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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of the Baldanzi-Rieve split on local TWUA membership in the South

Hoyman again discusses the impact of the Baldanzi-Rieve split in the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) on labor organization in the South. According to Hoyman, the split was largely regional in nature—the Baldanzi faction had its support base in the South, whereas the more conservative New England faction thought Baldanzi supporters were too radical in their approach. He goes on to describe how divisions within the TWUA affected local membership throughout the South, arguing that the most decisive loses occurred in Danville, Virginia, and at various mills in North Carolina. Losses in North Carolina are attributed to loyalty to Lou Conn, the TWUA director in that state, who remained supportive of Baldanzi.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, July 16, 1974. Interview E-0010. 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

The intellectuals in the union, I guess that's a good way to class them, I think that they were pretty much pro-George. The group that opposed him on the executive council were the conservative New England, northern guys.
BILL FINGER:
They were behind Rieve, huh?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
They weren't behind Rieve. They didn't trust George. There is a lot of background that you can go into, like which part of the union he came out of. He came out of the dyers, and the dyers are a certain ethnic group and they are concentrated in certain states, you know, and the guy who would have replaced George had he lived—and he was a very good guy—he died of a heart attack right after '52, a guy by the name of Mariano Bishop. He was a Portugese-American out of New Bedford. And other than some politicians and people like that, Mariano Bishop, I imagine, could have been one of the most important Portugese people, other than business types.
BILL FINGER:
He would have replaced …
SCOTT HOYMAN:
He ran for executive vice-president. We had three officers and he became the executive vice-president in Cleveland and died of a heart attack between then and the next convention.
BILL FINGER:
He would have replaced Baldanzi?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
He did actually replace Baldanzi.
BILL FINGER:
But, you know, no telling how many millions of dollars was spent during '51 to '53 and by the time all the locals were shuffling back and forth a couple of times, the total number of union members was just about the same, I think.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Well, we lost some membership. We didn't lose much, but there was tremendous damage done and it was done right here, where it hurts the worst, in the South. We lost almost nothing in the North. You can go from the Mason-Dixon line all the way up, I think there are maybe a couple of locals in Wilkesboro that we lost, and that's it. But Dan River had had a crippling strike in 1951 and we lost the checkoff in that '51 strike. They went UTW. UTW never got the checkoff back. They are on strike today, unless they settle this week. The first strike since 1951.
BILL FINGER:
At …
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Danville, Virginia. And Cone. Cone left in '52, they came back in '54. The UTW signed contracts without checkoff and we never got the checkoff back out of that company. Erwin Mills, two out of the three Erwin Mills left. The one I was on happened to stay, but Durham left, Cooloomee left. They broke the chain up. Erwin stayed CIO, the others went AEL. Rockingham …
BILL FINGER:
Did you lose the checkoff there?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
We didn't. In Erwin Mills, We were bargaining with DeVyver, by the way. He was the vice-president in charge of industrial relations. Rockingham, Aleo Manufacturing left and they destroyed the union. The UTW couldn't keep it. There was a whole joint board, it wasn't a big joint board, a guy by the name of Joel Leighton, I think that was his name, I don't know these people well. He ran that joint board. Now, other than those …
BILL FINGER:
You finally got Dan River back, is that right?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
No, we never tried really, once the checkoff was gone. Well, we did try, I'm sure we tried, but they were in bad trouble.
BILL FINGER:
But there wasn't enough energy for the unorganized.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
That's the problem. The first three or four years that I worked in the South, I worked entirely on either holding these locals, getting them back where they belonged, or trying to repair the damage. I came down in '52 and I decided to stay down here. In '54, I moved into Greensboro In '54, that's when Cone came back. They wanted to bring it back, Luke Carroll and one of the other guys over there, because they knew that the UTW couldn't look after the Cone workers they weren't doing any good. Our staff that went over was destroyed, you know, the UTW didn't want them. That was the last thing that they wanted, was to have Baldanzi and about twenty hot CIO staff guys in a little tiny union. They had them so compartmentalized, you know, and they wouldn't pay them. The regular UTW guys were getting paid every week, our guys they started off every other week. It was, you know.
BILL FINGER:
So, they came back.
SCOTT HOYMAN:
In Cone, they came back. It was the only place that I can think of off hand that they came back. North Carolina and Danville, Virginia are about the only places we lost. Alabama, we kept everything, South Carolina the same. It's peculiar. And part of of the reason N. C. locals left is a tribute—although he might regret it now—part of it is a tribute to the director that we had in North Carolina, he was a very effective guy, a guy named Lou Conn. He was the state director for us, and he went with George. And he's got two brothers, by the way, connected with the labor movement. One, Harry Conn, runs, I think that it is called Labor Press Associates. It's sort of a wire service for the labor press in Washington. And there is another Conn who might be with something related to journalism, maybe the government, the information service or something like that. But Lou Conn ended up back in Louisville, Kentucky …
BILL FINGER:
You said that it was because of him that everyone went with Baldanzi?
SCOTT HOYMAN:
Yes.
BILL FINGER:
He had that kind of …
SCOTT HOYMAN:
He was an effective, appealing personality. He wasn't a strong arm guy, you know, he was a guy who would appeal to somebody, you know, if there was a lady who was an officer of a local, he would call her on the phone, a very sympathetic type.