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Oral History Interview with Cary J. Allen Jr., April 3, 1980. Interview H-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Cary Joseph Allen Jr. was an aluminum worker for Alcoa in Badin, North Carolina, during the 1930s. Focusing specifically on efforts to unionize aluminum workers circa 1936 to 1937, Allen describes how initially the only organized labor in the community was within the American Federation of Labor (AFL). With weak representation in the AFL, Allen and some of his fellow workers organized to establish a local branch of the Aluminum Workers of America in Badin, with the goal of local autonomy for the newly formed union. Allen describes local working and living conditions. Alcoa exercised a strong paternalistic influence within the community, and Allen discusses the poor living conditions workers faced in company housing. Moreover, the strong paternalistic influence, according to Allen, made it initially difficult for the union to attract new members. Fearful of losing their jobs, workers were reluctant to organize. Despite these kinds of early setbacks, Allen emphasizes the long-term goals of the union to better working conditions, earn higher wages, and challenge the company's control over the community. By 1937, efforts to unionize had succeeded.
    Excerpts
  • Decision to establish local union for aluminum workers in Badin, North Carolina
  • Living conditions and paternalistic control in a working community
  • Efforts to persuade workers to join the union
  • A brotherhood of African American and white workers in the union
  • Strategies for creating unity among workers
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Steel industry and trade--Employees--Southern States
  • Trade-unions--Steel workers--Southern States
  • United Steel Workers of America
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.