Where Do You Stand?

The Movie



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I wound up going to work in the mill three months after graduation. It was a heartbreak to my parents but a big decision for me. Out of six children, I was the only one that was able to graduate and they had high hopes that I would further my education and go on and be something besides a mill worker - 'cause really that was the last thing that my daddy ever wanted any of us to be.

My father started at Cannon Mills when he was 15 or16 years old. He worked as a 'slubber hand' in the card room. When I was growing up, he worked the 3rd shift and he would come home very tired every morning and he would always sleep until about 12 o'clock because we lived out in the country and all his brothers and sisters who didn't live around here let him work their land and he worked around 20 acres of farmland and raised stuff to sell on the side to help support us when we were little. So he would work the fields 'til about 7, come in, eat supper, and then he'd go to bed, sleep a couple hours, get up and go back to work in the mill. He was a hard worker-very hard. He never missed a day unless one of us was sick or momma was sick and that was hardly ever and then they done him just so dirty. A lot of people have asked me, 'Delores, why did you stand on the gates and fight so hard? You had to have a reason.' And I said because they treated my daddy like he was nothing. He give 'em 38 years and they treated him like he was nothing.

Charlie Cannon owned Kannapolis. Everything everywhere you turned was Charlie Cannon. I mean you had to speak to Charlie Cannon for this, you had to speak to Charlie Cannon for that. He controlled Kannapolis. As long as everything rode smooth and was going Charlie Cannon's way, oh yeah, he was a fine and dandy man, but don't buck the system!

Fieldcrest enacted the 12-hour shifts. They come in and put us on crazy shifts and if you had small children, it was rough. I would argue with em, look, one week I got enough time with my children, but there's another week there when I don't see my children but 24 hours, and their answer to me was 'that's not our problem.' Why wasn't it their problem?! They're the ones that put me on 12 hours, they're the ones that forced me to find a babysitter that was willing even to watch 'em for 12 hours. That's when my husband, Robert, he went to the C shift so we wouldn't have to have a babysitter and then it was: hi Delores, hi Robert, hi Delores, hi Robert, we were just crossing paths and it took a toll there for a while on our marriage, it started deteriorating. I would plead with 'em, please, y'all shouldn't have started 12 hour shifts, and it was, you know, 'this is for your benefit', and I said, 'where at?' It was to save Overtime that's all it was. They didn't want to pay the Overtime.

My angriest moment and the hurtest I think I ever was, was how close it was in '91, cause that was the closest campaign we ever had. To know we lost because of so much unfair tactics that Jim Fitzgibbons put on. I cried. I cried so hard I think that's the hardest I ever cried, but I never let it put me to the point that I would never fight. It made me fight even more, that someday, someday, I would get a fair election and the harassment wouldn't be there.