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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kathryn Killian and Blanche Bolick, December 12, 1979. Interview H-0131. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Minimum wages prompts employers to push workers to produce more

Killian and Bolick remember that the institution of a minimum wage spurred glove makers to push their workers to produce more gloves, because they now had to pay their workers regardless of their level of productivity.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kathryn Killian and Blanche Bolick, December 12, 1979. Interview H-0131. 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

KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Well, we had a reputation for being hard workers.
BLANCHE BOLICK:
That means a lot.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
You're right.
BLANCHE BOLICK:
You go somewhere and stick to your work, why that means a lot, and making good gloves, too.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Or whatever.
BLANCHE BOLICK:
Or whatever you do.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Our parents taught us to give a good day's work no matter what we were doing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did some people make inferior gloves?
BLANCHE BOLICK:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did some people really get away with that?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Well, now they can, but years when we started work you couldn't. You had to make a good glove. It anyways carried back to you. During the years when the work was so good and the demand for gloves was so high, they tried to make more gloves and not so good, and that didn't turn out.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there a period when they started raising production?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Yes, oh yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did that affect you since you were working at home?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
I had to fill the same load that they did at the plant. If you don't make production, I don't think they'd let you have a machine at home.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did people react to the work speeding up like that? How did you feel about that?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
You had to speed up when they first started coming in—what did they call that when they first started it?—… When I first started making gloves you could work as you wanted to and you could not work. What I mean by that: if you wanted to make a lot you could make it and if you wanted to mess around you could mess around. But then what was that law they started—when social security first came in, wasn't it? You know, they had to pay you thirty cents an hour, wasn't it?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Minimum wage?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Yes. They had to pay you …
BLANCHE BOLICK:
They had to pay you so much whether you made it or not.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Yes! That's when they tightened up and you had to work by the hour. You had to make what you were supposed to or you got out! And ever since then minimum wage goes up. So right now I don't know what it is. How they make production—I don't know what minimum wage is.