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The 1938 San Antonio Pecan Shellers Strike

Document 3

Pecan Strike Heads Offer to Quit

Leaders Branded Communists
Take Action after Ban on Pickets.

        Leaders of the San Antonio's pecan shellers' strike, branded as Communists, Thursday offered to "step down." 

        The offer was made to Chief of Police Owen W. Kilday after an order banning picketing, virtually sounding the death knell of the strike, had been enforced by police. 

        James Sager, self-styled leader of the strike, and Mrs. Emma Tenayuca Brooks, honorary chairman of the strike committee, made the offer, but they stipulated that they first must be asked to do so by the strikers themselves, voting on the proposition. 

        Sager is a former secretary of Communists in San Antonio while Mrs. Brooks is an official of the Workers' Alliance . . . .

        All have been labeled Communists by Chief Kilday. 

        Charging that the strike was led by Communists who never had shelled a pecan in their lives, Kilday took the position that actually there was no strike. . . . The police chief, in a prepared statement, declared that the entire strike was a Communist movement and that it was without standing with the Committee for Industrial Organization.  

        "The pecan shellers do not want Emma Tenayuca Brooks as leader," Kilday declared. "We checked their meetings and she never had over 500 at any of them out of the admitted 12,000 pecan workers in San Antonio. I cannot stand for any movement to be led by an admitted communistic group . . . .  Emma Tenayuca doesn't want the strike to end, but rather to prolong it. She wants a revolution. It's wrong leadership." 

       John Brophy, national director of the C. I. O., in a telegram to the Rev. John Lopez, priest acting as negotiator in the strike, declared emphatically that the union did not countenance communistic leadership.

-- "Pecan Strike Heads Offer to Quit," San Antonio Light, 3 February 1938

5. Why did Emma Tenayuca Brooks offer to remove herself as a leader of the strike?

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6.  What is Police Chief Kilday's perspective on the strike?

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