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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Political linking of unions with Communism inhibits organizing nationwide

Although the membership of Textile Workers Union reached its peak in 1948, labor activism waned nationally. Burgess explains how politicians used red baiting to prevent an increase of labor organizing.

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

BILL FINGER:
What was the mood in 1947 in a place like Rock Hill when textile workers had really only gotten credibility in the war years, War Labor Board...
DAVID BURGESS:
Actually, in point of fact, in terms of absolute membership, the Textile Workers Union reached its height in '48, nationally speaking. Then the textile magnates started closing down plants in the North. The union drive in the South did not succeed-with few exceptions. I was not involved in the Cannon drive in Kannapolis, North Carolina. I was literally run off from Springs Mills, in the literal sense of the word. I got deeply involved in politics, helped a man by the name of Cobb to run unsuccessfully against Richards, Congressman Richards. We gave him a good race, but they were just too much. The union was almost over-identified with Cobb...
BILL FINGER:
Labor support hurt him then?
DAVID BURGESS:
Yes. The charge was that there were alleged communist organizers from the North writing his speeches and financing his campaign. I remember going to a radio station, and helping Cobb fold his pages of his speech text. This was a bad mistake. The radio station got the word back to the newspaper.