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Oral History Interview with George Perkel, May 27, 1986. Interview H-0281. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    George Perkel began his career as an economist on the National War Labor Board during World War II, after which he took his expertise to the Textile Workers Union of America. However, this interview does not focus on Perkel's experiences; instead, it distills Perkel's research, giving him an opportunity to describe his conclusions about unions in the South. Perkel seeks to explain unions' lack of strength in southern states, citing factors such as a mill town culture that made textile workers suspicious of organizers and resistant to outside influence, legislation intended to protect the right to organize that lost its teeth, and effective opposition from political and industrial interests. This dense, rich interview is a primer on the failure of unionization in the South, with a nod to some of the movement's successes in the region. It will make an excellent starting point for scholars interested in mill labor and the role of unions in the South.
    Excerpts
  • A union career
  • Some reasons for the lack of a successful union movement in the South
  • Mill owners control their workers' communities in various ways
  • The decline of the legal protection of the right to organize
  • State and local governments help tamp down union organization in the South
  • American Textile Workers Union as a motivated and innovative group
  • Organized labor finds some success in the South
  • The need for federal aid to southern organization efforts
  • The catastrophic impact of imports on the American textile industry
  • Predictions for the future of unions in the South
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Trade-unions--Textile workers--North Carolina
  • Textile workers--North Carolina--Health and hygiene
  • Textile Workers Union of America
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.