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The Dow Chemical Collection - Union Strike (1972)

Lake Jackson Historical Museum

Silent | 1972

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  •  Walking slowing as a way to obstruct entrance and egress from the plant was later stipulated against in a court injunction about the strike 
  •  The wives of laborers also took part in the protest. Collectively, they were known as the Women of the Workers, an unofficial group associated with the union. 
  •  As identified on the man’s sign, the official group protesting was the Local 564 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. O.D. Kenmore and T.B. Crow were the union leaders.  
  •  Speaking to employees leaving the plant 
  •  One sign calls out “Rooke.” David L. Rooke was the Dow Manager at the time of the protest. 
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Amid growing tensions about the practice of contracting out repairs to nonunion laborers at the Dow Chemical Texas Plant in Freeport, 1,800 organized craft workers walked off the job on June 22, 1972, launching a bitter four-month strike. News sources reported numerous incidents on the picket lines, such as the use of firecrackers, the injury of a female picketer, and the destruction of Dow property. As a result of these events, an injunction was approved on August 7 to establish ground rules for both sides of the strike. Some of the terms pertain to actions seen in the film, including stipulations against mass picketing as well as the obstruction of entrances to and public roads near the Dow plants. The strike finally ended on September 17, after Dow agreed to contract out no more than 25 percent of its maintenance work. The company also granted hourly wage increases and insurance programs.
Dow Chemical, headquartered in Midland, Michigan, is one of the world’s largest chemical companies with numerous plants and facilities all over the world. Dow Chemical’s involvement in Texas began in 1940 with the construction of the Freeport Plant in Freeport, Texas. This plant was primarily tasked with extracting magnesium from sea water, a much needed resource America's military effort in World War II. The development of the city of Lake Jackson, which served as a home for Dow employees, coincided with the construction of the Freeport Plant and as such share a mutual history. Dow Chemical in Freeport became part of a larger transformation of the Texas Coast into a major center of the oil and chemical industry.