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Title: Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Pedigo, Joseph D., 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 Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 232 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© 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:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-22, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series E. Labor. Southern Oral History Program Collection (E-0011-1)
Author: William Finger
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series E. Labor. Southern Oral History Program Collection (E-0011-1)
Author: Joseph D. Pedigo
Description: 230 Mb
Description: 61 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 2, 1975, by William Finger; recorded in Charlotte, 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 Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975.
Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Pedigo, Joseph D., interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOSEPH D. PEDIGO, interviewee
    JENNIE PEDIGO, interviewee
    WILLIAM FINGER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WILLIAM FINGER:
Joe, why don't we start with your early years. I don't know much about where you grew up. Did you work in a mill yourself as a young boy?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, I can cover that very briefly. I am a native Virginian, I came from Roanoke, Virginia. That's back in the mountains and there was a plant at that time in Roanoke, American Viscose, a synthetic fiber producing plant. I went to work for American Viscose when I was about twenty years of age, I guess.
WILLIAM FINGER:
When were you born?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
In 1908.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What kind of setting in Roanoke was your father from?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, my father was a carpenter and cabinet maker and he had his own shop and did some contract work, too, on the side, but basically in his later years, he confined his work to his carpentry shop.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was he a member of the carpenters union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. It was something that Dad took for granted. I never heard a union mentioned at home until we moved to Roanoke in, I believe, 1924. The North and Western Railroad was out on strike at that time and I had a brother that was older than I, I was just a little small kid and my brother was about eighteen and the first mention that i ever heard mention of the union from my father was that my brother made a remark at the breakfast table one morning to the effect that he wasn't scared of those fellows standing around up there with those sticks and

Page 2
clubs, that he was going up there and get a job. My father was a person who never did have much to say, but what he said, he meant. He just laid his fork and knife down and said, "No you are not. Those jobs belong to those fellows standing around up there with those sticks and clubs. The thing will be over with one of these days and if there are any jobs left over, it will be all right for you to get a job."
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, your father hadn't talked about unions that much?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
He said, "No son of mine is going to scab a job and then eat at my house." Well, I worshipped my Dad, so I figured that a scab must be a pretty dirty sort of character. I think that was my first indoctrination to unions.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were ten or twelve years old?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, I was not older than that. I actually didn't know that my father was a member of the union until he asked me to help him fill out some papers after I was grown and married. He was bidding on some interior work at the Veterans Hospital and had just reams of paper to fill out by way of questionnaires and he was impatient with them and asked me to help him. I was asking the questions and writing in the answers and one of the questions was, "Are you a member of a trade organization?" He said, "Yes." I didn't look up and asked the next question of "How long?" He said, "Thirty-seven years." There had never been any mention of it at home at all, it was just something that he took for granted.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were there many unions in Roanoke when you grew up?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
At that time, we were the only ones. We started out from scratch in 1931 …

Page 3
WILLIAM FINGER:
"We" is the Textile Workers?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, I had gone to work at this Viscose plant and a few of us began to get together in 1931 and at that time, of course, there was no law to protect you at all and we were slipping around like we were selling bootleg liquor to try to get a few people organized, so that the company wouldn't get wise until we had a little strength.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you go to college?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You just worked in the area?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Right.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you go to high school?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, but I went to work at Viscose … I believe that I was nineteen at the time that I started at Viscose. So, we finally got that plant organized and got recognized without any election. There was no such thing as an election, of course.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, tell me about how you first came to think about a union at all.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, conditions were pretty bad in the '30s and you could make the least mistake and there would be some little cockroach foreman that would run up to you and say, "Look, Pedigo, if you can't do this work right, there is a barefooted boy outside looking for a job." He was telling the truth, there was, plenty of them out there looking for jobs. It didn't make you feel any better. As far as I was concerned, if I never got anything out of the union, if I never got a raise or vacations or anything else, just to get rid of hearing that kind of stuff and be able to look the guy in the eye and speak my piece was what I was

Page 4
after and I think that a number of the other people were motivated by the same reason, just a question of human dignity. You didn't like to take the kind of guff you had to take in this plant.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did someone come to you and say, "Joe, why don't you come to a meeting on such and such a night?"
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I think that it was the other way around.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You went to other people. [Laughter]
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I was a charter member there and I was in the spinning section and I got to talking with a man from the Viscose section that was interested and that I trusted and he in turn knew of an engineer and there were the three major departments there. We started from that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
About how many people were in the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, there were 4500 people in the plant.
WILLIAM FINGER:
4500?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, at the time.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you had never had any contact with the union and didn't know what a union was?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Didn't know a thing in the world about it except that we needed one.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You must have read about unions in newspapers.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Very little and there was very little in the Roanoke newspapers about unions. Well, there would be something about strikes now and then, but that was about it. So, we organized …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Had you ever heard of 1929?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, '29, sure.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You had heard about that when you were working in the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Sure, everybody heard about that, the '29 and '30 battle.

Page 5
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, Danville isn't that far from Roanoke, is it?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And there was a big strike in Danville.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you feel kind of sympathetic to them?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, at that time, frankly, my recollection just doesn't go into that '29 and '30 thing too much. The '33 and '34 scrap was the one that I got involved in. I got involved with the flying squadrons.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You did?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We went all over the country, including Danville. In fact, a bunch of us got turned back in Danville, they found out that we were coming and turned us back at the city limits.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Before you get to '34, one more thing about '29 and '30. People have written about those strikes, that the efficiency plans and machines were coming in and that was one of the reasons. Was any kind of efficiency program coming into the Viscose plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not at that time in our branch of the industry. You see, I was in synthetic fibers, which was sort of the aristocrat of the industry. At the time that these cotton mills were paying eighteen or twenty cents an hour, we were making fairly decent money for that period of time, in synthetics. It was the highest paid section.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who owned the company?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
American Viscose Corporation, it is now a part of FMC.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What did you make in those days, do you remember?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Rayon.
WILLIAM FINGER:
No, I mean, what kind of money?

Page 6
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, the spinners' rate was sixty-nine cents an hour at the time. That compared with rates being paid in cotton textile plants of twenty cents, I believe.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, it sounds like you were pretty militant, though, in '31 when you formed the local and then in '34, despite your relatively good wage.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, as I said, the conditions, the lack of dignity that you had in the plant, you were just constantly harassed by supervision and I think that was the motivating thing with most people. The fact that we had the best job around, if we got fired there, there was no place to go that paid anything comparable to what we were making and the company knew it and as a result of the company knowing it …
WILLIAM FINGER:
They kind of had you in a bind.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
They had us in a bind and we just got tired of it. I recall the first meeting that we had, we held it uptown and I slipped around to thirty-five or forty people that I trusted and told them about the meeting. Not a one showed up, there were just the same old faithful seven.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Seven people, in a plant of 4500?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. So, I finally decided that the reason that nobody showed up was that each one was afraid of the other. So, the next meeting that we had, I went up to a guy and ask him to come to the meeting and he would want to know who was coming and I would say, "Well, you are the only one from this shop. There is going to be somebody from viscose and somebody from engineering." He would say, "O.K.," and I would tell the next fellow the same thing. At the next meeting, I had about twenty people, but each one of them was scared of the other one.

Page 7
That's why they hadn't shown up the first time. But we didn't have anybody in the union to speak of, we had about 800 when the company called our hand. I was the temporary President of the group, we were collecting dues, so the secretary-treasurer worked in the same shop that I did and the foreman came up to me one day in the spinning room and said, "They want you up at the front office." I stepped off the platform and I saw this guy who was the secretary-treasurer step off the other end of the platform and he saw me and waited on me, he had had the same message, so we knew what was up before we got there. We walked in the office, the plant manager was a German, very abrupt, I had a lot of respect for him later on, but at the time I didn't. He didn't even invite us to sit down. He said, "What is this that I hear about a union starting up down here?" I looked at this other boy and he looked at me and I decided that well, it had hit the fan now and I might as well go on with it. I said, "Well, I don't know what you've been hearing, there is a union down here, if that is what you want to know." "Why haven't they been to see me. I thought they were to bargain with the management?" I said, "Well, that's true, but I'll be honest with you. The reason that we haven't been to see you was that we wanted to make sure that we had enough people in the union that if you fired us when we did come to see you, you weren't going to be able to make silk, and I'm glad you sent for us, because we are in that position now." He went through quite a long rigamarole about why did we need a union, his office was always open and we countered by telling him that it was a pretty long way from number six spinning room to his office and by the time that you got there, a telephone call would always beat you there. We had had a little experience with that. Finally, I saw that he wasn't

Page 8
going to fire us and I thought, "Well, we might as well start trying to push our luck a little bit more," and I said, "Well look, Mr. Nerrin, the fellows are looking for me back down there in that spinning room and if I don't get back down there pretty soon, something is liable to happen and I wouldn't want that." You couldn't have pulled those people out of there with a locomotive. [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were a pretty good bluffer for a young whippersnapper, weren't you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I said, "I've got to tell them something when I get back, so are you going to recognize us or not?" He said, "Of course I recognize it, there is no darn sense in the damn thing, but I recognize it." We went back and spread the word and rented the American Legion Hall and had people standing up on the sidewalks all the way up the steps and lined up on the sidewalks like an unemployment line, waiting to join the union. We organized that thing overnight.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That's amazing.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It was just on his word.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was 1931?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, '31. '32 was the first contract.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, he signed a contract?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
The contract said … it was then called the Viscose Corporation of Virginia … "The Viscose Corporation of Virginia hereby recognizes Local 18 … "whatever it was, … "as a collective bargaining agency for such people as are members of it." Period.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It didn't specify any wages or anything?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No wages or anything, just recognition for such people as were members. But we lived and handled grievances and …

Page 9
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you continued to meet with him and …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were president of the local?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, I was the first temporary president and then we had the election of regular full-time officers and I nominated a fellow by the name of Warren. I was just a kid at the time and I didn't figure that people would follow me the way they would this fellow. He was highly respected. I nominated him and he was elected and was the first permanent president.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But even then, you kind of engineered that, though.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. He was the one I wanted.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Tell me, why is it that out of all those people in Roanoke, you were twenty-three years old, and you kind of took that initiative.?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't know, it was just a feeling that I had. Of course, at that time, I was pretty radical.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Had you read things? Did it come from your mother?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, I always read everything that I could get my hands on from the time I was old enough to read. I was a sort of a budding Socialist, Norman Thomas had been in the area and I was playing around with socialist ideas and that was just one more step.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How did you first hear of Norman Thomas?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I worked with a fellow, I called him "Doc." He was a doctor, but didn't ever practice, he became a foreman for the company and was a Socialist and an atheist, his father was a Duncard minister and a Republican …
WILLIAM FINGER:
That's a lot of strikes, isn't it? [Laughter]

Page 10
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I had a lot of respect for that old fellow, he had a lot of wit and was well educated and I had a lot of talks with him and I think that he influenced me more than anybody around. I know that he got me to the first Socialist meeting when they were organizing the Socialist Party. We had a pretty good local there at one time.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Is this before you were organizing the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It was concurrent, really.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, how did you first meet Doc? Was it in the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, he was a foreman at the plant and I have never known why that company didn't fire that fellow because when the TWOC was set up and we got a shot in the arm and had those TWOC badges and he wore one of those doughboy hats and he pinned those TWOC buttons all the way around his hat and walked all over the place with it and the company never said a word to him about it, I don't guess. He was still a foreman when I left the plant. I can recall that fellow reading the riot act to the fellows when the going was tough. We would be in the dressing room changing clothes, getting ready to come out of the plant and everybody would be bitching, "Hell, we might as well give up, we're never going to get anywhere with this outfit."
WILLIAM FINGER:
You're talking about the local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. And Doc would walk the floor in the dressing room and say, "Give up? Hell! What do you mean, give up? The only way a working man ever got anywhere was to get hold of a little something. Get a hold of a little damn something and hang on like grim death until you can get some more. What the hell is the matter with you." And he was a foreman.
WILLIAM FINGER:
He was a foreman?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
He was a foreman.

Page 11
WILLIAM FINGER:
That's strange.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, you run into a few like that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I am interested, is Roanoke in the real mountains?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, it's right in the foothills.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Had your parents been Republicans?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, my father was.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did he have old Republican lines into … had they been in the mountains for a long time?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We came originally from Patrick County in Virginia, which is way back in the mountains where you walk as far as you can walk and swing in on a grapevine, just way back in the hills. My father was a Republican and he was quite liberal and there were two things that he didn't mess with. One was his religion, he was a fundamentalist Methodist and a Republican and nothing was going to change him. He never tried to dictate to us, either. The result was that there were six of us kids and we grew up in all directions politically.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you the only Socialist?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. My oldest sister was quite liberal, my oldest brother was Republican for all of his life up until the last five years or so when he up and quit the Republican party and turned Democrat. He said that he did it because the Republicans left him, that the Republicans were the liberals to start with at the beginning and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
I was getting ready to ask you if your father was a Harry Byrd Republican?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, my father didn't think much of Harry Byrd.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Harry Byrd was a Democrat at first, but now his sons are

Page 12
Republican.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, my brother said that the reason he changed was over the Kennedys. He had a lot of admiration for Jack Kennedy and felt that the position he took on civil rights took a lot of courage and he decided that it was a better party for him. My father was always very good on the race question and all the kids, as a result, that's one thing that all six of us had in common.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did he talk to you about this?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No more than what he got in in his quiet way at home. We had some Negroes that lived in the neighborhood and they were good neighbors and if any one of us kids had used the term "nigger" at home, we would really have had the riot act read to us. My father just thought that was the worst kind of language at all to use and that in an area where that was about the only thing that you heard.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were there any other families like your own that you knew of? When you went to school, what was it like?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We were sort of a unique family back there in the mountains. My Dad was one of the few Republicans in the area and we were the only family in the neighborhood that took an outright position as far as civil rights were concerned. We were scared to death in World War I, the older kids were, that my Dad was going to get in jail because he was just as outspoken as could be in opposition to the war. He thought that it was a foolish and suicidal thing and the trouble was that he didn't care who he said it to.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did he make it public?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yes, that was what had some of the older kids worried. He didn't go around on a soapbox, he wasn't that kind of a person, but

Page 13
he didn't hesitate to make known what he thought.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did your mother ever read to you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Mother died before … I can just barely remember her.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And your father raised you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Just him?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, he and the older children.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Older sisters?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You know, a lot of early labor organizers, older than yourself, people that organized in the teens, especially immigrants up North, their mothers read to them when they were young, they read Fabian stuff and the Woblies and everything. I was just curious where your father got this kind of ideas, it certainly wasn't from the community.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I never knew my grandfather, but apparently my grandfather was quite an exceptional individual. I think that he drank himself to death and my father always shook his head when I mentioned my grandfather, but there were just so many stories that they told about him. He had a mill over in the mountains, a grist mill and then he published a little old paper that he put out about once a month.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This is your father's father?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What kind of paper?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Just a chatty little old local thing. My father said that he had some of the neighbors mad at him all the time. If somebody failed to take care of his corn and just let it go to seed, Grandpa would

Page 14
have an item in the paper, "Go over and see Tim Boyd's corn field. It is a sight to behold." [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
Near Roanoke, that's where he lived?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well yes, back in the mountains, out from Roanoke.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So your father actually moved into the city from the hills.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Why did he decide to do that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, he wanted the children to have a chance to go to school and there wasn't any chance back there in the mountains at all. There were no schools there. All of them except me and my oldest brother went to school.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Went to college?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Where did they go to college?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Washington.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Washington and Lee?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, in Washington, D.C. at … I guess at Washington University. I know that they worked and went to school at the same time. I think it was Washington University.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And then one of your brothers went into business?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, my oldest brother was a certified public accountant and then he went out of that into a loan shark business and retired ultimately.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And your sisters, did they get married? Did any of them have careers?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, my oldest sister was married and divorced, she is retired and the other two sisters are retired. They both worked in Washington all their lives. The youngest sister was General Hershey's

Page 15
confidential secretary.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That was during the war?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
During the war, yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That must have been interesting.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
My sister next to her, my middle sister, worked for BNA, she worked for them until she retired.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, I was just interested in the kind of history of your past. Were any of the other children as aggressive in what they did?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I don't believe that they were.
WILLIAM FINGER:
They mostly left town and went off to college.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Tell me about the first Socialist meeting that you went to. I'm real interested in that, I've talked to H.L. Mitchell and some of the people that worked with Norman Thomas.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I believe that the first meeting that I can recall was just a handful of us at somebody's house, there was a fellow with the nickname of "West Virginia", "West Virginia" Duncan and a group of us met at his house and I don't recall the organizer that was in at that time. There was somebody helping us set up a local, but I just don't recall.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was the Socialist Party?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But it was working directly with your local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. Well, no, not with the local union.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It was the local chapter …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It was the local chapter of the Socialist Party.

Page 16
WILLIAM FINGER:
I see.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
There was a time when the local was set up that I would say the majority of their members were from over at the Viscose plant. I know that I got a dozen or so myself.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you recruited for the party and then also for the local union.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. After that first time, when I was temporary president until we elected a president, from then on until I left the plant, I could always get elected, no problem at all getting elected, on the advisory committee and getting elected chairman of my department, which automatically made me a member of the executive board. But I could never get elected to a top office. There would be a hue and cry as far as two-thirds of the people in that plant were concerned, because there was no difference, Communists and Socialists were all the same. So, they would label me as a Red.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The local union people?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And they would keep you from winning?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
They would say, "Oh, he does a good job as chairman of his department but it would be too bad if he was president or business agent." I could never get elected to that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you defend yourself, did you stand up and talk about the Socialist party …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You just kept it quiet?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
As far as I was concerned, that was my business and it was

Page 17
never really covered at all very much. On down the line to the present time, I've noticed that a great many people that did covet the office did have to give up too much and climb over the top of too many people getting there, so I just never had that inclination.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What kinds of things would they have to give up?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, if you were a Socialist and you wanted to get elected to office, you had better become a registered Democrat in the South and I guess Republican in some other parts of the country. As far as the church is concerned and religion is concerned, you had better be a Baptist or a Methodist, you certainly wouldn't be a Unitarian like I am. That again would be two strikes against you. Working people are generally pretty set in their ways when it comes to things, they are conservative when it comes to politics and they are conservative when it comes to religion.
WILLIAM FINGER:
All through the years, you think that's the case?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, I think so. They will do things, and in their actions be radical as hell, but at the same time, they will be saying, "I don't know, So-and-So is too radical." They don't equate their own actions with any kind of radicalism.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What helped you, I mean, you were a working person, what is different about you? You told me about your father, but what helps you to equate that, your activity there at the local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, I'm afraid that I'm not following you clearly. What do you mean?
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, I'm just curious. Did you have reading groups that read literature?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We had our own group. I had set up a group within the

Page 18
local that met once a week and it was basically a strategy planning sort of thing.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Educating yourself?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We did some educational work and we had quite a bit of influence working that way. But we were a minority, but we were a minority that the factions in the local courted assiduously because we could make the difference, you know …
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was the local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. I recall one man that was in my local, John Kabler, who was an extremely competent man and went on the staff of the union and died shortly after he retired a few years ago. John was one of the most knowledgeable about the industry that I ever met and he had a wonderful memory. He and I could never see eye to eye on anything. We fought all the time, he would be on one side and I would be on the other. I had what I suppose you would call a clique and John had clique and I recall one time that he came to my house and there was an election coming up and he said, "Joe, I know that you and I don't agree on anything, but I think that there is one thing that we can agree on and that is that"—he mentioned the name of another fellow—"is a menace to this organization and he has a chance of getting elected." I agreed and that was as far as I would go with him. He said, "Well, why don't we bury the hatchet temporarily and get up a slate and get rid of him and his clique and then we can go back to fighting again?" [Laughter] "We are not going to get along very long." I thought that it made sense and he was as good as his word. I supported him for business agent and he supported a girl that I was pushing for vice-president. My wife at that time was

Page 19
recording secretary and I was pushing for her for recording secretary. So, we put together a coalition and cleaned house pretty well and then went back to fighting again as soon as we got through with it. [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was your wife involved with the Socialist party as well?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't think that she ever … I think that she may have attended a meeting or so, but she was never an active party member.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How long did you remain active in the party?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Up until I left the plant. I attended a couple of meetings after I left the plant and went on the staff, but I never took an active part. As matter of fact, the local just withered and died on the vine and I got pretty thoroughly disillusioned myself and I recall that the last person that came to me was a person named Ken Douty who was an old Socialist friend and his wife was a very ardent Socialist. She came to me and wanted to know why I wouldn't get active again. I was pretty sarcastic about it and told her that if the Socialists would get one more damn plank in their platform besides fighting the Communists, I might get interested in getting back active again. I just got disillusioned because there were so many things to do on a day to day basis and all the Socialists could do was fight Communism. God damn it, we had plenty to do besides that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Why was that such a big thing?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, it was quite a question of doctrine and I was in New York, while I was still in the plant, a friend of mine took me up to a meeting, Art Krager and MacDonald, some of the top Socialists of that time. So, I as suitably impressed, being invited to that kind of a meeting and we went to a swank apartment on Riverside Drive and we sat around there and …

Page 20
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was Buck Kester there?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I don't recall him. But all that was done that night was just long discourses on the evils of the Communist party and the error of their theories.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But not on the evils of capitalism?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No. When we were going back to the hotel and this friend of mine asked me what I thought about it I said, "Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't hear them say a damn thing that was going to help put bread on anybody's table. It was just ‘Fight the Communists."’
WILLIAM FINGER:
What year was that, do you remember?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, that would have been about 1938, somewhere along in there. I came out of the plant in 1939.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you stayed going to Socialist Party meetings the whole time, '31, '39, that era?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Off and on. The party itself, the local, just withered away in Roanoke.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What was the strongest, the greatest strength of the local?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It would be hard …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Just roughly.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
You mean in numbers?
WILLIAM FINGER:
Yes.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We had around sixty or sixty-five people.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did the Communist Party have a chapter there, too?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. They tried to raid us. I recall that about the first contact that I had with the Communists, there was a professor down at the University of Virginia that I was pretty well acquainted

Page 21
with and he called me in Roanoke and said, "Be on the lookout because there is one of our campus Communists coming up and he is extremely able and may be looking you up." He told me what his name was, I don't want to mention it now because the guy is still getting around and doing a pretty good job, I understand. He calls himself Fred Cox, so that is what you will be hearing, but he has told me his right name. We were alerted and …
[Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, it was about '37?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, '36 and '37. At any rate, he came to my house and knocked on the door and I came to the door and he said, "Fred Cox is my name and I'm with the Communist Party and I would like to talk with you." I called him by his right name and said, "Come in Mr.—" He looked a little bit puzzled at that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Taken aback.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We had a very nice chat but we wound up a little bit at odds. He knew about the group that I was working with and he began to tell me the strategy that we ought to be using.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was your program primarily within the local union? Or was it a number of things?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, the group that I was working with, we had Socialists in it, we had Democrats, we had Republicans. It was just an active group. That was the group that the Communists were interested in filtrating.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did it have a name?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, we just met as an activities group and we didn't call ourselves anything. But they had found out about us and found out

Page 22
that we had a little muscle.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What did you do?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We met and discussed strategy primarily, in getting things done in the local. We managed to set up a real good local library there …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Local union library. We got the finances from the local for stocking it, you know. We had some labor, various labor courses started and were able to bring in some people from the university and other places to teach labor history and so on. We were just an active group, pushing the local into taking on various activities.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did people from Brookwood come? Is that where you met Tom Tippett?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I think that we had someone, but it wasn't Tippett, I don't recall who it was. I know that we had a number of people in.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did A.J. Muste come?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't recall him.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you had labor schools and you had a library. Did you do anything with local politics?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The county commissioners or anything?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Very little, except during the bad years of the Depression, we were active in working in conjunction with the YWCA and with other groups and working with the poor in the area, the people that were really in need. We had a committee set up, I was chairman of the committee that acted as liason between the local and the Workers' Alliance and the YWCA and the …

Page 23
WILLIAM FINGER:
The Workers Defense League.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, the Workers Defense League and all the various groups.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was there an anti-poll tax committee there?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, there was always somebody fighting the poll tax, there were perenniel fights on that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did the YWCA head that up?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I would imagine that they probably did. My wife would know about that, she was more active with the Y group.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I might like to talk to her today, if that's possible.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, if she gets through with her nap in time.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Good. Were you working closely together at this point, while you were in the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
While I was in the plant, yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was she raising kids, or was she in the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
She was in the plant, we weren't married until after she left the plant. I was organizing in Danville, Virginia, Dan River Mills, at the time that we got married. I think that the first time I ever noticed her, she had been recording secretary of the local, but I never paid any attention to her and then out of the clear sky one night, she got up and started off with a long speech …
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
… pointing out that there was no scientific difference between Negroes and whites and at that time, we had a Jim Crow local, we had all white and all black local.
WILLIAM FINGER:
She was pushing for an integrated local?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
She was pushing for … she wasn't going that far,

Page 24
she was pushing to invite the Negroes to attend our meeting. This was just out of the clear sky, she had done no preliminary work, she didn't know a thing about local politics and here she was sounding off, shooting the big guns to start with and I was sitting right next to the most respected member of the local, a fellow by the name of Lester Montgomery. Everybody respected him highly and Lester would do anything that I told him to do. So, I whispered to Lester, I said, "When she gets done talking, you make a motion that we receive the delegation of Negroes and I will second it." I got up and moved all the way across the room so they wouldn't connect me with Lester's motion. Well, when she got done, all hell broke loose. For a minute, there was silence and Lester jumped up and made his motion and I seconded it and then you would have thought that we had raped everybody's mother. You never heard such a bedlam.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was '36?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
This was '35 or '36, somewhere along in there. It was a real knockdown, dragout fight. Of course, she got the hell beat out of her, we all did, the maker of the mtion and myself and everybody else was just howled all over the place. So, after the meeting, I walked up to her and told her that I admired her nerve for putting that on the floor, but, "By God, why didn't you get together with somebody, if you were going to do it, and do a little advance planning?" She was in tears, she didn't know what she was supposed to do. I said, "Well look, for Christ's sake, what we should have done was for somebody to get up and make the motion that you made to start with and then you let two or three other people make a speech and then you come up with that long winded speech of yours after the

Page 25
opposition has shot its wad, then maybe we would have a little chance of getting a few votes. You killed yourself right to start with." Right after that was when we decided to set up a group and start working and we did shortly after that. We pulled our group together.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You never had a name?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No. We were just a damn bunch of radicals, you know, and local ll, that was the name we had.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How big was the group?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We would have, I would say, twenty that would be about the maximum. It would average around fifteen people a week. One time, we would meet in a swimming pool in the summer time and another time out in a field and they were often pleasant, social types of meetings. My wife was recording secretary and in an extremely good position to have us know what was going to happen because the local had agenda meetings a week before, five days before the membership meetings. So, five days before the membership meeting, we knew what was going to be on the agenda and we knew what positions we wanted to take there, whether to put anything on from the floor and so on.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you were primarily concerned with the policy and strategy within the local ll?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, right.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Not with the general community and the Roosevelt Administration and …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We did a little bit of political work, but it was just as everybody else did in the local at that time and that didn't take up all of our time.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, this isn't the same group that you were telling me about a little while ago that had Socialists and Democrats and …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
This is the same group.

Page 26
WILLIAM FINGER:
The same one?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. I remember one time that I was writing to Clifton A. Woodrum, who was our Congressman and I wrote him a letter asking him to support passage of the Wagner Act when it was up for adoption. He wrote back and said, "Dear sir, when this act comes before the House, you may be sure it will receive my earnest consideration." A friend of mine worked for Standard Oil Company and Standard forced their people to send telegrams and letters opposing the passage of the act. This friend of mine showed me his letter that he received from Clifton Woodrum. It said, "My dear friend, when this act comes before the House, you may be sure that I will do everything in my power to sidetrack the bill. I got him to let me block his name out on it and give me his letter. I took it, got it photostated and gave copies to the Republican headquarters and went over to Covington, Virginia, where there were a couple of locals of paper workers and rayon workers and gave them copies and spread them around everywhere I could. I had Clifton running all the way back to Roanoke from Washington to tell me that he hadn't lied to me. He called me up and wanted me to come up to his office and I went up. He put in about a half hour trying to explain that he hadn't talked out of both sides of his mouth in those letters. He had to run all over the state as a result of that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you ever consider running for Congress yourself?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
A lot of people ran as Socialists in the '30s.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, a few people did. There weren't too many running, as I recall, on the Socialist ticket in my area.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were there any?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not … we had …

Page 27
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you ever help get a candidate for something?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't recall any, to tell you the truth. Not in our immediate area. Now, there was one fellow that ran for something down at Richmond, but it was not in our voting area and I don't recall what he ran for now. The Communists always had somebody up.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Tell me some more about what you felt when they tried to infiltrate your local group.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I got very angry. This fellow that came to my house and tried to tell me first how we were to operate and finally, he wasn't getting very far with that, and he said, "Now, I've talked to your associates" and he named two girls that we were working very closely with and he said, "They both already agreed with me to go along with this program." That pretty well burned me up and I said, "Well, they are free and they can go with any program that they want to go with, but I will tell you this much, they are not going to be in my group if they are going to go with you. They can go with you, but they are out as far as I am concerned. As of now, if you are sure about it." Well, he started backtracking then, he saw that he had offended me, but I didn't have much more to say to him than I already had. As soon as he left, I called one of these girls and mentioned this guy and said, "I understand that you are going to go along with his program." She said, "Well, aren't you?" "Hell, no." "Well, he told me that you had already agreed to go along with it, that's the reason that I told him I would." I called this other girl and she told me the same thing. The only reason that they agreed with him was because he had told them that I had agreed. So then, the Socialist party was just about ready to fold and I took over the secretary's books, it was an elected secretary who had just quit and I took them over and had all the records

Page 28
and everything at my house and he wanted … no, it wasn't this guy, they sent in another fellow that was much more polished. He was also from the University of Virginia and he tried to smooth over the mistakes that Cox had made and he was a very pleasant guy. He tried his damndest to get those records that I had and tried to persuade me to give him some names, said that he wanted to do some organizing of our people. I told him that hell, we had a hard enough time running our own show.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What about the substance of the Communist party and the various organizing they did, and the Socialist party, besides those kinds of tactical things?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, they got some of the people, but I don't believe, come to think of it, I can think of about four or five people out of the group that I was working with that went over to the Communists, but I don't think there was a single one of them that was Socialist. They were just going along with our group and I don't know what their politics had been before.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But they also concentrated on the activities of the local union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It must have been the main industry in Roanoke.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That and the North and Western shops were the two main industries.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you were in the mill from '31 to '38?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
'39.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you were involved in all these things in the town and in the middle of that came 1934, September 1st. Tell me about that.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, our local was not on strike, none of the synthetic fiber plants were on strike during the '34 thing. We went out and helped where

Page 29
we could, wherever the battles were raging.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Had you ever been on strike yourself?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, never had. Oh, we had had a little quickies, but no strikes worth mentioning.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you had never been on strike yourself?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you in fact didn't go out on strike on September 1st?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not in the '34 strike, no. The synthetic fiber plants generally did not go out, although there were under contract and we had no strike provisions in the contract and really, the strike didn't involve that branch of the industry. It involved the cotton and manufacturing. You see, synthetic fibers don't manufacture anything, they just make the thread from a synthetic base, so they were not involved in the strike itself other than assisting in the thing.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you under a UTW contract at that time, or was it still kind of an independent …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, we joined the UTW right after we … it must have been within three or four months after we got organized. We started shopping around and knew that we wanted to be affiliated with something. So, we joined the UTW.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you had a contract?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We had a contract before we joined UTW, the one that I told you about and we never got anything any better until TWOC came along. The Textile Workers Organizing Committee.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, September 1st, something like 300,000 workers …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
In '34, that's what you're speaking of?
WILLIAM FINGER:
Yes, in North and South Carolina and Georgia?

Page 30
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I would guess that it would be all of that. I don't really recall.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What do you recall about it? You said that you went over to Danville.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, there were a bunch of us in the flying squadron that went over there and didn't get to Danville. We were stopped before we got there and turned around. A fellow by the name of George Moorhouse was the staff man at that time and he got a group of us, everybody that would go with him and went over.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you scared?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not particularly, it was more of a lark than anything else. We got involved in one episode that got a little scary, as a matter of fact, one of our people went off the road and got killed coming back to Roanoke, at Hopewell, Virginia, where there is a Tubise-Chatillion plant. We took a flying squadron in there and they found out that we were coming and locked the gates. We had a bus, some of us went in cars, some in a bus and we pulled that damn bus up beside the fence and climbed up on it and went over the fence. We started going into the plant and told people that there was a strike on, "Come on and let's go." We didn't have an incident the whole time, there wasn't a lick passed and everybody just came right on out and closed it down. The management was so scared, they must have thought that we were a bunch of thugs. They had a Norfolk and Western boxcar on a siding and the management all loaded up in the boxcar and went out. There was an amusing aftermath to that. Many years later, I became joint board manager in Rome, Georgia at a Tubise plant, a former Tubise plant, now owned by Celanese. The man that was the labor relations

Page 31
representative was one of those that rode out of Hopewell in a boxcar.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Is that right?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
And the plant manager was one of them.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I guess that they had been transferred down.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yes. I never mentioned a word about this incident in Hopewell until the strike. But before that, I had a meeting, one of the first meetings that I had with the company, when we got through with the grievance conferences, … the man that was the labor relations representative for the company was the biggest liar that I have ever heard talk. So, when we got through with the grievance conferences, he said, started reminiscening and said, "You know, up in Hopewell, that's where I came from, that was awful up there in '34, a bunch of thugs came over there with sticks and clubs and beat our people over the head and beat them into the floor and dragged them out of that plant." I sat there and let him tell me all about it, you know. There wasn't a lick passed.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you have sticks and clubs?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No. Some of the guys might have had something in their pockets but all we did was just go in and say, "Come on, let's go."
WILLIAM FINGER:
Tell me about a flying squadron. Where did you get your name?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That was dubbed on to us for some reason, I guess by the newspapers during that period of time. We would just get a group together and pick a target and go on down. The picking was done by the organizer, the UTW organizer that was in charge. The rest of us just went for the hell of it.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How many people went to this Hopewell plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, there must have been fifty of us.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you didn't hesitate to climb over the fence?

Page 32
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You didn't think that there might be National Guard or State Troopers there?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, that's the chance that you take, you know that there is that possibility, but when you are that age and got a lot of stars in your eyes, well, you don't worry about that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you married then?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did the organizer, Moorhouse, did he meet with you and explain about the strike all over and how this fit into the big picture? Did he try to do any education with you or anything like that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't recall any.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You just climbed in and said, "Let's close this plant down." How many of those kinds of … would you call them "missions?" How many did you go on?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I wasn't on many of them. I went on that one and a couple of others. One that I would leave off the record, I think, but that was about it.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But you never got arrested?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Lots of people got arrested in Georgia.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, I got arrested lots of times, but not then.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I have never been to Roanoke, what other kinds of things between '31 and '38, during that period …Roosevelt was elected, you described your political activities in the local …what else happened that struck you, that pushed you along. The TWOC came into existence, is that the next thing that you remember?

Page 33
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't recall anything that stands out. When the TWOC was set up, that gave us a shot in the arm and that gave us more tools to work with than we had ever had before and we tried to capitalize on that. There was something that we always stayed busy with. I recall a furniture strike there that we all got wrapped up in, Johnson-Carper Furniture.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you coordinate with everyone in the town, kind of?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
There, we had a group from Viscose that as soon as we came off shift, we headed for the picket line and there were more Viscose workers on that Johnson-Carper Furniture strike than there were Johnson-Carper workers. I recall one incident there. There was an old gentleman up there that came out dressed like the Old Order Dunkards on the order of the Mennonites, with which you may be familiar with up North, with the wide brim hat. He came out there in that picket line and he got down on his knees in the dust and prayed for the strikers, said that their cause was just and he prayed for the Lord to help them win the strike, you know, and everybody thought that he was really top stuff. The next morning, the old bastard rode through the picket line and got a job, scabbed on them. It was one that the pickets got amused at. We were raising all kinds of racket around there and everybody was trying to go in and they spotted him and said, "There's that son of a bitch that was out here praying for us the other day." [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
That's funny.
Well, when did you first hear of TWOC? Did you read about it in the paper?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We knew about that, of course, because we were in the local

Page 34
and we were …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Getting the newspaper?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We kept up with that and we were instrumental, the people in our union were instrumental in getting TWOC established to start with. We were well briefed on the conception of TWOC.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How did that happen? Did you go to meetings?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, Sidney Hillman was one of the founders, Sidney Hillman, John Lewis, Emil Rieve were some of the top people, George Baldanzi … they were some of the top people that got together and Hillman was Amalgamated Clothing Workers and Lewis was the Mineworkers and they bankrolled the thing from its inception. It caught on. There was never any doubt in our minds as to what direction we were going, whether we were going with the TWOC or …
WILLIAM FINGER:
But you yourself in Roanoke, how did you do it? Did you go to meetings or …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh yeah, every membership meeting there was pretty thorough briefings on the thing. As a matter of fact, this John Kabler that I mentioned had been elected, I believe, head of the old Dyers Organization and was bringing it in. So, we knew all about the thing step by step as it occurred.
WILLIAM FINGER:
At the local union level …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't say that all the members knew about it, but everybody that attended meetings knew about it. We, in turn, were saying that this is the thing and that …
WILLIAM FINGER:
I just didn't know if at the local union level, there were discussions about it.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, yes. As far as my local was concerned, and I assume

Page 35
that is true of other locals.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Then, so you had Hillman and Lewis and they made their committment?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The organizing started and TWOC was set up.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That was the first time that we ever had anything to work with, you know. TWUA, when it was established, had no money at all except borrowed money, or gift money from Amalgamated and the Mineworkers. I went on the staff at $25 a week, which was …
WILLIAM FINGER:
On the TWOC staff?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
TWUA. I went on the staff just following the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in '39 and I went on to stay for $25 a week, which was $7 a week less than I was making in the plant.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who hired you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
George Baldanzi.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How did you meet him?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, George and I had been friends for years. He had been down to Roanoke on a number of occasions and George, too, had been a Socialist and I had been to a meeting or two with him.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The Socialist party as well as UTW?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, And then a couple of times, I had had a couple of hassles in Roanoke with some of the people and George had always come to my defense. We knew each other pretty well.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, did he approach you about wanting to hire you or were you ready to get out of the plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, at the time, I was laid off at the plant.

Page 36
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. They had had a curtailment and we had negotiated in the meanwhile a technological displacement provision so that if you were laid off in one plant and there was an opening in another plant, this company had seven plants scattered around and you could go to another.
WILLIAM FINGER:
There was a company-wide contract?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah. We had one of the first chain-wide contracts. So, I went on the staff and I hadn't been on it for more than two or three months and I got a call from Viscose offering me a job in Front Royale in a plant. I contacted the International, contacted Baldanzi to see if what I had was permanent or if it was part-time and he assured me it was permanent, so I passed it up and stayed on.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You mean, you had already started working for TWUA before this?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, before I got called back.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, he knew that you were out of work. Did you call him up and look for a job or did he come to you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, he wrote me a letter and offered me the job.
WILLIAM FINGER:
He knew that you were out of work?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, I guess that TWUA had started. What did you think? Now, you were an organizer. You had been an organizer eight years there in your local, but this was a little different.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
This was a lot different.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What was different?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, we had a pretty civilized set-up there in Roanoke and when we started getting out in these cotton textile organizing situations, it was a lot less civilized.

Page 37
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were organizing and going from place to place?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, my first assignment, I believe, was up in Martinsburg, West Virginia and Winchester, Virginia. Winchester is where I got my education.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Why did you get your education there?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, nobody briefed me on what to do. Baldanzi called me and said, "Go down to Charlotte, North Carolina and see Fred Held and Fred will brief you on Winchester, Virginia and Martinsburg, West Virginia." I went down and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was your first assignment?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. Fred was an old line hosiery worker. I went down to see Fred here in Charlotte and he briefed me on West Virginia and he said, "As far as Winchester, Virginia is concerned, stay the hell out of it." Of course, that got my curiousity up, so I went in there and made some contacts with fellows that were real go-getters, fellows who were real topnotch people. They were being pushed around something awful by that company. I had just come out of the plant, you know, I didn't know a damn thing about organizing. In the plant that I had come out of, you got ahold of management when they started pushing people around and had a meeting and told them to cut this stuff out. I picked up the telephone and called the plant manager and told him that I wanted that stuff cut out. He referred me to the company's lawyer. The company lawyer said, "Let's talk about it." He set up a meeting at the George Washington Hotel and I was staying in a little fleabag, the cheapest thing I could find, a few blocks away. I went up there to the hotel and he was just shocked that everything I described had been going on and said that he would put a stop to it and there was nothing to worry about.

Page 38
I left the hotel thinking, "Shoot, there ain't nothing to this job. All you have got to do is just tell them what the score is." It was dark as pitch going back to the hotel and there was an alley just before you got there and a couple of guys stepped out of the alley and came up to meet me just as I got close to it. I didn't pay any particular attention to them until they separated. The separated one on each side of me and they started swinging. I had a little flat briefcase and I was using it to try to knock the licks off and back-pedalling to the light, there was a street light not too far away and they didn't follow me into the street light. I got a little skinned up and my wristwatch broken, but didn't get hurt to speak of, but I decided then that it was going to be a pretty tough, damn job.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So what did you do, did you stay in Winchester?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I stayed. That was the only time that I ever got attacked. I had the opportunity to many times, but that was the only time. I thought that this was just the way it was. I didn't even bother to put it in my report. I went up to a hardware store the next morning and bought the best pocket knife that I could find and a whetstone and took it to the hotel and whetted it up to where I could shave with it and then thought, "Well, the next time that I go out in the dark, anybody that comes out of the alley, I'm going to get a little bit of meat while they are getting some." I would have to go up to that gate every midnight to meet the shift that came off and go up that dark street and as soon as I would step out of that old hotel, I would find something to whittle on and I would walk along whittling. [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, that was a deterrent to anyone.

Page 39
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, nobody ever … I don't know if it was the deterrent, but I was just never bothered. It was so obvious what happened, because nobody knew I was in town except the company and these fellows that I was taking up for. So, it was obvious that they had just set me up.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you get a local organized?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I got beaten. It was the first election that I ever had and I got the heck beat out of me. I got enough people to petition for an election, but I got beaten.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was that discouraging?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not too much, I was inexperienced. If I had had any experience, I might could have won that one, I don't know. I made plenty of mistakes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did they keep you moving around then, on through the war years, or did you …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I moved from there to Carolina and the next nine elections I was in, we won all nine of them. And I went to Danville, that was the big one.
WILLIAM FINGER:
When was that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
19 … I can tell you when I got in jail up there, it was 1942.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You didn't have to go out and go into the service?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I went up and got examined and got turned down.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Physically?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I was 4-F.
WILLIAM FINGER:
When you went into this in Danville in the '40s, what was your feeling politically? When you went to work for the union in '38, '39, you had kind of dropped your affiliation with the Socialist party.

Page 40
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, I suppose that you could say that I was a registered Democrat with Socialist leanings.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But all your time was spent with organizing?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Right. I didn't do any political work.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you just kept working and then you got involved in a big one in Danville?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, that was the biggest one that we have ever had in the South, aside from Cannon up here. I don't know how many were in that one.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It was the biggest election?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, there were 13,500 people at the time that we went in there.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you had an election?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, and we won it.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you won it? In '42?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you were in jail?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I was the only person in Danville that had round the clock police protection. As soon as I drove out of the parking lot, he was right there behind me, seeing to it that I didn't get hurt.
WILLIAM FINGER:
(to Jennie Pedigo) Did you ever go with him?
JENNIE PEDIGO:
Yes.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
She was there. She got arrested about half a dozen times in one day.
JENNIE PEDIGO:
They would kick me off the streets and tell me not to come back and I would go back and that was it.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
When we first went to Danville, they weren't going to let

Page 41
us distribute leaflets on the gates, they would run the people off. I decided that we had to have a test case and Jennie at that time weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet and we figured that she would make an appealing victim. So, we had it all set up with cameras and everything and bondsmen all standing by. She went down on the gate and of course, a cop grabbed her by the arm and marched her out from down there. I was standing up on the corner watching it all and another policeman was standing right beside me and didn't know who I was. He brought her up to the main highway and said, "Now, you stay down here, don't you come back down there anymore." Then as soon as he would turn the corner, she would take off back down there and he would grab her and march her up. That cop standing beside me was getting a kick out of it himself. He'd say, "There he comes back with her again. He is going to walk that little old girl to death." So finally, he did arrest her and took her over to the chief's office, but the chief then backed down on it. Finally, he levelled his finger at me and said, "If you are trying to get a test case, you let that woman come back here one more time and you are going to get a test case." I said, "Well chief, you are doing your duty and I'm doing mine, so if you are back out there in the morning, you'll get a chance to do your duty. She'll be there." The next morning, we were all set up again and she went down on the gate and you couldn't find a policeman.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you didn't get your test case after all?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No.
JENNIE PEDIGO:
He didn't need it then.
WILLIAM FINGER:
The NLRB protected you then, to …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.

Page 42
JENNIE PEDIGO:
Well, it was already [unknown] We were just trying at that particular gate to [unknown]. They may not have known it, but of course, the lawyer knew it. But the poor old policeman, I know that he really thought that I was violating the law.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How much support did you get from the TWUA during this campaign?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
From the TWUA? About all I needed.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Staff, money …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, we started … let's see, we called ourselves the Four J's. All of our initials started with J. Joel Leighton was working with me and his wife was named Jane. Then Jennie was working, my wife, so we called ourselves the Four J's.
WILLIAM FINGER:
All of them were on the TWUA staff?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were on the staff, too?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I didn't know that they hired women organizers?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, yeah. They didn't hire husband and wife teams, but we weren't husband and wife when she went to work. We got married after she went on the staff.
WILLIAM FINGER:
When did you get married?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
1942.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Right in the middle of the election?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. We thought we were pulling a big surprise on everybody. We slipped out of Danville and went over to Reidsville and got married. She had been staying up at the Stonewall Hotel and I had been staying at the Burton Hotel just to keep down talk, you know.

Page 43
So, after we got married, she was going to come back to the Burton and as soon as I walked back in the hotel, old Lady Griffin, who ran the hotel had a big grin on her face and said, "I know that I'll be getting another customer now." Everyone in Danville knew where we were going.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you all just lived out of hotels as a young married couple?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
JENNIE PEDIGO:
Our first baby was born in Concord, we were in a hotel then and that's where my daughter was born.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How long did you organize as a husband and wife team? How many years were you on the staff together?
JENNIE PEDIGO:
I think that it was about a year.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
About a year. When she was pregnant, she wasn't showing much, but she wrote a letter resigning. We got a letter back from Baldanzi saying that he hated to see her leave, but in as much he wouldn't want that baby born on a Greyhound bus between Kannapolis and Greensboro, he guessed that she would have to go ahead.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was Baldanzi head of organizing?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, he was the executive vice-president of TWUA at the time and I responded directly to him, in the Danville campaign particularly.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, that was kind of your first big major campaign.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That was the biggest one, well, it was the biggest one that any of us had been in. I had been in those elections in Marshall Field before that, but that was the first big one that I had.
WILLIAM FINGER:
In terms of strategy, how did you happen to win such a big case in '42? Had the Big Cotton Case already happened?

Page 44
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, we did a pretty fair job, I think, in our approach and the company did a magnificent job organizing for us. They had really intolerable conditions there and some supervision that should have known better. We were able to capitalize on conditions.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But there hadn't been any education done among the workers there or any kind of groundwork laid before that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I was in there by myself to start with. I went in six or seven or eight months before we had the election and I was there by myself. I was doing just bedrock work of going out and finding key people. I was looking for people that other people respected and that would take a leading part in the plant on committee.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you have contacts with '34 and '31, those strikes in Danville?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
From those strikes, no. I got acquainted, naturally, with a number of people that were involved, but they were just incidental. And it would have been a mistake to have tried to gone from that resevoir anyway, it is always a mistake.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Isn't it true that there was a bad legacy for United because of '34?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No question. Their strike was in 1930, there.
WILLIAM FINGER:
They didn't go out in '34?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No. They were thoroughly destroyed there.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This is Dan River Mills?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. It started in 1929 and went through a large part of '30. It was a very bitter strike and people really suffered. That was the biggest problem that we had, the memories of that strike.

Page 45
WILLIAM FINGER:
Twelve years before?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
There had been no organizing then, from 1930 to 1942?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Not to speak of. There had been some people in there a time or two, but they hadn't done anything to speak of.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How long a time did it take?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
A little less than a year, it took about a year to organize it, a little less than a year, maybe.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You just attribute the win to the bad conditions there and your own good groundwork?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I think that we did some good groundwork there. Joel Leighton was an exceptionally able person and Joel and I could always work together because the things that Joel really loved to do were necessary things, but things that I despised to do.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What were those things?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, Joel is quite careful with bookwork, keeping a record and making sure he knew just where we stood in any given time and any given department, it was invaluable. I hated that kind of work, I always did and it went against the grain to have to do it. So, I did 99% of the contacts when there was just the two of us in there and Joel kept it correlated and he was a pretty good publicity man, too and we dreamed up the strategy that we were going to use. We were given a free hand. I recall that Sol Barkin was research director of the union at that time and Sol was an awfully able man …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you call him "Sol" instead of "Al?"
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It wasn't Al, it was Sol.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Sol Barkin is different from Al Barkin.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. Sol was quite a knowledgeable person, but he had some

Page 46
idea that he could tell you from New York how to run a campaign and he sent down a whole mess of stuff as to what the background of these people were and therefore the approach should be thus and so and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
He was the research director?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, he was the research director. I just put it to one side and never touched it and Baldanzi asked me if I had got the stuff from Sol and I said, "Yes and for Christ's sake, if Sol wants to run this campaign, let him come down here and run it, but I don't give a damn about this psychological makeup of the community or any of the sociological background or any of that stuff. I want to know what these people are saying in the pool rooms and the bowling lanes and the churches and everywhere else about this company and about what they need. When I get all that put together and get the right kind of committee, I'll have something. I want have anything until I do." So, I was given a completely free hand and anybody that wanted to butt in, any of the big shots that wanted to butt in, I had an advocate that would tell them to lay off, "these kids are running their show down there. Let them run it." We made out all right.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was Larry Rogin working up there, too?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Larry came in a couple of times right before the election to help us get some publicity. We had an excellent publicity man attached to TWUA then and helped us enormously the last few weeks before the election, a fellow by the name of Val Buratti and Val was one in a million. I don't think that we've ever had another …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Larry was education director then?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And Val was …
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 47
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
… talking. So many people that do ghost writing, they have one way of doing it, but Val had the ability that if it was going to be me on the radio, I would just about think that I wrote it myself and the same thing would be true with Baldanzi or anybody else that he wrote for. He just had the ability to get that stuff out in a hurry. And he could write under enormous pressure. It got to be a madhouse just before the election and Val could be sitting in a room with people talking at the top of their voices and cussing and making all kinds of racket and he would be typing away and he could just shut it all out. He had a tremendous ability to do that kind of work.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Is he still alive?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I guess that he is. He was drafted in the Army and never did come back to TWUA. I don't know who he went with next.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you built up in the peak of the campaign. You got arrested in October?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, that was a thoroughly put up job. They wanted to get some records that we had and fortunately, the records that they would have liked to have gotten, I never kept them in the office. They got us out of circulation and as you will notice there, they got the office. (points to photograph
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, did the War Labor Board help you? How did that work?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, that didn't help or hurt. These records that I had were for the War Labor Board, it was our material and we didn't particularly want the company to know what we had.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you won the election on your own terms?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You bargained with NLRB supervision?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. They had people from about three or four regions around

Page 48
come and supervise that election.
WILLIAM FINGER:
13,500.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, they had … I've forgotten how many balloting places, some thirty or more balloting places and the Board brought in people from Pennsylvania and all over to assist in the election.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And then you got a contract?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We got … the first contract that we got was really a War Labor Board Contract. We got a contract, but we had to go to the War Labor Board before we got it. Then we got subsequent contracts on our own.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And that was a TWUA local?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And I guess that it stayed a TWUA local until …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Until the Rieve-Baldanzi fight in '52.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, you must have been really proud then, you were only 34 years old and here was the largest election ever held?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, we were very happy.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you take a little vacation after you won that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, I didn't get a chance to. Once you win, you've then got a big consolidation job to do, you know.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you stayed there and worked with that local?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes and I wanted out of there, too. I begged and pleaded to get out. At that time, I didn't want to do service work and they made me joint board manager, which was strictly all service work.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Mostly grievances?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Grievances and at that time, I wanted to organize. I particularly wanted a shot at the Cone Mills and I kept trying to persuade …

Page 49
WILLIAM FINGER:
Which mills?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Cone Mills.
WILLIAM FINGER:
In Greensboro?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. And they kept telling me that they had nobody to replace me, that I would have to stay. Then I got a letter from Uncle Sam saying that I, "Greetings," and to come up and get my examination. I called George Baldanzi that they had damn well better get somebody down there, that Uncle Sam had first claim on my services. So, he sent a fellow by the name of Al Woodward in and I started breaking Al in. I went up to Roanoke and got my examination and got 4-F and came back and they said, "All right, you've got a replacement now, you can go to Greensboro." I went down to Greensboro.
WILLIAM FINGER:
To Proximity?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I organized that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That was the first one in Cone Mills. And you organized it there during the war?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was that the first local in all of Greensboro?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I used to have a lot of the stuff that they put out there. We had anti-CIO and the CIO things. There was a well organized anti-CIO group there that put out some clever propaganda and I wished that I had kept the stuff.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who were they?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It was headed up by a fellow that owned the Dillard's Paper Company in Greensboro and under him then, were a number of people from the plant that we called stooges from the plant. He had them and must have had

Page 50
somebody that knew something about publicity, because I got a big laugh out of the propaganda that they put out, it was pretty clever stuff.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did they circulate this just in the Proximity Village, or all over?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
They put them out on the plant gate and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
On all the plants?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
On all the Cone plants.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were in Revolution, Proximity and … what's the other one?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
White Oak. I recall one of those going after me for not being in the army.
WILLIAM FINGER:
There were things like that out on you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
They had a leaflet that had something to do with our boys in the services and down under that was, "By the way, when does Ped-i-go?"
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you have some special talent as an organizer, because here was a really major victory in Danville and then the Proximity plant?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't know, I suppose that I was a considerably better organizer than the average, at least while I was organizing, I organized more plants in the South than any other individual has ever organized in the South.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you work harder?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I don't guess that I did …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you understand the laws better?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I think I applied my own theories pretty much and despite writing a lot of letters to the International, I've never been able to get anybody else to do it, but it has always been my theory that no organizer really organizes a plant. You organize a few key people who in turn organize a plant. My approach has always been to first find the people that

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count and no matter how long it takes, hunt until you find key people in key departments and educate the hell out of them. Once you have got those people, you have surrounded yourself with those people, you will get the plant. If you just take the first guy that comes up with a chip on his shoulder, the chances are that he is mad at the company and the chances are that he should be fired if he hasn't been fired and will be fired the first time he sticks his neck out for the union. So, he is no good to you. You have to be a little bit more selective, which means that you have got to initially take a lot longer in setting up your ground work. It pays off, if you set up quick ground work, sometimes it works, but often you wind up with people on your committee that nobody has any respect for. I have always stuck with that formula, together with another formula that I developed along the road and this was down in Georgia when I got some money to play with. I was organizing a local down there that was pretty good size and they came into a lot of money when they started collecting dues and didn't have any … hadn't learned yet to be greedy. So, I persuaded them to let me use some of it and I started putting out a letter, a news letter on a pe riodic basis to all the post office boxholders.
WILLIAM FINGER:
To everyone?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
To everyone. And I didn't push organizing, I just cited all the good things that I could in passing, all the positive stuff, but made no pitch for organizing as such. I tried to saturate that area.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This is in Rome?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
The whole area around Rome. I kept this up for about six or seven months, but didn't go close to a plant. I didn't try to organize anything, but I kept putting out the propaganda and then I got a nibble from one plant, that they wanted somebody in. It was like shooting rabbits sitting.

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I knocked off nine plants in this Rome, Georgia area in a year and a half's time, inside of a year and a half.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Which years are that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That was about '48 or '49. I think that it was around '48.
WILLIAM FINGER:
In other words, when the people came back to you and said, "Now, we want something." Then, you would …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, not only that, that 's … I started going out and into these areas where I knew they had been getting our stuff. I started going out and actively seeking. I think the first plant was one that alerted me that sentiment was building up and from there I went after them. But I am convinced that if I hadn't done this first work for nearly a year beforehand, it proably wouldn't have paid off.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Would you send out stuff about the unions, or …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, about unions and I tried to pitch it a little bit idealistically because I wasn't shooting at the mass, I was hoping that somewhere in the …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you write that yourself?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I wrote every bit of it myself.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did it come from your early education there and the Socialist party stuff?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I expect a little bit of it rubbed off.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you continuing to read about theory … you say, "idealistic." What do you mean?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, you are not going to organize workers in a plant, say like the Dupont Plant or the big synthetic industry plants, if all you can talk to them about is money. They are making more money than the

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organized plants are already. What have you got to sell? But if you can talk to them in terms of a question of, however you want to phrase it and you have to be pretty clever in phrasing it, but it all boils down to the question of human dignity. No matter how good the company is, do you want to be in the position of having to depend on somebody to be good to you? And you try to at least arouse some self-respect on the part of the individual. You've probably got it, but you try to wake it up to where … and you try to point out, too, when you are on an initial campaign, that you are not living for yourself alone, you have other people. You are not an island, you've got all these other people that you look out after, you are trying to find some leadership people. You know to start with that 99% of the people in that plant, you are not hitting for them, you're not looking for them, you're looking for that other 1%, because that 1% is all you need. Once you get him, then you start throwing out the bread and butter stuff and the rest of it. But you first try to get the kind of people that other people respect and who will carry the ball for you.
WILLIAM FINGER:
And you would write in those kinds of terms?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Right. Of course, you have to be a lot more subtle than that and you don't do it in a bull session. All of my writing that I have ever done has been pretty laborious and I have done a lot of it, but I have to labor over it. I write and correct, and re-write and throw away and start again. I try to come up with some satisfactorily.
WILLIAM FINGER:
It takes a long time. Was that a Dupont plant at Rome?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No. That was Celanese.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Jennie, while you are here, could we talk? Instead of moving on into the '50s … I guess the next big thing is the Rieve-Baldanzi

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split and how that affected your work and …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That's easy. [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
Were you fired?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Damn right. [Laughter]
WILLIAM FINGER:
You came back, didn't you?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I guess that I am the only person in the whole bunch that was fired, and they just cleaned house with some real good people, I guess that I am the only one out of the whole bunch that they ever offered a job back to. I was surprised as the dickens when they offered me one.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Why is that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
You can't imagine the bitterness that was in that fight. That was just terrific, the bitterness and hatred and venom that went into it. The TWUA lost some of the best people, they lost the kind of people that it takes to build a union, really.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who were those people?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
People like Joel Leighton, Lewis Conn, to name a couple from here in the South.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who were some others? Remember David Burgess?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, I have heard of him, but I don't know him particularly well.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How about Julius Fry?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Fry was with them. He stayed with them.
WILLIAM FINGER:
He stayed with Rieve?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, yes.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did you work with him when you did Proximity?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, he wasn't anywhere around Greensboro at that time?
WILLIAM FINGER:
How about Larry Rogin?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Larry, of course, stayed with the administration.

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WILLIAM FINGER:
He kind of walked the fence, though, didn't he?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
A lot of them tried to walk the fence and eventually fell off. You know, Jim Blackwell … I was always fond of Jimmy and during the fight, after the split, he and I needled the hell out of each other. The trouble with Jimmy was that I thought it was funny and Jimmy couldn't take it when you pitched it back at him.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Which side was he on?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
He was with Rieve and I was with Baldanzi. I know that after I was fired, we were in the same fight over a local. And Jimmy would come up with some right clever little ditties, you know, needling …
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were working for UTW then?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, I was working for UTW.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Where?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
This was at Aleo in Rockingham. I recall once that Jimmy put out on the gate, "Baldanzi, Leighton and Conn, now where in the heck have they gone? They were going to lead us to honor and glory but now they have have packed up and moved on. Now, it's Pedigo, Boggs and Acope that are giving out the same line of dope." It went on with that and wound up with something about how TWUA was all that would give them hope. He had it all rhymed out. He was on the gate and I was on the gate and he was nudging some guys to bring one over and show it to me. So, one of his people brought one over to me and I read it and laughed because I thought it was quite cute. When I got back to the office, I wrote one off, "Jimmy the Limey straddled the wall and all of us hoped that James wouldn't fall, but King Rieve's money and King Rieve's gin was too much for poor Jimmy. He fell off and caved in." [Laughter] I put that out on the gate and Jimmy was just foaming at the mouth. He couldn't take it.

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WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, what did you think … for a young guy like me looking back, it is remarkable. I mean, here's a weak union in the South compared to all the textile companies that are still unorganized and here these two groups of people were knocking the wind out of each other's sails, raiding each other and trying to get locals.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
It was murder.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was it totally Baldanzi and Rieve, those two individuals and then loyalty to them? Was that the whole motivation behind all of that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well no, I don't think that was the whole thing. There was that, of course, but there was a lot more to it than that. Baldanzi was heading up the group that was generally called the intellectual faction and the Rieve group, not Rieve himself, but the Rieve people all thought that these were a bunch of radicals and people that went off the deep end. The fight really would never have taken place, in my opinion, there would have been some hard feelings, but there never would have been the fight except for it being egged on by people that were with the administration and were scared to death of Baldanzi and wanted to get rid of him and they figured that the best way to get rid of him was knowing that he and Rieve did not see eye to eye on anything. They built up this animosity between them and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Some of the people under Rieve thought that?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
That's right.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Who were some of those people? Was Sol Barkin one of them?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, Sol Barkin stayed out of it as much as he could. Sol didn't particularly like Baldanzi, but that was not his type of fight and it was primarily the New England wheels that were in New England at the time, that were instigating that type of approach. But the result was that anything that Baldanzi said about Rieve … and a lot that he didn't say,

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I suppose, was magnified and built up and fed to Rieve. Anything that was said by Rieve about Baldanzi was in return, fed back to Baldanzi and magnified and blown up and probably a lot that he didn't say. The thing was being pushed because there were a group of us then that didn't know as much as we learned over the years, but we thought that TWUA could go places, we thought that we could become more progressive and we could accomplish some things. I don't think that the fight, from my point of view, it wouldn't ever have gotten as far as it did if we could have foreseen the bitterness and the split that took place. But frankly, we were hopeful that we could win the minds of the people and win at the ballot box and at the conventions. The way that that convention was set up …
WILLIAM FINGER:
This is '52?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
This is '52, and I think that it just disillusioned so many people. A lot of us at that time had never seen a really rigged convention before. We were new at it and I think that's the one thing that caused the degree of bitterness. I think that if we had been older hands and seen a few more things and I have seen them rigged since and I have never got too excited about it. But that was the first one and the conventions before that, there is always a certain amount of rigging, but they had been pretty open and you could have your say up until that convention. Nobody was able to take it in stride who were on Baldanzi's side, they were just all so goddamn mad, they were ready to go anywhere. Of course, Baldanzi then was ready to go anywhere too. He and Rieve had finally reached the parting of the ways and that was the end of it and he started shopping around for a place to go. I would have quit TWUA, but I would never have gone with UTW if I had not been fired the way that

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I was fired. That made me so damn mad, I didn't know which end was up.
WILLIAM FINGER:
How were you fired?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
I came back from the convention and I felt like the handwriting was on the wall, but I frankly didn't want to go with UTW. And I told George Baldanzi as much, I told George that I was afraid I was going to have to say good-by because I was not going to stay with TWUA but I didn't want any part of UTW either and I was going to have to do some looking around. So, I started looking. Lucy Randolph Mason was a close friend of mine and I called Lucy and she said that she had better get in touch with Van Bittner and that she would get back to me.
WILLIAM FINGER:
This was '52?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes, so there was no doubt in my mind but that I could go some place in the CIO.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You wanted to stay in the South, though?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yes. Wayne Derncourt came into the office where I was working at Kannapolis, I was trying to organize Cannon Mills at the time.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That was your next big target?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah and Wayne Derncourt walked in there one afternoon and kept sitting there, waiting for the office girl to leave. I wondered what in the hell it was all about and I figured that I was going to get fired, but I figured that I would get a notice and so on and I was going to make my transition. Well, right after the office girl left, Wayne tossed a letter over there to me and I opened it and it said, "This is to notify you that you are discharged as of today. Check enclosed for three days pay." No notice. I had worked for three days that week, it was on a Wednesday.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You were fired that minute?

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JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Fired that minute. I read the thing and put it back in the envelope and reached into my pocket and pulled the keys to the office out and tossed them over to Wayne and said, "Here they are." I walked out and went down to the closest phone booth and picked up the telephone and called George Baldanzi and said, "Are you still looking for some staff people?" He said, "They haven't fired you, have they?" "Yes." He said, "Damn right. I want you to go up to Marshall Field right away." So, I was out of a job about five minutes there. I wouldn't have gone if I hadn't been so goddamn mad, I wouldn't have gone. I just forgot all about the CIO and thought, "Goddamn it, I've organized more plants for this goddamn union than any damn man they've got in this country and they don't even give me a notice." That was what got me.
WILLIAM FINGER:
I guess that they must have been bitter on their side, too?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, no question about it. As bitter as they could be.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Well, you were describing the way that people within the Rieve faction has pushed Baldanzi to this position. How about Operation Dixie? How did that play into both the early successes and then the failure …
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Well, Operation Dixie, as far as I know, was never a success from the start to the finish, was it? It was always a failure.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Tell me about it.
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Oh, I just think that it was put together on the … we did all the wrong things that we could do.
WILLIAM FINGER:
You mean the …

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JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
We keep repeating our mistakes. We decide that we are going to have a campaign, we decided that we were going to have one in Operation Dixie, so what did we do? Hire a bunch of people, just hire everybody right and left and find and hire kids that don't know from nothing and have no background and have no knowledge. You should see some of the people that they hired. I was joint board manager in Rome when Operation Dixie was set up and Charlie Gilman was the state director for CIO …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Out of the union?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, in … for the operation and for the state. Charlie sent about nine of those people over to Rome and asked me to look after them and let them work out of my office and the group that he sent over, there were, I would say, about four of them, maybe five, that would have made organizers. They were nice young fellows that somebody could have taken them and brought them along, then they would have made organizers. The others weren't worth shooting and there was one in particular, there was just so much going on … there was one that appeared to be more disruptive than any of the rest and it just seemed to me that they were doing all the wrong things. I didn't have much control over it because they were just out of my office, but they were working for a different union in the set-up. I happened to pick up … this fellow's name was Gray, I picked up this Leo Huberman's Labor Spy Record and leafed over into the index in the back and found the name Gray. It was the same person. Then I went and looked up what the fellow was, where he was referred to and he was referred to as a man who was employed by the Railway Audit, a pretty notrious …
WILLIAM FINGER:
The Railway Audit?

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JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
Yeah, that was the name of the spy organization. He was employed by them way back them, when Huberman wrote that book, back in the '30s and he was an AFL organizer and had …
WILLIAM FINGER:
The AFL was infiltrating the CIO?
JOSEPH D. PEDIGO:
No, this was industrial espionage, spying on organizing. This guy was passing as an AFL organizer. There wasn't any CIO back then. I kept reading about his background and I checked and found out that this fellow was giving the same credentials, this Gray, that he was a former AFL organizer. I went over to Atlanta and laid that damn book down in front of Charlie Gilman and said, "Why in the hell don't you look before you hire people?"
END OF INTERVIEW