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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Alice P. Evitt, July 18, 1979. Interview H-0162. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mill bosses try to speed up work

Here, Evitt recalls mill owners' efforts to increase the speed and efficiency of their workforce. Workers tended to accept that kind of pressure back then, Evitt says, in part because they felt a sense of ownership over their machines.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Alice P. Evitt, July 18, 1979. Interview H-0162. 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

JIM LELOUDIS:
Did people ever compete to see who could produce more?
ALICE P. EVITT:
Yeah. They'd put the clocks on spinnin' frames. When they'd stop 'em to doff 'em-they had doffers in there. Had to take that yarn off and put you some empty bobbins on-while your clock was stopped, you wasn't makin' nothin'. They'd stand there and holler, and make them doffers hurry all they could. Get it started up, ‘cause you a-losin’ when it ain't runnin'. That clock stopped. Just like when I worked in the card room, they put clocks on them. They they put 'em on the spinnin' down there.
JIM LELOUDIS:
When is it they put those clocks in? Do you remember about when that was?
ALICE P. EVITT:
They always had them on the speeders, but they put them on the spinnin' way back in '13 or '14. I won't say which. They put it on some spinnin' out there. I know it was before I's married. I was married in '15. I moved to Concord in '12. They put them clocks on there.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Do you ever remember them coming around doing time studies to see how fast you were doing with a stop watch?
ALICE P. EVITT:
No, but they'd come by and time your frame to see how it was doin'. Put a time clock on it. They'd do that on the frame see how it was doin'.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Do you remember the "speed-up" and "stretch-out" in the late 20's?
ALICE P. EVITT:
Yeah, they stretched out on the speeders. Out here, they used to run three out here. When I left, they was runnin' six. That worked you to death. I was glad to get over to the Calvine where they's run four over there. But that was a job.
JIM LELOUDIS:
How did people respond to that when they started asking you to run more?
ALICE P. EVITT:
They just had to take it, or go on and quit. So they'd take them.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did people ever try to resist it?
ALICE P. EVITT:
No. People back then, they tried to work with the boss, and the boss tried to work with them. That's the reason they wouldn't let 'em take you off and give it to somebody else and put you on another. You went on one and run it and that was yours. You worked with them, and they worked with you.
JIM LELOUDIS:
So it was kind of a trade-off between being allowed to run your machine and that willingness to work a little more for that?
ALICE P. EVITT:
Yeah, they would work more. . . .