Cynthia Haynes and Mill Workers Interview 1

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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0:00

 LEWIS:-- been around a long time.

F1: And this is 1939?

GEORGE STONEY: ’34.

F1: ’34? Was you born then Bob?

BONNIE: Sure.

F1: Was you born then Bob?

BOB: What? (inaudible) Work in forty-four in that spinning room.

F1: (inaudible)

BOB: In that spinning room.

F1: (inaudible)

BOB: In that spinning room forty-four.

F1: Forty-four years?

BOB: Yeah, I think it might have been forty-six.

LEWIS: (inaudible) talking about the difference in (inaudible).

(inaudible conversation)

LEWIS: Okay.

BOB: (inaudible)

1:00

LEWIS: Okay.

BOB: I didn’t know this was gonna happen today, I knew it was gonna happen.

LEWIS: Exactly what.

BONNIE: (inaudible)

LEWIS: Bob let me ask you this, as far as your coworkers and so forth, was there anyone just fearful just totally you (inaudible) to the point they would not talk union those days versus now. Can you see a difference in that?

BOB: Yeah. They’ll talk it now, where back then they were scared to say anything.

LEWIS: At all, if you mentioned union to them they’d just take off like --

BOB: Like scared.

CYNTHIA HAYNES: You can still see that in the older folks in the mills.

BONNIE: I gotta ask you something.

HAYNES: Talking about union.

BOB: (inaudible) young folks, I ain’t scared.

(laughter)

HAYNES: I know your not.

LEWIS: You thirty-nine.

HAYNES: But y ou’re, you’re an exception to that rule.

BONNIE: Okay, what I wanted to ask you was, the ones that are in the spinning room, that are anti-union, they won’t take leaflets and all, but do you have 2:00any idea why they feel so strongly against the union?

BOB: No Bonnie I think it’s mostly like he said, you know, being afraid. And they don’t want people seeing them associating with union or doing anything. You notice how I take and read over papers --

BONNIE: Oh yeah, you sign all the petitions we bring.

BOB: I’m not scared of nobody and if everybody could be that way it would be different.

BONNIE: It would be one hundred percent.

F2: Yeah.

BONNIE: (inaudible)

LEWIS: Do you feel in your opinion Bob, based upon what you were saying that, if the union were to organize in the right way, in which you saying you seeing a lot of activity now in the things that we’re doing. Do you feel that the union over a period of time, if they do the right things, people will begin to get really involved, for the right cause, if it’s going to the right cause, do you think people will be more likely to get involved.

BOB: They would all, all be more stronger yes.

3:00

LEWIS: Good, good.

BOB: (Inaudible)

HAYNES: Yeah it is.

BOB: You got some of those that are afraid. They’re really afraid. But if something happens they want you to help them.

LEWIS: Yes, yes, we have a lot of people come up and the only time they come up is when they’re really feel like there’s been an unjust, you some injustice done toward them that was really grossly wrong. And they come forth out of the fact that this is the only recourse that they have, is to come to the union for support, and that’s when we step in. And once we talk to them they have the tendency to open up and come out of that that shell that they’ve been, you know, somewhat pushed into and intimidated into years back. So we have seen a lot of that when people are put in situations where they’re in the corner and have to come out swinging.

F1: You finished?

LEWIS: Yes.

F1: Uh, Bob, if you had the chance to join the union would you join?

BOB: You know I would.

(Laughter)

4:00

F1: Wait, wait, wait.

LEWIS: yes he said he’d join it.

BOB: Well I had right after you know –- when I was a union member, the union, they just kinda got scared of something, it dwindled. And almost completely quit. They were still some of us who were strong. And they made non-bargaining before I knew I was non-bargaining. Took my name off the seniority board. And I didn’t know it was off until one of the hands told me it was. And after they made me non-bargaining I couldn’t join the union. And the union started growing again. A union representative came to my house and I sit down and talk to him like I’m talking to you and told him I cannot join. I’m non-bargaining now. I cannot be for the union or for the company, but you’ll find I’m as fair a person as you’ll ever see. And I’ll try to be that way. 5:00And I’ve talked to the supervisors even. A lot of times when they have a problem they’ll come to me, or talk to me, and I’m non-bargaining. They’ll come and talk to me and I’ll tell them be fair and honest in anything you do.

F2: (inaudible)

LEWIS: But let me ask you this Bob, in regards to the symbol and the image of the union, as far as the symbolic nature of this hall, right here you across the street from the main plant. Can you vison, or can you think back in the ‘30s and ‘40s ever vision that this would take place? That we could be as open as we are?

BOB: (Inaudible)

LEWIS: Right. So this is somewhat of a I would say a—

BOB: The people maturing.

LEWIS: The people maturing. And labor as a whole possibly coming around --

BOB: Come of age.

LEWIS: Come of age, good point, good point, good (inaudible)

F1: (inaudible)

6:00

GEORGE STONEY: One thing I’ve noticed, I was at the Miami convention, and I notices that some of the, it seemed to me the strongest group of people there were the blacks, and they’ve had the shortest history in the union. Can anybody explain that? Or am I just crazy?

LEWIS: Well if I could take a shot at it, were in, the blacks are more strongly vocal in what they feel is right and wrong. I think it has, it goes back to the struggle that I feel personally that black has, the black people have had to contend with. And history has shown that blacks have always been in the struggle, and I think once you live it you know, day in day out it comes more or less natural and you instinctively do it. It’s a situation I think where you would just go out and you know talk to someone maybe have not –- see blacks 7:00growing up now that has not seen the struggle that I have seen are not as open or they look at the struggles that we go through in the ‘60s, which I was a part of, but in my early teens then. People if they do not experience that and live that than there is a different approach and you feel different about it. I think that is the difference between white and the black races. That’s one point that I think some people really hadn’t looked at. I think everybody is aware of it but not talked about it. It’s just the black struggle and the movement that blacks had to go through to win voting rights and etcetera.

STONEY: Anybody else want to talk about that?

F1: Me? Oh. (laughter)Well I’m gonna leave it alone cause I believe [Lewis?] 8:00said it enough. (inaudible)[Mary?] See Lewis is old her than me he knows more.

LEWIS: Well what about Cindy or Bonnie do you want to—

BONNIE: The way I feel about it it’s not a reverse side. I feel like blacks didn’t have the rights that they should have had for so long, you, and when they do get they deserve and everything, they’re gonna fight for them and struggle to keep what they’ve got, that’s the way I feel about it.

LEWIS: Good point. Good point.

F1: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: I was talking with a fellow the other day and he was saying that for a long time there were blacks—there were almost no black supervisors. So the blacks were united you know as workers, because they were always against the white supervisors. He says now that you’re getting black supervisors there is just the same old tricks.

LEWIS: Right.

9:00

GEORGE STONEY: By supervisors. Black or white supervisors pulling against the workers.

LEWIS: Yes.

BONNIE: That’s the way it always is.

LEWIS: Yeah, it, it,-- And I think looking at that from that point, form the way you put the question now, or the statement, is that once management or supervision you get that mentality that you’re, you know, have to do certain thing and that’s what the job’s requiring you to do the best you can. But in my working experience I have found that black supervisors or people that put in executive positions and so forth have a tendency to be somewhat even more, I would say stern than others, uh, supervisors that are white. Based on the fact I think it goes back to, once you’re given an opportunity hitting the point that Bonnie made, you try to the best you can and by the image of what management stands for the average worker. That black supervisors once they get there have 10:00a tendency to go over board and even somewhat alienate a lot of people in that respect. And I do have the point that I want to make is a lot of black workers that I know are under black supervisors and so forth, feel that black supervisors are tougher one them than any other race. I think they look at it as they can do that because they have been put in a different somewhat position than blacks themselves. And it’s a lot of things that people maybe don’t really understand and look at. And it’s very difficult. And blacks talk about it amongst themselves quite a bit. Once a black supervisor get there they’re harder to deal with than you know a white supervisor a lot of the times.

GEORGE STONEY: Then one final question, uh, what are you telling your children about the union?

LEWIS: If that’s addressed to the group I guess I can start first cause I’m gonna sweat out of here, but I’m telling my kids number one religiously, my 11:00kids know what I do and what my job requirements are and they are very strong and very supportive of that. And they know that there is a struggle down here and they know the difference and what I’m trying to teach them the difference between labor and management and what labor stands for. And to be pro-union and to do the right thing because that is what—and try to bring other people together and educate their friends and so forth that they associate with about the labor movement. And give them a little history so that hopefully that we can hand down this, our, you know heritage of a labor movement to our kids wherein it won’t be as difficult for them to grab hold to and carry on once we’re gone. So it, it—

GEORGE STONEY: I’m going to ask you to say that again and say it in about a third the time.

LEWIS: Third the time.

(laughter)

LEWIS: Well what I’m doing is teaching my kids primarily what the labor movement is all about. What it represents and how to continue the struggle 12:00after I am gone and to carry it on in to our kids and so forth.

BONNIE: Okay I tell my kids that what the union -- they believe in the union already you know. And I tell them that I’m fighting for my rights and for their rights and hopefully they won’t have the struggles that we have now you know. And I believe they’ll both -- I got two kids and I believe that they’ll both be pro-union. I know my daughter already is, she’s sixteen. (phone rings)

F1: Well my kids, well I have three of them (phone rings) and they know what I do in the union and they know why I do it. (phone rings) And they tell me, they says “Mama when you go over to that union hall, do you run your mouth like you do at home?”

(Laughter)

F1: I says “When I go to work if I’m –- I speak for myself, if I’m in the right I’m going to say what I have to say, if I’m in the wrong I’m going to say what I have to say." But anyway the union is a part of my life and 13:00the people that works along beside me is a big part of my life. It’s, I’m gonna explain this to you, the union, seventeen years ago didn’t mean nothing to me, now it’s a big part of it. And it means a lot, and I’m gonna stick it out. All the way.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay anybody else?

F1: Get it (inaudible) you know what you want to say.

F2: No I don’t. Well I tell my youngins they believe in something, fight for it. Stick up for yourself.

F1: That’s right.

M1: Hello! Hello!

F3: Well I have two daughters and my youngest daughter wants to be a lawyer, and they know that I’ve recently rejoined the union. And we sit down and discuss more or less what it’s about and the fact that no matter which way you go in life you have to be honest, fair and do the right thing. Try to help yourself, 14:00pull yourself up and as well as help other people and that’s just about the whole thing in a nut shell. Which way they want to go in life will really be up to them, and I’m just trying to lay out a certain foundation here. Finically I can’t do as fantastic job but being a poor person I do the best I can. Hopefully they will have great memories and well just a little variety of things they can relate to later in life that will that will eventually do wonders for them.

BOB: My children are gone. They are grown and gone, and they even try and tell me what to do.

F4: Well mine’s three and it’s not -- I’m trying to bring him up teaching him. He does know what the union hall is. He does know [Art?] and the rest of the people that are in the home. And he just got a long ways to go right yet. 15:00But I’m gonna teach him what’s right.

HAYNES: I don’t have any children.

F1: Yes she does, she has us.

(laughter)

BONNIE: All my children.

GEORGE STONEY: I think that does it Jamie.

JAMIE STONEY: Okay.

GEORGE STONEY: Thank you very much.