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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Individual decision to walk off the job when faced with a pay cut

In this excerpt, McGill discusses changes to her job at the Dwight textile mill in the mid-1920s when management at the top level switched hands. With no warning, the materials used were changed and pay was cut from eighteen dollars a week to seven and a half dollars. Her description offers an interesting perspective on the instability workers faced during this era. McGill's response, to walk off of the job at these prospects, demonstrates her recognition at an early age of the unjust nature of such working conditions for workers and foreshadows her later move into the realm of labor activism and union organization.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
How long did you work in that first period?
EULA MCGILL:
I guess a couple of years, yes, because it was during the time there that thirty years was up. And they shut the mill down, and it actually changed hands; they brought in new management. My Uncle Jim lost his job with the company. They brought in an entirely new set-up-I mean, top management. A lot of the supervisors in the plant stayed on, because the supervisor I worked for did, who was the uncle of one of my best friends-his name was Osko Cochrane. And I can't remember that old man's name that came down as superintendent. But when I went in to work the first day, I went in and I saw the change, and the work was different from what I had. . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
Now how had it changed?
EULA MCGILL:
Well, the type of yarn. You see, I had been working on what we called "big yarn" that went to the warpers, and that was easier for me to do. Well, when I went back in there it was small yarn, and we had four bobbins up here that fed in, where I used to have one up here and one down here. I now had two up here and two down here that fed in to make the finer yarn. And it was going to be harder for me to do, I saw that. So I asked what they were going to pay; and they had cut us down to $7.50 a week.
JACQUELYN HALL:
From $18. down to $7.50?
EULA MCGILL:
For twelve hours of work, sixty hours a week. See, you didn't even stop to eat.
JACQUELYN HALL:
No lunch?
EULA MCGILL:
At night no stopping off to eat; you worked six to six (six o'clock at night to six in the morning). You ate on the run.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Any breaks at all?
EULA MCGILL:
No breaks. So when he told me that I just walked out.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you say?
EULA MCGILL:
I just didn't say nothing; I just walked out. That's when I said to the boss, "What're you going to pay me?" He was standing there talking to me, and I said, "How much is this going to pay?" And he told me, and I said, "Well, good-bye," and walked out the door.