Texas Labor History

Texas Labor History

Texas Labor History

Texas Labor History

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

James C. Maroney and Bruce A. Glasrud

The history of organized labor movements in Texas is too often 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 employment, although it was frequently sporadic and short-lived. Second is the belief that black, brown, and white laborers—whether male or female—could not collectively work together to achieve even short-term solidarity. Despite differing working conditions and places in society, however, many workers managed to unite, sometimes in biracial efforts, to overturn the top-down strategy utilized by Texas employers. Third, many Texas writers subscribed to a persistent belief that labor unions in Texas remained weak and ineffective because of their inability to successfully confront employers, which in turn accounted for the powerlessness of their organizations. a more accurate explanation, however, acknowledges the unyielding and frequently violent opposition to labor organizations by a critical number of business and political leaders determined to crush any and all union activity on the part of their employees. It also should be pointed out that even when unions achieved limited success, they seemed to generate even more opposition from employers.

A fourth fallacy contends that unions in Texas enjoyed little or no success. This assumption is also inaccurate. Over the years, notable examples of union achievement include the efforts of black and white workers to overcome southern mores and collaborate to successfully organize the Galveston waterfront, and the Brotherhood of Timber Workers’ pattern of success in their struggle for self-determination in the early twentieth century. Fifth is the myth that laborers and other progressive groups could not work together. the populist and progressive movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the election of Ralph Yarborough to the United States Senate in the 1950s, all . . .

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