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Title: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, March 21-22, 1991. Interview L-0064-6. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Pollitt, Daniel H., interviewee
Interview conducted by McColl, Ann
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 96 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
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Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-19, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, March 21-22, 1991. Interview L-0064-6. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0064-6)
Author: Ann McColl
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, March 21-22, 1991. Interview L-0064-6. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0064-6)
Author: Daniel H. Pollitt
Description: 115 Mb
Description: 28 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 21-22, 1991, by Ann McColl; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, March 21-22, 1991.
Interview L-0064-6. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Pollitt, Daniel H., interviewee


Interview Participants

    DANIEL H. POLLITT, interviewee
    ANN McCOLL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ANN McCOLL:
This is an interview with Dan Pollitt in the continuing series of interviews at the UNC law school. Today's date is March 21. The interviewer is Ann McColl.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Let's talk about the cafeteria strike in February, I guess.
ANN McCOLL:
This was 1969?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
It was 1969. The background is that this was not in isolation. There was a cafeteria strike at Duke; there was a cafeteria strike at Ohio State, at Stanford, at California, at Wisconsin. It was a whole series of university strikes. As a matter of fact, the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, had earlier announced in the 1950's that universities were not covered by the act.
ANN McCOLL:
By what act?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
By the National Labor Relations Act, as a matter of policy. The statute didn't say that, but the Labor Board is authorized to decline jurisdiction and the Labor Board decided that it would decline to exercise jurisdiction over the test case which was the librarians at Columbia University because it was [unknown] charitable educational enterprise and that the collective bargaining was not appropriate. The Labor Board changed its mind in 1972 when all hell had broken loose on campuses all across the country where the workers, including professors, tried to better their conditions by joining unions. The universities almost uniformly refused to recognize and bargain and that led to the strikes.

Page 2
ANN McCOLL:
So our strike of the cafeteria workers' strike was kind of in the middle of others? They continued after ours on other campuses?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. And another thing that was happening was that the cafeteria workers were black and we were starting then to get a fairly sizeable number of black students. We started in, I forget when. In 1950 we had three or something. I came here in 1957 and we had three black law students. Ten years later, I don't know, a hundred maybe.
ANN McCOLL:
On the whole campus?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
On the whole campus. So they couldn't sit with the other students at the football games. They had to sit in the end zone. So they didn't like that. You know, they wanted to be treated as regular students, so they organized. The black student movement organized and some of the black students worked part time in the cafeteria.
ANN McCOLL:
By 1969, was the black student movement very strong?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, it was militant. It was not large numerically, but it was militant. We'd had I think three black professors here.
ANN McCOLL:
On the whole campus?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. And they were in sociology. One was Howard Lee who later became the mayor and one was a guy whose name I forget. We had three. Two were fired as incompetent or something. I forget why. One of them joined the Muslims. This was the period when there were black Muslims who were very influential. There's a big Muslim movement in Durham. The guy that we fired from

Page 3
sociology…. Another one, the third one, was part time here and part time at UNC-Charlotte. He was in the School of Social Work and he spent maybe two days a week here and then he would go and run a clinic at UNC-Charlotte. But the guy, as I recall, was in sociology and he was a very handsome; a six foot eight fellow who'd played basketball at Marquette and had gotten a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin or something and had come here. Then when he was fired he changed his name to a Muslim name and he started something known as the Malcolm X University in Durham. His thought was that the blacks were not going to make it at the white institutions. They need black institutions where they will be taught their heritage and so on. There were about a hundred or maybe a hundred and fifty students at the Malcolm X University. Part of their education was on site confrontations. So they were available to come over here and they did. So there was across the country a feeling by university employees that they were being exploited. There was a growing black movement; they had Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and the sit-ins of 1961 and the Voting Rights Act of 1967 and the Selma march and the bulldogs and the fire hoses in Birmingham and all that. Then the Viet Nam War was going on. Then back to the locality. The University cafeteria was supposed to be self-supporting like the Carolina Inn and the football team and all these other things. The history was to have good meals for low prices. There was sort of a subsidy, like we have very low tuition here and then there was going to be a meal plan which was very low. When I

Page 4
came here in 1967, for a quarter in the evening you got two vegetables, a meat and a bread and a beverage.
ANN McCOLL:
Good deal.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. Then in the day time, or anytime, but in day time the first cup of coffee was a nickel and then there were unlimited free second coffees. The faculty was much smaller then, but everybody had their own mug with their name on it. After your nine o'clock class was over you'd go to Lenoir and get your mug and pay your nickel and spend the next hour drinking coffee because you could get all your cheap refills. Then it went up to thirty-five cents. But we used to all eat there on Wednesday nights. We had a maid for almost nothing who had Wednesday off, so we'd take the whole family to Lenoir and eat for thirty-five cents each. I remember talking to Bill Aycock who was the Chancellor who said that that kept a lot of graduate students here; the inexpensive food. Well, how do you make that happen? You put it on the back of the workers. They got paid very, very little. Many hours of attendance were required. They worked eight hours a day and overtime. But they worked, I forget how you call it; shifts, and then you're off and then back and you're off and you're back on. So they would be here at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning to prepare for breakfast and then breakfast is over at 9:00 or 9:30. They'd keep a skeletal staff, but the rest were off and they would not be on duty again for two hours.
ANN McCOLL:
So for two hours they aren't being paid. You can't really go anywhere.

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DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Then they would come and prepare lunch and serve lunch and then they'd be off at 2:00 until 5:00. Then they would stay on until 8:00 at night and then they would go home. So they would be here at 6:00 in the am and leave at 8:00 pm and all they got paid for was eight hours. My offices then were in the law school. It was right across from Lenoir and I was on the corner and there was big vacant area which is now a great big office building. The young men used to go out and play touch football there during their break or they'd sit around, you know. But my window was ground level and they'd be out my window, so I was well aware of them. And there were the courtesy titles. The management was not very good. One of the resolutions I just found in my file was to have him move on. Terrible little annoyances. If you wanted to call home because your child was sick, he wouldn't let you use the phone in his office. The phone was in his office. You'd have to go to a pay phone somewhere which was at the student union which was then at Franklin Street. You know, why not let them use his phone? None of them had last names. They were Joe or Mary. They could be fifty years old and could have worked there for thirty years and they were still Mary and their job was to dish out the potatoes. None of them were cashiers. Cashiers were white; they handled money. The cooks were paid four dollars an hour which was the highest, but they were white and they wouldn't let the blacks advance to cooks. You could be an assistant cook or a dishwasher or peel potatoes, but you couldn't be a cook. The documents of the day at the Faculty Council referred to it as the plantation system

Page 6
and that was accepted. That was in the faculty committee reports. You know, they'd always point out the resemblance to the plantation system. And one of the grievances was the use of courtesy titles. They wanted to be called "Mrs. Jones" rather than Mary. So there was the pay and the long hours and the inability to progress above the most menial jobs and the lack of respect which were the demands that were made by the workers when they finally organized.
They did organize and this was in February. Now move to me. I was the President of the AAUP chapter at the time. The American Association of University Professors. We had an executive committee of seven or eight which met monthly and more often if necessary, but monthly was ordinarily enough and then we'd have two annual meetings. That was the normal thing. We were having a monthly meeting and we were having lunch. The cafeteria was at Lenoir which is now the admissions building. Used to be the Monogram Club and before that it had been the Navy Officers Club during World War II. We had a faculty club there on the first floor where they served only faculty. We too could get the thirty-five cent two vegetables and the meat and the bread and the beverage. And if you wanted to get cake it that was an extra dime or something. Then downstairs, they had a very nice dining room which was a little bit upscale. I mean, it would cost fifty cents or something. And they had spaghetti and meatballs and pizza and that sort of thing.
ANN McCOLL:
Is that the Pine Room?

Page 7
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
No. This was at the Monogram Club. It just doesn't exist anymore. It was the Monogram Club. And we were eating lunch there and the strike was on, so there was nothing to eat. We met for lunch and there was nothing to eat. I remember, I guess we had two things to discuss and one was should we endorse Howard Lee's candidacy for mayor. I think that's what it was. Because this was a group, the eight of us or whatever we were, the AAUP was pretty influential then. We thought that our endorsement would be pretty influential. There was a good guy who had announced who was white and who was the dean of the liberal arts college and he was a good fellow and he was an AAUP member. Should we endorse him or should we endorse Howard Lee who nobody knew very well, but who was black. The decision was made to endorse Howard Lee. We did that without eating and then somebody, me I think, said, "What do we do about the cafeteria strike?" And they said, "Well, it's none of our business. You know, that's for the administration to deal with those problems, not the faculty," which was a recurrent theme. I said, "Well, it is our business if we're going to have another lunch." So we agreed that we would monitor the situation. There was a monitoring role. So a fellow named Fred Cleveland was the chairman of the faculty, of the entire faculty and he was also the chairman of the political science department. He had been the President of the AAUP maybe two or three terms earlier. And his wife was active in the AAUP. And again, the faculty then was maybe eight hundred. And we used to have coffee at Lenoir for a nickel. So you got to know everybody pretty well. So we asked

Page 8
Fred if he would join with us and we thought we'd meet every day, have lunch every day and bring your brown bag and have lunch and we would monitor what was going on and put out a daily report because there was always the problem of rumors and that sort of thing. Then the graduate student association was going to support the strikers and they kept talking about they'll have a strike. They will strike in support of the food cafeteria strike. So we thought we ought to bring them in, so we invited the president of the graduate students association to meet with us every day and let us know what they're doing. And we thought we ought to know what the black student movement is doing and we ought to know what the cafeteria workers were doing. So we had what we called the enlarged AAUP executive committee of about ten to fifteen people who met every day bringing their brown bag and report on what's doing. I think we asked Sitterson who was the chancellor to send somebody and I don't think he did. Chuck Wright was in the English department and he was our editor and he put out a daily document, a strike document. Here, for example, I have the one of March 31, 1969 and it says, "Hospital director and nonacademic employees confer," because the employees at the hospital quickly joined the union. And then the next headline is, "Medical School ombudsman appointed. Daniel Young, associate professor of medicine." And he was in our group. He was on our executive board. Then Friday, March 28, "Personnel investigates janitress complaint." The people who cleaned the buildings organized and I guess, I don't know how you look at it now with women's rights, but the women had the same job as the men and

Page 9
they had to carry the big trashcans and they weighed fifty and seventy-five pounds and some of these women were elderly and they didn't want to carry the heavy things. That was their complaint and that's on the Friday of March 28. Then there's "A special faculty committee on nonacademic personnel agrees on its charge." And then there's a back page as well. But every day we put out something so that the whole University would be informed of what's going on. The idea was to quell rumors.
ANN McCOLL:
So there were the food workers' strike going on, but other parts of the University were also getting pulled into this?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Oh, yes. They were getting pulled into it because they were, you know, sisters and brothers and cousins and neighbors and all that sort of thing. Now the interesting thing is that when Bill Aycock was the Chancellor, there had been an informal group called the Janitors' Union. The head of it was the head janitor at the law school and they used to meet every other week with Bill Aycock to discuss their problems, but when Bill Aycock stopped doing it, nobody picked it up. There was another major problem with our dispute; the state law of North Carolina, which is unique, it's the only one in fifty states that says that it is illegal for public employees to engage in collective bargaining. It's illegal. So the Chancellor, Carlysle Sitterson, sent over to the Attorney General some request for information. "Can I sit down and negotiate with these people?" And he got back the expected answer which was, "No, you can't." I don't know why he asked. He knew what he would get. The Attorney General is not friendly. Beverly Lake or somebody. So they shouldn't have said

Page 10
negotiating. What we urged was that he have an open door policy and talk to all members of the University community. That was our position. That's not collective bargaining. That's open door policy and if he'd asked that he would have gotten a different answer I think. So Sitterson was, I like him and we'd been allies on a lot of things and I'd been his chief opposition on a lot of things, but I was the chairman of the Faculty Advisory Committee, a group of nine faculty which meets once a month to advise the Chancellor. It's supposed to meet once a month, but the by-laws say it can meet on the call of the chairman. Well, I was the chairman then and I called it quite regularly without Sitterson's presence so we could discuss in his absence and then report to him advice that we thought was appropriate because there were a lot of things going on at that time. So in any event, that's what we did. And then the strike progressed and there wasn't much action. We had moved out of the law school and the workers at Lenoir picketed every day between mealtimes. It was closed most of the time, but they had a few strike breakers who would come and serve. The cafeteria workers met in the old law school building. It would get cold in February and March and snow. There's one of the pictures in the Tarheel where there's snow on the ground. So that's where they hung out. They hung out in the old law school building. Then they decided to serve meals there and it was to support the strikers really, for a dollar. You had to pay a dollar. You got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and all the Kool-Aid you could drink. But they made sandwiches. They didn't wrap them; they

Page 11
just had them there and they'd have Spam sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly and whatever and then the great big jugs of Kool-Aid. I used to eat there every day. Then my group would meet there. We started to meet there. Then they put out a black liberation flag that was hanging from it and WRAL came around. I don't know. I think Jesse Helms was still the Vice President there and he had his five minute commentary every day at 6:25, so he broadcast, "Hey, the strikers have seized the University building. They have appropriated it for their own and it's public property and why doesn't Governor Scott free the University buildings from the strikers?" With that, what could Governor do? So he announced that he was going to evacuate the cafeteria strikers from the old law school building at 11:00 on a given day. So they sent a hundred highway patrolmen and they all had these plastic masks coming down over their face and everything in case anybody threw tear gas at them or something. And they had batons which were about five or six feet long. As great big a things as I had ever seen; they were big. They came over in buses and they parked behind the old baseball field.
ANN McCOLL:
Had there been any violence up to this point?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
No there'd been no violence. Well, there'd been one episode of violence. They did have meals. Some few people ate there. Then there was picketing. I picketed. I picketed every supper at the entrance that faces the old law school. There'd be about fifty of us and we'd have a big elliptical thing. And I was there every night from 6:00 to 6:30 after I left the law school on my way home. But a group of black student movement

Page 12
people, maybe ten of them, at about 7:30…. They stop serving at 7:30 and they clear out at 8:00. At about 7:30 at closing time a group of ten black student movement people went through Lenoir and turned over the tables. So they were indicted; "Assault upon the tables," as Judge Bailey put it. The judge acquitted them. The DA didn't prosecute or something. But that was a big deal. "The black student movement trashes Lenoir Hall" or something. But that was the only violence, I think. Now there was some other possibly. There would be an early morning delivery of the food and that would be about 5:30 or something. They'd bring the milk and butter and the bread and whatever and they'd come in trucks and they came from Durham. Those guys were members of the Teamsters Union. So the decision was whether we ought to picket at 5:30 when the trucks come. Well, I wasn't going to picket at 5:30. So somehow the Malcolm X University agreed. This is the black Muslim crowd and Malcolm X is their leader. The truck drivers were whites. So after they picketed a week and the truck drivers had passed right through them and they'd shout at them, "Honkey", I think they formed a line and laid down on the street or something. Then the cops came to pull them away and they did it roughly; dragged them along, you know. Then that led to an exchange of words, "Okay, you're resisting arrest. I'm going to put the cuffs on you." "You ain't going to put no cuffs on me you white son of a bitch." And then they did get an injunction against the Malcolm X University; "Interfering in our labor dispute." They ignored it and nothing happened. So those were the episodes of violence.

Page 13
It was really that one episode when they overturned the tables and the other episode where they blocked the street. But in any event, Governor Scott came to the rescue of the law school building. The whole faculty from here went over to see it.
ANN McCOLL:
Were there camera crews? Did everyone know this was going to happen at a certain time?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Oh, yes. They had camera crews from NBC and CBS and everybody was there. There was a certain time they were going to evacuate. They wound up on the walkway between South Building and Wilson Library which is halfway. They had a big line; I think they had three ranks or something like that. Then the command was, "Step forward". So they all made one step forward. And you know we were there to give them daisies or flowers. [laughter] I got mad. I really did. I didn't think I could get mad about this, but I really felt angry that they were invading my campus and that they were liberating the law school which did not need liberating. If they'd just wait a few minutes they could go in there and get some Kool-Aid and a ham sandwich or something. But it was wrong. They were trying to put the strikers out in the snow. So they did. They advanced one step at a time. Richard Smith, who was a colleague of mine at the law school, had been neutral. He'd signed this petition against saying that any graduate students who strike ought to be fired. That's law and order, which everybody in the law school had signed except me. Richard had signed it and he had been real big. He played tackle at Arkansas and was an All Southwestern football player who had been offered Chicago Bears in the draft

Page 14
or something. He hurt a knee. So he was here and he was with me and he got mad. I said, "Richard, leave them alone". He said, "But they're coming on our campus." It was very aggravating. But they took their steps. They took their giant steps and we'd take little midget steps, three backwards. Then they go to the cafeteria in the law school building and a couple of black kids took down the flag hanging out of the window and they all scooted out the back entrance and the building was secured.
Well, then the strike was settled when Governor Scott…. Well, several things happened. They got a lawyer; the strikers got a lawyer and they got Julius Chambers from Charlotte and Adam Stein who is of Chambers and Stein. So Adam Stein was their lawyer and he became the spokesman. He was articulate and all that, so there were a lot of meetings. The history graduate students would have a meeting. "What are we going to do? Are we going to support this? Or we going to strike? Are we going to slow down? What do we do?" And they would ask Adam Stein to come and I would go because I was the chairman of the expanded AAUP executive committee which had all the information. So every night there was a meeting of some sort and Adam Stein was very good. There was a disquieting note. Several people who reported the strike to speak for the strikers didn't and they lied. They were on the junior faculty members. Either they were trying to make a name for themselves or…
ANN McCOLL:
In what direction would they lie?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
They would lie. They would go up and see the Chancellor and say, "We're spokesmen for the union and unless

Page 15
something happens by Monday noon this is going to happen." And then they'd threaten the black cloud. The black cloud would be all the black students from all the black colleges would converge on Chapel Hill at high noon on Wednesday or something. "Lord knows whether they could be controlled or not and you'd better call back the state highway," and all that stuff. And it was lies. They made it up. And so finally, Sitterson refused to meet with them. He said he would not be [unknown] three people identified them. And then they said, "Well, you're denying the strikers the right to select their spokesman." Well, then they got Adam Stein and Adam Stein was their official spokesman. So that took care of that little problem. So it turned out that we had been underpaying them the Federal minimum wage, so they were entitled to it and nobody had ever known that. So they'd never gotten the Federal minimum wage. So it goes back three years, the back pay for willful and intentional…. Double what they should have paid. So there was that. There was a lump sum payment made and then Governor Scott announced that he was going to ask the legislature to improve the hourly wage for all state employees to $1.80. Most state employees were getting $1.80, but the cafeteria workers were getting $1.40 or something like that. So it really applied to them, but it was all state employees. What they'd wanted was a pay increase. Then Sitterson agreed they should use courtesy titles for them. The general faculty had been active in this and there was a monthly Faculty Council meeting and the general faculty which is everybody meets twice a year at the opening and then at the close

Page 16
of the school year. That's the general faculty meeting, but it can meet on call.
So we decided we ought to have some faculty meetings.
ANN McCOLL:
Now this was all eight hundred faculty?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. So we did call one and it was scheduled. At that time all the resolutions were adopted and I have them here in my file. There were fifteen or twenty resolutions. There was the Henry Brandis, Dean Brandis of the law school, law and order resolution.
ANN McCOLL:
And that was that people shouldn't strike?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
That they fire anybody who strikes and then there was the impeding of the buildings. Some of the graduates were sitting down on the steps to block the entrance. Anybody who impedes others should be thrown out. Then the Trustees met and the Trustees issued a reminder that this was a place that valued academic freedom, but if you engaged in immoral conduct or dereliction of duty or something, you could be ousted. So there was the resolution from the law school, the law and order one, which didn't pass. There were resolutions that the head of the food service be fired and they were tabled. And there were a number of resolutions, but the important ones were the Pollitt resolutions on behalf of the AAUP and extended committee; and we had three of them which were all adopted and none other were adopted.
ANN McCOLL:
What were these resolutions?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well one was that we appoint a standing faculty committee on nonacademic employees and we had adopted a grievance

Page 17
process which we urged that it be adopted so that they would have some place to take their concerns instead of going to their boss, you know. They could go beyond the boss and so on.
ANN McCOLL:
At this point we didn't have a grievance procedure?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
We didn't have grievance procedures. The grievance procedures grew out of the cafeteria strike and it was drafted in my committee by me. It was a good one. It wasn't finally accepted as it was proposed, but we agreed…. The general faculty agreed that there should be one. Mine was submitted as a model. They didn't adopt mine. That would have been too much. Then I recommended that there be a standing committee on the problems of the staff. Ann Queen was the head of the Y and was appointed the head of it and she then pushed the grievance process and all that sort of thing. But we didn't have a faculty committee dealing with nonacademic personal until that time.
ANN McCOLL:
So if they wanted at some point a resolution passed on their behalf, this was their avenue? They had now a committee that they could go to of faculty who would represent them?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
They could go to them if the administration was not responsible. This was because things were happening in the hospital and things were happening to the janitors and the printing department and all around. So this was not just cafeteria workers. This was everybody. And as far as the cafeteria workers were concerned, the resolution on that was that we appoint a mediation committee that will mediate the dispute and come up with recommendations or a settlement. That was adopted and their committee was appointed which did mediate, that

Page 18
came up with recommendations which were pretty much agreed upon. And you know, I forget what they were, but there was a lot of upgrading and they brought in people by the bus load from Raleigh to do personnel work; to interview every worker, to see if he was at the right level and what he was doing. Everybody got written job descriptions. There was a good committee appointed to mediate and it was headed by Paul Guthrie who taught labor management relations at the School of Business and he was a very notable arbitrator in the railway labor industry. Whenever there would be a big major railroad strike he would be appointed by the president to be one of the three on the committee, the blue ribbon committee, to make recommendations and stuff. So he had national repute and he agreed to take time off to settle our little cafeteria strike. He did a great job. Well, then what happened, everybody went back to work. They got the pay raises; they got the $1.80. Everybody got the lump sum under the Federal minimum wage. Everybody was called, "Mrs." Brown. They agreed to open up skill courses and to promote from within. And at the hospital Dan Young, who was on this committee as I mentioned earlier, he was the ombudsman. He started a gigantic program over there to upgrade skills and to promote from within. They did a good job. So everything was happy except unbeknownst to us, the University had decided to abandon the food service. They were now operating at a loss because the wages were up and that meant they had to increase prices. No more twenty-five cent suppers. So coffee went up to a dime. Boy, was there furor over that one. [laughter] Double all at once. But they started to

Page 19
lose money and at the same time, restaurants started to open on Franklin Street, so Lenoir was no longer the only place to eat. There had been two restaurants when we came here, "The Rat" and one that has been closed. But people started to eat and then they started to get refrigerators for their dormitory rooms and people started to eat in their dormitories and people had cars now so they could drive. So the number of people at Lenoir declined and the labor costs were up and the price went up and that caused a further decline. So the University decided to get rid of it. So they got SAGA, which is one of the national chains that operates institutional dining halls. So SAGA came in in late September. They said they weren't hiring anybody. Nobody had a job. They were going to start from scratch and they didn't want any older people who couldn't run so fast. So they fired or they failed to rehire seventy people and they included all the strike leaders.
ANN McCOLL:
Do you think that was what really what they were intending to do is get rid of potential trouble makers?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, nobody knew it. Nobody had any idea. I didn't. I had no idea that the University intended to close down Lenoir, but they did. SAGA came in and SAGA failed to rehire seventy people which did include all the strikers. Then the question was, "Was the agreement with the University binding on SAGA?" SAGA had the grievance. So I don't know. Adam Stein wasn't around. A couple of the strikers, very nice women, they were sisters, didn't go within ten days. So when they protested people rallied around that. That became an issue. They said,

Page 20
"They didn't file their grievance in time. It's their fault." So things kind of went from bad to worse. Then there was a second strike.
This time we were better prepared for it. I made a motion, just look through the file, that the faculty urge the University, because we had nothing to do with Saga, we urged the University to tell Saga to…
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 21
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
…. to see if they could mediate this thing and they did. They agreed on an election. I think Paul Guthrie was to count the ballots or something. "We're not going to the Labor Board. We're going to do it right here." The election resulted in an overwhelming vote for the union; ninety percent.
ANN McCOLL:
What was the election on?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Whether you want a union or not. SAGA says, "I don't know these people. We just came here." And then the grievances mounted because they wanted to make money and they made people work harder, double jobs or whatever.
ANN McCOLL:
Is this the first time a union, the possibility of a union…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, because see, now they are employed by a private enterprise so the private enterprise ran Lenoir Hall. Then there were some slow downs and walkouts over this grievance and that grievance. They voted to join the American Federation of State and County Municipal Workers. The Vice President for the South of that union was a good friend of mine. He lived in Charlotte. He was trying to go by the contract and do all the grievances and so on. He was under pressure from the national office to provoke some bad things. He wanted more highway patrolmen and so on because the national union was in an election for all the state universities in New York, that was the bargaining unit and there were fifty thousand people. So they had done well when there'd been the Charleston hospital strike a year or two earlier which

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was a hundred days. They'd had the police dogs and everything else and Coretta King. And it was nightly on the news. Then the American Federation of State and County Municipal Workers were carrying the banner for the poor bedeviled black worker in the South and they got a lot of sympathy votes in their elections there. So they wanted another one of those that they could use for their election in New York. Jimmy Pierce, who was my friend and in charge of the South, said, "No," he wasn't going to do that. We had the election, we got the contract, we're going to apply the contract. So they fired them. [unknown] fired him. Now nobody knows this. But one time he went to see the Chancellor. He did something and I forget what the hell it was, but he wouldn't leave or he thought he was being put upon; he had a right to speak and he wouldn't leave, so they arrested him for trespassing.
ANN McCOLL:
The University arrested him?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. He went down to the old jail and I went with him to post his bond and then they sent the President of AFSCMW and a special task force or something came down. They were all great big black men with afros and they were going to have a strike here no matter what and the workers were ready for another strike and they had another strike.
ANN McCOLL:
But were they doing anything with the contract negotiation at this point?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
The workers had not done it right and the food service people were standing on their rights and they'd say, "Sure we fired them. We agreed not to fire anybody for strike

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participation, but there's a grievance procedure and you have to notify your foreman within seventy-two hours and they didn't do it, you know. And they said, "Come on. Be realistic. You want good working conditions and happy work force. Let's sit down and talk this over." And they'd say, "No, we're not going to talk it over." Or, "I've got to call the national office." They always had to call the national office. The national office wouldn't report back for a week. So things festered. Then they lost money and there were boycotts of the cafeteria. Then the students who worked at the cafeteria were getting less than the regular workers. So they wanted to amend the contract so that nobody works for less than the workers get because otherwise you'll [unknown] out the worker's job to the part time people. The students wanted the same as the others were getting. They agreed to that. There was a short walk out about that sort of thing. Then there was some guy I saw looking quickly through the Tarheel, who worked in the bookstore. He went and picketed one evening and they fired him from the bookstore. Then he had to file his grievance and all that sort of thing. So at the end of the next year, SAGA pulled out and the University didn't want to renew its contract because SAGA wasn't doing it well and SAGA didn't want to renew its contract, so that ended it. So then what do you do? Who's going to operate it? The University said, "We're not going to feed these students." And nobody else wanted to come in and do it, so they closed it. We were the only University in America where the students couldn't eat on campus. They closed it all. Then the faculty met. "What do we do about

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it?" And then we thought, "Well, let's try and find somebody and maybe the union will agree to do it." And they tried to get the union to do it, but they didn't have bonding money or something. So I don't know how many years, ten years or something, we went without a food service on this campus. No cafeteria.
ANN McCOLL:
That must have been fairly expensive for students going to restaurants.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
They all had to go down to Hardee's or somewhere. They had the snack bars, but that's you know, you put your dollar in and you get your sandwich out or something.
ANN McCOLL:
Did the administration discuss this with the faculty?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Oh, the faculty discussed it quite regularly. We put in the resolutions imploring the Chancellor to find somebody to do it or to resume it himself and so on and they wouldn't do it.
ANN McCOLL:
Was there a sense that it was completely because of cost or did you think that it was because it had become such a sore…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
A headache. A headache. And at the same time, the University used to own the utilities and the reason for it is that the telephone company…. There was a telephone exchange at one of the campuses. So the dean of the law school could talk to the Provost or something. Then when Frank Graham was the President they extended one to his house, and then the Provost and then the dean and then they took over. The University took over the telephone, extended the telephone beyond the University to faculty and then they owned a telephone company. Then the same thing with the trash. The University generated most of the

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trash, so they had a trash thing. Then they did it for the people in the town. And the same thing with the water. So the University owned the water and the trash and the telephone and the electricity. They didn't run it well. One year they decided that they needed more money, so they raised all rates 100 percent. There were protests from all over. Sitterson was the Chancellor and he said, "The hell with it. We'll sell it. We'll get out of that business." And they sold it. It was a give away. They sold them in pieces; they sold the telephone company to General Tel and they sold the electric company to Duke and so on. But that was part of it. The University thought they couldn't run all this. The Carolina Inn is another one. So, "We don't have to feed students. They can feed themselves somehow." So we went out of the food business and they're big spirited faculty…. I remember one guy in art said, "Well this is a chance to have the best cuisine." What's the name of the cooking school in Paris? Cordon Bleu. "Let's get the Cordon Bleu to come here." [laughter] "We'll have the finest French cuisine here." We had a committee. Maury Gelblum was Assistant Dean of the law school and was chair of the committee on "How can we reopen a food service," and we never did. I don't know. Maybe ten years went by.
ANN McCOLL:
Well, you mentioned that it was an important place; faculty met and students met. Did you sense a real loss?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Oh, a tremendous loss. Yes, because that's where you met the people in English and history and religion and so on. They'd all go to Lenoir and after class; I wouldn't take my

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class. We had 8:00's then and I usually didn't eat breakfast before 8:00 and I'd have my 8:00 class and get out at 9:00 and go over to Lenoir and get in the cafeteria line and get my eggs and bacon and muffin and coffee for twenty-five cents and sit down. They had long tables and there would be everybody in my class eating their breakfast and we didn't have anything to do until 10:00 or something. So for half an hour we could talk about what we'd just talked about or whatever we wanted. I knew everybody's first name and where they were from and that sort of thing. And without that where do you go? There was no place. So it was a real disaster. I blame the administration not the strikers. I was looking through here. One of the resolutions I introduced after the second strike was financial support. My resolution was that every faculty member contribute thirty dollars because they are now on strike and they don't have any money and these were strike benefits. We got Joan Baez to come down and give a concert to raise the strike fund. The report that year is that we made twenty-five thousand.
ANN McCOLL:
Pretty successful.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. Very successful. That was the strike benefits. That kept the strike going for awhile.
ANN McCOLL:
That was money that was given to the workers to support them?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. They got their regular wages while they were on strike from the thirty dollar contributions. More than half the faculty gave thirty dollars.

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ANN McCOLL:
Did that fund raiser come out of your AAUP executive committee?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. It formed some very close friendships. The faculty was not united on this, but it was eighty percent united to support the strikers. The law and order crowd did not like it when the graduate students struck. They didn't like when they blocked the entrances.
ANN McCOLL:
Why do you think it bothered the law school faculty since we don't even use graduate…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Henry Brandis wrote it and circulated it and he was the dean and everybody but me signed it.
ANN McCOLL:
Do you remember that at the time? Were you surprised that that happened?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
No, I knew it was happening. Dick Phillips…. They introduced it and I moved to table which passed resoundingly. I didn't want to defeat it. I didn't want it passed so I thought the softer thing is to table it. I thought coming from me from the law school, I was the best person to do it. But we also at the time or a little bit earlier after Viet Nam, the question was, after Cambodia and all the student unrest, "What do we do?" We had a series of proposals. My proposal was that we get a series of buses and take the students to Washington and urge our Congressmen to stop the war. This would get them off the campus and it would give them something to do and those that can't go can…. We were going around Easter time and they had bunny baskets. They dyed Easter eggs and put them in the bunny baskets for people to have on the bus ride, so that

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gave a lot of people something to do, so they could contribute. Other proposals which were adopted were that we waive the final examinations if your professor wants to and that you can be graded on what you did now; introduce, fail, pass courses and so on. There was an element that said we're "Weakening the academic standing" and that we should not do any of these. I forget. I was called either the Robes/pierre of the French Revolution or the Anton. I forget which. The Jacobans. [laughter] Dr. Guillotine or something. So there was a lot of heat over what we should do and the faculty adopted all the proposals. There was a walk out. People said, "We're not going to stay here and see the University go to hell this way." And they'd walk out. I remember who they were. I'm not going to tell the tape. So there was animosity and dlvisiveness and the same people were divided when we got to the cafeteria strikers. So it was not all one way at all. So that's the cafeteria strike. Next time we'll do the black student movement.
ANN McCOLL:
Sounds good.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
What we got out of that was Ann Queen's committee; we got a standing faculty committee to look at the problems of the workers which still exists and they give an annual report. Then we also got a grievance procedure which we'd never had before and we lost a food service. So there you have it.
END OF INTERVIEW