Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Organizing hosiery workers in the South

Rogin describes some of the work he did organizing hosiery workers in the South during the late 1930s. In particular, Rogin addresses campaigns in Henderson, North Carolina, and Union Point, Georgia. His comments are indicative of the range of experiences for hosiery workers in the South and offer insight into the various tactics used to address inequity in the workplace.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Also that same year, I think it was '39 or '40, I went to Henderson—it was before it was organized, or they were organizing it there. Helen Gregory, I guess, was working on it. And those mill villages, those two mills, were just out of this world. There was a seamless hosiery industry, which of course was worse than the cotton industry in its pay—there's a difference between full-fashion and seamless hosiery. There is no more full-fashion hosiery; seamless hosiery has taken over altogether. And I went down (I don't know what I had to do with it) to Union Point, Georgia, and we took some film (I don't know where they are now; I left them with the hosiery workers) of that mill village, and the sad state of repair of the privys and the water. And it was a mill village where… This was a guy who was convicted of violating the minimum wage law, because he forced his workers to buy glasses (whether they needed them or not) and this brought their wages down below the [laughter] minimum wage. Frank Barker was the local union president then (later went on the staff of the Textile Workers), and he got me down there. I remember he came up to Charlotte to that convention, and we were busy lobbying for the minimum wage law then. They were earning probably about eight or nine cents an hour on some of the jobs, and stuff like that—just terrible conditions. And we used to kid him, and told him he had his first pair of shoes on when he came to Charlotte. Down in Union Point most of the people didn't wear shoes. That's what impressed me, you know. And a little later on (I guess I was still with the hosiery workers) I was off in—you used to go into Tennessee too when you had to… See, the '34 period, all these strikes that took place: they were hosiery and non-hosiery, and a lot of them were seamless hosiery up in Rockwood in Tennessee and other strikes. But Tennessee was a big center of full-fashion as well as seamless hosiery, and they had had some big, bitter strikes, and the general strike there in those days.