Where Do You Stand?

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I've worked at Cannon Mills, Fieldcrest-Cannon, Pillowtex for 37 years. I was 19 years old when I started. The mills and the town were segregated back then. Blacks were only allowed to work on the outside of the mill.

We lived in an area they called Ni-Town. The mill houses that the whites stayed in was across town and the houses was much larger.

When I got to the mill it was a big, old, awesome place, you know, with all kinds of activities going on. Being around white people that much, it was a different thing for me. The supervisors were terrible on a black man. He could hardly breathe without them getting all over him for any little thing. I guess they just didn't appreciate you being there and they wanted to show their dominancy over you. The people were trying to make strides. They was trying to interrelate with one another. But after you've been segregated over so many years, it just does not come overnight.

The company knew that the blacks would be more apt to support the union because of past history, the way the company treated them. During the 1991campaign, they felt like they might lose so they took extra steps to make sure to win. They hired this consulting group which formed a front group called the "Concerned Citizens of Cabarrus and Rowan Counties" and they took out ads in the paper, wrote letters to the editor, and put up anti-union posters all over town. They also asked the black ministers to talk against the union to their congregations.

My pastor, pastor P.C. Holland; he was anti-union. Every opportunity he had he said that the union wasn't for us, that the union wouldn't do us no good, it's not time for it. That was his right, I guess, but he never worked in no textile mill. He didn't know what we was going through, but still he took the company's side. Some people was saying it was a payoff. But I wouldn't want to believe that about my pastor taking a payoff.