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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George F. Dugger Sr., August 9, 1979. Interview H-0312. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Easing the path to unionization

In 1936, the rayon plant's director decided to allow unionization. After the workers voted to join the AFL-CIO, Dugger snuck a labor leader into the rayon plant to negotiate its creation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George F. Dugger Sr., August 9, 1979. Interview H-0312. 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

How did the union come in in 1936?
In 1936 Governor Lehman was Governor of New York, and he was director of the companies here. So he notified us that he'd like for us to have a union, that he thought it'd be better, and we all thought so, too. So there was a young man by the name of Christopher, I think it was, and he was the head of the American Federation of Labor-CIO of the area. He was only about twenty-eight years old. He was located in Roanoke, Virginia, but we kept seeing his name, and they were demanding a union. They had a vote for a union, and sixty-five percent of them voted for it. So I, attorney, called him. I said, "Now, get hold of the Labor Board, and have them certify it. They'll certify it. Then we can act. We'll have sixty-five percent. "They said, "The Chamber of Commerce and people here will maul us ." I said, "We'll fix them." So I called that fellow on the telephone, and I said, "Now I'm giving you an assumed name. I'm the attorney for these plants. You come to the watchman's post, and I'll have a card there in a fictitious name for you. We don't want the people to know you're here. You'll understand . You come there and turn your name in and get that card, and the guard will show you how to come in the office. You come on in, and we'll be waiting; the general manager and the whole group of our people will be there to greet you. Then we'll talk about settling and having the union, and we'll sign a contract with you for two years." So we signed the contract, and then we installed the union. They'd already taken a vote to have one. Sixty-five percent of them had voted for it. We had it certified, and then we established the union.
Why did you want the union?
That gave us the right when they called a vote, you see. They had a right to vote. And they had cards printed, and sixty-five percent of them voted to have a union, and then we just adopted their vote and signed a contract with the union, and they took charge. Then they switched it over, and they went back and forth for a long time and had different organizations, but we still held to it.