The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 185
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The Evolution of an Early Texas Union
trade union. The screwmen would have found difficult to believe the
fact that their union had reached the pinnacle of its influence; that
during the nineties developments would erode the special conditions
which the SBA had so successfully exploited. The ongoing expansion
of the Texas cotton crop meant that each year the association was more
hard pressed to provide a sufficient number of men to stow the crop,
an absolute necessity if the closed shop was to be maintained. The in-
creasing use of larger and more rapid steel ships undermined the ac-
tual economic value of cotton screwing. Only by skillful negotiations
and compromise was the union able to hold through the nineties a
major portion of its previously won gains.""
After the turn of the century the association's power underwent
a spectacular decline. No longer was it able to protect its preroga-
tives-the closed shop went first, in 19go01; the seventy-five bale rule
followed in 1904.1"3 Most of the other major working rules did not last
much longer. The blacks took over a greater and greater portion of
the work. But it was not competition from other workers which was
the great danger-it was technology. The screwman's death knell came
in 1910 when the high-density cotton compress, which had been per-
fected in 1900, made its appearance in the port of Galveston; by
World War I it had rendered him totally useless." The screwmen,
like so many craftsmen, disappeared under the wheel of technological
In 1902 the union began to lose the independence which had been
in other days a keystone of its strength when it affiliated with the na-
tional longshoremen's union as Local 307. It retained a semblance of
independence for a decade and did not totally lose its identity until
1924.'14 From 1891 the SBA had fought a rear-guard action and after
the turn of the century it was no more than a shadow of the proud
and powerful union which had for so long led the ranks of labor in
the most unionized city in Texas.
188Taylor, "History of the Screwmen's Benevolent Association," 98-100.
18*Ibid., 113, 121.
11abid., 111-113, 127.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/197/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.