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Oral History Interview with Carlee Drye, April 2, 1980. Interview H-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Carlee Drye worked at the Alcoa aluminum plant in Badin, North Carolina, from the 1930s through the 1950s. An active participant in the establishment of a local union that later merged with the Steel Workers, Drye served as president of the local union from 1952 to 1959. Drye describes briefly the establishment of the local union in Badin, but focuses primarily on his role as the leader of the union in the 1950s and reflects on relations between the union and Alcoa management at the time of this interview in 1980. After describing the merger of the Steel Workers with the AFL-CIO that he helped secure in 1959, Drye speaks at length about the process of eliminating racial discrimination in hiring practices at Alcoa. Although the local union had been largely integrated since the 1930s, Drye explains that similar progress in the actual workplace occurred more slowly. He describes the process of persuading white workers and Alcoa management to change its policies, beginning in the 1950s and into the 1970s. In addition, Drye speculates about the relationship between the union, the community, and Alcoa management in the late 1970s following his retirement and his departure from union activities. Drye explains how the sewer and water systems, previously under control of Alcoa, had passed into the hands of the county, how Alcoa was purchasing and tearing down buildings in the downtown area, and that fewer residents of Badin were finding work in the Alcoa plant.
  • Changing racial policies and job classification in an aluminum plant
  • Contrasting membership rates for the Steel Workers and the Teamsters
  • Management and its treatment of workers as catalyst for unionization
  • Decline of paternalism in one working community
  • Sense of loss at destruction of historical buildings
  • Importance of collective action in labor activism
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Trade-unions--Officials and employees
  • Steel industry and trade--Employees--Southern States
  • Trade-unions--Steel workers--Southern States
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.