Thursday, July 2, 2009


Equally as pressing as wage increases was the severe curtailment of production during 1918. Nine valuable days were lost during February and March as a result of the federal Fuel Administrator's order. But these were nothing when set against the effects of the influenza epidemic which swept through the eastern United States in the fall of 1918.

As Charlottesville fell under its deadly grip, schools were closed, large gatherings of people ceased, and many businesses were crippled by sickness. At the Woolen Mills, the disease "worked havoc": sometimes half the workers were ill. When the attack had subsided, it was found that the equivalent of twenty-three days had been lost. All told, the mill was in effect closed down for five and a half weeks during 1918. --Harry Poindexter


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

war bonuses

Wages also rose to new heights. Between 1914 and 1916, the company spent about $52,000 annually for "hand labor." Pay raises became necessary following the entry of the United States into the war. In May, 1917, the first wedge was opened when the board granted an increase of ten cents per day for each extra day worked to all employees who had reached "standard pay." In November, a ten percent raise was extended to all workers. During 1918, with three successive wage boosts totaling thirty percent, the cost of labor skyrocketed to $77,000?fifty-four percent higher than 1915. None of the raises had been formally requested by the employees. The management classified them as war bonuses and probably considered then temporary.--Harry Poindexter