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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, Fall 1973. Interview E-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

How the TWUA maintains its presence with local unions

Hoyman discusses strategies that the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) would employ in order to maintain its presence with its local unions in the South, especially when they lacked adequate funding to support strikes. In particular, he stresses the importance of establishing and maintaining credibility, having successful elections, and preserving bargaining rights. All of these things would ensure that the TWUA maintained its presence and would be in a good position for success when and where strikes did occur.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Scott Hoyman, Fall 1973. Interview E-0009. 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

In talking about those places where they had voted for the union but you still had difficulty in negotiating with the company. You said that there are some types of things that you can do to keep the union there and once you are there you're not going to go away. What sort of things can you do when you don't have the financial support to strike but you want to keep your presence?
Well, one thing you do, well, obviously, where you are in this kind of situation, you've got to set up good communications with the people. Now, that's a very hard thing for a union. You never have enough staff to go around, so you are always wanting to take someone from one place and start something else. It depends on what your value system is. Now, usually you measure production by election wins and that conflicts with what we are talking about. Because these are really finishing up things, really the best definition of organizing is the number of new dues payers under contract in the plant. The whole process that Andrews has now gone through. O.K., but you have got to establish credibility with people and you've got to keep it. You never cut corners, and you never promise them what you can't forsee and you never underestimate difficulties. And you never take short run, immoral solutions. And so the psychology of those kind of places, again usually it needs a different kind of guy than an organizer. An organizer is ideally a very impatient, impetuous, emotional guy who can lose an election and then he goes to another place a hundred miles away and then he can start all over again in a new group of things and put them together and hopefully win this time. And they have to be people who are upset with status quo situations and when you get into a real long pull, it's a little different. You've got to be able to last with all kinds of disappointments or delays. So, that's one thing and you've got to gear people to that. [END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
… so, if you tell them what's going to happen and you say, "Well, this isn't good," or "Here's what we would like to do, but we didn't get that much." Well, then they'll start standing up. People can face a lot of adversity if you treat them as adults. Now, there are tactics that you use to prevent the company from having an election, for example. You've got the presumption of bargaining rights for a year. That's what you get with certification. Now, when the year is up, the company has a shot at you, if they want it. If you've got them involved in unfair labor practices, you can't have an election (even) if you want one where you have charges pending against the company. The Board won't hold an election without "laboratory conditions." Well, if you are …
That means that you are pretty sure that you will win, if you withold an election.
Well, once you win the election, there's no advantage to you, usually, in having another one. It's just like having won a hundred dollars, why put it back on the line where you might lose it. Winning a second time doesn't help you any. It just gives you what you had when you won the first time. So, you want to preserve your bargaining rights. You use unfair labor practices. That's a way of doing that. You get into a strike, one of the key events of the Oneida strike, we had just filed charges against them. The first charges we filed in July about bargaining, not about the election. The frist charges, negotiations began in January and February of '72. The first charge was filed in July. We got a decision on those charges and a hearing in October and they were still pending when the strike began. We ultimately won those, but this did not make the strike, which began on January 15, 1973, a "unfair labor practice strike." An unfair labor practice strike has to be a strike that began or was converted into a ULP strike because the bad things the company did made the workers want to shut it down as a protest and so, we filed some more charges. And these related to the bargaining and everything else that we thought were violations and the Board issued a complaint. But the complaint recognized there was a strike but didn't say that it was a ULP strike. And we got the Board in June to issue an amendment to the complaint. The amendment was that certain activity, matter of fact, it was some of Urtz's letters. He put out two letters at the very beginning of the strike. One was on the 16th of January, I think, and one on the 24th. And those letters the Board held to be an attempt at presenting the company's bargaining to the workers in an attempt to bypass the union, to convince the workers that the company's offer was good. And they held that that converted the strike. Getting that strike converted into an ULP strike mans an awfully lot. It means that anyone at the end of the strike, no matter how many scabs are in there, has got a right to get their jobs back. Their own jobs unless they are guilty of some kind of misconduct or unless there just aren't … maybe some bad thing happened to the company and there just aren't that many jobs left. But if there is a scarcity of jobs, the strikers take the jobs and the people hired since the strike began, the strikebreakers, have to be laid off. That's one way to stay in business.