Texas Labor History
Publication Year: 2013
Too often, observers and writers of Texas history have accepted assumptions about labor movements in the state—both organized and not—that do not bear up under the light of careful scrutiny. Offering a scholarly corrective to such misplaced suppositions, the studies in Texas Labor History provide a helpful new source for scholars and teachers who wish to fill in some of the missing pieces.
Tackling a number of such presumptions—that a viable labor movement never existed in the Lone Star State; that black, brown, and white laborers, both male and female, were unable to achieve even short-term solidarity; that labor unions in Texas were ineffective because of laborers’ inability to confront employers—the editors and contributors to this volume lay the foundation for establishing the importance of labor to a fuller understanding of Texas history. They show, for example, that despite differing working conditions and places in society, many workers managed to unite, sometimes in biracial efforts, to overturn the top-down strategy utilized by Texas employers.
Texas Labor History also facilitates an understanding of how the state’s history relates to, reflects, and differs from national patterns and movements. This groundbreaking collection of studies offers notable opportunities for new directions of inquiry and will benefit historians and students for years to come.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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Our greatest debt is owed to the contributors to this volume; without their dedication to the cause of the working- class majority of this state and nation, this work would not have been possible. The encouragement, suggestions, and enthusiasm of a number of scholars for this project, including several not among...
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The history of organized labor movements in Texas is too oft en overlooked or ignored by observers and writers of Texas history, many of whom hold inaccurate or false views about Texas unionists. This has led to a number of misconceptions. First is the presumption that a viable labor movement never existed in the Lone Star state. On the contrary, collective action by workers occurred in key areas of ...
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Until the development of eff ective railway transport in the 1870s, there was little in the Texas economy or society conducive to the development of labor organizations. Outside the port towns of Galveston and Houston, which devel-oped relatively diversifi ed economies even before the Civil War, the economy of Texas remained one of self- suffi cient agriculture until the railroad broke the ...
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During the summer of 1854 the editor of a Texas newspaper wrote in anguish that dances attended by blacks and working- class whites were common in the state’s larger cities and that anyone observing such an event “almost imagines himself in the land of amalgamation, abolition meetings, and women’s rights conventions.” The illegal but common practice of allowing slaves to hire out ...
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In the two decades that followed the Civil War, the open- range cattle indus-try dominated the Great Plains, then died and was replaced by enclosed range ranching and stock farming. In Texas the movement to enclose the range began in earnest in the early 1880s and was completed by 1890. During this transi-tional period there was also a great upsurge in European and Eastern investment ...
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In 1941 an elderly white socialist named Patrick Cassidy wrote to Ruth Allen, a historian of the Southwest railway strike of 1886. Cassidy had participated in that strike under the leadership of District Assembly 101 of the Knights of Labor, along with thousands of other railroad workers on Jay Gould’s Southwest system of railways in Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois.1 The walk-...
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In January 1945, as Allied forces pushed into Germany, Gomer Gower remi-nisced about his turn- of- the- century experiences as resident, worker, and labor activist in Thurber, Texas, a coal- mining town owned and actively operated by the Texas and Pacifi c Coal Company from 1888 through the 1920s. Alluding to resistance fi ghters in war- torn Europe, Gower wrote: “We in Thurber, too, had ...
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In his American Conservatism in the Age of Enterprise, 1865–1910, Robert G. McCloskey contends that society’s acceptance of the doctrines of Social Dar-winism and laissez- faire economics ultimately and inevitably turned the demo-cratic faith upside down. That is, property rights supplanted human rights as the primary tenet of democracy; in the process capitalism and democracy became ...
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The tenant farmer discontent and socialist protest that developed in Texas during the 1910s grew out of the terrible depression of the early 1890s, which caused thousands of small farm owners throughout the South to lose their land and fall into tenant farming. At fi rst, academic experts thought this situation to be temporary. They developed a useful theory of social mobility, in which ...
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By World War I, labor unions were beginning to make signifi cant progress in the South, an area experiencing dramatic developments in manufacturing. Al-though most Americans balked at mass unionism until the 1930s, skilled craft s-men in the South, like their counterparts in the rest of the nation, frequently attained middle- class status during the initial decades of the new century and ...
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On June 25, 1920, an anonymous writer submitted this poem to the Union Re-To mobilize the National Guard / That was his stern command. Ho!But what of those, the rank and fi le / Those Texas’ mothers’ sons“Oh, Liberty! Oh, Liberty!” / Once cried a famous dame; “Alas! Alas!’Tis thus may cry Galveston / As to tyranny she bends her knee...
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In the 1930s Mexican Americans fought their fi rst major battles for worker rights and racial equality when they joined the revitalized labor movement.1 In many instances of labor upheaval on farms, at mine sites, and in factories in the United States, Spanish- speaking workers took the lead. They created sepa-rate labor unions that were rooted in the tradition of mutual aid societies and ...
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In 1934–35 Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration confronted a direct challenge to Section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) in Dallas, Texas. A local panel of the National Labor Relations Board—established by the president through power given him by a congressional resolution in June 1934—ruled that the Trinity Portland Cement Company had to recognize the ...
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As auto workers and other factory laborers joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) by the millions in the late 1930s, the workforce at the Ford Motor Company in Dallas was not involved in the process—even though local headlines in 1937 indicated that there were considerable labor diffi culties at the plant. United Automobile Workers’ unionization eff orts were virtually nil ...
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During the 1930s Texas homeworkers spent long hours bent over tedious tasks that earned them mere pennies a day. In San Antonio, described by a local labor paper as a “pesthole of low- paid labor,” social and economic conditions inter-acted to encourage the growth of industrial homework before and during the Great Depression. Deploring the exploitative aspects of home labor, the paper’s ...
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The evolution of the small, craft - oriented, black- led labor union in an urban- industrial setting is one of the more understudied aspects of American labor history. The struggle for black workplace rights was not unique to the unskilled, and the pervasiveness and infl uence of black labor extended beyond the ranks of prominent labor organizations to penetrate the circles of urban craft unions. ...
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Mexicans came out of the Great Depression facing an unprecedented oppor-tunity to improve their traditional position as low- wage labor and to alter the generational eff ects of prior occupational discrimination. The wartime rhetoric of democracy, public policy measures that prohibited discrimination by defense industries, government employers and labor unions, and above all, dramatic job ...
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On July 1, 1964, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decertifi ed the racially segregated Independent Metal Workers Union as the collective bargain-ing agent at Houston’s Hughes Tool Company. In a unanimous decision, the fi ve- member board determined that the union had failed to fairly represent all workers at the company and systematically had discriminated against African ...
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On June 29, 1967, four United States senators—Harrison Williams of New Jersey, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Paul Fannin of Arizona, and Ralph Yarborough of Texas—arrived at the steamy, isolated delta of the Lower Rio Grande Valley to hold hearings on recent farmworker strikes and resulting vio-lence that had made national headlines for over a year.1 Their arrival marked the ...
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The 1960s turned into a decade of active involvement in the areas of politics and labor organization for the Mexican American population in Texas. As early as 1960 Mexican Americans were actively organizing “Viva Kennedy” Clubs throughout Texas. In Northwest Texas such clubs could be found in approxi-mately fourteen towns, among them Lubbock, Lamesa, Amarillo, Muleshoe, ...
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Page Count: 448
Illustrations: Index. Bib.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University