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Title: Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Fry, Julius, interviewee
Interview conducted by Finger, William
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 180 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-08-31, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series E. Labor. Southern Oral History Program Collection (E-0004)
Author: Bill Finger
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, June 17, 1974. Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series E. Labor. Southern Oral History Program Collection (E-0004)
Author: Julius Fry
Description: 167 Mb
Description: 46 p.
Note: Interview conducted on August 19, 1974, by Bill Finger; recorded in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series E. Labor, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974.
Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Fry, Julius, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JULIUS FRY, interviewee
    BILL FINGER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BILL FINGER:
Julius, I guess that the best place to start is how you first got interesteed in textile workers, in the labor movement. Was that in your hometown of Lumberton?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes. On April 20, 1937, I attended a meeting of organizers that came to town, an organizer for the then new Textile Workers organizing committee. And I joined TWOC at that time.
BILL FINGER:
This is Lumberton, North Carolina?
JULIUS FRY:
Lumberton, North Carolina. I was a worker in the plant, the old Mansfield Mills, Inc. in east Lumberton.
BILL FINGER:
How old were you then? When the TWOC people came in? Were you still a young worker, only been in the mills. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
I was 25.
BILL FINGER:
25.
JULIUS FRY:
I was born in 19. . . November 12, 1912. I think that's 25.
BILL FINGER:
Had your parents worked in the mills there in Lumberton?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, my father worked in that plant as a loom fixer from 1926, which was the year that we moved from Erwin, North Carolina to Lumberton. And he worked in the Mansfield Mills until his death in the spring of 1928.

Page 2
BILL FINGER:
And then you stayed on in Lumberton with your mother?
JULIUS FRY:
With my mother and only sister. I became the head of the household and started supporting the family. No, no, excuse me a minute. That's when I went to work in Lumberton. I was, at that time, about 14 years of age.
BILL FINGER:
You started working in the mills when you were. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
In 19. . . I had just finished most of high school and went to work. . . it was possibly in the early part of 1927.
BILL FINGER:
How much did you make in 1927?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, when I first started, I worked for nothing and so I learned to become a weaver. And after I became a weaver, I would make $18 to $20 a week at that time.
BILL FINGER:
How many hours a week is that?
JULIUS FRY:
60. 12 hours from six to six, with supposedly an hour for a meal break, but if you didn't get back to the job in 20 minutes, then you lost your job to someone who would cut that period short.
BILL FINGER:
And people worked for that because they needed the money that bad?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they didn't want to lose their job and that was required. It was the only job they had.
BILL FINGER:
Was the Mansfield Mill a local, you know, a single family mill?
JULIUS FRY:
It was a locally owned mill. There was a connection with another mill across the town in north Lumberton called Jennings Cotton Mills. And the president of both mills, as I recall it, was a Mr. Jennings. I don't remember his name.
BILL FINGER:
So, you started to work there about 1928?
JULIUS FRY:
No, about 1927.

Page 3
BILL FINGER:
1927. Do you remember the strikes in Gastonia and Marion?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, I was working in the plant. I don't particularly remember the Marion strike, but I do the Gastonia strike. And one reason that I remember it so well was that the supertindent of that plant, after the strike, came to Lumberton and became the supertindent of the plant at Mansfield. I believe he was supertindent in Gastonia, he at least came from there. He was some official and became supertindent at Mansfield and was consequently my employer.
BILL FINGER:
What's his name, do you remember?
JULIUS FRY:
Morehead.
BILL FINGER:
He was the supertindent during all that violence and everything over at. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
I believe so. That was the word. You can look back in your records and find out. He had one sort of a bad eye, it was crossed and he was a tall man, about six feet, six it looked light.
BILL FINGER:
When he came over, did people in Lumberton. . . how far is Lumberton from Gastonia? It's not too far is it?
JULIUS FRY:
125 miles to Charlotte, 140 miles, something like that, up U.S 74.
BILL FINGER:
120. Had it. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, it's 20 miles from Charlotte to Gastonia, about 140 miles.
BILL FINGER:
Had his reputation, you know, had it come before him to Lumberton? Did you all know who he was?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, back then I wasn't as new conscious as I am now, and all I know is that the talk was that he came from there and I'm sure that he did. But nothing except remarks would be passed, "He's the guy that was in Gastonia."
BILL FINGER:
But ya'll felt some sympathy with the workers in Gastonia?

Page 4
JULIUS FRY:
Oh yes, yes.
BILL FINGER:
No formal connection, though, with the strike itself? You never went over there and. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
No, no. We had no unions back there at this time. We organized while Morehead was there, in 1937. That was 1937. The strikes in Gastonia, as I recall it, must have occurred about '29, wasn't it?
BILL FINGER:
Yes.
JULIUS FRY:
And the '34 strike, had the flying squadrons and all, we were very interested in that.
BILL FINGER:
I was getting ready to ask you about that. You must have been right in that sweep that. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Right in that period. And I recall that one of the workers in the plant, whom I knew, left the plant. And I didn't know why. I understand that he had been trying to get some sort of a union started in that '34 period. And they had fired him.
BILL FINGER:
There at Mansfield Mills?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes. And he would get out on the highway or somewhere and telephone over there and say, "The flying squadrons are coming, I just want to tip you off." And the company would stretch water hoses around the mills and have armed shotgun guards walking around trying to confront these flying squadrons when they got there. And he made several of those calls and kept them very. . . .
BILL FINGER:
He called who now?
JULIUS FRY:
He called the company and said, "The flying squadrons are on the way to close you down."
BILL FINGER:
Why would he call the company?

Page 5
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they had fired him and they weren't coming, he was just telling them that, it was a war of nerves that he was playing with them. And they would stretch the hose out and have certain people walking with shotguns guarding the plant. There was no fence around the plant and they later found out that he was the one doing the calling.
BILL FINGER:
How many people worked there?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, in the whole plant, about that time, I guess that there might have been about 1100.
BILL FINGER:
And did the flying squadrons ever actually come?
JULIUS FRY:
They never actually came.
BILL FINGER:
Why did they skip Lumberton?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they didn't go everywhere. It was physically impossible. They just didn't come there. It was off the beaten path, you know. Lumberton is a little. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Where is Lumberton?
JULIUS FRY:
It's near Fayetteville. It's 33 miles south of Fayetteville. It might be maybe directly south.
BILL FINGER:
As far as you know, flying squadrons didn't get over that far east? It was more. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, they didn't come to that plant. I was in the plant all the time. Now another. . . since I'm talking about flying squadrons. . . another incident that I remember about that time, was that one of the lower echelon supervisors who was a friend of mine came to me one day and said, "Julius, we got word that these union flying squadrons are coming to town. And if they do, we've got a bunch of picker sticks in the office. And if they do come, I want you to go by and get one and let's fight them off." And I recall saying to him, "Well, I'll just be damned if I'll do that. Anybody that's trying to

Page 6
help me, I'll be damned if I'm going to beat them in the head with a picker stick." And now, picker stick was a hickory stick about 1 by 2½ inches by 40 inches length. You use it on a loom to throw the shuttle from one end of the loom to another.
BILL FINGER:
How did he happen to come to you, Julius?
JULIUS FRY:
He went to everybody.
BILL FINGER:
He went to everybody? He didn't go to all 1100 people, he must have. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, this was in the weave room. Apparently, they may have done that in all the other departments too. There was probably 150 people employed in the weave room on all three shifts. Well, I'm not sure that they were running three shifts at that time, but. . . well, it's hazy to me.
BILL FINGER:
But with that kind of activity in 1934 happening in so many places, you seek out the union to see if the United Textile Workers, to see what that union was all about?
JULIUS FRY:
No, I didn't. I was, as I just said, I was young and had never heard of. . . well, I had read some about unions and I felt the need for something, but I knew very little about unions.
BILL FINGER:
Did you know anything about the United Textile Workers at all?
JULIUS FRY:
No, I just heard about unions. Names didn't mean anything to me.
BILL FINGER:
While we are talking about that period, did you ever hear of the Piedmont Organizing Committee, or Miles Horton?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, Miles Horton is the one that organized the plant that I worked in.
BILL FINGER:
Is that right? In 1937?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah.
BILL FINGER:
Well, tell me about that. How did that happen?

Page 7
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he was. . . if you know Miles, you may or may not, he was quite a fellow that knew how to arouse people, especially if they had grievances, and there were plenty of them in that plant. We had just come through the Depression and there had been many wage cuts. And so, Miles came in and pushed the right button and we would have rallies, 800, 900, 1000 people out there. And in the open air, out in an open field near the mill. There was an open lot near the mill.
BILL FINGER:
Open Air? Is that what you said?
JULIUS FRY:
Near the mill.
BILL FINGER:
From 1934 to 1937, when you said that Miles came in, do you remember what kind of wage cuts, were there lots of people laid off from work?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, during the Depression, the plants curtailed operations down to as little as two days a week and sometimes down at a week at a time. We had several wage cuts. I recall three at least. One of them was where Morehead called a group together at shift change time. . . that's right, we were still on a. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Three shifts or two shifts?
JULIUS FRY:
Wait just a minute. He called them together at shift change time, I believe that Turner was the supertindent then. See, without having my notes, I wander, but I will try to get things in. The supertindent before Morehead was Turner. So, Turner called a meeting and I don't know, he must have called two meetings, one on the night shift and one on the day. . . anyhow, I was on the day shift at that time. And he called a meeting and told everyone how bad off the company was and, "we've just got to cut wages, we've just got to do it. So, I'm announcing a 15% wage reduction immediately." Some of the people in the crowd actually applauded. Now, whether or not he had them planted, I don't know, but I recall that some of them were considered by the other workers to be sort

Page 8
of company pimps, more or less, or stooges. At least, they were afraid to talk around them for fear that the boss would hear it. So, they actually applauded. And then on two other occassions, he had two other meetings and announced a 10% decrease. . . .
BILL FINGER:
After that?
JULIUS FRY:
After that, in each of those meetings.
BILL FINGER:
Now, you were making $60 a week, something like that?
JULIUS FRY:
No, I said $20.
BILL FINGER:
You said 60 hours, $20.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, 60 hours.
BILL FINGER:
$20 a week. And that was cut 15%?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, the wages were cut 15% at one pop and then 10% another and then again, 10% at another.
BILL FINGER:
And this is something like '35, '36?
JULIUS FRY:
That was during the period of the Depression. I would say from '31 on up to, well, late '29, '30, '31.
BILL FINGER:
Well, how did you live on that much money?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, we hunted and we fished and. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Did you have a family?
JULIUS FRY:
. . . .and we ate sowbelly and beans.
BILL FINGER:
Did you have the family to support?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, I was supporting the family then. My sister also went to work somewhere along in there. She's two years younger than I. And we supported the family. My sister now, incidentally, has byssinosis and has just made a settlement of a claim against Aleo Manufacturing Company in Rockingham.
BILL FINGER:
Aleo?

Page 9
JULIUS FRY:
A-L-E-O. That's a Lowenstein plant.
BILL FINGER:
Did she get that through the new regulations, or through her union?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, she became ill with the byssinosis and the doctors diagnosed it as bronchial trouble, asthma, something. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Where is this, Julius?
JULIUS FRY:
In Rockingham, North Carolina. And I told her that Inthought she had byssinosis, because she had all the symptoms, so we arranged for Dr. Selikof at Mt. Sinai in Washington under union auspices, at least behind the scenes, to have her come to Mr. Sinai and check her out. And she went to him three or four times, and finally, to eliminate all possibilites that it was anything else, she had a lung biopsy and he diagnosed it as byssinosis. She had a case here and just settled it this year.
BILL FINGER:
She settled through the state industrial commission?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
Well, you know, that brown lung is real important now, with the new regulations.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, well, she had it. And she was a weave room worker too, not in the carding and spinning, which is where it mostly happens.
BILL FINGER:
Do you have any ideas. . . this is jumping around a little bit. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, go on around, and I'll see if I know.
BILL FINGER:
Do you have any idea how many, say, textile workers in this state might have brown lung? How would you determine that?

Page 10
JULIUS FRY:
No. I don't know. There are some figures that have been, estimated figures by people that know, and you could get those figures from our research department. I believe that I have seen as high as 25% or 30%.
BILL FINGER:
But it's all guesses, isn't it, because doctors won't. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, and it's a fine line between byssinosis and cigarette smoking and they always try to crowd it, you know, if you smoke a cigarette, well, "there's doubt." You know, that sort of thing. And it's just like cigarettes causing cancer. They haven't yet found how it does it, but the figures show that it occurrs. And it's the same thing with byssinosis. To some extent.
BILL FINGER:
So, by the time that Miles Horton came in, you were down to $16 a week?
JULIUS FRY:
Less than that. I worked as low as $8 a week, as a weaver.
BILL FINGER:
Still a 60 hour week?
JULIUS FRY:
No, the hours shortened too, so I couldn't give you an exact extimate, but I know that the lowest rates in the plant at the time that Horton came in, no, not at the time he came in, I'm talking about during the Depression. The lowest rates were 6¢ a hour and I've seen one lady that had such a task that she had to have her two school children come in after school to help her catch it up for the end of the shift. And her and the two children together made maybe 6¢. . . no, they got paid 9¢, because the 6¢ was a low rate and she was on a battery filling job for weavers.
BILL FINGER:
Did the Mansfield encourage young children coming in at that time?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they didn't care. Back then, it was before the wage hour law, there was no law against it. And it was during the height of the Depression, about '31. And you know, Roosevelt came in about '32 and then

Page 11
the NRA came in and then in '37 or '34, maybe, the wage hour law, no, '38. The Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938, that's what it's called.
BILL FINGER:
Do you remember reading about the NRA and the Wagner Act?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, I remember all of it.
BILL FINGER:
Even at the time, before you had gotten interested. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yes. Let me tell you an incident.
On July 17, 1933, that was after Roosevelt was elected, the NRA came into effect in my plant and reduced my hours from 12 hours a day down to eight and increased my pay from about $8 a week to $12 minimum.
BILL FINGER:
How did that happen, without the law?
JULIUS FRY:
It was the executive order of the President. Someway or another, that was the way they established NRA. Now, the records are clear on that, you can look at them if you are interested. But the NRA established, that was the National Recovery Act, I believe it was. It was later declared unconstitutional. That's what touched off the court packing incident.
BILL FINGER:
But in the meantime, the Wagner Act got through, so. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, it got through in '35, I think it was. But my hours were reduced from 12 to eight and the pay was increased from $8 to $12 and that was such a tremendous thing to me and I was so attunded to it that I kept that date on one of the posts in the mill there. And if that old post is still there, that date is on it. But that was like the emancipation of the slaves. That's exactly what it was. And I felt highly emotional about it. Because we had been nothing up to then except slaves. And I really felt free. And I had so much time on my hands, getting off a two in the afternoon, I would go to work at six and get off at two, no break for lunch. And so much time for awhile there that I didn't know what to do with it. It was

Page 12
something new to me, and it just felt so peculiar.
BILL FINGER:
So, when you are using the term "Depression", you are only talking about up to 1933?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes. Of course, we were still in it, but the recovery started with the election of Roosevelt and the New Deal. He closed the banks immediately, put everything on sound footing. It was a very dramatic action to live through at that time. Especially as a lowly worker, you know, down at the bottom of the totem pole.
BILL FINGER:
So, Julius, tell me how. . . when you felt emancipated like that, you were only working eight hours a day. Did that continue even when the NRA was declared unconstitutional?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, when the NRA was unconstitutional in some sort of chicken case, it was the thing for managers to announce, "Well, we are going to stay on an eight hour day anyway." So, they announced it at Mansfield Mills, but it wasn't very long before they went back off it. It was only in 1938 that they made them go back to the eight hour day. They made them when they passed the law then. The Congress passed the wage hour law, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. And another offshoot of the Fair Labor Standards Act was that it made impractical the company stores. They had a company store that would issue coupons.
BILL FINGER:
All through these years?
JULIUS FRY:
All through these years. And so, the Fair Labor Standards Act said that the payment of the minimum wage had to be in cash or cash equivalent for actual cost. No profit was to be considered. So, that outlawed in effect, made it useless to have the company store. Now, if you want me to ramble, I'll tell you something about the company store.

Page 13
BILL FINGER:
Well, before we get to 1937, that's o.k., but I'm thinking about that from 1927 to 1937, you worked there in that Mansfield Mills. Ten years.
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I worked there until 1943 as a matter of fact.
BILL FINGER:
Well, ten years before a union came in, before you were actually involved with the union?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, there weren't any unions in there.
BILL FINGER:
During those ten years, you've mentioned some things, NRA and. . . what struck you the most about this mill time. Was it the company store, was it your co-workers, what was it?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, the thing that struck me the most was the stigma that we had because we were lint dodgers. The people that didn't work in the plant and who didn't live exactly on the village thought that they were better than we were. And some of them probably weren't making as much money as we were, even during that time. But they weren't cotton mill workers, they weren't lint dodgers.
BILL FINGER:
What did they do?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, a barber for instance, or maybe a clerk in a store, something in that nature.
BILL FINGER:
But there was no other industry, I mean, there was the mill and that was all that was there.
JULIUS FRY:
Well, it was a farming town and there had to be some little industry there, you know, regular construction work and stuff like that. But not anything of any large consequence. Those two mills, those were the payroll for the town. And there's just such a feeling of second class citizenship, because the people uptown were "better" than we were. That was

Page 14
the main thing. And I guess the basic difference.
BILL FINGER:
Did you all ever talk about that at the time?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, we resented it. And there have been writings about this, one expression of it would be that sometimes the uptown people like the barbers or somebody, would come down to court one of the girls in the mill village, there was a mill village there. And some of the guys would lay around and rock their automobile, that sort of stuff. It was just an outlet for the resentment that they had for the difference they had in status.
BILL FINGER:
But they would never rock the automobile of Morehead and those guys in management?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he didn't live in the village. He lived out on the highway in a big two storey house that the company furnished. He didn't live there. In other words, he was up a strata.
BILL FINGER:
Did you have to buy all your food through the company stores?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, not in the beginning, but in the height of the Depression, the supervisor came around to me, and I'm sure that they did it all over the mill, and they said, "Julius, do you trade at the company store?" And they knew that I didn't, because they had the records. I said, "No, I'm not trading there now, I'm buying from such-and-such." A little local grocer. And they would say, "Well, we think that maybe you ought to trade at the company stores, you know, the company gives you a job and if you like your job, and I know you do, there are not many to find, we think that you ought to trade at the company store." And put pressure on me and you knew that if you didn't, you would lose your job, so you would go trade at the company store. And they would be lenient with you, they would get you in debt. They would be lenient and give you more trade than you earned in the mill. And then after they got you so far behind, you never would draw any cash money.

Page 15
BILL FINGER:
Did that happen to you?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yes, it's happened to me. But I finally said, "To hell with this shit, I can't stand that." And I finally worked that off, but I've see people work ten years and never draw a penny's cash. And it became so necessary that the company owned the dairy, they would furnish the milk and if a worker needed a doctor, they would have to get the company store manager to vouch for them that he would pay them by taking it out of their paycheck. And it even got so far as to where movie tickets for a little theater downtown, a little tiny cubbyhole, you had to go to the company store to get those, you didn't have any cash money and they would let you have the.
BILL FINGER:
Were the prices a lot higher for all these things than in that little grocery store?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, they were, and it was common knowledge that one of the head clerks at the store, in a joking way, but it was serious, he would be overheard, and he would do it just to let them hear it, "By the way, So-And-So left today owing some money. Go up a cent a pound on sugar." Just do it openly, they would do it that way. And you could go out and as the manager to let you have a $5 book, or $1 check or a $1.50 check or a $10 book, that was coupons, you know, and he would pick up the phone and say, "How much time does So-and-So have? How much has he worked?" That was to see whether he had the money or not. If you didn't have it, you didn't get it. You were completely a slave to it.
BILL FINGER:
But you felt free from that too, in 1933?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, free from all of that. Well, the main freedom was that somebody was telling the company what they had to do and it was the government. And everybody knew it and Roosevelt was coming on the air with his fireside chats, and he really had the working people behind him.

Page 16
BILL FINGER:
Did you all talk about that at work, that kind of thing?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yes. I don't remember many of the discussions of it, not specifically, but it was. . . oh, everybody felt the same way. Roosevelt had the working people.
BILL FINGER:
You had time during the work day, there in the weave room, to talk to other people about. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, you would have to go to the restroom now and then, and that was where most of the conversations took place. And then you would come to the plant before shift time, it was common to sit out, to come down there ten or fifteen minutes early and sit out front, a whole gang, you know, and then the conversations would start. There and in the waterhouse they called it, the restroom, and at the water fountain. That's where you would do your talking.
BILL FINGER:
So, people felt like, after the NRA, they didn't feel as powerless for awhile there for two or three years?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they felt like they were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel there. "Here's hope." And then long about '35, you know, the CIO was formed and we would read the papers, I always got the Charlotte Observer then. We would read the papers, we wouldn't get the local papers, it was too much controlled by the local interests. And we would see in the papers about the steel workers and the strikes and the Ford workers. I remember in '37 that the Ford workers were parading through Detroit with masks over their faces to hide their identity and there were these security guards at Ford and if they became known, they would be fired. Well, with Roosevelt encouraging unionism and with news full of the organizing efforts of the basic industries, like steel, rubber and autos, we began to learn a little something about what a union was.

Page 17
BILL FINGER:
So you learned primarily at first from newspapers?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah.
BILL FINGER:
That was your main. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
And a radio. I had a radio back then. I know that I bought me a fine radio in 1937. A Stromberg-Carlson, no, a Stewart-Warren. And I got the best one that I could get and boy, I listened to the news. And another thing that should be mentioned, is that all during the time after Roosevelt was elected, he appointed Frances Perkins as Secretary of Labor and she really put out the information. You could get on her mailing list, and boy, you would really get the information.
BILL FINGER:
How did you happen to get on her mailing list?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I think that must have been after I got interested in the union, it must have been. Anyway, the unions could get on. . . I got all this information from the Secretary of Labor.
BILL FINGER:
Tell me the first thing that you remember about TWOC and Miles Horton and that whole drive?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, the first thing that I remember was that a fellow, Strickland, from Selma, North Carolina, who had some connection with the union. And he came to the plant, this was in 1937 on, it must have been the same day in April that we had the meeting, or that night. The first thing that he did, he went into Morehead and told him that he was there to organize the plant, that he was an organizer. He said, "I just want to tell you." And he had a purpose in doing it, to put him on notice that they were organizing so that if there were any discharges, they would be acknowledged, see. So, then we had. . . .
BILL FINGER:
You had the protection of the NLRB by then?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, by then. The NLRB was passed and started in '35, I think that it was. Or maybe declared constitutional. And so, the first meeting that

Page 18
I had was with this fellow Strickland and it was supposed to be in the courthouse downtown, which is in the center of the little town. And I got through some of the workers, they came and told me that they wanted me to come down there at night. I got word from one of the machinists or mechanics out in the machine shop. He said, "Come to the meeting tonight." And he told me, he said, "We're going to talk about the union." And I said, "Alright." And I went. . . .
BILL FINGER:
And he was able to get the courthouse as a meeting place?
JULIUS FRY:
That's another story, let me finish this one.
BILL FINGER:
O.K.
JULIUS FRY:
So, this fellow that told me about the meeting, he had a pickup truck and we loaded that pickup truck and rode downtown in the back of the truck. And we got there and the fellow was standing at the courthouse and he said, "We can't have the meeting here. They claimed that they had it rented already to someone else and didn't know it at the time." He said, "We'll have to meet in my room over here at the hotel." That was just across the street. And he happened to be on the second floor. And so we met there and he talked about the union and we all signed cards, including this man that I rode to town with. And then we looked out over across the street over there in the court yard and there were some people climbing up in the trees peeping over into the window. It later turned out to be company stooges that they got to come and peep in and see who all was in the room. And after the meeting broke up and we came out on the street, my supervisor was standing there writing down the names of the people that came out. And

Page 19
there was another supervisor from one of the other plants writing down names. So, the next morning, 22 people were discharged.
BILL FINGER:
Including yourself?
JULIUS FRY:
No. I was a very good mechanic, frankly, not bragging, and instead of discharging me, they just sort of demoted me, but I was still kept. I was heading an overhauling crew on looms at the time and they just said that they weren't going to have any more overhauling, they just demoted me.
BILL FINGER:
They needed you more than they needed. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
They needed me more and my supervisor kind of liked me, you know, and he. . . well, his brothers and I were friends, we ran around together and I think there was a little compassion there or something. He later came to me and said, "Julius, I hate to do this, but I've got to." He said, "Off the record, I would suggest that you not have anymore to do with that union." He had saved my job, is what he had done, but 22 others were discharged.
BILL FINGER:
So, what happened after that?
JULIUS FRY:
So, after that, charges were filed with the NLRB and somewhere down the line, Horton came on the scene. Miles and Zilphia.
BILL FINGER:
Miles and who?
JULIUS FRY:
Zilphia. Wasn't that her name? I believe that it was, Zilphia Horton.
BILL FINGER:
They both came?
JULIUS FRY:
I don't know if she was there every moment, but they were both there.
And he was so well liked. He was another emancipator. Everybody looked on him as an emancipator and some of the babies born down there during the strike, the one that later occurred and during the campaign, were later named "Miles."
BILL FINGER:
Is that right?
JULIUS FRY:
[laughter] Yeah.

Page 20
BILL FINGER:
Why did he have such a following?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he knew how to rabble-rouse, if you want to use that, I don't know if that's the correct term, but he knew how to arouse people. And he bitched that company, and it was the only way that it could be done, frankly. They were so under the thumb of the company, that it took those extreme methods, you know, to get people aroused.
BILL FINGER:
What do you mean extreme methods?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he knew how to use the right oratory and he critisized management and that phrase that they used down there, "to bitch the company", you know, and they needed it and it just happened to be the right issue. Because there were so many ills in that plant.
BILL FINGER:
He and Strickland were still there then?
JULIUS FRY:
No, when Miles came on the scene, Strickland went elsewhere. Strickland was just the first man that came in, the first meeting. And if he had another, I don't know it, because all those discharges, then the union shifted to Labor Board charges. And incidentally, if you want to do some research, you can go to the Labor Board files for the right up of that case. I think that it was one of the first cases, maybe the first in North Carolina.
BILL FINGER:
Where are the Labor Board files for North Carolina?
JULIUS FRY:
I don't know, you would have to. . . I think that maybe that the decision might be written up in some of the labor reporting. . . Labor Relations Reporter, I know that it was out about that time. That's B&A, I think and that decision may be written up, because it became very famous. At one time, the little mayor down there, who was appointed by the company, paid by the company, lead a march down to the man that was leading the organizing campaign, who was a worker in the plant. . . lead a group down to

Page 21
his house and. . . .
BILL FINGER:
What was his name?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, the man's name was Chester Manning, the man that they told to get out of time and. . . .give me a little time to think of the other man's name.
BILL FINGER:
O.K. What was the name of the case, now?
JULIUS FRY:
Mansfield Mills, Inc., Lumberton, North Carolina, 1937.
BILL FINGER:
And this was on those original. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Original charges.
BILL FINGER:
Original charges. When that first meeting happened?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes. And there were others whenever we had a strike there, a short strike and some were discharged following the strike and there were other cases following that. But Warren Madden, who was then chairman of the National Labor Relations Board had a news feud with this mayor. His name was Lamb, I'll think of this first name. And Warren Madden said that "the mayor of East Lumberton had soiled his judicial robes by leading a mob down to the union leader's house, and threatening him and ordering him to leave town." Warren Madden said that, there's national news on that.
BILL FINGER:
How did you get back interested yourself, when Miles came in?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, I didn't ever lose interest, I just cowed down for a little while with all those firings. I just believed in it. I just knew it was the thing to do. Like I said to that supervisor, "I'll be damned if I am going to fight somebody that's trying to help me." I was fully convinced that that was the only way out of the predicament that we were in.
BILL FINGER:
So, did you eventually have an election?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh yeah, we had an election in September of 1937 and were certified. A long series of bargaining and finally a contract was signed to

Page 22
be effective January 1, 1938. And immediately the plant announced closing down and they stayed closed down for six months. And that was our introduction to a union, to close the plant down. But ironically, there was a recession in 1938 and there was some economic basis for it. But they also thought that they could starve us out. But what happened, the union arranged. . . well, we already had WPA and they had a profound. . . .
BILL FINGER:
And CCC and. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, and they had a FSA, Farm Security Administration, so, I remember this. . . we used. . . I don't know if this ought to go on the record or not, but the union used the influence of Bob Reynolds, who ran then and became a senator on sort of a Populist ticket. He would go around in a T-Model Ford and eat caviar and make fun of the rich.
BILL FINGER:
That's a state senator?
JULIUS FRY:
No, U.S. Senator. And he's the one that married the McLean Diamond, Senator Robert R. Reynolds.
BILL FINGER:
Where was he from?
JULIUS FRY:
From Winston-Salem. He may be one of the black sheep of the family of the Reynoldses over there.
BILL FINGER:
I ought to know about him.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, you ought to look into all of this. But anyhow, through him, we arranged some sort of a project, or the union arranged it, to set up a project to take care of the workers who were closed down.
BILL FINGER:
He was running for the Senate?
JULIUS FRY:
He was already a Senator. He had already ran. And so, they set up a program for the workers down at the plant under the Farm Securities Administration. We dug ditches and cleared right of ways up around Pembroke, which is the Indian reservation.

Page 23
BILL FINGER:
So, you all, while that mill was closed. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
We were on a government program.
BILL FINGER:
You supported yourselves through FSA?
JULIUS FRY:
We did. I never will forget, I believe that Brewer, Seth Brewer, who was the typographical union man and sort of state director of our union at the time. . . .
BILL FINGER:
State director of Textiles?
JULIUS FRY:
TWOC at that time. I believe that he was state director. And anyhow, he introduced me to Robert R. Reynolds down there in the hotel and I never will forget it. He stuck his hand out and grabbed me this way and took his other one behind my back and just pulled me up like this, you know, "brothers". . . .
BILL FINGER:
Reynolds did?
JULIUS FRY:
And I had never had such a high official shake my hand, you know.
BILL FINGER:
That was Senator Reynolds?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. And right after that, what they were doing was letting him look at the situation so that he could swing this project for us. And let me see now, let me get it straight.
BILL FINGER:
O.K.
JULIUS FRY:
For the first three months of the strike, or the shutdown, for the first three months we drew out first unemployment compensation. The New Deal had put that in. We drew that and then after the three months was over, the company thought that we would forget the union, but then the project was set up, that's the way it was. I worked as a pipe fitter and got 30¢ an hour. And the WPA rate was 15¢.
BILL FINGER:
The FSA rate was 30¢
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. Pipe fitter rate was and that's what I was classified.

Page 24
Now, I might have got a little more than some of the others, I don't know. I don't know how they had everybody classified, but I think that our union group down there got 30¢. [laughter]
BILL FINGER:
Was Horton still around?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. He stayed. . . .
BILL FINGER:
He would come in and out?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. He practically stayed there during that period.
BILL FINGER:
All through the fall, trying to bargain. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he stayed there through the election and then he and Brewer, who was trying to negotiate, and Roy Lawrence, who later became southern director of the union, they came in. The tempo wasn't as fast then after we had won the election, and then had the obligation of bargaining. But he stayed there all during the campaign until after the election and then, I think that he gradually phased out and these other administrative type people, you know. . . .
BILL FINGER:
He wasn't there in the spring, during the shut down?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, he was there because we didn't get our unemployement checks one time, they were held up in Raleigh several weeks. And we formed a little group and went up and. . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
BILL FINGER:
So your checks got held up one time?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, they didn't come through and so we organized, with Miles's help and the leadership, we organized a group and went down and picketed the local employment office. Probably the first time that they had ever heard of a picket.
BILL FINGER:
And then you got. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they. . . the local people were friendly, [interruption]

Page 25
The local people, back then, unemployment compensation was more federally oriented than it later became and they were friendly but, "Just a snafu in Raleigh," they said. But we believed that it was deliberate and I still believe that it was deliberate. But anyhow, the checks were released and we got them somehow soon after that.
BILL FINGER:
So, if you were making 30¢ an hour as a pipe fitter, did you want to go back to the plant? Did the union stay together during that period, did ya'll meet?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, you see, this was '37.
BILL FINGER:
Spring of '38, now.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, spring of '38 and Roosevelt had already been elected and the wage hour law was already in and. . . I don't recall what my feelings were about going back. But the plant opened, let me tell you that.
BILL FINGER:
O.K.
JULIUS FRY:
And the way they opened the plant, the company claimed that after the strike, see there was a strike just preceeding the contract signing, and after the strike, there was so much bad cloth that the company was in a bad way, there were a lot of seconds made, and they wanted us to take a 10% wage cut.
BILL FINGER:
This was while you were still bargaining the contract?
JULIUS FRY:
We already had the contract signed.
BILL FINGER:
Oh, you did sign it.
JULIUS FRY:
So, we agreed to do it to get to go back to work. But we had a proviso that we would do it for 90 days and then they would go back to the original rate. Now, all the other mills in the area cut wages, I don't know how much, it might have been more than 10%. And they never did get theirs back, but we got ours back.

Page 26
BILL FINGER:
Why?
JULIUS FRY:
Because of the contract. We agreed to go back to work and to work for 90 days at 10% cut. It was the thing to do back in those days and we agreed to it. And we got our money back, but the others didn't get it back.
BILL FINGER:
So, you needed the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as a contract?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. The NRA is what jacked my wages up to start with and then the Fair Labor Standards Act followed that.
BILL FINGER:
But the other plants that were covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act didn't have a contract?
JULIUS FRY:
That's right. As a matter of fact, the only other mill that I knew that had a contract then was one that they had signed in McColl, South Carolina. It's not too far from Lumberton. And they had maybe a walkout down there to get it.
BILL FINGER:
Well, what else do you remember about TWOC then? Do you remember other plants in the area that they organized?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, not in that immediate area. I recall, in reading the little newspaper that they put out, that there was some activity going on in another plant. Granite Falls, I believe, wherever that is, and I believe that they had an election there. But ours was the first one that I know of, other than that McColl thing. It might have come ahead of us, the contract might have come ahead of us. Now, I'll put something else in for you. During the organizing campaign, this same guy that took me to the union meeting, the first one that I went to where I signed up on April 20, 1937, went back to the plant and later became a stooge for the company. And he headed a Gold Star Textile Union, which was a company union that they set up to try to defeat the legitimate union. And that's also in the Labor Board records. Gold Star Textile union of East Lumberton,

Page 27
North Carolina.
BILL FINGER:
Did they get an election?
JULIUS FRY:
No, we filed charges and the Labor Board threw it out as a company dominated union. Because the supervisors would come around trying to sign people up on the job. You know, the Wagner Act was new, they didn't know. They had a little local lawyer, a fellow named James Nance. He later went to Fayetteville, probably became famous over there, a solicitor of the court or something.
BILL FINGER:
But tell me how you got, maybe we can wind up this session then, how you got from being interested in TWOC, you know and under a contract, to being interested in the Textile Workers Union of America?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I was basically interested and knew the unions, from what I had read, I always avidly read everything, you know and tried to build my knowledge. I know that unionism was right and I knew that TWOC was the only thing. John L. Lewis had just formed the CIO and TWOC was the textile end of it. And it was a very dynamic time. People were on the move following that Depression, it was the first time that they had a chance to express theirselves against the evils, you know, that they had gone through. So, then as a union official in Lumberton, we begin to make progress and I was asked by the union many times to go to work for the union. And I finally consented to do it in March, 1943.
BILL FINGER:
So, from '37 to '43, you were still in the plant?
JULIUS FRY:
As a union official.
BILL FINGER:
You were elected by your local union?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. I was financial secretary. I never did try to be president. I wanted somebody else to be it. Because I was rather shy, you know, and still am, to a great degree. And it just killed me to speak to anyone, you know, in front of a crowd, you know. I would just shake all over. The old subjugated

Page 28
feeling. So, I was content to let someone else be the president. And I was a member of the general shop committee and also financial secretary of the local most of the time.
BILL FINGER:
Did you learn how to bargain contracts in those days?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yes. The first real feeling that I had of bargaining, and the responsibility of bargaining, was that the company had gotten into trouble and had to borrow money from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, RFC. And in order to loan the money, they had to agree, as the way I understood it, that they would stay free of labor trouble. This was the advantage of having a friendly government. And so to assure that, they sent in a man who sort of headed up the operation to see that things stayed level and on keel and he negotiated with us our first raise. I think that we got negotiated a 2¼¢ an hour raise. And I felt that we were doing something. You know, here we were talking to the man about money and we had the union representative with us, and the man said, "Alright, I'll give you this much." And we said, "Well, we need some more money for some inequities." We didn't know what the word "inequities" was then, but for adjustments. And he said, "Well, I'll give you an extra 1¢ an hour. You put it where you want." And I'll never forget how shocked we were. Here we were, going to be putting some money somewhere for somebody to get it, you know. And the awful responsibility, "Who are we going to give it to?" [laughter] So, that was the first feeling of collective bargaining. And I mean, I really felt the fruits of it and over that little 2¼¢ and that 1¢. And from then on, we always did that.
What time is it?
BILL FINGER:
It's about 11:20. Let me just ask you this. This period, before we on, you know, next time, maybe we can start on before you went to work for TWUA. But during that time, '37 to '43, were you aware of the other CIO

Page 29
activities? Did you ever hear of Lucy Randolph Mason? Or George
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, I've seen them. I knew George and Luch Randolph Mason, I've seen her. I'd heard of her.
BILL FINGER:
Yeah, but you didn't have contact with other CIOs?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, not too well. Because that was back in the early days and there weren't too many. There still weren't even steel workers and auto workers then. They were organizing too. And there wasn't just that much communication, except through newspapers and through what literature that we got from our own union. And somewhere along there, maybe in the beginning, we had a fellow there, a Washington representative, John Edelman.
BILL FINGER:
John who?
JULIUS FRY:
John Edelman. And he was from England and he represented us in Washington and he was good. He would write us, constantly write us about the situation in Washington. He'd say, "Here is the status of this bill. So-and-So is lobbying against it, and here is why they are doing it. The oil interests are behind them and. . . "
BILL FINGER:
He was educated?
JULIUS FRY:
Educated, oh, yes. And he worked for us until he was in his 70's and then he became chairman. . . .
BILL FINGER:
He worked for TWUA?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, and then he retired with us and became chairman for awhile of the National Council of Senior Citizens. And then he left there and he died just two or three years ago. John Edelman, he was a wonderful man. He was very educational. He just had a folksy way of. . . he had a very good command of the English language and I just know that he sat down with his secretary and just talked, you know. And it would come through so falksy and

Page 30
to the point. Telling us the inside secrets of the lobbying that was going on in Washington and how and why, you know.
BILL FINGER:
This was in the regular newspapers?
JULIUS FRY:
A little memo he would send us, I forget what he called it. A little paper of his own that he would send out from his office.
BILL FINGER:
Did you go to CIO conventions at the time, national conventions? Do you remember seeing Lewis and. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, Lewis came to our convention when we formed a union. We had an organizing committee, you know, TWOC was an organizing committee. And then in 1939, we had a formative convention and Lewis was there and spoke. And the hosiery workers. . . . [interruption]
BILL FINGER:
And so, you were still there in Mansfield right up to 1943? Right through the early war years?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
You didn't have to go into the war?
JULIUS FRY:
No, I was called and was examined, but then, the over 26 rule and the family size kept me out. And the union, I believe, at one time may have asked for a deferrment for me. They were talking about it. I was at the time working in the Charlotte office with Roy Lawrence and I was doing a lot of contract negotiations. That's about all I did then. And we were organizing plants.
BILL FINGER:
Right from the start?
JULIUS FRY:
'43, yeah.
BILL FINGER:
When you first went on, you went straight to Charlotte?

Page 31
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. Well, no, when I first went on, I went to Rockingham. To Aleo. It was Entwhistle Cotton Mill then. I went there and helped organize that and stayed in Rockingham for a year or more and won the election there. And then I went into the Charlotte office and began negotiating. Back then there were few people that had union experience and I had had all that experience from '37 on up to the early 40's. And I helped Lawrence in cases before the War Labor Board during those days. And then whenever we would win an election, I'd go in a negotiate the contract. Most of the time, it took a lot of the load off of Lawrence. He sort of shoved it at me and I did all right, I guess, he liked it. So, I just didn't do anything but that for awhile there.
BILL FINGER:
You negotiated by yourself, or was it with someone from the War Labor Board? How did that work?
JULIUS FRY:
No, the War Labor Board handled only disputes. I negotiated with a company, during the War Labor Board days, and if we reached a dispute where normally you would have a work stoppage, the no-strike agreement that labor had during the war was referred to the War Labor Board. The concilliators, as they were called then, would refer it to the War Labor Board. They would say that mediation couldn't settle it and this dispute would normally be a strike, so the War Labor Board would issue a binding order. In less you want to do like Blakeney in Charlotte did, he defied the War Labor Board order, the first one in the nation, Cocker Machine Works in Gastonia.
BILL FINGER:
What happened when he defied the order?
JULIUS FRY:
The government took over the plant and operated it. Just like they did and Montgomery Ward about that time.
BILL FINGER:
And then when the war ended, that plant returned. . . .

Page 32
JULIUS FRY:
They returned it, they operated it under the union contract ordered by the Labor Board. And either the parties would agree and accept it as an agreement and get rid of the government or else the government would stay on the scene. It would be the same personnel, but they would see that they followed the terms of the contract. That was the way the Board was set up.
BILL FINGER:
I was going to ask you, you came in in '43 when the War Labor Board was operating. Were you involved in what they called the Big Cotton Case?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. Actually, my brush with the board came later. The big order, the big Board handed down to 23 southern textile companies. . . now, I believe that I did help argue that. I helped argue the rates anyway, Lawrence and I and Paul Gutherie here in North Carolina was at one time chairman of the commission.
BILL FINGER:
Chairman of the. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Textile Commission.
BILL FINGER:
It was set up for that specific case, right?
JULIUS FRY:
The big War Labor Board handed down about five guidpost rates in an order. They granted an increase and they said, "Negotiate a balanced wage scale." And they gave five guidepost rates, with a 55¢ minimum and then it was up to the unions and the companies to try to negotiate all the rates within that guidepost, that framework. And if they reached a stalemate and couldn't settle, you would refer that dispute to the Textile Commission and they would rule what the rate would be.
BILL FINGER:
The War Labor Board set up the Textile. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
The Commission.
BILL FINGER:
With the labor representatives and management representatives and. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
And public.

Page 33
BILL FINGER:
Public. And Guthrie was the public representative?
JULIUS FRY:
He was at one time. He was the chairman, but it was towards the end of it.
BILL FINGER:
He's still over at UNC.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. He remembers me and I remember him very well.
BILL FINGER:
Was that a friendly relationship that you had?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
Did you consider him pro-union at the time?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I considered him fair, let's put it that way. Well, I considered him liberal and fair. To say, "pro-union", he couldn't afford to be in that position, but he was fair and he believed that unions had a right to exist.
BILL FINGER:
So, you considered that particular case that Guthrie and the others settled, was that. . . what kind of impact did it have?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, we asked for a guarranteed daily minimum wage, you know, we had piece work and they ordered that and it was sort of watered down in the South. But up North, they got it. They got a full rate and we took 90% of the agreed upon earnings rate as the minimum. That was 10% less than New England, actually.
BILL FINGER:
But it did. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
But it did help a whole lot, actually.
BILL FINGER:
It helped deferentiate between. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. It put a 35¢ an hour spread between the top rate and the bottom rate in the industry. And it set five guideposts from the bottom to the top and you could negotiate all the rates inbetween. And if you didn't reach an agreement, the Textile Commission would set it and order it.
BILL FINGER:
During that time of negotiating with the War Labor Bord, did

Page 34
you get to know Emil Rieve in those days?
JULIUS FRY:
Emil Rieve? Oh, yeah, I knew him from the beginning.
BILL FINGER:
You knew him from the beginning?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. I've been to every TWUA convention from the formation on up.
BILL FINGER:
How significant do you think that his participation on the War Labor Board was?
JULIUS FRY:
I think that it was very significant.
BILL FINGER:
For the union, for labor? In what ways?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, not only with the War Labor Board, back with the wage hour law, they would set up industry committees and he was always on the industry committies for textiles in the South. And the first minimum wage in the industry where the basic minimum was 25¢, they set up an industry committee that would order higher minimums in certain industries. They would look into it to make differences. So, they set the first 32½¢ an hour minimum, which was above the 25¢. And Rieve took part in it and argued for it in Atlanta, Georgia.
BILL FINGER:
He argued before. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
The industry committee. They argued it and they would make the decision. He took labor's part on the industry committee. He was labor's man. The Secretary of Labor would do the ordering of the rate after the committee. That's the way I remember it. So Rieve spoke broken English.
BILL FINGER:
He spoke broken English? I didn't know that.
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. I guess that he came from the old country or somewhere. And I remember the Atlanta Constitution, I believe it was, sort of making fun of Rieve in this first one. The headline said, "I'm no Suderner." He

Page 35
couldn't say "southerner". He said, "suderner." And they spelled it like that and quoted him, making fun of him. But we got the 32½¢ an hour minimum. And he was very effective and he was effective from then on in councils, because he's a pretty smart man, frankly. He was with the Hosiery Worker's Union, which was well founded long before he came. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Before TWOC.
JULIUS FRY:
Before TWOC. And they had their ups and downs and he agreed that they had to take a 25¢ an hour cut, I believe it was, at one time, or 25%, I forget which it is. And of course, he had a lot of bitching in the hosiery union and all, on account of a lot of criticism of this, but they later came back and said, "Well, that was a wise thing to do." So, Rieve did a lot for this union.
BILL FINGER:
Well, during the. . . when the war ended, what impact do you think, or what kind of growth did the union have because of the War Labor Board?
JULIUS FRY:
It had quite a bit, because it was like breaking the ice. You know, they would order contracts and the fact that they would order it and enforce it caused a lot of people to agree to the check-off rate, for instance, that wouldn't have agreed to it before. Well, the way that we got our contract with Hanes in the cotton mill was through a War Labor Board order. The way we got it at Lowenstein and Rock Hill was a War Labor Board order. The way we got it in Aleo, which was Entwhistle then, it was a War Labor Board order and they had Blakeney and they defied the order and we got a six month strike or a nine month and then Lowenstein bough the plant while they were on strike with a pre-understanding with us that he would sign and follow the order.
BILL FINGER:
Each one of these plants, though, you had had an organizing

Page 36
drive and won an election.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah.
BILL FINGER:
The War Labor Board ordered the contract. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
The contract, yeah.
BILL FINGER:
What other places did the War Labor Board help get that first contract signed? Cone, too?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. . . wait a minute. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]Let's see. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Julius, why don't you just say what we are looking at? What is this book?
JULIUS FRY:
This is a book where I filed the orders of a number of textile companies that were in the 23 southern cotton textile cases during World War II. And these are the rates of pay ordered in the mills by the Textile Commission, the Southern Textile Commission, which was set up by the regional War Labor Board.
BILL FINGER:
So, all of these records have to do with the big cotton case. There's Paul Guthrie's signature. Is that right?
JULIUS FRY:
Here's a bunch of them.
BILL FINGER:
But I mean, all this has to do with the big cotton case?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. All through here, this is the way they did it.
BILL FINGER:
You have a good filing system.
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I needed it right then. Now, here's the dispute in the guidepost rates fixed by the War Labor Board. Here's the War Labor Board order. A 5¢ an hour increase in minimum rate.
BILL FINGER:
As I remember, there was some, some people felt like. . . especially toward the more liberal left-wing part of the union, felt that the

Page 37
5% increase, that the union could have done better.
JULIUS FRY:
5¢. Well, no. There wasn't anybody that felt that way, I don't think.
BILL FINGER:
You don't remember anyone that felt like the 5¢ wasn't. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
I didn't hear about it. Because when we started, we had less than 40¢ an hour. The wage hour minimum became 40¢ in '41 and this was taking place. . . let's see. . . February 20, 1945.
BILL FINGER:
That was after the case had been decided.
JULIUS FRY:
No, it was heard, the 23 southern contested cases, it was heard and this was when it was heard. But the order was delayed a long time and Judge Vinson, down in Georgia, had a lot of political shennanigans going on to hold up the order.
BILL FINGER:
A federal judge. Well, I would like to look up some of that.
JULIUS FRY:
He was on the president's staff at the time. They just called him "judge." His name was Fred Vinson. He was a judge, I think, before he took the job.
BILL FINGER:
I see.
JULIUS FRY:
And he sent out a letter to the Textile Association, called it a progress report. And the progress was delaying the issuance of this order. And we got a copy of the letter and really put the heat on him.
BILL FINGER:
How did you do that?
JULIUS FRY:
We just happened to get it.
BILL FINGER:
I mean, how did you put the heat on him?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, he was with the Roosevelt administration and we raised hell. Here this man was supposed to be at least impartial and here he was. . . .
BILL FINGER:
I mean, you wrote letters and stuff like that?
JULIUS FRY:
I didn't. I'm talking about our union. Rieve did, and the

Page 38
officials. So, that's what it looked like and here's the order and all that.
BILL FINGER:
Well, after the War Labor Board went out of existence and in 1946, I think that there were more strikes per man hour of work than in anytime in the country's history. What did you think was happening to the union, the textiles in the South? Were you still working out of Charlotte?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes, I worked out of Charlotte until 1949. I went to Alabama. Well, we maintained our contracts, by and large, with the companies that we had signed during the period when the War Labor Board existed. We maintained them, but we began to fall behind in wages. They started the old textile business of ignoring the rest of the country. And raises, they would go two or three years without giving a raise.
BILL FINGER:
Did people, in some of the plants where contracts were signed because of the War Labor Board, had people been educated about the union, about what the textile workers could do?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, those that we signed, as I said, we kept most of them. We lost a few unions along the way, but we kept most of them.
BILL FINGER:
Workers and your local members, they had a sense of the importance of the union at that time?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. Locally, they realized the value of it. Yeah. It was a period of getting successive increases, one after the other, you know, because of the economy being inflated. That had one thing to do with it. But we kept pace there pretty much, but then as things levelled off and the War Labor Board died out completely and the Textile Commission went down, then they got back into the old doldrums. You know, going as long as they

Page 39
could without a raise.
BILL FINGER:
What do you think were the most important factors in the post World War II. . . early, you know, '45 to say '48 or '49, that hurt textiles?
JULIUS FRY:
The political split within the union. Which culminated in 1952 in a contest between the executive vice-president and the president and that just set us back years.
BILL FINGER:
That was even more harmful than the Taft-Hartley?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I didn't mean to put it that way, because I wasn't even thinking in terms of legislation. I was talking about internal union affairs. Taft-Hartley certainly gave encouragement to the anti-union forces. They realized that they had a law that Taft himself said had something in it for everybody, you know. And it tore up a lot of our union shop agreements and closed shop. We had some closed shop agreements.
BILL FINGER:
Here in this state?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah. It tore them up. And the law was uncertain. We thought that we couldn't have any security at all for awhile, so we just managed to take check-off, but revocable at will. And it was sometime later before the law became settled enough for us to be able to sign a contract where the worker would agree to remain in the union for a year or the end of the agreement, whichever occurred sooner. So, the employers put on a drive to take out all the check -offs except revocable at will anytime.
BILL FINGER:
When was this?
JULIUS FRY:
After it had passed.
BILL FINGER:
After it had passed?
JULIUS FRY:
After they had passed a state law in North Carolina. '47, I think it was, under 14B.
BILL FINGER:
I want to talk some more about it, but I didn't mean to cut you

Page 40
off about the internal split. That was very important.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, well, I was jumping all over and. . . .
BILL FINGER:
That's O.K., I was just. . . it's so interesting, that post-war period, you know, that Taft-Hartley happened right away and then about that time, started Operation Dixie. Is that right?
JULIUS FRY:
You mean. . . .
BILL FINGER:
After Taft-Hartley, 1948.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, about in there.
BILL FINGER:
A decision came that there had to be a major southern drive.
JULIUS FRY:
You see, what happened was that with the end of price controls, OPA, prices shot sky-high and the labor unions had to move to keep pace. And John Lewis had another coal strike, he had had several. And they just played it right to where they took advantage of the nation, in feeling, you know, against big unionism, like Lewis's union. They used him as a scapegoat. Then, they got the majority to pass the Taft-Hartley, and that's the way they did it. The disatisfaction that arose from the high prices. And then Lewis demanding more. And they skillfully played it up to the public until they were ready for something like the Taft-Hartley Law. They touted it to be something that would solve all the evils, you know. Misplaced aggression, but. . . .
BILL FINGER:
Did Rieve and national level textile people fight hard against Taft-Hartley?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. The whole labor movement did.
BILL FINGER:
Yeah, I know. I mean. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
I remember that I got the Congressional Record. I got Senator Ervin, I believe it was and I'd get the Congressional Record and I used to enjoy reading all the issues. I used to enjoy reading Wayne Morris on it, on

Page 41
the debates on Taft-Hartley.
BILL FINGER:
Senator Ervin was senator yet, in '47.
JULIUS FRY:
Alright, whoever it was. Maybe it was Robert R. Reynolds. But I got it from whoever it was.
BILL FINGER:
Did you participate in any of the early planning for Operation Dixie?
JULIUS FRY:
No. Operation Dixie became a part of the political struggle that was going on within our union. At least, Baldanzi, who sort of headed up the textile division. And he was running for the presidency of TWUA and he had it so tainted with politics to where Lawrence, who I worked for, was. . . I would say that he certainly wasn't encouraged to have much to do with it.
BILL FINGER:
With Operation Dixie?
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, because Baldanzi was operating it and was downgrading Lawrence every chance he could get. And it was the beginning of the political fight. And Operation Dixie got involved in it.
BILL FINGER:
Before that became so obvious about Baldanzi's, you know, the kind of way that he was using that, before that, when it was first set up and Dan and John Wright and people that were very committed to the labor movement. . . .
JULIUS FRY:
Well, the movement as a whole, but as I said, Baldanzi had charge of the textile end of it and from the beginning, it was obvious. But nobody, Rieve, you know, didn't clamp down and figured that it wouldn't amount to much. It finally did and he finally did defeat him. You know, when he had to move, he did and defeated him. And then that split the union.
BILL FINGER:
Well, with all that money put into Operation Dixie and with textiles being the major industry that the whole CIO was going to try to

Page 42
focus on in that period, '48, '49 to '50. You think that the fact that Baldanzi was heading up the textile part of that, that was a major liability? Is that what you are saying?
JULIUS FRY:
No, I didn't mean to say that it was a liability, because what I'm saying is, is that the cooperation between the service end of our union and the organizing end was sort of sabotaged by the rivalry of Baldanzi running for the presidency. And he had control of the textile end of it. So, the administrative people in the union, like Lawrence and myself, had very little to do with it. They selected their own target and they had a lot of publicity about it and they used their own publicity against them sometimes. You know, Baldanzi, I recall one time, he spoke at Kannapolis and said, "We are going to take the plant." And "we will do this and we'll do that and in two months we'll have the plant." And so the company obviously comes out and says, "Just who is this one-eyed, long-nosed Baldanzi? Long-nosed, one-eyed, foreign born man that says he's going to take you over in two months?" And that sort of thing, you know, sometimes they speak injudiciously and without discretion and they turn it back on them, just as if they were taking over something. That was the language some of them used. And the natural community of resentment against the unions still was active. But there was some progress made.
BILL FINGER:
But you, yourself, weren't active?
JULIUS FRY:
I had nothing to do with it. I was in the administrative end of the union and when plants were organized, I would go in and negotiate the contract. That was my job during that period. From about '44 until '49, when I left, that's what I did. I worked under Lawrence and mostly administering, I mean, negotiating contracts when we would win a new shop. There's a book

Page 43
full of them here, you know, following up to the War Labor Board cases, the cases.
BILL FINGER:
Did you also work some with John Chupka and Mariano Bishop?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, yeah. They were higher officers, you know, and I worked under them, you know. They would come in occassionaly. But, mostly this operation was run by Lawrence down here.
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
BILL FINGER:
Why don't we finish up this one, Julius. What would be your assessment then, of Operation Dixie?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, I think it served a purpose. There were mistakes made, no doubt and some feeling that it could be accomplished just by coming down and staying a year or two and. . . it accomplished some purposes. But there was a lot to be desired in it and one of them being that in this industry, it was mixed in with the presidential politics which culminated in the election in 1952 between Baldanzi, the executive vice-president, and Rieve, the president of TWUA. And then, the split in our union that followed that. Actually, the politics began as early as the '48 convention and then the 50 convention and then the '52 convention was the head-on collision. So, it took that many years for it to build up.
BILL FINGER:
O.K., let's pick up with that next time and we'll talk about it then.
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
BILL FINGER:
During the War Labor Board?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, back in the War Labor Board days and World War II, prior to 1952. We had good organization and union contracts with Dan River Mills,

Page 44
the Cone Mills Corporation and Fieldcrest, or Marshall Field, I believe it was then. And Erwin Mills, Durham, Erwin and Cullowhee, we had all of them. And at one time, we even had the little Erwin Mill out in Stonewall, Mississippi. And we would set industry wage patterns by bargaining with Cone, Dan River and Fieldcrest and Erwin, just in that little triumverate, we would reach an agreement with them by working with the locals, and they would work together too, and we would set the pattern for the industry.
BILL FINGER:
Why couldn't you trap Burlington and Stevens at that time?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, I don't know why we couldn't, but from the beginning, Burlington always fought back harder than most of the others. As a matter of fact, an old case that we had in the Labor Board makes reference to the saying that the "company kept an empty plant." So, if the union tried to organize, they would move the machinery out of that one into the empty one just to get rid of the union. That was the saying that went the rounds, and there was some basis in the history of Burlington for that, because they would close down and it was known that they would do that and the workers in those shops, some of them came forward, but then there wasn't as much demand in those shops as there were in these others that did organize.
BILL FINGER:
It wasn't a matter, then, of just not enough staff to cover that as fully?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, that could have had a lot of influence on it. Because if we had had more money and the organization was bigger and stronger and more income, then you could have had more staff and you could have organized more. Because the climate during World War II was ripe for organization.
BILL FINGER:
What about Cannon?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, Cannon was tried several times, but never could quite get off

Page 45
the ground.
BILL FINGER:
During the war years?
JULIUS FRY:
Yes. Never could quite get off the ground. Joe Pettigo was there at least once, maybe twice. Stayed there awhile. And Freeman tried it several times. Just never could get enough interest to get off the ground. The employer hold was too strong on the workers.
BILL FINGER:
That was it? The workers weren't that interested?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, they were that interested, but they were frightened to try. But they were more bold during the World War II years because we had the War Production Board that had you frozen on your job and supposedly, you couldn't quit. And people didn't give a damn sometimes, under those conditions. They would just as soon lose their job as not when they were told that they couldn't quit. So, there were some that reacted that way and then there were others that didn't and we didn't get enough support in Cannon or any Burlington plant to really make a go of it. But primarily, the reason in Burlington that we didn't have more organizing was that Burlington always had that empty plant, as I said. That was the knowledge that we had, that it was just hopeless at that time with no more interest than there was.
BILL FINGER:
Well, it seems like that was a key thing that has effected the Stevens campaign and all these major campaigns since the end of World War II. The fact that you couldn't crack Burlington and Cannon. Well, I guess that Stevens wasn't down here as strongly during World War II.
JULIUS FRY:
No. . . they became famous, you know, when Robert Stevens as Secretary of the Army fought Joe McCarthy? Remember that?
BILL FINGER:
I've read about it.
JULIUS FRY:
Yeah, well then there's one time there when Stevens, just before

Page 46
the election gave 10¢ an hour raise, which was a big raise for textiles and that became the battle.
BILL FINGER:
And that was during the war, too?
JULIUS FRY:
Right after World War II. Right after OPA was eliminated. And that was a big raise then, when you are talking about minimum wage as being 55¢ to a dollar, a little over a dollar at the time, I guess. And then, 10¢ an hour was a pretty hefty raise.
BILL FINGER:
Well, that's a good added note on these war years.
END OF INTERVIEW