The Finck Cigar Company Strikes in San Antonio and the Communal Conscience of Mexican Women in Defense of their Labor Rights

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This paper focuses on the social and economic conditions which kindled the collective conscience of the predominantly Mexican women working for the Finck Cigar Company in San Antonio, Texas in the 1930s, emphasizing their role in organizing and defending their labor rights.
It was the first time in San Antonio’s labor history, when a group of skilled minority women workers challenged the owner of a manufacturing plant on pay violations, unfair production quotas and unsanitary working conditions. These violations became the impetus for organizing a labor movement which was met with enthusiastic support by the low-income Mexican community concentrated on the west side of the city. Significantly, neither the movement nor the series of strikes at the Finck plant received the endorsement of city leaders and law enforcement agencies.
The crucial role minority women played in forming a union to defend their labor rights, came at the height of the Depression and New Deal politics and against the backdrop of the Official Catholic Church which claimed that every labor union was a communist union. Consequently, the first labor strike by Spanish-speaking women served as the test ground for the first grass-root activism of Emma Tenayuca who was to play a major role in the labor history of San Antonio during this period.


Keywords: Strikes, San Antonio, Texas, Mexican Women, Labor Rights, Finck Cigar Company, Catholic Church, Labor Relations, Emma Tenayuca
Stream: Sociology and Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Roger Barnes

Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Roger Barnes holds a doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas and has taught graduate and undergraduate classes at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. His primary research and teaching interests are in Criminolgy, Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Capital Punishment, and Social History.

Basil Aivaliotis

Library Director, Academic Support, University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Basil Aivaliotis is a native of Athens, Greece where he attended the university of Piraeus and developed an early interest on labor issues and the history of social movements. He has earned an MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MBA from the University of the Incarnate Word. His research interests are focused on the labor movements in Texas and the history of libraries.

Ref: I11P0203