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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reasons for personal opposition to unionization

Though Sigmon believed that she should earn more money, she did not support unionization.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. 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:
Did you ever feel like the company ought to be paying you more money than they were?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Well, they got a certain rate they pay us. Different kinds of gloves pay different prices. But I guess they average it up. If I'd just stay at it I could make more, but, like I said, I've worked all my life, and I feel like I should slow down.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But they could pay you more, at a higher rate, for what you do.
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes, they could, because he can afford it, I'm sure. But he's somebody he likes to make his hands work for what they get. Just like all of them. They want to get all they can out of their help. I'm sure he can pay more.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did people ever try to ask for a higher production rate or try to argue that the company should pay the hands a little bit more?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
A lot of times I heard the girls say that he could pay more. Different things. But every so often he would give us a three- or four-cent raise, maybe five. But we haven't had a raise now a couple year.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You don't get cost-of-living raises?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. He makes you work for what… Well, they all do. They make you work for your production. The production they set at a certain percent, so much an hour. Well, he'll make you work for that, as well as them giving you.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were there ever any strikes or efforts to organize a labor union in the plants where you were working?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Anywhere around here that you know of?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. Nothing but the GE plant. They strike every once in a while, but that's up between Conover and Hickory. But they're union anyway.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you think about unions?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I don't think it's right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why is that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I don't really know all that much about it.