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Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Julius Fry was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, in 1912. In 1927, Fry left school to work as a weaver in the Mansfield Mill. He describes working there during the early years of the Great Depression and his growing awareness of the labor movement. Fry explains that his first knowledge of the labor movement came with his observation of the textile strike in Gastonia in 1929. His interest in labor activism intensified during the early years of the Great Depression when he faced shortened hours and wage cuts as a textile worker. Fry describes the reaction of workers to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the rise of the New Deal. In particular, Fry emphasizes the role of the National Recovery Administration and the Wagner Act as especially pivotal moments that shaped his thoughts on labor activism. Likening these measures to "emancipation of the slaves," he increasingly advocated for workers' rights. In 1937, he participated in the organization of a union in Lumberton. Fry describes in detail how the union was founded, the role of labor organizer Miles Horton in garnering support for the union, the support of North Carolina Senator Robert R. Reynolds, and the reaction of Mansfield Mill management. In 1943, Fry left his job in the textile mill to work full-time for the Textile Workers Union of America. He explains his job as a contract negotiator between unions and employers and his interaction with the War Labor Board.
    Excerpts
  • Wage cuts in a textile mill during the Great Depression
  • Impact of the National Recovery Administration in one southern textile mill
  • Social divisions within a working community
  • Role of company stores in generating employee debt
  • Establishment of a union in Lumberton, North Carolina
  • One effective leader within the labor movement
  • Political support of the labor movement in North Carolina
  • Learning leadership and collective bargaining in the union
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Trade-unions--Textile workers--Southern States
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

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