Franco-American Collection

Denis Blais

"To the older people, especially the old French Catholic people...CIO was communist.  I mean, that wasn't the majority, but you had that undercurrent; they looked at you with suspicion."

Denis Blais was a long-time leader of the Textile Workers of America in Lewiston.  He began as manager of the local area office and ended up as regional vice-president.

Denis' father moved from Armargh, QC to Rhode Island, since the Quebec winters were too demanding on his health. When his father died in 1937, Denis went to work in a textile mill, where he was exposed to the conditions of workers, and convinced to join the local union.  He went on to be a union recruiter and organizer in Rhode Island.

Employed by the Union (TWUA-CIO), he was sent to Lewiston, Maine because of his bilingualism.  In total, he spent 34 years working for the union.

Listen to the interview.

Read the transcript.

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