Anti-union planning attracts businesses
Decades ago, Faircloth remembers, North Carolina was a non-union state. Its posture attracted businesses and, in concert with road-building, helped North Carolina grow. With Faircloth's guidance, a revamped Commerce Department started to guide that growth, including in North Carolina's vaunted textile industry.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Lauch Faircloth, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0069. 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
JM: Let me ask this question. Besides the roads program, generally, as an area where the government is working to build infrastructure -- basically to help the state's long-term economic prospects -- what was your perspective on anything else the state might have been doing in the way of policy or programs to push industry?
LF: It's become far, far less so now, but this state was -- going back to Umstead and Hanes and getting into Hodges, less so with Sanford but totally back to Dan Moore --a business oriented state. That was the thrust. What was the business of the state? It was business. Our worker's compensation laws were very, very favorable to business. The tax structure of the state--. The state was dominated by business interests, which was something that was not true in so many other states. We were totally a non-union state. Right to work laws--. I mean, from the Gastonia fiasco right on, unions and North Carolina did not go together. When a company was looking for growth and relocation--. We were moving from heavy industry, we referred to it as the rust belt. Lighter industry was what was moving the--. Certainly we were beginning to see the first of the electronics industry. Micro-electronics was just beginning to evolve. The last thing that the high tech industry wants [and] hates is two things. It hates most, unions and an unreliable source of power. We had those in North Carolina: no unions and a very reliable source of power. This was when it began to develop. I'm not even sure who--. Holshouser had a Secretary of--.
JM: Commerce or C&D, maybe?
LF: George Little, maybe.
JM: I'm not certain.
LF: George Little maybe, but it had begun to develop. It really started in the mid-sixties and [with] the road structure. The textile industry began to grow again. It became automated. These old blue windowed plants were closing, and a newer, modern textile industry was developing. Then along came--. I supported Hunt. He asked me to be his Secretary of Commerce. Well, I looked at it, and there wasn't any Commerce Department. It was a joke. They had some little regulatory authority over the--. I mean, it was kind of a milk commission. I'm not even sure what was there. I looked at it and it was the burial commission, the cemetery commission. It was nothing. I told him if we wanted to do economic development in North Carolina, that the Commerce Department was the place to do it. But, you were going to have to put all of those things that had an impact upon business into one agency. It was fragmented and--.
JM: So it sounds as if your first order of business was really to build the--.
LF: That was the first order, to take it.
JM: The Commerce Department?
LF: Right. I told him we had to put everything there. Then we put in the Utilities. Some of these could have been there, I'm not real sure. There was a little something there. We put in the Utilities, Employment Security, the Industrial Commission, Banking Commission, Savings and Loan, Credit Unions, ABC stores -- they might have already been there -- Ports Authority, Travel and Tourism--.
JM: Any resistance at all to this idea of consolidating the department’s responsibility?
LF: No. I think we had seventeen agencies in there. That's the first time it had been done. We did that. Then we consolidated it all into the Dobbs building. I did. I ran that from January of '77 through about July of '83. We had a really great economic growth period.