Labor, Civil Rights, and the Hughes Tool Company
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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THE ORIGINS OF THIS BOOK go back to the spring of 1993 when I was a graduate student at the University of Houston trying to find a topic for my master’s thesis. My original intention was to write the labor history of the Armco Steel Corporation’s Houston mill that was opened on the eve of the Second World War. ...
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ON JULY 1, 1964, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decertified the racially segregated Independent Metal Workers (IMW) Union as the collective bargaining agent at Houston’s Hughes Tool Company. The ruling ended nearly fifty years of Jim Crow unionism at Hughes Tool, one of Houston’s premier manufacturing plants. ...
Chapter One: Houston’s Working Class and the Origins of Organized Labor in the Bayou City
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FOUNDED IN 1836 by the brothers Augustus and John Allen, Houston was a town built on speculative growth and dedicated to the spirit of unfettered capitalism. Located on the desolate Texas coastal plain about fifty miles north of Galveston, the city they envisioned along the banks of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous eventually became the leading financial, commercial, and industrial center in the Southwest. ...
Chapter Two: How It All Began: Houston, labor, oil, and working at Mr. Hughes’s place
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THE HUGHES TOOL COMPANY owes its existence to the discovery of oil at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas, in January, 1901. The spectacular oil discovery ushered in the Texas oil boom, and within weeks tens of thousands of people flocked to the Beaumont area in hopes of finding oil and instant wealth. Hundreds of wells soon jammed the vicinity as drillers, ...
Chapter Three: Labor at Hughes Tool, 1929–1934: hard times, Jim Crow, unions, and Uncle Sam
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THE ONSET OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION following the 1929 stock market crash upset the paternalistic management environment cultivated by Howard Hughes Sr. and Col. Rudolph Kuldell. The Depression caused a downturn in the drilling industry, forcing Hughes Tool to lay off workers and slash wages. Falling revenues also forced the curtailment of welfare benefits. ...
Chapter Four: Industrial Democracy Comes to the Monarchy of Hughes Street: the Wagner Act, the CIO, and Hughes Tool, 1935–1940
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THE WAGNER ACT irrevocably changed labor-management relations at Hughes Tool. It democratized the company’s labor relations by protecting the right of employees to freely choose their representatives through NLRB-conducted union certification elections. Equally important, it outlawed company dominated unions such as the EWO and the HTC. ...
Chapter Five: Jim Crow Wearing Steel-Toed Shoes and Safety Glasses: Hughes Tool’s race-based unionism, 1940–1943
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LABOR RELATIONS AT HUGHES TOOL entered a transitional period following the Labor Board’s dissolution, in October, 1941, of its company unions, the Employees Welfare Organization and Hughes Tool Colored Club. The company lost two allies in its campaign against the CIO, but company union loyalists formed the Independent Metal Workers Union to replace them. ...
Chapter Six: The Battle for Union Security and Civil Rights: labor’s war at Hughes Tool, 1943–1946
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THE CIO’S ASCENDANCY as the collective bargaining agent at Hughes Tool marked the end of a five-year struggle. But the CIO’s selection by the majority of employees’ as their collective bargaining agent did not bring labor peace to Hughes Tool. Management refused to recognize the CIO as the collective bargaining agent of its employees due to the ...
Chapter Seven: The Independent Metal Workers Union Era, 1946 –1961
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THE 1946 STRIKE turned out to be the climactic battle between the CIO, Hughes Tool, and the Independent Metal Workers Union. The CIO’s misguided decision to strike in the face of widespread opposition to the walkout, internal racial dissension, management’s absolute refusal to accept the union’s wage demands, and the IMW’s willingness ...
Chapter Eight: No Gold Watch for Jim Crow’s Retirement
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DURING THE LATE 1950s demand for Hughes Tool’s drilling products dropped dramatically. According to a monthly company report, the Hughes rig count, which kept track of the number of drilling rigs in operation, between August, 1957, and July, 1958, the number of rigs operating throughout the world dropped from 2,716 to 1,957. ...
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THE JULY, 1964, NLRB DECISION was more than a triumph for unionism and civil rights at Hughes Tool. It became a rallying point for equality in the workplace nationwide. The struggle had begun in December, 1918, when the company’s white machinists, patternmakers, and blacksmiths joined a citywide strike by the Houston Labor Council against the city’s largest manufacturers. ...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 15 b&w photos. 6 tables.
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Kenneth E. Montague Series in Oil and Business History