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Unionizing the Trinity Portland Cement Company in Dallas, Texas, 1934-1939 Gregg Andrews* 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 1 934—ruled that the Trinity Portland Cement Company had to recognize the overwhelming desire ofworkers at the company's plant in Dallas to name Portland Cement Workers Union Number 1 93 1o as their exclusive bargaining agent. Portland CementWorkers Union Number 193 10 was affiliated with the Texas State Federation of Labor (TSFL) and the American Federation ofLabor (AFL). On December 10, 1934, however, the company notified the board that it refused to comply with the ruling.1 Although Trinity's workers had voted in favor of the union by a nearly unanimous margin of 150 to 2, company officials held out in defiance of the NIRA's labor provisions, hoping to retain their company union and reaffirm exclusive control over labor policies. UntilJanuary 1939, Trinity's workers battled an array ofanti-union measures in an attempt to force the company to recognize their union and sign a collective bargaining agree- * Gregg Andrews is professor of history and assistant director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University-San Marcos. He is die audior of Shoulder to Shoulder* The American Federation ofLabor, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1924 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), City ofDust: A Cement Company Town in the Land of Tom Sawyer (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, igg6), and Insane Sisters: Or, the Price Madefor Challenging a Company Town (Columbia: UniversityofMissouri Press, 1ggg). Research for this studywas funded in part by a National Endowment forthe Humanities Fellowship, Research Enhancement GrantfromTexas State University-San Marcos, and a Mary M. Hughes Research Fellowship from the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). The audior would like to thank Michael R. BotsonJr. for commenting on an earlier version of this paper delivered at the annual meeting of die TSHA in 2003. 1 A E. Hjerpe, Trinity Pordand Cement Company, to B. H. Rader, Chairman, The Code Authority ofdie Pordand Cement Industry, Dec. 1 1, ig34, box 320, Records ofdie National RecoveryAdministration (NRA), RG g (National Archives). On the earlier, weaker versions of die National Labor Relations Board diat preceded die 1935 National Labor Relations Act, see Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The ComingoftheNewDeal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1958), 136-151. Vol. CXI, No. 1 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July, 2007 32Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly ment. After a tenacious campaign to assert their rights under the New Deal, they achieved a victory whose ramifications extended beyond the Dallas plant when Trinity signedjoint labor agreements at all three of its Texas plants—the first such labor agreements signed with a cement corporation in the United States. Trinity's first plant—located near the west fork of the Trinity River on a five-hundred-acre bed of limestone and shale reserves in Eagle Ford, a small community on the western edge of Dallas County—began producing cement in 1909. The company built a plant in Fort Worth in 1924 and another in Houston in 1926.2 The campaign to organize workers at Trinity's Eagle Ford plant also was tied to unionization efforts at the Lone Star Cement Company in the nearby community of Cement City. In fact, Eagle Ford was so close that Dallas residents at the time commonly referred to both communities as Cement City.3 The Eagle Ford/Cement City mills were the first cement plants in Dallas, the state's largest city in 1910. Clustered together, the two plants converted West Dallas into a focal point ofcement manufacturing to service the growing demands ofan increasingly urbanized area. Taking advantage ofgood rail facilities via the Texas & Pacific and Texas Northern Railroad tracks, the Trinity plant shipped barrels andjute bags ofcement. The cement was used to pave Dallas-area streets and sidewalks, build viaducts and bridges, 2The companybegan itsoperations in Dallasas die Soudiwestem States Portland Cement Company. As the result ofa lawsuit by the attorney...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 31-49
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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