The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) staged a strike against the Tex-Son garment factory in San Antonio, Texas (1959-1963). ILGWU went on strike in February of 1959 demanding a living wage increase from $1.05 to $1.15 an hour.
Despite the anti-union climate of San Antonio, Chicanas organized and mobilized the Mexican working-class communities on both sides of the border. Chicanas distributed leaflets and posters asking the people not to buy Tex-Son or Tex-Sis branded clothing.
The ILGWU also demanded an end to Tex-Son’s practice of sending work out of state to nonunion firms. The beginning of the strike also markedSophie González becoming the first Chicana organizer of ILGWU.
The police under orders from city elites and Tex-Son executives unleashed a wave of violence and harassment against the Chicanas on strike.
In An Unladylike Strike Fashionably Clothed: Mexicana and Anglo Women Garment Workers Against Tex-Son, 1959–1963, Lori A. Flores argues that “the Tex-Son strike represents an important, transitional form of Mexican and Mexican American women’s activism not yet fully explored by historians.” The Tex-Son strike ended just as the Chicano Movement was beginning.
Chicanas-Mexicanas have always been at the forefront of the labor struggle. It is time to recognize their sacrifices to advance social justice for our people.