HCWPC censures Eckhardt
Members of the Harris County Women's Political Caucus met September 27 to consider endorsing candidates in the general election who had not been endorsed for
the primary. Also on the agenda was a motion to reconsider the Caucus endorsement
of Rep. Bob Eckhardt following his vote against the ERA extension.
A two-thirds majority vote is required to endorse a candidate or, in the case of
Eckhardt, to revoke endorsement. After much discussion between Eckhardt foes
and supporters, the vote was split 18 to 18. Though Eckhardt supporters managed to
retain his official endorsement by the Caucus, members then voted unanimously to
censure him for his position on the ERA extension.
The Caucus guidelines for endorsement stipulate that the candidate must complete and return a questionnaire, support the ERA and a woman's right to choose
abortion. After careful consideration of those running in 18 contested races, the
members endorsed only three candidates: Robert Baum for District No. 263 Judge ,
Joe Pentony for County Judge and Carl Huff for County Commissioner, Precinct 4.
More than half the membership voted to endorse Bob Gammage for U.S. Rep. Dist.
22 and Anita Rodeheaver for County Clerk, but in each case supporters fell short of
the needed two-thirds.
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San Antonio Garment Workers in jail, 1935. (Photo courtesy Division of Archives
and Manuscripts, Library, U.T. at Arlington.)
An Austin-based group, People's History
in Texas, Inc. has been funded $21,000
by the Texas Committee for the Humanities and the National Endowment for
the Humanities to complete the video/
film production of Talkin' Union, the
first oral history of working women in
Talkin' Union presents the oral histories of four women who worked in the
garment and pecan-shelling industries in
Texas from the 1930's to the 1950V All
four became active in unionization efforts
to improve their working conditions.
The impetus for the project was the
lack of popular educational materials on
Texas working women. One in four Texas
women worked outside the home in the
1930's, yet there are virtually no publicly
accessible materials which examine these
women's experiences or attempt to
analyze the role these women played as
a significant group in the Texas workforce.
Few Texans know that one quarter of
the nation's pecan crop during the 1930's
was shelled by a San Antonio workforce
of 10,000 to 12,000 Mexicanos - predominantly women. Even fewer know of
the Pecan Shellers Strike of San Antonio
-probably the largest strike in the Southwest during the 1930's.
People's History in Texas will also
conduct a program series in eight Texas
cities including Houston from December
through March, 1979, which will feature
the film Talkin' Union, followed by a
panel discussion on Women in the Texas
Workforce: Yesterday and Today.
The program series is scheduled to be
shown in Austin, Laredo, Houston, El
Paso, Fort Worth, Brownsville, Dallas
and San Antonio.
The project is currently seeking minority organizations, women's groups and
labor unions who would host or co-
sponsor the series in their city.
Coordinators of the project are Maria
Flores, UT Austin, graduate in photojournalism, Glenn Scott, former UT
graduate student, and Melissa Hield, PhD
candidate in American Studies at UT.
For more information, call Flores
or Scott at (512) 477-1064.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hill and Travis County Commissioner
Ann Richards, one of "Two Hundred Women" group organizers.
Women's money on races
Texas women have started to get serious
about fundraising. This year, under the
banner "Two Hundred Women," home-
makers, feminists and professionals have
formed what is believed to be the state's
first fund-raising group aimed solely at
supporting candidates or organizations
which support women.
With a goal of $20,000 ($100 each
from 200 women), THW has so far raised
about $23,000. This figure so impressed
the National Women's Political Caucus
that it is using THW as a model for similar
THW was founded in February on the
premise that it is important that "women
get into the habit that it takes money to
achieve what we want to achieve," said
Travis County Commissioner Ann
Richards, one of the group's organizers.
This year, THW is putting its money
on Democratic gubernatorial candidate
John Hill. By doing so, THW contributors
"expect Hill to be aware of women's
needs in the state and to see that women
are named to positions of responsibility
in state government," Richards said.
Martha Smiley, a former chair of the
Texas Women's Political Caucus, said
Hill's campaign was chosen because it was
felt that the governor's race would have
more immediate impact on the "day-today life" of Texas women than, say, the
Krueger-Tower battle for the U.S. Senate.
Smiley also noted that many of the
group's organizers, including Richards'
aide Jane Hickey and Austin political
worker Claire Korioth, were committed
to Hill's candidacy.
"I knew there were a lot of women
out there that liked Hill," said Smiley,
head of the attorney general's tax division. But she claimed that if THW had
not been organized, "women would have
never come together in the John Hill campaign.
"We figured that a $20,000 contribution was going to make a whole lot more
impact on a multi-million dollar campaign
than a $100 contribution" from individual
women, Smiley said. A Hill campaign
spokesman said the money is the third
largest amount the Attorney General has
received from a political group.
Next year, THW plans to raise the
same amount-or more—for use in a cam
paign or organization which supports
THW's influence didn't stop with its
cash. The group was also the basis for a
Hill organization called "Women on the
Hillside" which put out a brochure outlining Hill's stance on issues deemed important to women, including day care,
employment and utility rates.
THW was the model for another
women's fundraising group within the
Hill campaign, "Amigas de John Hill."
The group so far has raised close to
$7,000, said Cathy Vasquez, Amigas
Mexican-American women around
Texas were asked to "unite for the purpose of supporting a candidate who re
cognizes the contributions and who seeks
to promote the development of women
to their fullest potential." Information
was requested to set up a talent bank
featuring Mexican-American women for
presentation to Hill, and to help in pre
paring a Mexican-American woman pro
file, outlining needs, group objectives and
women have played a very significant role
in any fundraising activity whether bingo
cr a bazaar. But this is the first time
Chicanas have organized to raise money
for a candidate on a state wide basis,"
Like THW, Amigas originally attempted
through a statewide mailer to raise $100
each from a large group of Mexican-
American women. About 40 contributed
that amount, but more than 200 made
some contribution at fundraisers in
Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi and San
"The goal was to prove that Mexican-
American women could demonstrate the
strength of their vote and could raise
money on their own," Vasquez said.
Among those on the Amigas steering
committee are Marta Cotera, an Austin
businesswoman appointed by Carter to
the National Commission on the Status
of Women, and Houston coordinators
Janie Reyes, a law student active in PASO
(Political Association for Spanish-Speaking Organizations), and Rosie Cope,
owner of Tele-Surveys.