Texas State Federation of Labor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Texas State Federation of Labor (TSFL) was the Texas affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). It was formed in 1900 and disbanded in July 1957, when it merged with the Texas State CIO Council to form the Texas AFL-CIO.[1]


Main Street in Cleburne in the 1910s

After several attempts to form a statewide labor organization had foundered, a convention was called at Cleburne, Texas by the Clebourne Trades Council on January 15, 1900. This first convention was attended by 23 delegates representing seven cities and a membership of 8,475.[2]

Despite the organization's name, the TSFL did not receive a charter from the national AFL until 1903. This was because the TSFL was working with the railroad brotherhoods to secure desired legislation and the brotherhoods would not work with a union that accepted the leadership of the national organization.[3] In 1903 the railroad brotherhoods agreed to join with the State Federation and formed the Joint Labor Legislative board of Texas.[4]


The original Constitution provided from semi-annual conventions. Four such conventions were held, each attended by 20–30 delegates. However, the Federation soon decided to make the conventions annual and to expand the basis for delegates. Each central body was then allowed three delegates and each local one delegate per hundred members or major fraction thereof. This system of representation would remain unchanged into the early 1940s, except for the addition of three delegates from each union label league. The first convention held on this basis was the fifth state convention, held in Fort Worth in 1903. This was also the first convention to have its proceedings published.[5]


The presidents of the Texas State Federation of Labor from its foundation to 1941.[6]

Membership and affiliations[edit]

Membership figures for the TSFL are fragmentary, but the following numbers are available.[7]

Year Affiliated Unions Members
1906 158 9,171
1907 142 9,531
1908 172 10,691
1909 191 11,500
1910 232 12,478
1911 265 14,470
1912 300 17,108
1916 351 n/a
1917 384 n/a
1918 437 28,000
1919 512 42,000

Between 1920 and 1921, the Federation gained 6 centrals and 38 locals. Between the 1921 and the 1922 conventions, 67 unions affiliated with the Federation. Between the 1925 and 1926 conventions 50 locals and 2 centrals affiliated, gaining the Federation 3,859 members. There were over 25,000 members in 1927. Between the 1927 and 1928 conventions, 76 locals and 5 centrals affiliated, representing a gain of 3,463. Between the 1928 and 1929 conventions, 28 locals and 1 central organization affiliated. From 1933 to 1934 4 centrals and 102 locals affiliated representing a gain of 4,934.[8]

By the mid 1950s, union membership in Texas stood at about 375,000 or 17% of the non-agricultural working population. Of these, approximately 235,000 were affiliated to the AFL unions.[9]


  • Public relations for Texas labor Austin, Tex. : Texas State Federation of Labor, 1945
  • The heavy load, anti-labor laws passed by the 50th Texas Legislature. Austin, Texas State Federation of Labor, 1947
  • What price wetbacks? Austin, Tex. : The Forum, 1953 (with the American G.I. Forum)
  • Let's take a look at the proposed "Loyalty Review Board" Austin : The Federation, 1954
  • Down in the Valley; a supplementary report on developments in the wetback and bracero situation of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas since publication of "What price wetbacks?" Austin 1955
  • Lets talk politics: then do something about it! Austin, Texas : Texas State Federation of Labor, undated.


  1. ^ James C. Maroney "Texas State Federation of Labor" in Handbook of Texas
  2. ^ Ruth Alice Allen 1889–1979. Chapters in the history of organized labor in Texas The University of Texas publication #4143 November 15, 1941 Austin, TX: University of Texas, p.123
  3. ^ Allen pp.124–5
  4. ^ Allen pp.132–3
  5. ^ Allen p.124
  6. ^ Allen p.145
  7. ^ Allen p.152
  8. ^ Allen p.152
  9. ^ James C. Maroney "Texas State Federation of Labor" in Handbook of Texas

Further reading[edit]

  • James C. Maroney, Organized Labor in Texas, 1900–1929 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Houston, 1975).
  • Grady Lee Mullenix, History of the Texas State Federation of Labor (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1955).

External links[edit]