No Gold Watch for Jim Crow's Retirement:
The Abolition of Segregated Unionism
at Houston's Hughes Tool Company
ON JULY 1, 1964, THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD DECERTIFIED
the racially segregated Independent Metal Workers Union as the col-
lective bargaining agent at Houston's Hughes Tool Company. In a unani-
mous decision, the five-member board determined that the union had
failed to fairly represent all workers at the company and systematically had
discriminated against African Americans. The ruling ended nearly fifty years
ofJim Crow unionism at Hughes Tool, one of Houston's premier manufac-
Ivory Davis, a black material handler and longtime employee at Hughes
Tool, filed the discrimination charge against the union that ultimately led to
its decertification. Davis's action against the union stemmed from the white
leadership's refusal to file a grievance on his behalf after the company's
management denied him an apprenticeship because of his race. The
union's labor agreement with Hughes Tool reserved apprenticeships for
whites only. In 1962, Davis and the black union leaders decided to chal-
lenge the validity of the racially biased labor contract between Hughes Tool
and the Independent Metal Workers Union (IMW). Davis's action was the
beginning of a two-year struggle that combined the efforts of the federal
government, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
* Michael Botson is an adjunct history instructor at Houston Community College, Northwest
College. He wishes to thank Judith Stevenson Botson and Barbara Hayward for their comments
on earlier drafts of this essay.
' National Labor Relations Board, Deczsions and Orders of the National Labor Relations Board, 147
(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1965), 1578 (cited hereafter as Decizsons);
Monthly Labor Review, 87 (Sept., 1964), lo61-1o62 (cited hereafter as MLR). For a brief history
of Hughes Tool Company, see Walter Rundell Jr., Early Texas Oil: A Photographic History,
1866-1936 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1977), 8o-88; Charles R. Hamilton,
"Images of an Industry: The Hughes Tool Company Collection," The Houston Review, 15, no. 1
(1993), 45-54; Adele Hast (ed.), International Dzrectory of Company Hstories, (5 vols.; Chicago: St.
James Press, 1991), III, 428-429.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed March 6, 2015.