K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

About this recording

From oral history interview with Alice P. Evitt, July 18, 1979. Interview H-0162. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).

Date created
July 18, 1979
Duration
2:48
File
MP3
License
This recording copyright ©2004. All Rights Reserved
Source
Original audio housed by Documenting the American South / UNC Libraries

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  • Labor unions in the cotton mills: In this lesson, students will learn about the labor union movement in the U.S. by listening to oral histories, and they will then deliver a persuasive speech arguing for or against unionization.

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Alice P. Evitt was born in 1898 and began working at the cotton mills near Charlotte, North Carolina in 1910 when she was 12 years old. She worked 12 hours a day, every day except Sunday, and earned 25 cents a day for her work. Here, Ms. Evitt describes her part in the general textile strike of 1934, during which mill workers all over the South participated in walk-outs to improve working conditions. She describes the strike at her mill as having a festive atmosphere — the workers gathered outside to talk and eat hot dogs while union organizers negotiated with management.

Transcript

Jim Leloudis
Do you ever remember any attempts at this mill or any others you worked at to organize a union?
Alice P. Evitt
Yeah, I was on a strike out here.
Jim Leloudis
Oh, were you? Out here? When was that?
Alice P. Evitt
That was back in the 30’s.
Jim Leloudis
Was that 1934? The general textile strike? Uh huh.
Alice P. Evitt
We didn’t stay out long. We went back to work — didn’t have no trouble or nothin’.
Jim Leloudis
Tell me about that strike. That sounds interesting.
Alice P. Evitt
Well, they struck. They said if anybody come to work, they was goin’ to throw them out, but nobody didn’t go. They’d go out there everyday. Just hang around and walk around and talk’s all we done. Nobody didn’t try to come in. Go to a meetin’ up here, and they’d serve hot dogs and things at the meetin’. Just had a good time. They finally, though, went back to work. They didn’t have any trouble back then. They went back to work. They’d go down at the church, they’d give us somethin’ to eat. Give out stuff — the union did — put potaters, beans, stuff like that that you use to cook. We got some groceries down there.
Jim Leloudis
How did you get involved with the union?
Alice P. Evitt
I was workin’ in there. When they all struck, I come out too. I didn’t want to be throwed out [laughter].
Jim Leloudis
Did the organizers ever come around and talk to you?
Alice P. Evitt
I belonged to the union.
Jim Leloudis
Oh, you did?
Alice P. Evitt
Yeah.
Jim Leloudis
What made you decide to join?
Alice P. Evitt
Well, everybody else did out here and I did too. So I joined. I didn’t have much to do with the strike. I didn’t hang around out there much.
Jim Leloudis
You didn’t go on the picket line?
Alice P. Evitt
I’d go out there some and walk around and talk to them and come back home. I didn’t stay out there like they did. I didn’t know if there’d be any trouble or not, and I didn’t want to be in it if there was.
Jim Leloudis
Why did the strike end?
Alice P. Evitt
They all decided to go back to work, and they went back to work. Just like young’uns [laughter].
Jim Leloudis
What were they upset about? Why did they walk out?
Alice P. Evitt
They wanted a raise.
Jim Leloudis
Did they get it?
Alice P. Evitt
But they went back to work.
Jim Leloudis
Why didn’t they hold out till they got it?
Alice P. Evitt
I don’t know. I guess they all just got tired of it and went back to work. The union wasn’t too strong back then, so they went back to work.