Title: Oral History Interview with Mary Robertson, August 13, 1979. Interview H-0288.
Interviewer: Hall, Jacquelyn
Interviewee: Robertson, Mary
Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs Women in trade-unions--Southern States
Abstract: Mary Robertson entered the union movement as part of a colonization scheme: the Food and Tobacco Workers Union enlisted her to find work at a tobacco company in Asheville, North Carolina, and convince workers there to join the organization. A career in organization followed, with Robertson weathering blacklisting and a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee to secure a position of power within the Central Labor Union, a centralized network of unions in western North Carolina. In this interview, Robertson offers a history of unionization in the region, drawing connections between regional character and union membership; revealing union strategies for recruiting members; and discussing the role of women in organized labor and southern society. She concludes the interview by describing some of the strategies union leaders are using in the region to create conditions for increased organization. This interview will prove a rich resource for researchers interested in the role of unions in western North Carolina.