Page 12


BUMPERSTRIPS: rKENNEDY ’68 Fluorescent, genuine peel-off bumperstrip stock. 1 for 25c 6 for $1 100 for $10 1,000 for $65 Pass the Torch in ’68 Committee P. 0. Box 3395 Austin, Texas 78704 ANOTHER HUELGA one morning, a few weeks after the presumed murder. Officials have found no evidence that the strikers were responsible, Father Howell says, quoting the fire marshal as saying that spontaneous combustion appeared to be the cause. The union’s field man, Ramon, says “the strikers would not commit violence, because it would not help their cause one bit.” As in Starr County, leaders of the Lubbock strikers say they are finding that federal officials are somewhat reluctant to investigate allegations of discrimination against the strikers by the management of the company and local law officials. For example, Father Howell says that some of the new workers are known to the police to be armed, despite a court injunction, and the priest says that some strikers have been arrested for having arms in their possession. In late November, Father Howell adds, shots were fired over the heads of two picketers by someone inside the plant. As the picketers ran for cover a compress supervisor is said to have yelled “Look at those Mexicans run!” Union representative Ramon says that he has been referred to one federal agency after another from the Labor Department, to the Justice Department, to the Agriculture Department. “Federal action would be quicker if only discrimination and not a labor problem was involved,” Ramon says. “They want to know if it is an explosive situation what do they want, another Watts?” But federal officials have since shown an inclination to step into the picture. The National Labor Relations Board invoked what is said to be a seldom-used provision of federal law to force the company and union leaders to the bargaining table. A hearing was scheduled this week in Lubbock. Father Howell was in Austin last week conferring with officials of another federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about a formal complaint that has been filed by the strikers. Originally from New Orleans, Father Howell began serving a parish near Lubbock \(northwest of there, around LittleHe tells the Observer that he is still learning about the problems that face the Latins in Texas, problems largely born of their alienation from the more economically and politically powerful Anglo society. Father Howell says that he became interested in the strike because of its possible economic effects on his parishioners and because of the potential for racial strife. Father Howell says that work at the compress is highly seasonal, with employment running from a low of 85 workers in the off-season and peaking at five or six hundred workers at the busiest part of the year. About 80% or 90% of the workers were Latin-Americans before the strike began, with 5% Negroes and the rest Anglos. The compress, he says, is reputed ly the largest in the county. Of the cotton it stores 97% of government-owned. Latins and Negroes are “repeatedly re moved from good-paying jobs without re gard to seniority,” he says, and Anglo workers are favored in pay over Negroes and Latins who do the same type of work. Latins have trained Anglo workers to do a top-paying job while they receive lower pay, Father Howell says. Other types of discrimination he lists involve promotions, overtime wages, and layoffs. There are no Latin-American or Negro supervisors. “The discrimination extends even to such petty things as an annual [company] fishing trip. The Negroes and Latin Americans are sent to a place selected by the company for a weekend [Thursday through Sunday] of fishing, while the Anglos go to a spot of their own choosing and with their families for an entire week. The Negroes and Latins must have six months’ service to be eligible for the trip, while there is no such provision for the Anglos,” Father Howell asserts. Establishment of a seniority system is the key issue of the strike itself, Father Howell says, to establish a fair basis for paying, hiring, laying-off, and rehiring workers. The pay scale begins at $1.40 per hour, he says, but Anglos enjoy a guaranteed weekly salary, even when the work week is shortened in off-seasons. Latins and Negroes are usually laid off first or work curtailed schedules, and paid only for the hours they actually work. G.. 0. January 20, 1967 13 Speaking of Recognition. LYMAN JONES MARY JONES LATANE LAMBERT and JAKE SORRELLS . . . ARE ALL FAMILIAR NAMES TO THE TEXAS LABOR MOVEMENT . . . AND WE CAN’T HELP BEING PROUD THEY REPRESENT THE Union Labor Division of the American Income Life Insurance Co. Executive Offices, P. 0. Box 208, Waco, Texas Our employees are represented by Local 277 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union and that’s something else of which we are proud. Particularly proud, may we say. Anything else? You bet! Our Disability Income, Hospitalization and Life Insurance policies are specially designed for men and women of Union Labor. Ask Lyman and Mary and Latane and Jake! They KNOW your problems. They really know. That’s why THEY are with American Income! Bernard Rapaport President