New in the collection: Mill worker insurance policies

Policy from Prudential Insurance for Hazel A. Hester

“The Roosevelt administration signed sweeping worker protections into law, addressing many of the issues that drove Loray employees to strike in 1929.

“And, [Gaston County historian Jason] Luker says, things changed dramatically when the mill was sold to Firestone [in 1935]. People were paid better, worked better schedules and were even able to buy houses from the company in the mill village.

“ ‘The people who worked for Firestone worked for Firestone for 30, 40, 50 years,’ Luker said. ‘That’s a far cry from the people who struck multiple times. It’s a completely different mindset.’ ”

— From “90 years ago, a Gastonia strike was world news” by Dashiell Coleman in the Gaston Gazette (March 29, 2019)

Among other benefits newly available to Firestone workers: life, disability and hospitalization insurance (“room and board, not exceeding $3.50 a day”).

As tire-making technology advanced, the mill switched from cotton to synthetic fibers, then closed in 1993. In 2013 developers began renovating it for residential and commercial use.