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Southern Labor Archives: Voices of Labor Oral History Project: H

Interviews with labor leaders from Georgia and across the South.

Halstead, Fred

Fred Halstead (w/ son F. Roger )


Interviewed by: Chris Lutz; July 26, 1995
Transcript info: 67 pages (3 Digital Copies)

Accession No: L1995-12.09


Biographical Information:
Fred Halstead, Sr. was born May 19, 1913 in Volney, New York. He graduated from high school in Fulton, New York around 1932. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was at the invasion of Utah Beach. After returning stateside he became active in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and Textile Workers’ Union of America (TWUA). Halstead served as President of his TWUA Local from 1947 to 1950, Director of the South Georgia TWUA from 1952 to 1953, and Manager of the Joint Board of TWUA in Los Angeles in 1967. He also served on the General Executive Board of the International Leather Goods, Plastics & Novelty Workers’ Union (Leather Workers) starting in 1970. During this time he and F. Roger Halstead concentrated their efforts on labor organizing throughout the Southeast.


Fred Halstead talks about growing up in a small New York town, his family, and working in silk and wool mills. Halstead moved south to work as a union organizer in the 1950s. In his words, doing so was “the toughest work I ever saw.” He discusses southern resistance to unionization - including wildcat strikes at Avondale mills in Alabama. He provides a detailed explanation of the organizing process: education, leaflets, and other aspects of organizing drives, plus the dangers of unionization for workers and their families, and views on the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO). Halstead also discusses civil rights within the union. Of the incidents which stand out in his mind, Halstead says, “I’ll never forget Daddy King making a speech hanging off the back of my chair, speaking right over my head -- that’s touching.” He also includes personal views on Lester Maddox. Halstead speaks about dating experiences during the 1930s and his Army service at the Utah Beach Invasion during WWII. He gives detailed descriptions of strikes and organizing drives in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The interview includes the input of F. Roger Halstead (born 1953) and the involvement of both father and son in organizing many southern companies.


Union Represented: Textile Workers Union of America (now UNITE); CIO


Hamilton, Elmer

Elmer Hamilton


Interviewed by: Norman Slawsky; July 13, 2006
Transcript: 50 pages (2 tapes, 90 minutes each)

Accession No: L2006-14


Biographical Information:
Elmer Hamilton was born in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and moved to Savannah, Georgia, to live with his aunt in 1950 when he was 13. He graduated from Beech Hish School in 1955 and joined the Navy shortly thereafter. After an honorable discharge from the Navy as a Petty Officer Second Class, he lived and worked in Brooklyn. In 1974 he moved to Atlanta and in 1979 began working for MARTA, first as a bus driver and later as a train operator. Early in his career with MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid transit Authority), Hamilton joined the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 732 (Atlanta, GA) and was eventually elected as the president of ATU Local 732.


Hamilton briefly discusses his early life through high school graduation. He describes both the discrimination and achievements of his time in the Navy, particularly his engineering and refrigeration training. He speaks of his time in Brooklyn, where he worked for the New York City Transit Authority for nine years (1960-1969) and briefly discusses his involvement with Democratic Party Politics in New York. Hamilton talks about his move to Atlanta in 1974 and how going to work for MARTA led to his involvement with the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 732 (Atlanta, GA), as a bus operator steward. His work as a bus operator steward led him to run for president of ATU Local 732 and he discusses several failed attempts to obtain the office before finally winning. His winning bid for president came after running on the platform that ATU members deserved a pension, and after being elected, he went on to hire an outside administrator of the pension which was considered a controversial move at the time.


People, unions, and organizations represented: Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 732 (Atlanta, GA); J. C. Reynolds, former ATU president; Benita West, ATU officer and president; MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid transit Authority)


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Southern Labor Archives

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