By 1929, the Communist party had a significant presence in North Carolina. The party affiliated National Textile Workers Union started organizing strikes at textile mills to raise wages and improve conditions for mill workers. At Loray Mills in Gastonia, NC, workers walked off the job. Separate clashes with the police and strike breakers left the Gastonia police chief dead as well as Ella Mae Wiggins, a worker who had evolved into a leader of the strike.
Exhibit at The SC State Museum on Springmaid Sheets - The daring and controversial ad campaigns that rescued a struggling textile business and made Springs Cotton Mills one of the giants of the industry
November 1910. Birmingham, Ala. Workers in the Avondale Mills in Jefferson County. (The Avondale Mills in St. Clair County burned today in Pell City.) Smallest boy is John Tidwell. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine
Child labor was rampant during industrialization due to the need of money by families and the ability of children to work with small parts that adults were too big for. Also, children worked excessive hours and were often harshly punished for not working up to certain standards.
Ella May Wiggins, textile worker, balladeer, and union organizer, was born in the mountains of Cherokee County. This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, http://ncpedia.org/biography/wiggins-ella
On March 30, 1929, workers at the Loray Mill in Gastonia began a walkout. Two days later, they called a general strike. At the time the five-story building covering more than a half-million square feet and was the world’s largest factory under one roof. This Day in North Carolina History | The people and places of the Tar Heel state day by day.