Title: Oral History Interview with Cary J. Allen Jr., April 3, 1980. Interview H-0001.
Interviewer: Hester, Rosemarie
Interviewee: Allen, Cary J.
Subjects: Steel industry and trade--Employees--Southern States Trade-unions--Steel workers--Southern States United Steel Workers of America
Abstract: Cary Joseph Allen Jr. was an aluminum worker for Alcoa in Badin, North Carolina, during the 1930s. Focusing specifically on efforts to unionize aluminum workers circa 1936 to 1937, Allen describes how initially the only organized labor in the community was within the American Federation of Labor (AFL). With weak representation in the AFL, Allen and some of his fellow workers organized to establish a local branch of the Aluminum Workers of America in Badin, with the goal of local autonomy for the newly formed union. Allen describes local working and living conditions. Alcoa exercised a strong paternalistic influence within the community, and Allen discusses the poor living conditions workers faced in company housing. Moreover, the strong paternalistic influence, according to Allen, made it initially difficult for the union to attract new members. Fearful of losing their jobs, workers were reluctant to organize. Despite these kinds of early setbacks, Allen emphasizes the long-term goals of the union to better working conditions, earn higher wages, and challenge the company's control over the community. By 1937, efforts to unionize had succeeded.