Title: Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004.
Interviewer: Finger, William
Interviewee: Fry, Julius
Subjects: Trade-unions--Textile workers--Southern States
Abstract: Julius Fry was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, in 1912. In 1927, Fry left school to work as a weaver in the Mansfield Mill. He describes working there during the early years of the Great Depression and his growing awareness of the labor movement. Fry explains that his first knowledge of the labor movement came with his observation of the textile strike in Gastonia in 1929. His interest in labor activism intensified during the early years of the Great Depression when he faced shortened hours and wage cuts as a textile worker. Fry describes the reaction of workers to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the rise of the New Deal. In particular, Fry emphasizes the role of the National Recovery Administration and the Wagner Act as especially pivotal moments that shaped his thoughts on labor activism. Likening these measures to "emancipation of the slaves," he increasingly advocated for workers' rights. In 1937, he participated in the organization of a union in Lumberton. Fry describes in detail how the union was founded, the role of labor organizer Miles Horton in garnering support for the union, the support of North Carolina Senator Robert R. Reynolds, and the reaction of Mansfield Mill management. In 1943, Fry left his job in the textile mill to work full-time for the Textile Workers Union of America. He explains his job as a contract negotiator between unions and employers and his interaction with the War Labor Board.