Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > "It wasn't slavery time anymore": foodworkers' strike at Chapel Hill, spring 1969

Intolerable working conditions provoked UNC cafeteria workers--most of them black women--to walk off their jobs. Although unprecedented, the strike came at a time and place that were already ripe for confrontation over labor, racial, and student issues. With negotiations at an impasse, scuffles between student strike supporters and opponents prompted campus administrators to close Lenoir Dining Hall. At the insistence of North Carolina's governor, Lenoir was reopened under guard of the state patrol, thereby invigorating debate about academic freedom and the university's political integrity. Later, the governor forced the evacuation of the building which strike supporters occupied. The four-week strike ended when, after extraordinary procedures, state employees throughout North Carolina received a twenty-cent increase in the minimum wage. This study surveys conditions prior to the walkout, outlines strike events chronologically, and assesses the assumptions and strategies of participants.