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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 >>

Local union leaders

Earlier in the interview, the Finleys had talked about the national union organizers who had come to Marion for the strike. In this excerpt, they talk about the local leadership and how the local officers interacted with the out-of-town representatives.

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:
I wanted to ask about the local leaders, the people who would, like, tip off and begin a strike, the two strikes that happened inside the mills. How many people were there like that who were local leaders; not from outside, not organizers, but. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
Well, at that time the president and the vice-president of the local union, there wasn't no outsiders in it. No outsiders at all.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And Roy Price was president, right?
SAM FINLEY:
That's right.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who was vice-president?
SAM FINLEY:
Dan Elliott, I believe.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember any of the other officers?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, I had a little part in it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What officer were you?
SAM FINLEY:
I was secretary.
VESTA FINLEY:
He kept the record of names of people that joined.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What happened to those records? I read that there was no record at all of who belonged or how many people joined.
SAM FINLEY:
Well, I've got a copy of that old injunction that's got the people's name on it, if that's what you mean.
VESTA FINLEY:
Well you didn't keep a record, though; the secretaries didn't. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
No; we didn't have but very few meetings, you know. Mostly it was sneaky meetings; we had to meet in private. Anybody that had $1.50, that's what it cost to join. If they didn't have it, they'd join anyway.
VESTA FINLEY:
But you didn't keep all their names on the record?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, but I don't know where it is.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think it was trash?
SAM FINLEY:
And some of them wouldn't want to be knowed anyhow, because it might cause them to lose their job-what few did get back in the mill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Sure. How did you and Roy Price and Dan Elliott get along with the organizers? Was there ever any feeling that they were trying to take over what you, as leaders of the union, should do?
SAM FINLEY:
No. We got along fine.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And they just helped you out whenever you needed it?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, they just explained the union, what it stood for and what it was all about; that's the thing we didn't know anything about. And they helped us.
VESTA FINLEY:
Any information that they didn't know about, they consulted with them, you know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But when you had a meeting, you were actually running the meeting?
SAM FINLEY:
They'd have people from the mill; whenever they'd find out (just like I said), somebody in the crowd'd tell. They found out where we were going to have a meeting, they'd send somebody so as they could get you to spy on us and see who was there and what went on. So we got onto that. And we spread the news one day we were going down about fifteen miles down in the country there to have a meeting. We saw a master mechanic get in his car and take off down the road. We went another way and held our meeting.
VESTA FINLEY:
Well, what was Lawrence Hogan? Wasn't he one of the main leaders someway or another. I know he's the one that helped decide when we'd have a meeting and who the speakers were supposed to be, and so forth.
SAM FINLEY:
Well Lawrence, they make an organizer out of him. And he got killed in a car wreck at High Point.
VESTA FINLEY:
That's Irene's brother we're talking about; Irene Hogan.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Well, then did he ever go out of Marion and organize?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, he went to Hickory and down to. . . .
VESTA FINLEY:
High Point.
SAM FINLEY:
High Point and Greensboro, down in that section.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How long did he work as an organizer?
SAM FINLEY:
Oh, a year or two.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
And then did he come back here?
SAM FINLEY:
No, he got killed down there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, he got killed very soon after that, I see. I thought you meant recently.