Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Unfavorable view of efforts to unionize furniture-making factories

Flake Meyers explains why he did not support efforts to unionize the workers when he worked in the Conover furniture factory. According to Meyers, labor activists tended to be "drifters" who had not worked for any significant length of time in the factories they were trying to unionize. Meyers believed that workers like him, who stayed with one factory for a longer amount of time understood that working conditions were fairly amenable. His views on unionization offer one perspective on tensions that existed among workers over this issue.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. 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

PATTY DILLEY:
I've heard that at Southern Desk they had a union trying to get in there one time?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were there any before, like at Conover Furniture, or back in the early days?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
No. Back then, the union never tried to get in while I was at Conover. At Southern Desk they tried it several times, but it never did make it.
PATTY DILLEY:
What do you think of unions?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
I didn't want it. I really worked hard to keep it out.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they have any kind of plant committee, people that said don't vote for the union?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Like the foremen and all couldn't [vote], just the working men and women.
PATTY DILLEY:
What is your opinion of unions? What's bad about it, and what's good about it?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
I just think when you're working at a big plant like we had at Southern Desk, if you'd bring a union in there they'd come in and tell you what to do, like when we'd go out on strike, maybe go out for thirteen months. Where you had a good job that was paying you pretty good, why get a union in there to tell you what to do?
PATTY DILLEY:
You didn't want anybody else telling you.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
That's all I had against it. I just didn't want it, and I really worked and a lot of other good people did. They voted it down three or four times after I left there. We had worked so, several times since they voted it down.
PATTY DILLEY:
What were the people who were trying to get it in like?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
They was mostly drifters, peoplethat was all the time groaning. "Ah, they don't pay me enough. I can't work. I can't support my family. I've got to have a union. If we get a union in, they'll raise the wages, and we'll have better working conditions." And this and that and the other. They were all the time cracking about something. They wasn't satisfied about their job. Just drifters, mostly.
PATTY DILLEY:
They weren't some of the people that had been there a real long time.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Wasn't like me and lots and lots of others, had been there a long time, and we knowed that it was a good place to work and all, and weren't at all for the union in there. Them people that maybe hadn't been working there but a few months, they'd think it would be the thing to do. It'd be a big price to work there. We'd vote it down.