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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Loy Connelly Cloniger, June 18, 1980. Interview H-0158. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Workers strike for more money

Cloniger explains that the strike began because the streetcar workers wanted more money. Nearly all of them were union members, both white and black. Cloniger also remembers that the strike seemed to accomplish nothing: the workers returned to work without the desired raises.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Loy Connelly Cloniger, June 18, 1980. Interview H-0158. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
What led up to the strike? What kind of conditions, or why was it that the workers wanted to have a strike?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
I think they wanted more money, so they got organized and then the company got strike-breakers in here. Try to knock it up, you know. The paint shop was back there next to the railroad. Some guy told some of the union men if they'd give him so much money, he'd blow them the strike-breakers out of there. Asked him how he would do it. He said he'd take dynamite and put him a board in the ground and light the dynamite and shoot it up on top of the paint shop. And dynamite pressure goes down, you know. The union streetcar men wouldn't agree to that. Said he'd blow them out. [chuckle]
ALLEN TULLOS:
The strike-breakers.
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So they didn't support any kind of violence.
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Were all the streetcar workers pretty much together?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Just a few of them didn't join the union. We had a boy that died here just a few weeks back. He wouldn't join, a mechanic. He lived back over here at . He was from Griffin, Georgia, out from Atlanta. He never would join the union. Every time we'd get a raise, he'd brag about it. An old nigger back there greasing the busses said, "Mr. Bill, the union got it for you." He'd tell [him] that.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did the black and the white workers both join the union?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did the black and white workers meet together?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Was there any race problem over that?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No. This is a union button I got here a while back.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What does that say?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Twenty year.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Which union?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Why did the strike end? After those people were killed, then what happened?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
The company officials and the men got together and agreed to go back to work, is all I know.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did the union feel like it had won or not?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No, I don't believe they did.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you remember what you got out of the strike?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No, I don't remember whether they got a raise or what. I don't think we did, though. I think they told what wanted to come back to work to come; what didn't, why, they fired.
ALLEN TULLOS:
One of the things that the union wanted, as I understand it, was to be a part of the national union, the Amalgamated Association.
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
But they didn't get that. Mr. Taylor and those people wouldn't go along with that.
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you remember that?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
Yes. Old man Z. V. Taylor was president at that time.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What did the union workers think about him during that time?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
I don't think they liked him much [chuckle], but couldn't say much.
ALLEN TULLOS:
After the strike was over, did a lot of the men go back?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
About all of them, yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did the company fire any of them that were union leaders?
LOY CONNELLY CLONIGER:
No, I don't think so.