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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Andy Foley, May 18, 1994. Interview K-0095. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Diverse work environment

Foley describes a integrated work environment comprised of workers of different ages, races, and nationalities, and workers worked well and played well together, and certainly spoke well, since gossip traveled at an amazing pace.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Andy Foley, May 18, 1994. Interview K-0095. 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

JEFF COWIE:
Were there a lot of Mexicans working there?
ANDY FOLEY:
There weren't a whole lot, but there was like maybe ten or twelve or so. The ones that worked there they were friendly. You got along with them. They were just as crazy as everybody else was. [laughter]
JEFF COWIE:
[laughter] Were they pretty integrated into the rest of the group?
ANDY FOLEY:
Yeah, they weren't all in one department or nothing. We had Marcelino and then this other one--he quit--was in our department. Some were down in rough mill that I used to go talk to all the time. No, they were basically scattered out.
JEFF COWIE:
And they got along pretty well with other workers?
ANDY FOLEY:
Yeah.
JEFF COWIE:
That's interesting, you called him "Mexico."
ANDY FOLEY:
I mean, that's …
JEFF COWIE:
That's what people called him.
ANDY FOLEY:
That's what we called him.
JEFF COWIE:
Were there a lot of women and men in the cabinet shop?
ANDY FOLEY:
I mean, there might have been a few more men than there was women, but it wasn't like a big difference.
JEFF COWIE:
How many people total in the cabinet, more or less?
ANDY FOLEY:
Twenty, I would guess. The men would operate the clamps. The women would do sanding or wiping out the drawers, you know, little things. They really wouldn't put the pressure on the women to operate the big old clamps.
JEFF COWIE:
Were there other Mexicans or blacks in the room?
ANDY FOLEY:
When I got to the cabinet room it was everybody.
JEFF COWIE:
Everybody was there, huh?
ANDY FOLEY:
Young, old, black, white, Mexican. We'd all thrown in there. I mean, I believe it was basically distributed pretty much evenly throughout the whole plant. They didn't just put all the Mexicans in one corner or the blacks or the whites.
JEFF COWIE:
People got along pretty well?
ANDY FOLEY:
Yeah, cause I mean like I played… We got up a softball team. It was like half blacks, half whites. We would hangout after work. I spent the night with some of them, and we'd go fishing. Yeah, everybody got along.
JEFF COWIE:
Great.
ANDY FOLEY:
We'd have parties together, big parties! [laughter]
JEFF COWIE:
[laughter] Did you hangout with mostly the younger workers when you went fishing and partying?
ANDY FOLEY:
Some of them were a little bit older. No, everybody partied there. Grandma was there. [laughter]
JEFF COWIE:
[laughter] Everybody was there, huh?
ANDY FOLEY:
It was basically mixed, I mean, most of the young ones played on the ball team. There weren't no real old ones. They all come out and supported us and everything. But, like it something happened in one department you could not run up fast enough to tell someone in the other department before they already knew.
JEFF COWIE:
[laughter]
ANDY FOLEY:
It was a lot of gossip going on.
JEFF COWIE:
It was a real system of communication in the plant?
ANDY FOLEY:
Yeah.
JEFF COWIE:
How did the word go from department to another?
ANDY FOLEY:
I ain't figured that out yet. [laughter]
JEFF COWIE:
[laughter]
ANDY FOLEY:
People just passed through and before you know it you knew somebody got hurt down on this end or somebody was pregnant on the other end. You just knew. It amazed me.
JEFF COWIE:
Cause it's a big place.
ANDY FOLEY:
Yeah, but you knew what was going on. You knew if that girl was fixing to get off early or you weren't going to have to work tomorrow. You could always count on somebody telling you something. You might not be able to believe it half the time, but they're going to tell you. [laughter]