Thursday, July 19, 2012

Columbus County Farmers Set Pay for Farm Hands at $3.50 and $2.50 per Day, 1945

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Wilmington Star on July 9, 1945

Tobacco is now going rapidly into the curing barns of eastern North Carolina but before the harvest started in Cerro Gordo section of Columbus County, the folks in that little community held a meeting in which landlords, tenants, and farm laborers all sat down together to discuss how to handle the 1945 harvest. The folks had been especially pleased with the way in which they had handled the situation in 1944 when one of its heaviest crops ever grown there had been harvested and cured with more ease than any crop previously grown. Last year, the standard price was $3.00 a day from croppers or primers and $2.00 a day for barn hands.

It was agreed at this conference that prices had increased to such an extent that some increase in wages would have to be made this year. After the whole matter had been discussed, pro and con, for about an hour, it was agreed by each person present that the price for harvesting the Cerro Gordo tobacco crop this year would be $3.50 for croppers and $2.50 for barn hands.

Every person there also agreed that he would discuss the matter with his neighbors and insist that everyone in the whole community live up to this agreement. No one would be paid less and no one paid more.

Charley Raper, farm agent, said these prices might not suit elsewhere but that they were agreed upon by all—landlords, tenants, laborers—who felt that by such cooperation each farmer in the community would have an equal chance in getting his tobacco primed and cured and there would not be the problem of the big farmer fighting the little man for such labor as might be available, nor of one man trying to get his work done for a little less than what had been agreed upon as a fair wage. Mr. Raper suggested that other communities over North Carolina might find that they could solve many of their local problems by sitting down and having a thorough discussion of the entire matter, reaching some agreement, and then sticking to it.

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