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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brooks, October 2, 1974. Interview E-0058. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Conditions leading up to the 1969 food workers' strike at UNC

Brooks discusses some of the working conditions she experienced leading up to the first food workers' strike in February of 1969. According to Brooks, none of the workers had clear job descriptions, women were often asked to do "men's jobs," and paychecks were often considerably smaller than they should have been. Initially, Brooks met with Mr. Prillaman, her head director, but promises made for improvement were not fulfilled.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brooks, October 2, 1974. Interview E-0058. 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

O.K. Now the strike that took place February 23 didn't happen out of the blue. What things had been going wrong with the management and the workers that you felt that something, a strike, would settle some of these complaints?
Well, like I say, one of us had been given a job description or either just station places to work. They felt like they were just kind of using us by having us to do men's jobs when the men, some of the male help were out, so at the same time, our checks were being shortened and we had begun to notice on several checks and some of the ones that had been there longer than me had gone back years before and had come up with checks that at the time wasn't right. They were cutting us short on our checks.
Why weren't any of these complaints ever solved? Did you ever go to the management, and if you did, what did they say about it?
Yes, we first went to our supervisor, and talked with him about it, and he told us that it was coming from Payroll Department, that we would have to talk with them. We made several individual visits to the Payroll Department and we didn't accoplish anything, and then we decided that we would talk with our Head Director whose name was Mr. Prillaman. This was done in the beginning with individual vistis. It didn't get us anyplace. So along about that time we talked with the black students and Preston Dobbins advised us to go as a group and ask for a meeting as a group. So we done that. We had at least, I guess, about three meetings with Mr. Prillaman and we never accomplished anything. He was, kind of, had this way of sort of ironing things out, smoothing it over and then as we got a little more persistent, he began to make promises and this went on for quite some time and he never kept any of the promises.