Textile Organizing in a Sunbelt South Community: Northwest Georgia's Carpet Industry in the Early 1960s

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The American carpet industry experienced a revolution in the 1950s. At the beginning of that decade, carpets and rugs produced by American companies were almost exclusively woven; by 1960 a new process, tufting, dominated the marketplace. In 1950 the total volume of carpet shipments totalled about 100 million square yards. By 1963, manufacturers shipped more than 250 million square yards of carpeting, more than 80% of it tufted. The old weaving process had been closely associated with New England. The new manufacturing process was closely tied to the northwest quadrant of Georgia.

The growth and southernization of the carpet industry transformed life and labor in the small communities of northwest Georgia--towns like Dalton, Chatsworth, Calhoun, and others. The Textile Workers Union of America mounted a pivotal organizing campaign in the Dalton area in the early 1960s. TWUA's organizing drive and its outcome reveled the harsh realities of textile organizing in the modern South: TWUA had little success in organizing the South.