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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The reasons strikers became scabs

Though many of the laborers joined the strike at first, within a few weeks, the company could find individuals among the strikers who needed more support than the union could offer. These people often became strike breakers, and through their work, the mill remained at partial operation for much of the time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
The mill kept running during a lot of this period. Who was running it?
SAM FINLEY:
They had more noise than they did. When they first started up they had more noise than anything else. They started up the machinery all along the outer edge where they make a noise, and there wasn't very many went to work.
VESTA FINLEY:
A lot of the machinery had to stand, you know. But what wasn't afraid to go to work, you know. But the union yapped down there and hollered; called them yellow dogs, wasn't it?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes; they called them yellow dogs and made songs about them. Them rascals made songs about these scabs and [laughter, Finleys]
VESTA FINLEY:
The scabs were the union. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
The scabs were the people that left the union and went back to work.
VESTA FINLEY:
Yes. [laughter]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How many of those were there?
SAM FINLEY:
I couldn't tell you the number, but there were several of them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, like half a dozen or a dozen?
SAM FINLEY:
Oh, more than that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you talk to those people?
SAM FINLEY:
Oh yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were they your friends? Had they been your friends before?
SAM FINLEY:
Some of them was. For a long time some didn't get over it that easy. But we still stayed friends.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What did you see as their reasons for going to work?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, we just thought that they didn't have good sense, you know.
VESTA FINLEY:
No, but I'll tell you. A lot of them had large families, and they didn't make enough money to live on. Well, they just didn't make enough money to give their children balanced meals, or to dress them in a way that they would like to. And they just preferred not to belong to the union, and that was their privilege and their right. But the union wanted to make them, you know. [laughter] Everybody didn't join.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I remember reading a letter that Minnie Fisher wrote to Louise McClaren about having. . . . I think she went back to work. Do you remember anything about that?
VESTA FINLEY:
Well, no; I don't remember right now about it. But of course she went back to work. But her husband wasn't working. Well, she had one daughter (she lived up here in back of me); I assume she went back to work because she felt like she had to.