Title: Art Hallgren
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Title: Art Hallgren
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Language: English
Creator: Hallgren, Art ( Interviewee )
Bass, Jack ( Interviewer )
De Vries, Walter ( Interviewer )
Jaros, Joe ( Transcriber )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: May 20, 1974
Copyright Date: 1974
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Art Hallgren

This is an interview with Art Hallgren, COPE director, Florida AFL-CIO. The interview
was conducted in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 20, 1974, by Jack Bass and Walter De
Vries. The interview is from the Southern Oral History Program in the Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

pp. 1-3: Hallgren discusses Florida's labor school, mandated in the state's labor organization
constitution. The school covers collective bargaining, new legislation and other topics of interest
to labor organizations. He addresses the changes he has seen in Florida's political scene in the
last 25 years, for example, new areas of liberalism in the urban scene. Hallgren talks about his
service as director of COPE [Committee on Political Education] since 1961 and also how the
movers and shakers of the Florida labor movement have tried to change the public's seemingly
distorted image of unions. He wants to convey the concept that unions' interests are with the
community at heart, as well as the interest of the working people. Hallgren attributes
reapportionment as a factor in achieving that goal and the advent of public employees' collective
bargaining.

pp. 3-5: Hallgren describes the growth of organized labor in the work force, but the growth isn't
as great as union organizers would hope. For example, Cuban workers are not well organized,
not as well as the Latin American local trade organizations. He provides the current membership
statistics and the potential number of members that the Florida AFL-CIO would like to recruit.
He hopes that the organization will have a newspaper at some point.

pp. 5-9: The interview's focus turns to the role that labor has played in state politics, such as
endorsing candidates. Hallgren cites specific names that labor unions are currently endorsing.
He feels that political endorsements put labor in the limelight.

pp. 9-10: Hallgren states that less than a third of organized labor in Florida is affiliated with the
AFL-CIO. Part of this problem is due to international unions not following up on organizational
efforts in many areas, such as service unions. He cites Disney's efforts in negotiating a master
contract for all the trade organizations working at Walt Disney World.

pp. 10-14: Hallgren talks about COPE getting involved in statewide races and also on the local
level as far as organization, but COPE lacks the money to help fund campaigns. He cites the
recent election reform law--its advantages and disadvantages--requiring campaign funding to be
reported. He also describes the change in candidates' perception of being endorsed by unions--
many having previously seen this kind of backing as "the kiss of death"--to wanting open union
endorsement now.

pp. 15-16: The conversation turns to Florida's election and right-to-work laws and COPE's need
to educate people about their legal implications. Hallgren discusses some of the committees on
which the officers of the Florida AFL-CIO serve--Migrant Labor Commission, Charter Revision









Commission, Apprenticeship Council, Governor's Labor Advisory Committee, etc., the latter
committee advising on workmen's comp, unemployment comp, and other topics of interest to
labor.

pp. 17-19: Hallgren discusses the percentages of black and Cuban membership in the AFL-CIO,
and then breaks down those percentages into specific work force areas, such as service, labor,
crafts, etc. Hallgren feels that the major influence of organized labor in local elections is not so
much in the Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa areas as in the rural settings, where the Florida
AFL-CIO can "flex a much stronger muscle." He cites Reubin Askew's running for re-election
as a state senator in Escambia County as an example of labor pushing a candidate at the last
moment--and winning.

pp. 19-22: The interviewers direct attention to major issues coming up in the legislature in which
labor has specific interests, such as improvement in workmen's compensation and
unemployment compensation. Hallgren would like to see a bill that would be formula-based
rather than dollar amount-based for workmen's comp. He would like to have restoration of tax
exemption status for union property. And despite the ruling that agency shop legislation has been
ruled unconstitutional, he would like to see that law in place rather than become involved in a
fight to get rid of the right-to-work laws. He also states that the unions are interested in
legislative issues that do not directly reflect labor's interests. He then cites the plight of the
migrant workers and his disappointment in not getting them to organize and become a more
permanent work force.

pp. 22-25: Hallgren gives examples of political candidates running for office in Florida whom
the AFL-CIO endorsed. He feels that there are not enough liberals or those who have labor's
point of view in either party. He talks about the screening process in getting AFL-CIO
endorsement. Hallgren states that the AFL-CIO tries to work with industry prior to a piece of
legislation of mutual benefit to both labor and management. Sometimes it works; sometimes it
doesn't.

pp. 26-29: Hallgren provides examples of the power of construction, mobile home
manufacturers, and citrus lobbyists regarding legislation. He tries to expose labor's improved
and approved image to those living in rural settings.





FROM THE $Vo.H.P, #'oo7
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, THE LIBRARY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL







This is an interview with Art Hallgren, COPE director, Florida

AFL-CIO. The interview was conducted in Tallahassee, Florida on

May 20, 1974 by Jack Bass and Walter De Vries. It was transcribed by

Joe Jaros.



Jack Bass: So, you are the only state that has the one week labor

school?

Art Hallgren: Well, we are the only state that has it as a mandate

in the constitution of the state's that we are mandated by

our constitution . .

J.B.:. Is this primarily a political school?

Hallgren: No, it has politics involved, but it covers collective

bargaining, new legislation, whatever is of interest to the participants.

We try to get a feel of what they would like to have in the school and

grind in whatever is of interest to them.

J.B.: I want to make sure that I've got the spelling of your name

correct.

Hallgren: H-A-L-L-G-R-E-N.

J.B.: And you've been in Florida for how long?

Hallgren: We moved from New York in 1948, moved down in 1948. I started

with Pan-American Airways in Miami as a mechanic there, aircraft mechanic in

Miami.

Walter De Vries: That's the period of our book, from 1948 through 1974.

So, when you moved down here, what are the changes that you have seen in




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
PUBLISH MUST BE REQUESTED. WARNING: MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT.





page 2


politics that have occurred in that twenty-five years?

Hallgren: Oh, there have been great changes. Dade was always the

most liberal area, but we find now other areas of liberal persuasion springing

up. We have more of a liberal aspect in Hillsborough and Polk County, plus

Jacksonville. All the urban areas are much more libeEal than they were.

The legislature has changed greatly because of the growth in the state. We

have a much more . it's still not a liberal legislature by any means, but

it's much more liberal than it was. And it was in the hands of the so-called

"Pork Choppers" when we came down here.

J.B.: You've been here how long, in Tallahassee?

Hallgren: Oh, I only come up here for the legislative session.

J.B.: How long have you been COPE director?

Hallgren: Oh, I've been COPE director since 1961.

J.B.: And you've been coming up every year since then, at least every

legislative session?

Hallgren: Right. Oh, maybe there are a few that I've missed when I

was busy doing other things, but in the main, everyone since '61. But we

have less of the drive now on the part of the enemies of organized labor,

the enemies of labor, if you will, the opponents of labor, than we did before.

They are beginning to understand. We've made,,I think, great thorough in

some of the rural areas getting these people to understand that labor people

are not a bunch of goons that are going to come in and spoil everything and

that we do have the interests of the community at heart as well as the interest

of the working people. I think that we have seen some strides forward in that

area.

W.D.V.: Was reapportionment the primary thing that . .






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 467- in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 3


Hallgren: Yes, reapportionment was a great factor, and having the

greater representation from the areas where we had the greater population.

That doesn't hold true in every area, though. For example, Broward County

is a very conservative area. A lot of retired coupon clippers live down

there and they are very conservative. They have been that way in their

voting. In Dade County, they have a lot of retired people, they are the

people who retired out of the labor movement, mainly from New York, New

Jersey, and the northeastern states. We find on the west coast with the

retirees that we have a combination of both. We have some wealthy ones and

some that come from a labor background, so we have a mix as far as retired

folks are concerned. But now, with the advent of public employees' collective

bargaining, we are finding a much greater interests and acceptance of organized

labor as such in this state.

W.D.V.: Has organized labor as a percentage of the work force grown?

Hallgren: It has grown some, but not to the extent that we would like

to see it grow and I . .

W.D.V.: What is it now?

Hallgren: I would say now that we have probably 40% of the work force

here organized, in the potential, we have probably 40% organized.

W.D.V.: Is that the highest of the eleven southern states?

Hallgren: I don't know. I couldn't tell you. I don't imagine . .

W.D.V.: Has that remained pretty steady, or is it increasing?

Hallgren: Yes, it's . well, it remains pretty constant. One, we

haven't had the unionization of many of the industries that come into Florida,

especially south Florida, where we had this huge influence of the Cuban

workers. They were not unionized as they came in. Unions tended to ignore them,






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview R-6/ in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 4


thinking that they were going to be a passing group and were not to be

reckoned with. Now, unions, particularly the trades, carpenters for example,

have two or three locals that are almost entirely Latin American in make-up.

They have gone and organized these folks. The cubans when they first came,

were taking any kind of jobs for any type of money. But they soon realized

that they were being taken advantage of and decided that they had better

find somebody to represent them. The trades suffered greatly in the Miami

area in that they didn't organize the construction workers, the Cubans that

came in, and some of them had capital and started small construction comapnies and

they were just ignored by the unions involved, figuring that, "Well, they are

not going to build anything too big." But, as they finished a motel or a

small shopping center, then they had some more capital and they started to

build larger complexes, and now, I would say that probably 60% of the small

contractors in the greater Miami area are Cuban and are non-union. And this has

had a big impact and provides a big problem for the union contractor in the

area, because these people are able to come in with a lower wage scale and

undercut some of the bigs. It's creating a problem.

W.D.V.: How many numbers are there in the AFL-CIO?

Hallgren: We have affiliated with us about 180,000 right now. We have

a potential, according to the national figures, and we got this as a result

of their going to a computerized system of registration and identification, we

have a potential of nearly 300,000. S6, we've got about a third or somewhere

a little better than a third of people that should come aboard.

J.B.: Is there a labor newspaper as such in Florida?

Hallgren: No. We don't have a labor newspaper. We do, we just put

a woman on the staff as our women's activities director, we put her on last

year, and she and I put out what we call a COPE Monthly Report. That's the

nearest thing that we have to a newspaper as such right now. It comes out


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
PUBLISH MUST BE REQUESTED. WARNING: MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT.





page 5


once a month and relates to the election issues, the candidates and anything

that we feel is important on the, more or less, the political front. We do

cover some of the general news, what is happening here or there, we're

gradually, as best we can, working it into a more newsheet, something along

the lines of what Barney Weeks has in Alabama. We don't have a newspaper.

We've talked about having a newspaper, but we never have . .

J.B.: Could we just get some copies of that before we leave?

Hallgren: I have one that just came in:today. This is the latest

one . . (tape turned off)

J.B.: What's the distribution of the newsletter?

Hallgren: Unfortunately, we are not mailing this except to our, we

run our mailing list on all the local unions that are affiliated plus all

the delegates to the last convention. And that amounts to about, I would

say, to acmailing of around 2,000. We would like to expand that, but we've

had some resistance. One, because our mailing list is not exactly as it

should be and we are hoping to use the national AFL-CIO computer bank to

print out labels for us once we get the computer information updated. We

hope to be able to use that and order labels from AFL-CIO and make a mailing

to a total membership. We think this is important to do. You can keep that

and I can get more to you if you want it. De Leon just brought that from

our Tampa office, as I say, it's probably being in there today.

J.B.: What kind of role does both your office and labor play in state

politics in Florida? Do they endorse candidates?

Hallgren: Yes. We're having a real internal rumble right now in my

endeavor to hold a conference to endorse candidates for the first primary. I

feel that it is important that we do this. This is the time and it gives you

the chance to pick somebody. You might not pick a winner. But, we have a




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview /1-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 6


real problem because of the race for the United States Senate. We have

several very friendly candidates in there. We have Dick Stone, who has

always been a labor endorsed candidate. He's currently the secretary of

state. He has announced and is running for the U.S. Senate, the seat that

Ed Gurney now holds. We have Richard Pettigrew, a state senate, who has

always been a good friend of labor, has announced and is running for the

U.S. Senate seat. We have Bill Gunther, who is Congressman from the

Fifth District, he has announced and is running for the same seat. And

that's the major ones. And we have Mallory Horne, who is the current

president of the senate, who is presiding today in the state senate. He

has announced and is running. He will be a very conservative candidate,

I wouldn't believe that we would find ourselves in the posture of endorsing

him, but that's within this room, because if he heard us say that right now,

we'd be in trouble. He has the power of life and death over any legislation

and that's why we are keeping rather quite until after the session ends in

two weeks. The session ends in May.

W.D.V.: Do other COPE committees endorse in the first primary?

Hallgren: Some do, and some don't. We did in the last general election.

'It was the first time that Florida did endorse in the primary and we had some

misgivings about it, but on the whole, it proved to be the best move that we

ever made. It really put us in the limelight. We intend to have a COPE

conference. We have a very late filing date, you don't have to file for

office until July 23, which puts it pretty far away and we try to guess,

if you noticed in that sheet list, "Hold the Line," you find our affiliates

starting to support one candidate or another candidate and this is giving

us problems. So, we are trying to get them not to commit themselves to any






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A-61 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 7


candidate until we can hold such a conference. I doubt sincerely whether we

would require a two-thirds majority of delegates of candidates in attendance

for endorsement, that we would require the two-thirds vote. I don't envision,

unless something very dramatic happens, any one of the candidates being able

to capture two-thirds of the vote. So, I would assume that at least in the

senate race, we would probably end up with no endorsement in that particular

race. But I think that in the governor's race there is no question that we

would endorse Reubin Askew, the incumbent,for re-election.

J.B.: Did they endorse Askew the last time?

Hallgren: We didn't in the primary, no. There again, we had several

friends and he was not our choice in the primary. We endorse Chuck Hall, who

was then the metro mayor and seemed to be the most likely candidate. He was

well known, a lot of money and seemed to be a man that was going to go. And

at that time, as you probably heard, it was "Reubin Who?" Nob6dy knew. We

knew Reubin Askew, because he had been a good friend of ours in the senate,

he came from Escambia County, Pensacola and was just not well known. The

same was true of Lawton Chiles, nobody knew Lawton. We told them both, as

friends, "You don't have a chance." You know, "Reubin Who?" Nobody knew

them. "Walking Lawton." Who knew Lawton Chiles. But as Lawton started to

make his walk, I realized that he was gathering a million dollars of publicity

every day without spending a dime, because newspapers and media were covering

every town that he would go through and he was headlines in every paper as

he went around the state. And he captured the imagination of the people and

really went in and he's been a good senator. And the same with Reubin, once

the primary was over, then we did endorse Reubin Askew in the run-off, but

we:'didn't endorse him in the first . only because we didn't think that






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 8


he had a chance. We liked .him, he was friendly and a good candidate, but

we just didn't think that he could survive the run-off, survive the election

to get in the run-off. But he surprised everybody and he has been a very

good governor as far as we are concerned. Probably the one that we have been

closest to of any of the governors that I can remember. Certainly would like

to see Gurney out. By his own doings, we would certainly like to see him lose

out in the election. Personally, I would like to see him stay in the office

and have him as the opponent. I think that he would be the easiest to beat.

I'm very much concerned, there's a very sharp gal who is now serving with the

public service commission, Paula Hawkins, Republican. She's a member of the

Republican National Committee and a very, very attractive woman, very articulate

and she did win a statewide race and gone on to public service. And she's used

this seat to project herself in the public eye and she comes on as a sweet

little housewife, you know, but she has no more seen a broom, I would say

that the only broom she has seen is the one she rides when she is going back

to the house at night. She's a witch. She's going to be a devil to beat,

though. They had this trucker's strike and she made sure she had news

coverage and she got up on the back of the flatbed trailers and telling the

drivers how much she was concerned with their plight and how much she was

going to do at the public service commission to help them out, she comes on

like a gang buster. So, whoever wins, if she is a candidate and is in the

general election, whoever the Democrat is, I think that they will have a tough

job to beat her. I wouldn't take odds on that one at all. I'm very much

concerned about her. So, I hope Gurney stays in, because she is set, now,

she may change her mind, July is a long way off, but she has said that if

Gurney seeks re-election, she will not oppose him, but I don't know, I just

read the cards a little differently than that. She may change her mind when




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-57 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 9


she sees him having some problems. There are the financial problems that

he is having right now and the legal problems that he's having.

J.B.: What percentage of organized labor in the state is affiliated

with AFL-CIO?

Hallgren: Oh, I would say again, less than a third of what our

potential is. We are picking up, though. And a great deal of the

problem is that the international unions are not following up in many of

the areas. We are in a difficult area to service, they just haven't given

the groups who want to organize it's not for a lack of people wanting to

be organized, it's a lack of organizational effort on the part of the various

international unions. Now, when Disney came in, they built Disneyworld

100% union, but Disney said that he wanted unions on his property, but he

would not deal with half a dozen different unions, he didn't want any

jurisdiction disputes. So, they formed for the first time, to my knowledge,

a council of the building trades and they agreed to a general contract

with all the trades, of course with varying scales for the different skills,

you know, separate clauses for the different crafts and trades, but they

negotiated a master contract for all the trades. Once the place was built,

they did the same thing with the service trades. They had various unions,

the hotel and restaurant workers, the service employees, oh, you name it,

they had more coming in and wanting to represent the service employees. And

Disney again said the same thing, "I'll sign a master contract and you will

all work under one contract with various provisions for each different

group as it relates." And they have a council now of service employees. It

has worked out well for management, any fights that come up, the unions

have to go outside, talk to a member of middle management of Disney. A while

back, a good friend of mine, I knew him from the mechanical fields, and he

said, "It's really funny, Art. We have a dispute, come up and Disney says,


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview ~-6/ in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 10


'O.K., you settle the dispute and come up and tell us what you want to do.'"

So, it really takes the burden off management's back in this instance. But

as I started to say, there is no lack of interesting unions, unionization, but

there is a lack of organizers in this state to do the job. There is a growing

interest now, almost everybody is getting interested now, since we have this

provision in the constitution that was put in there when they revised the

state constitution, that public employees, they wrote it into the same clause

that we have our so-called."right to work law", and they added to the right

to work language that public employees shall have the right to bargain collectively.

Since then, they have been trying to draft guidelines. Well, this session,

they will probably succeed in passing guidelines, after about five years of

battling over it. But the various internationals have come in and are forced

now to organize the public employees. The AFT has stepped up its efforts,

the firemen and the oilers are in here organizing service employees, the

carpenters are interested in the service employees, they are all forming arms

of their various organizations and sending the organizers in to organize the

hospital workers, the service employees in the various state, county and

municipal entities.

W.D.V.: I may have misunderstood. I thought you said that 40% of

the work force is organized and you are saying now a third. Did I misunderstand

you?

Hallgren: No, we were talking about the total work force, how many went

to work.

W.D.V.: Well, of the total work force, what part is organized, what

percentage is?

Hallgren: I would say about a third.






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-6F in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 11


W.D.V.: About a third?

Hallgren: Yeah, about a third. Forty was high, a third is probably

more realistic.

W.D.V.: Does COPE get involved in statewide reaches and the state

legislature?

Hallgren: Yes.

W.D.V.: And that's about it?

Hallgren: We get involved in the national . .

W.D.V.: I know, Congress, but any below that?

Hallgren: Yes, at the local body, our central bodies take action in

county commissions, city commission races, mayor's races.

W.D.V.: In the statewide races, what kind of assistance do you give?

Hallgren: When a central body makes the determination that they are

going to back a certain council member or certain people from their area, if

they request us, we will make a mailing for them, listing the candidates with

open doors. All they have to do is send us a letter and we will give them

the mailing with no charge to them as an affiliated organization. If it is a

real important race to them, we will go in and help organize their volunteer

women, setting up phone banks and doing things like that to help the candidates

that they endorse. We don't give as much financial help as we would like to,

because we just don't have the funds, you know. We are alleged to be very

rich by our opposition, but we don't have the money. But I always contend

that we do have the votes if we put them to work.

W.D.V.: Well, do you contribute in the state legislative races?

Hallgren: Tlhere again, it's more of an in-kind sort of contribution

than actual cash contributions. Now, we have, this past lastyear, an election

reform law that is a very stringent one, that severely restricts and limits the




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-6/ in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 12


activities in which we can take part without reporting. We can do any in-house

work, you know, with our own membership without reporting, but as soon as we

start doing anything directly for the candidate that involves monetary

expenditure, we have to report as a committee of continuous existence, we

have to report to the secretary of state, to the director of elections and to

the county court clerk, exactly how much was spent and we have to have prior

permission from the candidate before we have to make any expenditures. That

would include printing bumper stickers or anything like that. We have to have

his approval and he has to report it and we have to report it.

W.D.V.: How do you feel about that law?

Hallgren: I think that it's going to be rather restrictive. It's got

its good points and its bad points. It was aimed, the intention of it, was

to get at these committees that were formed a month before election and would

go to a candidate and say, "Mr. Jones, we will endorse you, but we have to have

$500 for a newspaper ad in order for Citizens for Better Government of Leon

County to support you." In other words, they were taking money from the

candidates and actually it was a racket. And the legislation was particularly

for that, but once they wrote down language that would cover that, they found

that it was all encompassing. It included any committee that did anyrkind of

activity for any candidate. We recommended some specific changes and we are

hoping now that the change will pass that will make the recording procedure

easier. We are not afraid to report, our books are open anyway, for anyone

to inspect. But the recording procedure was quite complex and we are concerned

what it will mean to a local union, for example, if they get involved in a

campaign and fail to report, they can find themselves in trouble, but they can

also get the candidate in trouble if they spend money without notifying him

ahead of time. Because he is held to be responsible for any action taken by





From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 1?-61 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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anybody for him, which we think is rather unfair. For example, if you were

running for office, if I really wanted to sabotage you, I could simply run out

and take a full page add and I could report it and you would fail to report it

and you would be in trouble. I could report it to you after the fact, maybe

while it was going to the press and you could say, "No, no, I don't want it."

We find some candidates around the state that are still a little reluctant to

advertise the fact that they are being supported by organized labor. But this

has lessened. That one change I've found since we started in in 1961. We

had a lot of candidates who would come in the back door and say, "We want your

support, but don't publicize it." We find now, in fact, we have pretty much

adopted e stipulation that if you don't want to be publically known that we

are supporting you, then forget about it, you know. If we are not worth

mentioning in your report, then we don't want to support you. If you are

ashamed about us, then forget about it.

W.D.V.: Is that campaign expenditure law the toughest in the country as

far as you are concerned?

Hallgren: I think that it is one of the toughest. I just talked to

Washington about a half hour ago and they are very concerned about it.

W.D.V.: Is it the toughest in the South?

Hallgren: Yes, I would say so.

W.D.V.: But you don't know about across the country?

Hallgren: I would say that it is one of the toughest if it isn't the

toughest. It really is a very strict law and I have been growing grey hairs

over it, not so much for our part as the state organization, but again, if

you noticed in that newsletter, and I told our gal to stress it not to make

any contributions without first contacting me. Because they can get themselves






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in a jam. And it provides some pretty severe penalties, fines and so forth.

It does put the candidates in jeapordy too.

W.D.V.: Does it have any teeth?

Hallgren: Yes.

W.D.V.: It does?

H4llgren: Yes. In addition to that, it sets up a, oh, they call it

. it would be a panel that is composed of members of both parties and then

a chairman apppinted by the governor and they are charged with the responsibility

of investigating any alleged violations of the law. And I can just see how a

group like this could really go a witch hunt,even though you have representation

from both parties and supposedly an impartial chairman. You could still get

into an awful jam, somebody wanted to really harrass you with it.

W.D.V.: You said that one of the major changes is that people now want

the open union endorsement. Is there anybody left that doesn't want it? Who

sees it as the kiss of death?

Hallgren: Well, there are still some in some areas of the state and

I think that it's probably true that . .

W.D.V.: How about statewide?

Hallgren: Statewide, no. Statewide, they are willing . the governor;

for example, is very proud and pleased to have our support, as well as most . .

W.D.V.: The cabinet?

Hallgren: All of the cabinet. And we supported them all openly and they

brag about the support that they had from organized labor. In fact, I sometimes

worry about our governor, you know. He is constantly under attack, as far as

big business is concerned. One of his first and foremost programs was to pass

the corporate profits tax, which was very unpopular, but he pushed it through

and we helped him push the referendum through. We worked hard on it. By the




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page 15


way, that's another thing. This election law addresses itself not only to

candidates b-ut to the issues. For example, if we were involved in a big

right to work fight now, trying to get rid of the right to work law, we

would have to report any money, as would our opposition have to report

any money, that is spent on an issue. It doesn't apply to voter registration

or get out the vote, but it does apply to an issue. The strange thing, it is

really funny, I suppose, in a way. The first group that really got themselves

caught in the trap when the law was passed was the Leon County Chamber of

Commerce. They were out plugging for a road bond issue and they should have

known, of all people, right here in the capital county, they found themselves

in violation of the law. They hadn't reported to the secretary of state and

they hadn't reported to the clerk of the court their expenditures on behalf

of this issue. They more or less dropped it because the law was new, but

they got their wrists slapped publically. Not that they did it illegally,

but there are many groups that are really on thin ice right now. They

don't realize that the law is for all intents and purposes on the books

and in practice. That it is, in fact, law and anybody who goes out and

does any endorsing or working on anissue right now could find themselves

in trouble if somebody went to this board and reported a violation. So,

it's something that we are very concernEd about, again, not so much for

us, we feel that we are pretty much aware of what we can and can't do.

I'm planning some sessions to go around and meet with the various central

labor groups to explain in depth and maybe get the author of the bill,

Representative Martinez, to travel along with me to have him, someone from

the secretary of state's office maybe, to go along and explain the recording

procedure so that they don't get themselves in trouble.






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page 16


W.D.V.: Are you mounting a campaign, are you going to work?

Hallgren: No, not this time.

W.D.V.: Do you intend to?

Hallgren: No, not right now. You see, ours is one of the constitution,

under the laws and titles of the constitution, we would have to have one

resolution passed by two-thirds of the legislature . .

W.D.V.: And then a referendum?

Hallgren: And then a referendum vote of the people. And I would be

very, very reluctant to put it out as a test right now and try to get a

repeal, because the very nature of the name, "right to work." It sounds

so, you know, much like motherhood. People just don't understand that it

doesn't give anyone the right to work, it doesn't do anything of the kind.

And I think that we would certainly lose the battle without a very, very

vigorous educational program. We would have to spend a lot of money to get

it going. Because we have found even in local unions where they have run

some secret ballot polls, "Do you think that the right to work laws are

good laws or not?" We've had some good union members go to the meetings,

they are usually pretty good members, fairly well informed, and we've had

one union meeting with 60% of the people voting in the meeting saying that

the right to work law is a good law. They just don't understand it, it's

implications and the problems that it can cause.

W.D.V.: Do you or the president or any of the officers of the AFL-CIO

serve on any of the state boards or commissions?

Hallgren: I'm on the commission, the Migrant Labor Commission, have

been for about five years now. It's a joint legislative commission. President

Harris served on the charter revision commission. He served on that. Our

secretary-treasurer has served on the apprentickslip council, which is a joint




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page 17


administrative group, management, labor and government. And I served on

the governor's labor advisory committee, which is a standing committee.

There were ten of us on that, the president and I both served on that.

He meets with us, either he or his staff or aides meet with us quarterly

to bring us up to date with what is going on, gets suggestions from us,

input, particularly before the legislation on what changes we wanted to

see in workmen's comp, unemployment comp, that kind of thing. So, we are

active in that area. And of course, we are interested. In fact, there was

an election committee meeting this morning where they were amending some of

the election laws. We are trying to keep track of what they are trying to

do to the election laws. Again, I have hopes that we will be successful

in making these changes that I talked about.

W.D.V.: What percentage of the organized work force is black?

Or Cuban?

Hallgren: I would say probably 15%.

W.D.V.: 15% of the AFL-CIO is both black . .

Hallgren: Or Cuban.'

W.D.V.: How does that break down, black and Cuban?

Hallgren: Probably 10% black and 5% Cuban or so. Not that a lot of

the Cubans aren't in areas that could be organized or should be organized,

they are just not union, I mean, they are in the force. For example, the

garment industry in Miami used to be entirely union. It had a lot of

Spanish speaking people, but not Cubans. But when the Cubans came in, they

set up their own shops and took over, I would say, at least 80% of the

garment work in the Miami area.

W.D.V.: Are there predominantly black unions and Cuban unions, are or

they part of other . are they integrated?




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page 18


Hallgren: Most of the . well, it varies now. I would say that

most of the Cuban unions are predominantly Cuban, like I mentioned that

the ,&7~1A&'' are 90% in the Dade County area. The blacks are integrated

particularly in the industrial type of unions. You have them pretty mixed,

the communication workers, the air line people, you have a pretty fair mix

there. Not as high as a percentage as there probably should be, as the

blacks would like to see. But there is a mix there. A lot of your crafts

are still lagging behind, the exception would be the brickmasons, they have

quite a few blacks. The labor force is almost predominantly black. Your

longshoreman are predominantly black. Some Spanish in both organizations, but

mainly black laborers and longshoremen. Very few whites. Your service

trades, the hotel and restaurant workers, I would say they are 90% Cuban. They

used to be black. They displaced the blacks in that particular area. The

taxi drivers are almost exclusively Cuban in the Miami area. Clerks in

stores, where there used to be blacks and whites, almost all Cuban now in

the Miami area.

J.B.: Is the major influence of organized labor in local elections

in Dade County, Duvall and the Tampa area?

Hallgren: I would say, no, I would say that our real impact, I feel, is

in a lot of the rural areas. I think that we can flex a much stronger

muscle in rural elections than we can in the urban areas. Because we do

have a tighter group, we can zero in on a candidate or group of candidates and

win with them, if we have a united labor operation. I can give you a classic

example. When Governor Reubin Askew was running for re-election as a state

senator in Escambia County, he called me one night, the night before election.

And he said, "I'm in trouble over here. If the labor folks don't get out and

vote for me tomorrow, I'm not going to win. I won't come back to Tallahassee

as a senator." And so, I said, "We will see what we can do." So, the next


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page 19


morning I got on the phone and called all the business agents that I knew in

Escambia County and told them to be sure and get their people out, that it

was going to be a close race and we wanted to see Reubin Askew returned to the

senate. Well, we were successful and he has never forgotten that and even

since he has been governor, he's said, "I probably wouldn't even be here if

it wasn't for what you did for me when I was back running for that senate seat."

So, I think that in instances like that, it proves to me at least, the fact

that we can be 'very effective in rural areas. You take a town like Palatka

where they have a paper mill and I would say that probably 80% of the people

in in Palatka are union or have union connections . . (tape turned off

due to interruption by telephone)

J.B.: How about in the legislature? What are the major issues coming

up that labor has a specific interest in?

Hallgren: Well, of course, the one thing that we are always interested

in is the improvement of workmen's compensation and of course, unemployment

compensation. We are trying now, and we are within reach of a formula concept

on workmen's mp instead of a dollar amount. We are trying to tie this to

66 '2/3% of the average weekly wage in the state. So that when the wages go

up, the compensation will automatically rise with the wage and we won't have

to go back every legislative session and, you know, with hat in hand and beg

for another ten dollars to keep up with the cost of living. One of the other

things that we are vitally concerned with in this particularlisessiondis then

iestorationtof our tax exemption status that we enjoyed for a number of years

and that we lost two sessions ago. Union profits were tax exempt, at least

that part of the union profit that was only used for meetings and for office

space. I mean, if we rent it out, naturally, we would expect to pay taxes on

it. That exemption was removed two sessions ago in a last minute bill that we




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page 20


just didn't have our eye on and it went through and removed our exemption.

But at the same time, it removed the exemptions for all the Elks Clubs, the

Masonic Order and everybody else. So, it caused a big furor with all

organizations, all fraternal organizations lost their tax exemption status

on their real property. And since then, all of us have been working toward

getting that restoration of tax exemption. However, this session, the bill

went through real early and it only covered fraternal orders, it didn't cover

anybody else in giving them back their tax exempt status. And that was signed

into law almost before anybody realized that it happened. But we are trying

now in the last days of the session to get unions back on that particular

role of the tax exempt status for union property as a non-profit operation.

Whether we will be successful on it, I don't know. That's why we were kind

of busy this morning. If we don't get it out of committee today, our chance

of getting it is almost impossible.

J.B.: How about agency shop legislation?

Hallgren: Agency shop has been ruled unconstitutional. There was a test

case between Food Fair and one of their employees. They had an agency shop

agreement and it went to the supreme court and the supreme court held that

under the state laws, the constitution as written, the agency shop was not

legal in the state of Florida. Now, some states do have right to work laws

and can have agency shops, but it was outlawed in Florida by the supreme court

decision. This is something that we have argued and we have had some

receptive ears as far as the legislature was concerned, on that portion. They

feel that it is only right if a person is getting the protection of a union,

they should pay their fair share. Not be obliged to join or pledge allegiance

to, but certainly pay their freight as far as paying for the organization.

And there are a surprisingly growing number of legislators who would be willing




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to listen to that kind of an argument. So, I think that we may find that to

be the route rather than an all out fight to get rid of the so-called right

to work laws. It will be an easier route anyway. And that would certainly

accomplish as much for us as we need.

J.B.: In dealing with the legislature, you concentrate your efforts

more or less primarily, and almost exclusively on those type of issues that

you feel are directly related to union members, such as the ones that you've

described?

Hallgren: No, we were very much interested in the extension of home

state exemption. We have a home state exemption in Florida for the first

$5000. This year they upped it to $10,000 for people over sixty-five.

We were very much in favor of that. We are always looking for tax reforms.

We supported the governor's proposal on corporate profits tax. We feel that

a better spread of the tax burden is important to all the people, not just the

working people. And when we are talking about workmen's comp and unemployment

comp, we are talking about every worker, not just the union worker. So, I

don't think that any of the issues, except for possibly the right to work, and

even the right to work is not a labor-union problem, it's a problem for a

worker who wants to get an organization in and finds it difficult, not

impossible . .

J.B.: I didn't really mean issues limited to organized labor. I meant

primarily economic issues, taxes,workmen's comp, is there a state minimum

wage law in Florida?

Hallgren: No, we tried to get a state minimum wage at several sessions.

We proposed a dollar minimum wage and we had one legislator say, "I don't have

a man working for me that is worth more than 40 an hour. I move that we






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page 22


table the bill." And that was the end of minimum wage. So, we haven't really

seriously tried to get a minimum wage, we feel that the federal law has

pretty much taken care of the majority of workers. We are interested in the

plight of the migrant workers, we have quite a few migrants. That's why I

have a great interest in this migrant labor commission that I serve on,

investigating not the wages but the conditions and so forth that these

people have to work under. We feel that this is a very important endeavor

for the state. In fact, we had a program going a while back and it fell

through, I was very disappointed. We had worked with the Laborer's International

Union, they sent staff down here, even one of their vice-presidents. And our

thought was to organize the migrant workers into the Laborer's Union and then

when there were low lulls in the harvesting and picking operations, they could

be used as common laborers on the building construction sites. This would

tend to upgrade them and move them out of the migrant stream and make them

a more permanent work force. And it looked like it was going to go and

suddenly the Laborer's International lost interest or ran out of organizing

money or something and they whole thing just blew up and that was the end of

it. But I was very disappointed in that, because we felt that this was an

area in which we could really do a job.in helping these people. 'inc

J.B.: Since you've been in this job, how many Republican candidates

do you recall that you have endorsed, the AFL-CIO endorsements?

Hallgren: Two that I know of. We helped elect a Senator Glissen in

this last election. By the way, we were really taking a big chance, the

Democrat was strongly supported by the governor, but we felt that Glissen

was the better man for us and we supported him and he was elected. There

again, it was the effect of a rural effort.






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J.B.: He is from where?

Hallgren: Eustace. And he has been a very good senator and very friendly

to organized labor. And we did endorse . well, probably more than two

have gotten endorsements, but I was thinking in terms of two that we have

gotten elected. We helped elect a Republican in Broward County, this wasn't

very difficult to do because Broward tends to be Republican and this was a

very liberal Republican. We helped him get elected. The problem is that

we don't find enough people who are liberal or take a good view of labor's

point of view in the Democratic party, much less the Republican. That's

our big problem.

J.B.: Who is the Republican in Broward?

Hallgren: His name was . oh, let me think now.

J.B.: That's all right.

Hallgren: I can't think of it right now. Senator Glissen is the one

that stands out in my mind, you know, statewide. We probably will . let

me put it this way, it wouldn't surprise me to see us endorse a Republican in

some of these races that we have coming up this year. Again, we don't know

who the candidates are going to be. We find ourselves with this cabinet . if

you have been following Florida news at all, you find that we have already

lost the Commissioner of Education through indictments and the Comptroller is

under investigation right now. There is a shadow hanging over the state

Treasurer's office, so we just don't know what is going to happen in the next

few months . .

(End of side A of tape)

Hallgren: . that's basically the . .

J.B.: Do you interview candidates for endorsements?






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Hallgren: Yes. What we did the last time, we had an endorsement

conference. The executive board of the AFL-CIO sat down with candidates but

prior to that, I sent:to.:,eachicandidate a registered letter inviting them to

the screening session, also a questionnaire for them to answer. And we put

general questions of interest to us and to the state and they could answer

them, expand on their answers if they wanted to. And we requested that they

return them and also appear before the screening committee to refer to the

questions and make statements. And we had a pretty good response to that.

And we invited Republicans as well as Democrats. We invited Claude Kirk.

He claims that he never got the invitation, but . .

J.B.: He said that he would not come to that?

Hallgren: No, I know that he got the letter, because I received the

returned receipt for the registered letter. That's why I sent them registered,

so that no one could claim that they didn't get the letter. I still have it in

my files, where he claims that he was never invited, but he was. He didn't

show. We knew that we weren't going to endorse him, but we felt that we ought

to give him the courtesy, as we would in this upcoming screening. We would

invite every candidate, no matter whether we liked them or didn't like them

or anticipated that they were going to be very unfriendly or not, we still

give them the courtesy of appearing and of hearing him out, or her out.

J.B.: To what extent do you . I guess that communicate is what I'm

really interested in, with business representatives in terms of pending

legislation?

Hallgren: We contact them, you might say year around, because we have

a very unique system in Florida now. We have a committee system, the

legislature is made up of standing committees. Every committee is a standing

committee in the legislature and the chairman of that committee can at any




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time during the interim between sessions call committee meetings and hear

and discuss and act on legislation and then when the session opens they can

come in with bills they have already heard. They can call a committee meeting

in Dade County or Leon County or any county they want. But at their will, they

notify all parties that they believe would be interested and they usually

make it a matter of public record by advertising the fact that they are going

to have meeting. And we try to have representatives there. If it is a bill

of mutual interest to labor and industry, then we contact the industry

people and talk to them about what their view is on the legislation and try to,

as best we can, hammer out our differences beforehand so that we can go and

present to the legislature a more or less united front. We are not always

successful, but we try.

J.B.: How about workmen's comp, this move to try and get workmen's

comp on a formula basis? How would it operate?

Hallgren: You mean so far as labor and industry?

J.B.: Right.

Hallgren: We have gotten cooperation of the lobbyists of associated

industries and others in this particular interests. There are just a few

hang-ups that they have. One is the inclusion of migrant labor. They

were upset about that, they had some qualms. I don't know why, because

most of them that we find were statistics that were provided by the departments

that were involved showed that probably 80% were already covered, were already

under insurance or were under workmen's comp, but the employer found that it

was to his advantage rather than running the risk of being.sued, that he did

provide workmen's compensation coverage. But there are just a few minor

hang-ups from our point of view now, and management's point of view. We have

come close to what you might say is an agreement.




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W.D.V.: Is the associated industries group the most powerful industry

or business group in the state?

Hallgren: Probably. It would be a tie between them and some of the

construction . the road builders particularly, are a very powerful

organization. So are the mobile home people. They are probably the most

powerful, I would think. Try to get some law passed against or about mobile

homes, and you really find this place goes afire. They are very, very powerful

as an interest, because there are so many mobile homes in the state of Florida.

And we've tried in conjunction with other consumer groups, we have tried to

get legislation, to support legislation to get regulations on construction

and tie downs and so forth of these mobile homes. It's almost impossible.

They really lobby you to death, let me tell you, anything that we try to

introduce . .

W.D.V.: Is the source of their power their campaign contributions?

Hallgren: I really don't know what tactics they use, but I do know

that they have out here somewhere in the woods a whole complex of mobile

homes that are made available for any legislator that wants to have a place

to stay during the session. I know of one session, I don't know if it is in

existence in this particular session, but they had around the clock steak and

bar service any time that you wanted to go out there. You could go out there

at two-o'clock in the morning and get a steak two inches thick and any kind

of drinks that you wanted to have, served by the most attractive girls that

I've ever seen in my life. This is part of their lobbying effort, I would

assume. And I can't prove any of this. I do know that they had these homes

there and I know that the mobile home industry had placed them there. But

the terrible part about this mobile home thing is that under the existing law,






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trailers are rejected in Georgia. Georgia state law refuses them to be allowed

to be placed in Georgia and what is not allowed can be trucked down and placed

in Florida. And you can ride around these mobile home parks and you will see

a little Georgia seal on them saying that they are made in the state of Georgia,

but they are not allowed to be left in the state. The seal doesn't say that, but

they are made in Georgia and trucked down here. Yet, there are mobile home

construction firms in Florida. They are allowed to set up rejects from other

states in Florida. It bothers me. And I've seen some of these things that have

been hit by just mild winds and it is a terrible tragedy to even allow them

to be placed, really. They are so flimsy. And they are absolutely tender

boxes if there is a fire around, they go up like that. There have been several

real bad experiences with them. And it is usually the elderly people, unless

it is the very young who can't afford a home and have a small family and low

income, who are compelled to live in these things. And they are really not

just worth anything. They are of very, very flimsy construction.

J.B.: Who regulates them, I mean, what agency?

Hallgren: That's it, we can't get any regulation. None of them. They

have mobile home regulations, but they are very lax. Most counties don't have

any. Some counties are stricter than others. Some are strict, but as far as

tie downs, in some counties, you can just roll one in and leave it sitting on

concrete blocks. You don't have to tie it down at all. So, the first wind

that comes along can push it over. Dade County has the strictest code as far

as tie downs go. Other counties are beefing them up since they have had

problems with them. But you talk about strong lobbys . I would say that

associated industries is powerful, but I wouldn't discount the mobile home

and the citrus is of course, one that you certainly couldn't discount. The

growers associations . .. there are maybe four or five that would almost vie




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for first place as far as influence is concerned. Plus the fact that we

have a lot of rural legislators that are farm oriented. The peanut farmers . .I

don't know. We've got a long way to go to making great strides in moving ahead.

One of the things that I try to do is to get as much exposure in the various

forms, debates, addressing rotary groups, luncheon meetings, anytimeisthat anyone

says that they want to hear from organized labor, Imake myself available, even

though I know that I may be walking into a lion's den, I feel that this is what

we have to do to get organized labor's image through and approved. And that,

I think, is the main thing. Once we do that, we're in good shape. But,;when

someone says, "Labor" now, it's like someone saying a dirty word. Everyone

thinks of someone who is going to beat them over the head with a stick if

they don't do what they are supposed to do. Unfortunately, we have that kind

of person still around in some areas. It always happens to me when I am

going to go and talk to some high school or college group, that the day before

there will be some incident, some picket will lose his temper and beat someone

over the head with a stick or something like that, and it's headlines. I

always tell them that by statistics, it is a known fact that there are more

bank presidents in jail than there are union presidents in jail, you just don't

read about them.

J.B.: Anything else?

W.D.V.: Did we miss any item?

Hallgren: Not that I know of. I hope that I have given you some insight

into what we have tried to do, and certainly if there is anything else that you

can think of, I will be happy to send you any information that you want. I'll

send you additional copies of that material.

J.B.: O.K., fine. . (tape turned off)






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview /-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
PUBLISH MUST BE REQUESTED. WARNING: MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT.





page 29


Hallgren: 85% of our union membership is located in nine counties in

this state.

J.B.: Is this the nine largest counties?

Hallgren: Yes.

W.D.V.: Any guess as to what percentage of that group is registered?

Hallgren: I would guess, from a report by our director of women's

activities, she was very much concerned that she was coming up with a figure

of less than 40% who were registered. The ones that she had checked so far

this year. And this is in Hillsboro county, which is a fairly, you know,

heavy area. I was very surprised.

J.B.: That's Tampa isn't it?

W.D.V.: Less than 40%?

Hallgren: Less than 40. I was really . and we always suspected that

it would be in the building trades group who would have less registration,

but this has not proven to be the fact.

J.B.: So, you are getting . (inaudible) . so is this likely to

result in an emphasis on voter registration?

Hallgren: Absolutely.

J

(End of interview)



















From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 5-67 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
PUBLISH MUST BE REQUESTED. WARNING: MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT.




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