

MARY: Yeah.

PEGGY: Uh, it was strictly all white. And I mean, this has not been 20 years ago, you know. So they -- they were more rampant in the -- in the sew-- in the weaving and the spinning and things like that, but in the finishing departments, they didn’t work.

MARY: But these companies would have never had black people in their plant.

PEGGY: Mm-mmm.

MARY: If they could have had (inaudible). And all --

PEGGY: All we had was on the cleanup crews.

MARY: -- that if it hadn’t been for the Civil Rights movement, which the union was a big part of.

GEORGE STONEY: What about their role in the union now?

MARY: Their role in the union is, you know, whatever they want to make it. You 103:00know, basically, you know, uh -- I know, when I first got involved in the union, my company was telling the blacks that -- that we would make them have their own union hall. You know, they’d have to have their own officers and everything, so basically, they didn’t want to go through that and all, but it was like anything else. We had to educate them. “Look, hey, you’re a part of us. This is what it’s all about. You’re a worker here, so let’s -- you know, you’re going -- you come to our union hall. You run for any office just like anybody else can.” So it’s basically what they want to make it and all, you know. And they don’t want to go back to the -- the Charlie Cannons and them taking them out of the mill, you know, and all, and taking them to their home and letting them babysit and all like that. They -- they’ve -- they’ve came a long way.

PEGGY: Absolutely.

MARY: And they can go -- you know. But these companies here in the South will still try to pit the blacks and white against one another, just like they do the 104:00-- the -- the Mexicans or, you know, the Vietnamese or Cambodians. You know, to them, they’re going to use any tool that they’ve got that they think they can use because there still is a lot of racism. And you know, and they’ve going to -- they’re going to use it because if you keep people divided, then you’ve got them conquered.

PEGGY: Well, they tried to do that in our ’91 campaign because of -- of using the films that they did, and most of the strikes, they would show the black people that were involved with them and make sure they were up front in the pictures on them.

MARY: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: You know, so they could come back and say --

MARY: They tried --

PEGGY: -- “Well, the black people in your department, they’re the one that’s going to cause a strike.”

MARY: Mm-hmm. And they go into the black communities, you know. They’ve got their own consultant firms, black consultant firms -- Brown and Associates -- that come in and, you know, they go to the black neighborhoods, you know, where, you know -- to the churches and all - and say, “Look,” you know, “we want 105:00you to get on board with us. We want you to speak out,” you know. And then -- and sometimes, it’ll work, you know. But in Kannapolis, during this election, it didn’t work. So it couldn’t but I’ve -- I’ve been on one campaign in Virginia where it worked great. You know, they did -- I mean, the black ministers really preached against the union, and um, and everything, you know. And, um, but here Kannapolis, it didn’t work, because you know -- they know that usually, the blacks will vote for a union, so they have got to find their way of putting a stop to this.

GEORGE STONEY: Why -- why will the blacks --

MARY: Because the blacks know -- you know, they are better at -- at standing together.

PEGGY: Absolutely.

MARY: And they know that that’s what a union is, is it -- people standing together and all.

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DEAL: Certainly, the greatest thing I think is that the black churches not only preach the word of God and teach them the word of God -- they get together at their long meetings on Sunday and discuss the union. They discuss other things that can help the black people. They discuss where you can get welfare. They discuss where you get food stamps. They don’t think it’s a sin, like a white person, to talk about this in the house of God, and they are really helping their people more than the white churches in Kannapolis will do. I went to preachers here and asked them, “Well, how come you don’t announce in the pulpit that, uh, we need a union here?” They say, “Oh, Brother Deal, you can’t do that,” said, “They paved our parking lot, Brother Deal.” And he said, “Brother Deal, you can’t get involved in that. You might divide the church, and then I’d lose some members. And just think -- that’s 10% here and 10% there.” And so I seen what was really happening, and it’s a sin that it’s happened like that. But the black churches -- I thank God -- are telling the people the truth about not only the Bible, but the social issues 107:00of the day and the things that they can do to help the welfare of their people. Now, when I came to work in Fieldcr-- oh, in Cannon Mills in 1961, I had just got out of service. I went, and I couldn’t believe it -- Colored Only bathroom, Colored, White -- I mean, White Person bathroom over here. And I’m thinking, “I just come out of the service. Everybody went in the same bathroom,” you know. I go to the water fountain -- Colored Only. I go over here -- White Only water fountain. I’m thinking, “Man, if I hadn’t have seen the difference, and people are all one family, I wouldn’t believe what’s happening here.” And everybody -- every black man made only the same wage. In 1961, the black man was paid minimum wage. It didn’t matter how smart, how much harder he worked than his friend over -- or his neighbor. He was suppressed down to minimum wage. OK, then, in ’65, they said, “Oh, 108:00we’re going to give you brothers a chance.” They said, “Ones that work a little harder and willing to produce, we’re going to put you on production over here.” And I’ve had them same brothers stand back and say, “Boy, they really messed up,” said, “All us brothers were happy and enjoying life and sitting around telling jokes and -- and rattling our chains,” but said, “Now, that guy over there makes a dollar more in a day than I do, and it makes me mad.” Now, I’m telling it from the heart. That’s what happened. And they thought they wanted the same. They thought they wanted the same pay -- I mean more pay and all that. But then, they got to where they was kind of bickering at each other. They said, “Well, John over kissed the boss man, and he got that job that pays a dollar more an hour than I make,” and all that. So I seen a big change there, but I do think God that in the black churches here in Kannapolis they not only teach the word of God. They teach you how to help yourself and help your family.

MARY: Well, I think Martin Luther King, you know, was the biggest and all 109:00influence, and which I think a lot of the younger generations of the black are forgetting a lot of that. I think, you know, the parents aren’t -- you know, education, and I mean education in the home, you know. And, um, I wasn’t educated in the home about a union. I got out and learned about it on my own, you know, but I’ve got a son that -- my son’s educated about the union, and I think that this is where a lot of it’s going to have to come in, you know, that -- that -- that people that are involved in unions are going to have to teach their children and, uh, what it’s all about. It’s basically --

PEGGY: Well, their families are so much closer knit than the white people are anyway. And one thing -- when they -- when they get under oppression, the black people remember that oppression, and they keep talking it and keep talking it. They never let another generation forget where they were. But white people, when they come under oppression, it only last for a season, and then they forget about it. They don’t -- they don’t remember how hard it was for our mothers 110:00and fathers in the ’30s to make a living. Um, when my mother went to work in -- f-- in Cannon Mills, she made 10 cent an hour, and she worked 10 hours a day.

DEAL: Yeah.

PEGGY: So she made one dollar a day, and she kept up seven children.

DEAL: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: And was a widow. So, I mean, you know, we forget about that oppression that we were under, when we had ration stamps in the ’40s. And I can remember many a time her having to take so many ration stamps to go get a bag of sugar, and we didn’t dare waste that sugar because, if we did, she would beat the daylights out of us because it -- we couldn’t get any more. And that had to do for everything that she cooked, when we had kerosene to, to cook the food with, because we had a four-burner kerosene stove. And some people today wouldn’t even know what one looked like. But now, when my brother was sent out to get five gallons of kerosene, he’d better not tarry around. He’d better come back with that five gallons of kerosene, because that cooked for us all week long and kept us warm, you know?

MARY: Mm-hmm.

111:00

HELFAND: Did your mother ever talk about how she dealt with problems in the mill, that she could talk back to her boss?

PEGGY: Well, now, like I said, she was an outspoken person. And when she had a problem, she went straight to her boss man and told him. And if he didn’t do anything about it, she would tell him, “All right, here’s your job. I’ll go home.” Uh, for instance, they used to put the women to sweeping in the -- w-- in the spinning rooms, and that’s where she worked -- the number one spinning. And if they came in and they didn’t have enough work to, to spin all that night, then they would take certain women off and make them sweep that night. And she told them that she wasn’t hired to sweep or -- she was hired to spin. So on those nights, she would get -- walk back home, because that was after the, the bus had already run, and that was the only way you could get to work, was to either walk or c-- ride that bus.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, we’ve -- back in the ’30, there seemed to be a good bit of what we now call sexual harassment. They hardly mentioned it back then.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

112:00

GEORGE STONEY: But we found in some court cases where they actually brought some supervisors up, uh, on charges.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So we started asking other people, and a lot of people have said, yes, it did happen back there. Is that just an-- an-- a non-issue now?

MARY: No.

PEGGY: No, I don’t think so.

MARY: No.

PEGGY: Uh-uh.

MARY: No way. It is still going on big time. And how -- and I guess as long as you have men and women working together, you know, and all, that it’s going to continue. But it -- it’s still a problem. As much of a problem -- probably more so -- and all, today, than it even was. And especially in a -- in a -- in a non-union plant. And now, because, like I say, women are -- here are -- like everything else, they’re afraid to speak out. You know, I had one woman to tell me that her supervisor -- the fixer wouldn’t fix her machine. He told 113:00her -- he said, well, don’t you think if you’d go out with him --

DEAL: Mm-hmm.

MARY: -- that maybe you’d get your s--

DEAL: I have known cases like that.

MARY: Your machine --

PEGGY: Yeah.

MARY: -- fixed. So, you know, and that’s not the only example that --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MARY: -- I’ve heard of here. You know, I’ve of people quitting their jobs because of their supervisors. Because if they go higher up, supervisors stick together. And, you know -- and it wouldn’t do -- the woman knew -- they know that it’s not gonna do them that much good to go higher up.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

PEGGY: One case in point -- one case in point, in Fieldcrest, a lady that was timekeeper in gray goods, she kept having trouble before they put the cameras on top of the mill and everything so they could spy on the parking lots. Uh, she kept having trouble. One night, she came out and her seat covers was all slashed. Somebody slashed them with a knife. Next night she come out, two of her tires were slashed. And it was the boss man on second shift in the weave 114:00room that was doing it, simply because she would not go out with him.

DEAL: Hm.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned the cameras on the top of the mill looking down at the parking lot.

PEGGY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: In the ’30s, they had machine guns up there. (laughs)

DEAL: Yeah.

PEGGY: Yeah, and the barbed wire. And barbed wire.

GEORGE STONEY: Now they’ve got cameras.

DEAL: That’s --

MARY: And now there’s all the cameras.

DEAL: That’s something (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

MARY: Same --

DEAL: But you can kill a man with words and, uh, movies like, uh --

F1: Mm-hmm.

DEAL: -- they show up there before, uh, and during the election. You can kill a person with, uh, words.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

DEAL: And you can kill them with, uh, showing them violence. And to me, that replaced the machine gun.

F1: Mm-hmm.

DEAL: And another thing that I’ve noticed in the mill, talking about females, uh, I’m glad we got good leaders in our union that’s females. And I know for a fact, by being a supervisor, that I’d start to put somebody on a job, they said, “Hell, boy, don’t put that man over there.” They said, “That’s a woman’s job. Saves a hell of a lot of work in there.” (laughter) Said, said, “Put a woman on that.” In other words they the only ones that’ll work that hard.

PEGGY: That’s right.

115:00

DEAL: Eight hours. I’m not making that up, brother.

PEGGY: Exactly right.

DEAL: All I’m gonna do is tell the truth, and the truth will set L. Boyd Deal free.

MARY: And, you know, like I say and all, it is amazing to and all that, that people do not realize. And maybe --

PEGGY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

MARY: -- you know, it’s just as, as bad in other industries, as what goes on in the textile industry. You know, other people that has never been associated with the textile industry don’t know what the workers, you know... And even now, you can try to explain it to them -- the conditions in these plants and these textile plants is, is -- versus an automobile plant or something like that. And to these people, well, you know, you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is not true. You know, I’ve got families that are -- that are -- one of -- you know, I’ve got a brother, a supervisor. I’ve got a brother that is a truck driver. And, you know, one of them’s union and the other one’s not, and you’d still talk to both of them. And they have no 116:00idea. They think that there’s laws out here, that these companies can’t do this -- can’t treat people the way that they do in these textile mills. They actually think that. And you say, “They can.” You know, these people have got nothing unless they’ve got a union. “Oh, you know, they can get them a lawyer and they...” Well, who can afford to get a lawyer? You know and you would be surprised at the people here that think they can -- that, um, that company can do something to them. And they can go to the labor board and file charges against that company. And we all know that’s not true nowadays. You know, you can’t go. If you’re trying to form a union, and I’m not, you know, blaming the, the labor board. I’m blaming the politicians that have, have hurt the workers through the laws.

PEGGY: That’s right. There’s just too much red tape.

117:00

MARY: You know, and all, because during the trial here, you know, the labor board has been fantastic.

DEAL: They have.

MARY: I have to say that, you know, and all. But, you know, you have people come in here and all, and I had a, a man that come in here today, 61 years old. A little 24-year-old supervisor slammed the door on his hand, like they broke his hand and all, and accused him of being asleep. And I had to tell the man, you know, “You can call the labor board. They’ll tell you the same thing. You wasn’t outspoken in the election. We can’t prove, you know, that they’re doing this because of your union, because you were for the union. And I’m sorry. All I can tell you to do is, you’d better watch yourself. Because they will get rid of you.” And this man is 61 years old. And, you know, it’s hard for other people to imagine this going.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MARY: This going on --

118:00

GEORGE STONEY: Judy?

MARY: -- out here, but it does.

HELFAND: Um, I’m wondering if you could, um -- the room looks kind of empty. I know it’s one of your last --

MARY: How much longer are we gonna go? (laughs)

GEORGE STONEY: We’re just about through.

HELFAND: Five minutes. That’s it. OK.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

DEAL: Well, let -- I, I hope this ain’t on there, but I’d like to say this. The --

GEORGE STONEY: Don’t say it if it -- because we’re -- we are --