paper’s reporters. Until very recently the Travis County sheriff’s department ignored requests by the strikers for assistance. Lately, however, the sheriff has indicated he’ll begin to send aid when requested by the strikers to do so. Smith’s labor relations problems extend back to the early 1930’s, according to one of his veteran employees. At that time the factory was investigated by the National Recovery Administration for underpaying its employees. The standard wage required by NRA was $12 per week; investigators found Economy employees being paid only $9 a week and found one young man who was not being paid anything. When the investigators arrived without warning, Smith tried to persuade an employee to tell them the employee was getting $12 a week instead of $9. Also during the early 1930’s the first of many attempts was made by union representatives to organize Economy Furniture workers. Smith told the workers that anyone who attended the union meeting would be fired. Two employees did attend the meeting, but nothing happened. However, in later attempts to organize the factory, in which a large number of employees participated, many were dismissed from their jobs. THE CURRENT organizational effort began a year ago. With the help of James Johns, UIU regional representative, and Wylie Smith, UIU international representative, Economy Furniture workers prepared for an election. On May 17, 1968, the workers held the election and voted 182 to 53 to organize UIU Local 456 as their bargaining agent at Economy. The legal brief filed in Smith’s behalf contesting that election contains numerous references to “uneducated, Catholic, Mexican-Americans.” At one point in the brief UIU 456 members are called “thugs.” Catholic priest Father Frank Briganti, who has worked for years to help disadvantaged persons improve their living conditions, is described in the brief as “a self-styled, but stupid and uninformed emancipator of the Mexican-American people.” Father Briganti’s supposed offense consistedof having written a letter in which he explained that the Catholic Church does not oppose unions, and that he personally approved of the Economy workers’ attempt to form a union. The tedious process of hearings and re-hearings before the National Labor Relations Board began anew when Economy filed that brief. Last October 14, the NLRB declared UIU Local 456 to be the legally constituted bargaining agent at Economy. Smith appealed the decision. On March 19, the NLRB rejected the appeal, but gave Economy until April 1.1 to file an exception. The tedious process goes on and on. The next round will move to the courts, and begin all over again. In the meantime the striking union members say they have been abused and Challenging Times Organized labor in Texas is going through one of its most critical periods. During the past three months over one-tenth of the union members in the state have been on strike pressing into new frontiers in collective bargaining. At the same time, a group of violently anti-union employers apparently has set out to severely weaken the state’s labor movement. Texas AFL-CIO News, March, 1969 unable to get protection from the sheriff’s department \(the plant is located just outsheriff’s personnel have repeatedly refused to send deputies when the strikers phoned in complaints from the picket line at Economy. Complaining strikers say they were told one time, “If you people don’t stop causing all that trouble out there, we’re going to throw a bunch of you in jail.” A private policeman hired by Smith during the strike has repeatedly molested the pickets on duty, the strikers assert. Particular abuse, they say, has been directed against Erskine Barton, UIU’s picket line captain. Several cars belonging to union members have been shot at from close range. Two men described as “Anglos” jumped James Ruiz while he was doing picket duty on February 13. One of the men seconds, according to other pickets, to shoot Ruiz with a .45 automatic, while his brother shouted at him to “Shoot the son-of-a-bitch.” The brother doing the shouting was lying on the ground; he had swung on Mr. Ruiz and had been knocked flat. Finally, sheriff’s deputies who had been called by Smith because of an earlier incident, and had observed the assault on Mr. Ruiz disarmed the assailant. They then arrested all three men. Smith appeared at the courthouse and interceded for the two brothers. Ruiz was charged with “affray.” The person who had tried to shoot him was charged with “carrying a prohibited weapon.” ON MARCH 26 three men went to the campaign headquarters of Santo Ruiz, brother to James and a candidate for the city council. One of the men displayed a pistol, making threats on the secretary, and saying he was going to kill Santo Ruiz or some member of his family. They said they were not going to “fool around anymore shooting cars,” the secretary said. The three men waited some 20 minutes for the candidate to return from lunch, then gave up and drove back to Economy Furniture Company and punched in for work. All three later were arrested. Operating with a greatly reduced work force many of the workers new and inexperienced Economy Furniture has fallen behind in deliveries. The company’s main outlet is Montgomery Ward, which presumably re-ships the products to other Ward stores. And there are several Austin furniture stores that continue to handle Economy products, which carry four brand-name labels Bilt-Rite, Western Provincial, Royal Danish, and Smithtowne Maple. Rostow at Home on the Range Austin The Walt Rostow thing was very secret. A couple of facts were known: he had been hired at the goodly sum of $35,000, and office space on campus was being shuffled around to give him appropriate quarters. Rumor took it from there: LBJ was paying his salary; it was his wife the University of Texas hierophants really wanted; the SDS was going to blow the school to hell the instant he stepped on campus. So the information that Rostow would 4 April 25, 1969 teach a seminar was not announced so much as it seeped out. Someone hinted the departments were on a strict quotajust fifteen persons, so many from economics, so many from government, so many from A. C. Greene history. An outraged professor wrote the Daily Texan and compared Rostow’s huge take per student with his. On the other hand, the name of the academic game is fame, and Rostow had that. “The most dangerous man in America,” a New York editor wrote me. I had mentioned to a Higher Up once that the Rostow seminar might be historica historic obligation, perhaps, could one qualify. I was in the History office one afternoon, a couple of weeks later, when a pretty young secretary motioned to me with her pretty young head to confab. “You are down for Dr. Rostow’s seminar and you haven’t signed up yet,” she accused, pointing to a list whereon was, unmistakably, my name. I felt foolish. Here was a superannuated editor, pursuing folly in graduate school, squeezing out some brighter \(i.e., mind and taking up a seatand not even
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.