The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 57
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The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio
The investigation further revealed that the problem of the em-
ployer was to obtain an adequate, technically trained supervisory
staff; no reason was seen to penalize the workers by substandard
wages during the period used for training a managerial staff, in-
stalling machinery, and reaching full scale production.
On January 19, 1939, the Wage and Hour Division denied the
request for an exemption, and noted that "The conditions pre-
vailing in this part of the industry are precisely those which Con-
gress stated . were to be eliminated by the Fair Labor Stand-
ards Act." The report stipulated that the public had been paying
part of the labor bill for the shelling companies through relief,
private charity, and the Work Projects Administration, even
though "the industry has not been depressed or unable to meet
its social or economic responsibility to the community." Further,
"the applicant can employ experienced pecan shellers in sufficient
number to meet its labor requirements; and . employment op-
portunities will not be curtailed by denying the application to
One labor economist, in answer to the complaint that the Fair
Labor Standards Act would create widespread unemployment,
observed that the only major group displaced by the minimum
wage law was the pecan shellers of 'Texas and other southern
states.42 But, it should be noted that one wage earner could earn
as much under the provisions of the act as four or five could earn
before it became law.
The first union contracts expired while the plants were closed
awaiting the outcome of the request for an exemption from the
wage scale. The union immediately started bargaining for new
contracts which included a closed shop, a checkoff system for col-
lecting dues, and grievance representatives."3 The organization
agreed to help the employers in their efforts to obtain a tariff
on the importation of foreign nuts, and to begin organizing pecan
shellers in other places so as to establish uniform wages and work-
ing conditions throughout the industry.
"Menefee and Cassmore, Pecan Shellers of San Antonio, 2o.
42Lloyd G. Reynolds, Labor Economics and Labor Relations (New York, 1949),
"Shapiro, "The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio, Texas," Southwestern Social
Science Quarterly, XXXII, 239.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/75/: accessed May 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.