Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Textile mill owners prevent union organizing by any means necessary

J.P. Stevens, owner of several South Carolina mills, broke the backs of the CIO union with the use of chicanery and other intimidation tactics.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DAVID BURGESS:
... and I spent more than a year trying to organize J. P. Stevens' Aragon Mill in Rock Hill, S.C. We failed. It was a very bitter defeat, but this was the second attempt since, I think, early '48 and it was a very, very tragic time . . . I worked very hard house to house, day and night.
BILL FINGER:
How long had Stevens owned Aragon Mills?
DAVID BURGESS:
I don't know. He also owned the nearby Industrial Mills where there was a recognized TWUA-CIO union. A few years later by most illegal means such as framing some union members and causing them to be jailed, the textile plant officials were able to smash the union itself.
BILL FINGER:
How many people on the staff?
DAVID BURGESS:
Well, I was leader of the group, and I had, I'd say five or six people working under me. The industrialists had the minister bought. They used all sorts of questionable methods. They depended on a lawyer from Charlotte.