Archbishop Robert E. Lucey and Organized Labor - Journal of San Antonio

Archbishop Robert E. Lucey and Organized Labor

By Jesus M. Rendon

“What are we going to do for all these poor people in San Antonio? Something has to be done? But what?”

St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church is located on the periphery of downtown San Antonio, Texas between the historic King William district and south side of the city. Traveling there today one sees the typical buildings of any Catholic parish such as the church, rectory, and parish hall. However, St. Cecilia’s also has a gymnasium. The gym is host not only to athletic events but social meetings, and extracurricular activities such as bingo nights and other activities for the south side community. St. Lawrence the Martyr is located at 236 East Petaluma Boulevard. Situated on the primarily Hispanic south side of San Antonio, it is one of many parishes serving the needs of the area’s residents. St. Lawrence has a history that is broken into two phases; one, the construction of the church and parochial school and two, the renovation projects on the church grounds. Both St. Cecilia’s and Lawrence building schemes have a similar history in one respect: Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucey’s tireless social agenda of union pay to complete the gymnasium and renovation projects.

Lucey’s pursuit of social justice among construction workers in San Antonio can be explained by his faithful and unceasing implementation of union wages for any construction project within the Archdiocese. The building and renovation projects at St. Lawrence and Cecilia’s Catholic Church clearly demonstrate his commitment to social reform. He hoped to set an example for the business community to follow not only in San Antonio but throughout Texas as well. Unionizing San Antonio was Lucey’s solution to the problem of unfair low wages. In effect he hoped to leave a lasting presence of unions that would help future generations to come.

This research is a continuation of Saul Bronder’s monograph, Social Justice and Church Authority: The Public Life of Robert E. Lucey. The author’s opus is biographic in nature covering significant events ranging from his years as pastor in Los Angeles, California, through his final years in San Antonio. He explores, as the title of his book suggests the practice and application of justice in society. The present research further solidifies and clarifies the section that discusses the relationship between unions and the Archdiocese of San Antonio. This analysis will explain that Lucey’s program of union pay was part of ongoing work not only by him but other people in San Antonio who desired a strong union presence there. His work during this period may be summarized as one element of the fight for unions in San Antonio.

Archbishop Lucey’s interest and work with labor unions in San Antonio 1960-68 is important for several reasons. Historically, San Antonio attracted businesses due to cheap labor and wages. In his dissertation, The Mexican-American Workers of San Antonio, Texas, Robert G. Landolt cites four reasons why unions could not grasp a firm since their advent in the late 19th century. One was union leaders’ poor bargaining and negotiating skills, resulting in sporadic and unorganized strikes. Second, was the belief of employer’s right to end a contract by any means necessary, such as hiring strikebreakers to disrupt a strike. Third, was labor organizations’ inability to justify their grievances to political leaders. Finally and probably most importantly was the never ending supply of Mexican workers. As a result, it was a cheap labor force that drove the business economy of San Antonio.

Another reason San Antonio could not move ahead economically was due to a labor force that did not demand higher wages. As Father Sherrill Smith, a priest whom Lucey appointed as a spokesman for the Archdiocese, points out when asked about the mentality of blue-collar class San Antonio, “The Mexican working class in San Antonio did not believe in themselves. They were afraid to make any demands to their bosses. They did not want to lose their job. It was my task, under Archbishop Lucey, to change that mentality and convince them that they could make a difference for themselves”. This essay will reveal that Lucey changed this attitude within the Archdiocese of San Antonio, paying a higher or a near union wage to every worker employed by the Church.

Stephen Amberg’s article, “Governing Labor in Modernizing Texas”, posits that in several instances after the New Deal specific “bosses” developed specific actions to prevent workers from organizing themselves politically despite political and legal intervention by the National War Labor Board. The reason why Texas was a low wage region resulted from a bond between employers and political leaders who created a disproportionate labor system. For example, the International Ladies Clothing Workers Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union gained significant bargaining success only to be thwarted by the legality of their cases. This did not solely result from the former however, but from the state’s history of low racial pluralism and class cohesion. In cities like San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston there was a significant gap according to ethnicity. This problem was no different when Lucey arrived in San Antonio in the early 40’s. Even after significant gains after World War II and increased union support, San Antonio resorted to cheap labor arriving from Mexico whose workers did not demand labor rights.

The only investigation that exclusively analyzes union activity in San Antonio in depth is Harold Arthur Shapiro’s dissertation, Workers of San Antonio, Texas 1900-40. Drawing from a plethora of sources, he concludes that by the end of 1940, San Antonio was a pre-industrial metropolis in an industrial society. Many factors are taken into consideration such as lack of adequate supplies of skilled labor and raw materials, constant influx of Mexican immigrants, legal or not, poor union leadership and management, and anti-movement sentiment within the business elite. Lucey was keenly aware of the political and economic orientation of the city. He tried to alleviate this problem paying a union wage to workers on any construction project in the city.

The 60’s were prosperous times for union activity in San Antonio. Coupled for the first time with an official city government, industrial expansion, and increased military spending (after World War II), Lucey was able to implement his social agenda with ease. This growth however, was not potent enough to carry the city into 70’s. This resulted in continued economic spending in military and tourism industries. David R. Johnson concludes in his essay, Power and Progress in San Antonio Politics, this mainly resulted from economic leaders’ conscious decision planning to curtail certain industries in favor of tourism and military spending. Even though it seemed the city’s economy grew, this led to unequal cost and benefits and further racial inequality among the Hispanic and Black population. He concludes arguing that the business elite opposed industrialization polarizing union activity in San Antonio.

Archbishop Lucey’s fight for union wages at St. Cecilia’s and St. Lawrence demonstrated the willingness to be different. Many union leaders understood that an Archbishop on their side could have a significant advantage. As union leader for sheet metal workers Woody Keller states, “Having an individual such as Lucey gave us a voice in the business community that allowed us to demand our rights.” He knew that in order to be successful in San Antonio he would have to form relationships with union leaders.

Lucey knew that to transform the way business was conducted in San Antonio meant to change the business mentality together. When asked about this business mentality Father Ruben Steubben states, “San Antonio was a place known to the business community for its food and music where they could find cheap labor”. Through precise and unrelenting negotiation a construction business included a union wage and insurance policy in a contract. This paper will demonstrate that through the years 1964-68, if any business was to be done in the archdiocese it would be done in a fair way.

Lucey not only cared for the social but spiritual dimension of the human being. Author Stephen A. Privett highlights this aspect in his book, The U.S. Catholic Church and its Hispanic Members: The Pastoral Vision of Archbishop Robert E. Lucey. As the title of his book suggests, the author explains in detail the catechetical work implemented by the Archbishop. The pastoral program known as the Confraternity in Christian Doctrine, argues Privett, catechized and indoctrinated Hispanic migrant workers as they looked for jobs in Texas. He also emphasizes how the Archbishop was crucial to the development of catechizes not only for migrants in Texas but the rest of the country. The present analysis will prove how Archbishop Lucey cared not only for the spiritual but material welfare of his flock. This is evident with the construction files for St. Cecilia’s and St. Lawrence. These documents will clarify how Lucey continued to implement his outline of a fair wage up to the end of his episcopacy. More important, the construction projects completed during this period reveal an alignment between his words and actions.

Other than Bronder’s narrative, no work highlights the Catholic Church vis-à-vis labor unions in Texas. This relationship is important because it can help clarify the Church’s stance on political and economic issues. Lucey’s advocacy for unions demonstrates that the Church not only cared for the spiritual but material welfare of the individual. Archbishop Lucey played a critical role as “prince” of the Catholic Church not only at a national level but around the world as well. He knew that as a leader of a powerful institution in Texas that carried special privileges. Those opportunities were not to be taken for granted but used to benefit mankind. Lucey realized this as he created a special bond between the church and state. This relationship was to be positive for the Archdiocese of San Antonio under Lucey during the mid and late 60’s.

This paper is by no means the end of an analysis on the significance of Archbishop Lucey in San Antonio, the state of Texas, and the United States. What of the relationship between Lyndon B. Johnson and the Archbishop? A study of this special bond is pertinent to our study of relations between church and state during this period. A more balanced perspective could lead to new insights on how both institutions aided and cooperated with each other in the 1960’s. How did Catholicism with its ideas of social justice fit with the governmental principles of justice, freedom, and liberty? To what extent was the government willing to work with a powerful institution such as the Catholic Church? This paper is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of such a discussion. Those terms for Archbishop Lucey meant the presence of labor union wages in all contracts: period.

Certain questions arise as a result of Lucey’s involvement with unions. Was his work successful? Did it create a significant change in San Antonio? Based on the evidence, it did only in the short run. In the long run, he left a legacy that the Church cared for the material welfare of the individual. Many people in San Antonio recall his achievements and policies that favored unions. After 1970 economic and social factors in San Antonio did not allow unions to expand as the U.S. experienced a downturn in the economy and union leadership across the country began to wane. More important however, was San Antonio’s relationship with unions. Since certain business leaders had always been apprehensive to union wages. Despite brief union success after World War II the former always prevailed. This paper will explain how Lucey’s pro-union stance was a battle against a culture that existence since the late 19th century. He was part of a cycle of strong-weak, weak-strong union presence due to business decisions in the city such as the boom of military bases, Hemisphere 68’ and recently the Toyota plant in the south side. In other words, unions seemed to be at their peak only when the city underwent an economic stimulus. Archbishop Lucey was part of this upswing-downswing business activity in San Antonio.

One’s early childhood can have a powerful effect on a person’s orientation and goals in life. Lucey’s early upbringing shaped the ideals that helped him achieve his objectives as bishop of San Antonio during the 1960’s. Lucey’s father profoundly shaped the person he was to become. As a boy he recalls his father’s commitment to working people as a union member for the local railroad company in Los Angeles, California. Later when his father became a union spokesman, Lucey felt an ever-growing commitment to fight for the impoverished. The idea of unions and what they symbolized became the hallmark of Lucey’s campaign for social justice as assistant pastor, parish priest, and later as Archbishop of San Antonio.

Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucy was born in Los Angeles, California, to the parents of John Joseph and Marie Lucey on March 16th 1891. He began his college education at St. Vincent's College and completed the rest at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park in 1912. Robert completed his graduate studies at North American College in Rome and in 1916, received his doctorate in Sacred Theology at the University of the Propaganda in Rome. On May 14th 1916 Robert Lucey was ordained a priest in the Church of St. Apollinaris in Rome. Archbishop Cepetelli, Patriarch of Constantinople and Vice Regent of Rome conducted the ordination. Lucey returned to Los Angeles where he held a series of positions that would serve as experience as a bishop.

During the next five years in Los Angeles, Father Lucey was assistant pastor of several parishes which included St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Immaculate Conception Parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and St. Anthony's in Long Beach. It was in Los Angeles that he gained numerous opportunities that helped him gain experience and knowledge in matters of social doctrine between the church and state. Among the positions that he held were Chaplain of the Newman Club at the University of Los Angeles and Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities (1921-1925), President of the California Conference of Social Work (1923-24), director of Catholic Hospitals for the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego (1924-34), and member of the Executive Board of the California State Department of Social Welfare (1924-30) appointed by the governor of California. The Catholic Church in Rome had plans for him as he was appointed Bishop of Amarillo on February 10, 1934 by Pope Pius XI. These plans included specific ways to educate social doctrine to the community on matters of faith and social justice. Father Lucey received this opportunity in Amarillo and San Antonio, Texas.

On March, 1 1934, after Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S. consecrated him bishop at St. Vibiana's Cathedral in Los Angeles he began to work on ways to bring the community aware of the Catholic Church in Amarillo. To better inform readers on Catholic news in the U.S. and around the world he established a newspaper called the “Texas Panhandle Register”. To bridge the gap between parish priests and lay people he either created or supported organizations such as Catholic Action, a lay ministry group, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and constructed the first parish in Amarillo to serve the needs of the African-American community. However, bigger plans were needed as he was next appointed the second Archbishop in San Antonio, Texas to serve the community in 1941.

On January 23rd, 1941, Pope Pius XII appointed Bishop Lucey as Archbishop of San Antonio. His ordination, again presided by Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, took place at the Cathedral of San Fernando on March 27th, 1941. The first 10 years of Archbishop Lucey in San Antonio proved busy yet fruitful because a variety of work accomplished. Indeed, so much work was done that he may be labeled as "The Great Laborer" not only for his belief in social justice but the work done on an average day. In San Antonio, Archbishop Lucey was able to implement many programs and initiatives again with the goal of better informing the community that the Catholic Church had a place for the betterment of society. In order to clarify the significance of a bishop in any diocese requires a definition where they derive their authority.

According to the Synod of Bishops that took place in 2001 a bishop derives his authority from Sacred Scripture and the Holy Spirit. An example of this is a biblical passage that speaks of “the lost sheep without a shepherd” where a person, a shepherd must care and protect the sheep that he is entrusted. A bishop then must then have an attitude of compassion and tenderness toward his flock. This image may be seen in the first shepherd who according to Catholics is Jesus Christ. He is seen as the archetype that has fulfilled that role. Thus, he is an example from which a bishop is invited to follow.

During the 1940’s it is correct to assert that one reason the Vatican chose Lucey in Texas was to meet the needs of the Church for that particular area. For the future Archbishop that meant organized labor. It was his experience and education that put him as the forefront for the episcopate in Amarillo and later San Antonio in 1941. However, what was the Catholic Church’s view of man and work? Said in a different way, what opinion did the church have on the relationship between work, man, and society? Two important encyclicals clarify the church’s view on labor relations. One is Pope Leo XII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum and the other Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno. Both of these encyclicals were focal points from which Lucey tied most of his social teachings to the Church.

Translated as “On the Condition of Workers”, Pope Leo XII wrote Rerum Novarum in a time when capitalism reigned as the principle driving force of society. The concentration of wealth through industry made that possible. It was the individual who was a prime factor for progress at the factory. With this progress, however, came certain inconsistencies or dangers to which Leo XII responded in his encyclical. The main argument for Rerum Novarum was not a call for redistribution of private property or class conflict but to improve the rights and dignity of the worker.

Wages were seen as an agreement where the worker and employer met. The employer agreed to pay a wage for the services and the employee consents to complete the work assigned to him. Work was important to “exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life and chief of all for self preservation”. The living wage paid to him, should moreover, be “sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this”. When a gap existed between the wages of a worker an injustice occurred.

Unions for Leo XII were one solution to bridge the gap over the mal-distribution of wealth. As he stated, “The most important of all are workingman's unions, for these virtually include all the rest. History attests what excellent results were brought about by the artificers' guilds of olden times. They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life”. As a member of the Universal Church, Catholics had the obligation to improve the conditions of the worker.

Initially, the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. ignored Rerum Novarum viewing it as anti-capital. Most Americans acknowledged Leo XII’s support of unions where Catholic Americans saw it as a way for changing society. Some Catholic spokesmen supported the work of the AFL while others saw unions as a way to counter socialism. Through organizing and informing society a Christian tied the bonds between employer and employee. This was important to Lucey as administrator of several organizations throughout his years as priest in California and later as bishop in S.A.

Prior to his ascendancy as Archbishop of San Antonio, one must conclude that Lucey had read or been in contact with Leo’s encyclical. This is evident in several positions he held in California where he was in direct contact with the Mexican working class in factories and shops. As a member of the Labor Bureau he saw the economic injustices of society such as long working hours, harsh conditions, and poor pay. Whether he read Leo XII encyclical or not, Lucey was already responding and acting to Rerum Novarum. A just wage had to be aligned to the work of an employee. There was more to say on the condition and dignity of the worker, however. Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno thirty years later renewed, reaffirmed and elaborated on Rerum Novarum.

Promulgated forty years after Rerum Novarum, Pope Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno called for a union between labor and capital. Through systematic preparation and collaboration in the economy Pius sought a bridge “between worker and employer associations through industrial corporations”. Like many of his predecessors Pius hoped to build and clarify the changes in the world, especially after World War II and the growing presence of the international market. Chapter IV on “Just Wages and Salaries” is important to us not only in reference to the continuities it expressed but to Lucey’s understanding of terms such as wages, wage contract, the determination of a just wage, and the relationship between the individual and social character of work.

Wages, according to Pius XI, meant two important things: social justice and income earned to blue and white-collar workers. A wage, to be socially just, meant not only to earn enough to support a family but to set a portion of it aside to buy personal property i.e. the white-collar worker. The idea of a wage contract meant that workers and employers share the wages through partnership in the form of stocks and bonds. To pay a just wage meant to take several factors into account. Those features included the support of the working man and his family, the condition of business, and the requirements of the common good. Consequently, the social character of work meant the recognition of the value of human labor in relation to the worker.

It is correct to assert that Pope Pius XI sought a more detailed explanation of labor and management of the business sector. The bishops of America also sought this new orientation. In the 1920’s, rather than attacking capitalism, they pronounced the injustices occurring throughout the world. In the 30’s the hierarchy saw the depression as a manifestation from the injustices in the capitalist system. Priests such as John O’Grady thought that Quadragesimo Anno would help create a shift from social evolution rather than revolution.

For Archbishop Lucey Quadragesimo Anno meant the organization of the laboring class. In California he called the American economy to embrace the ideas of Quadragesimo Anno such as the organization of groups that represented each sector of a particular industry. For example, he proposed the California oil industry have groups representing each section of labor, management, and consumer. Doing this, he sought to reorganize the relationship between labor employer-employee. As bishop in Amarillo, he organized the employment rights of workers. Unions were the avenue to provide a wage sufficient enough for a family to survive. In turn, this served the common good as a family espoused values that created social stability. It was these ideas that Lucey, in the sixties, increased the presence of Catholic thought throughout the archdiocese.

Archbishop Lucey’s view on labor and unions dated before the ‘60’s. The mentality from the Progressive Era and throughout the New Deal was marked by collective bargaining juxtaposed with industrial democracy. This translated into equal income, working conditions, and social insurance. More important, however, was the worker’s involvement in society. The passage of the Wagner Act of 1935, which became a hallmark for visionaries such as Senator Robert Wagner of New York, Louis Brandeis, and Yale Law School professor Harry Shulman, agreed that collective bargaining was the instrument for workers who sought participation in the democratic system in America. It was no wonder that immigrants and migrant workers aligned themselves to unions and collective bargaining. That would change during the 60’s however.

The Johnson Administration aided Lucey’s social agenda in San Antonio. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty explains how the government and Catholic Church in Texas worked together to create a solution to what they perceived as a battle against the social ills of the time. Investigating the origins of The War on Poverty reveals the social, political, and economic climate of the AFL-CIO in the U.S. and Texas. Author Mark J. Galfland cites two approaches the Johnson administration tackled to start the War on Poverty. How would the program take form? This was the main question the Council of Economic Advisors, Bureau of the Budget (BOB), Labor Department, and the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) faced for five months. In the end Johnson’s efforts paid off in 1964 with a bill titled the Economic Opportunity Act. One of the stipulations to that law was how unions would function in society.

An analysis of the ideology within unions reveals that across the nation, unions were on the wane. This stemmed from a change of culture resulting from intellectuals such as C. Wright Mills and Clark Kerr and centrist liberals of the 60’s who questioned the integrity of unions. They had become what they most disliked: political machines whose agenda had changed from cohesion and social change to self-interest, a heavily bureaucratic and part of the status quo. In short as Lichtenstein states, “individual trade unions were internal oligarchies, administratively top-heavy with technicians and officials, and increasingly parochial in their bargaining strategy and political outlook.

Although, intellectuals, politicians, and an upswing in the economy fueled the downturn of organized labor during the 60’s, it was the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) that undermined union activity in America. Collective bargaining could not answer problems such as job loss, racial discrimination, and violence around the world. The alternative was the swift radical justice of the CRM, which the American people favored during this period. Unions could not match the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement such as equal rights under the law, the idea that laws are created for everyone employer and employee, and judicial reinterpretation of the law. Thus, individual rights (CRM) gained precedence over pluralist group rights (unions).

The change of intellectual thought, the wane of organized labor, and advent of the Civil Rights Movement had an impact of collective rights in San Antonio. Lucey’s belief in just wages solidified the presence of unions in the city. He created a system within the Archdiocese that centered on equal pay and benefits to all workers Catholic or not. However, the economic and political background of the city was different. What was that political and economic climate that he encountered in San Antonio during the 60’s? Did the business community accept unions in San Antonio? That is the discussion in the proceeding analysis.

It is important to discuss the social and economic background of San Antonio for several reasons. First, they explain what Lucey tried to accomplish and change in the area. Second, it makes clear the economic reality that unions would never be able to grasp a firm hold in S.A. This was mainly due to its limited economic resources resulting in part from its geographic place. As Booth and Johnson state on San Antonio’s location in relation to the U.S., “San Antonio, an outpost on the frontier of the North American commercial system, was limited in its potential for capital growth”. Also, the city did not possess any major manufacturing activity like Houston or Dallas. Historically, the business community never accepted unions. This happened due to the way business was done since the late 19th century.

The business elite have always influenced the political, economic, and social orientation of San Antonio since the early 19th century. In 1837, the Republic of Texas created a municipal charter that created an eight-board council consisting of German, Anglo, and French ethnic groups representing a variety of business activities in San Antonio. These ethnic groups consolidated their positions in society such as through inter-marriage, and eventually took power of politics from Hispanics in S.A. Post-Civil War merchants, such as Frost and Brackenridge, controlled capital creating banks that in turn produced several economic activities such as the exchange of products, the development of a water system and breweries. Business activity by this time may be characterized as a mediocre mercantile economy, coupled with commercial activities such as tourism, shipping, meat packaging, and a military post. These activities however, would not be able to sustain long-term economic growth.

The arrival of Mayor Bryan Callaghan II fostered policies in tune with the lower business elite of S.A. between the years 1877-1914. His democratic policies allowed the construction of building projects such as Bexar County Court House and urban services such as streetcars, fire hydrants, and paved roads. His power waned as the increase of Anglos entered the city who voiced a new set of issues. As other lower class immigrant politicians such as Clinton Brown John W. Tobin became involved with the social-economic elite, they continued business elite traditions and values such as the expansion of military posts and tourism. However, due to population and industrial growth (oil and finance) in cities such as Houston and Dallas, the city did not expand beyond its current industries. Industries such as brewing, cotton, pecan shelling, and meat packaging did not require high skilled workers and as result, many Mexican and African-Americans did not gain significant income or occupational status in San Antonio.

The years 1946-75 may be best characterized as cooperation between the local and national government in San Antonio. The Great Depression allowed the federal government to introduce programs to stimulate the economy of many cities in the Sun Belt. Tourism and the military were established economic sectors that mushroomed even more as the government poured money into those industries. Again the upper class elite took advantage and began a series of restoration projects such as La Villita and Alamo. The city also built military training posts that created a wave of immigration, which spurred urbanization like never before. Thus, the economy only gained significant change from established industries that the business elite had established already at the expense of federal monetary support.

Even though the economy in San Antonio prospered due to tourism and the military, business leaders did not allow other industries to grow. Mexican and Black workers did not gain any economic and social mobility as they filled low skilled positions. The skilled positions usually went to Anglos from other regions of the country. Consequently, they created social and economic inequalities among a segment of the population. The upper elite retarded manufacturing for fear of organized labor which might have increased wages for lower skilled workers. Such was the case when Ford sought to build a factory but was rebuffed due to the intervention of local business men. This is the business mentality that Lucey encountered in San Antonio in the early 40’s until to the end of his episcopacy. Unions were a way for a low skilled worker to earn a better wage and thus a better life.

How would Lucey make a significant difference in San Antonio? Other than voicing his opinion of organized labor in the monthly newspaper the Alamo Messenger, he created a building board that would oversee construction projects throughout the city. Lucey felt that through example rather than words would change the mentality of cheap labor and wages in the city. One way to understand this is to look at how Lucey negotiated with specific building contractors who paid a union wage. The renovations done at St. Lawrence the Martyr reveal the Archbishop’s commitment to wage reform in San Antonio.

The construction of St. Lawrence the Martyr on south side San Antonio began with the acquisition of a plot of land under Archbishop Lucey. He intended the founding of the church to better serve the inhabitants of that particular area in matters of spiritual doctrine. On July 5th 1959, the Board Members and parish priest Reverend Oscar Huber; C.M. of St. Leo’s Catholic Church suggested the boundary of St. Lawrence’s. Initially labeled as “Petaluma Parish” (the local parishioners did not know the official name as supposed to the Archbishop who had already thought of a name for the new parish), the boundaries began at the intersection of S. Flores St. and Military Hwy. Highway 281 stood as the intersection with the Medina River, which stood for the south boundary. The northern boundary began with Commercial Ave. and Military Hwy. until it intersected with South Flores, the initial beginning point.

On June 18th, 1960, the Archdiocese of S.A. contracted Gerodetti Construction Company the task to build the church within the boundaries that were established one year earlier. Rev. Robert Logan asked the Archbishop if the official dedication could take place on the 10th of July. A small festival would follow if plans proceeded in that fashion. The dedication was given approval on the specified date followed by a day of festivities. Under Father Logan, St. Lawrence underwent several renovations under constant collaboration with Lucey. The constructions of classroom and renovation projects during 1963 through 66’ exemplify what the Archbishop meant for equal pay to all.

The first major renovation plan at St. Lawrence was the addition of classrooms. The Building Board made several recommendations and gave an estimate of the project at 50,000 dollars. In response, Rev. Secretary Popp cited how the Archbishop did not approve on the amount suggested by the Board members. Lucey proposed this because he knew the parish owed a debt in the amount of 123,000 dollars. Instead, he chose that the parish purchase a building which provided four classrooms, a workshop, a storage space, and restroom. The total would equal 6,700 dollars. In a correspondence between Secretary Popp to Father Logan on May 9th 1963, a final decision was made. The purchase of a building at Lackland Air Force Base, No. 3605, was to be moved and placed on a concrete foundation by a company known as Singleton Building Materials. Later that month a contract between the Archdiocese and Singleton revealed the intent and acknowledgment of a union pay scale at the request of the Archbishop.

The contract entered on May 9th 1963 stipulated that the owner, Reverend Robert E. Lucey and contractor, Singleton Building Materials of San Antonio, agreed to follow certain policies. The cost to remove building No. 3605 from Lackland Air Force to the parish of St. Lawrence would cost six thousand seven hundred dollars. The fee designated Singleton to provide materials, labor, tools, and equipment and make concrete piers as a foundation. More important however, was the following phrase, which for purposes of this analysis is worth quoting in detail.

The General Contractor and every Subcontractor shall pay to all skilled labor engaged under this contract, in work on or about the site of the project, not less than the prescribed wages as established by the recognized labor organizations of the area. Common Laborers employed by either the General Contractor and every Subcontractor, engaged under this contract, shall receive at least the minimum rate per hour as established by the Common Laborers Union of the area regardless of classification. The rate is presently $1. 75 per hour.

From a general point of view, Lucey was aware of wage rates for union workers in the San Antonio area. The fact that he included the above phrases reveals that he wanted his ideas not only written in correspondences but part of a legal contract. Doing so, allowed his social agenda to become a legal matter. Furthermore, Lucey did not allow any project to be built without a legal document binding the two parties together.

Although Les Tschoepe, co-founder of Guarantee Plumbing, Heating and Air-Conditioning, has no affiliation with Singleton Bld. Materials, he provides a ‘lens’ to understand the business relationship between the Archdiocese and a building contractor. Even though Guarantee Co. was not contracted to complete the plumbing in St. Lawrence, they were contracted to complete other jobs throughout the archdiocese. Mr. Tschoepe earned his plumbing license as journeyman in 1955. Working as a plumber for Guarantee, he recalls working on several construction projects for the Archdiocese during the 50’s and 60’s. Although he did not know the Archbishop personally, he recalls Lucey’s insistence on wage reform in San Antonio. After working as a laborer, he later became a plumbing instructor at the local union workshop. He drew a distinction between a union vs. non-union plumber stating that for major projects in San Antonio during the 60’s, most businesses hired union plumbers if they wanted the job done efficiently and with quality. If that was the case, then it is correct to state that most plumbing jobs done in a parish such as St. Lawrence were done with quality. The fact that no written complaint exist within the construction project files for St. Lawrence illustrates this even further.

On July 14th, 1963, the Building Board, Rev. Logan, and the contractor Harold Kunz met to discuss further renovation of St. Lawrence Church. In addition to the classroom renovation, a store room, restroom, and concrete porch would be amended to the contract. The total cost of additional classrooms, plus extra rooms, would amount to 9,918. To create a more ambient setting around the renovated buildings, a better surfacing was suggested. The total area was calculated at 23,036 feet around 13 cents per square foot totaling $2,235.00 dollars. The contractor, Kunz Construction Company, is important because Lucey contracted the majority of Church projects to them. A Catholic who attended St. Peter Prince of the Apostle parish, Kunz shared many of the ideas of Archbishop Lucey. One of those ideas was that San Antonio had a history of low wages and unemployment.

Harold Kuntz Jr. son of Harold Kuntz Sr. worked for and with his father throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. He was a bricklayer for Local Union number two where he was an apprentice in 1953 and later a journeyman in 1957. From 1960 onwards, he worked with his father as business partner completing numerous construction projects for the Archdiocese. Some of those projects were Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Sacred Heart, including the St. Lawrence restoration projects and St. Cecilia’s gymnasium. Not only did Kuntz build churches but catechetical centers too. Kuntz Jr. states that from 1963-67 they built these halls throughout South Texas in Dilley, Cotulla, and Eagle Pass. All projects were mediated through a representative of the Archdiocese to Kuntz Construction Co.

Working with his father as a business partner, Kuntz Jr. explains the rationale for paying workers a union wage in San Antonio. First, like his father, he worked up the social ladder beginning as a blue-collar worker and later, becoming a successful businessman. Creating the business with their own hands allowed them to gain an appreciation and value of earning money. They knew what it meant to be an ordinary worker and as a result included a union wage to all employees in their business. So much did Kuntz Jr. gain affiliation with unions that he later became a union spokesman for Bricklayers Union #2. As union representative he negotiated with the Archdiocese and other subcontractors a wage scale for bricklayers.

Kunz, like Lucey, insisted and firmly believed that workers must be paid a just wage. In this way, Lucey needed and benefited from this type of partnership. Not only was it affiliation based on money but on a shared idea, a common goal which was more powerful than any binding contract. The Archbishop could entrust his mission to such individuals. Furthermore, it is correct to state that perhaps Lucey would not have carried out his mission if there was no support from laymen such as Kunz. The construction of the renovated and additional classrooms at Saint Lawrence was completed in fifty days. More projects would continue over the year including the installation of a sewer line.

While the building at Lackland AFB was transferred to St. Lawrence, Father Logan asked for the installation of a sewer line along Ansley Street. On April 26, 1963 Msgr. Bernard Popp wrote to Father Logan stating that the city of San Antonio would pay for all materials except the cost to install it, which was about 5,000 dollars. Secretary Popp also mentioned at the end of the correspondence how Mr. Frank Drought, who had been designated as the engineer, not only to draw the plans for the sewer line, but include the wages designated by the Building Trades Council of San Antonio. Through Popp, then, Lucey ensured that proper wages were included in the specifications for all construction done at a parish. On May 10th 1963, the Archdiocesan Building Board invited the following union contractors, G.H. Dillard, Ray Jones, and Jud Plumbing & Heating Company to begin the open bid process. Although the estimated cost of the work was 5,000 Jud Plumbing and Heating Co. won the bid for 5,897.81 dollars.

The installation of the sanitary sewer line was completed on June 28th 1963. The actual payment for the work completed was for $4,865.64. The work again was approved and managed by Secretary Popp and the details were handled by Father Logan. However, what negotiations took place during a building board meeting? What issues were discussed and how did they effect the construction of projects throughout the Archdiocese? What were the rates, limitations of a contract?

Retired Bishop Bernard F. Popp was priest-secretary to Archbishop Lucey when he first arrived in San Antonio in 1941. He worked as a bookkeeper in debits and credits systems within the archdiocese for 22 years. Lucey needed an individual who could manage accounts. While working as secretary he helped as assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. As a member of the Building Board he oversaw parish contracts and made sure they included a union wage scale. This meant a decent living wage such as bonuses, insurance, and an earning to employees. In addition each contract had to provide insurance and/or performance bonds. Insurance meant sick leave, injury leave, etc. A prevailing wage was also set for an area. This wage was one that Archbishop Lucey favored to pay any individual that worked on projects for the archdiocese.

As a business partner with his father, Kuntz Jr. hired subcontractors who either paid close to or near a union wage to their workers. Some of those subcontractors included Alderman Electric, Guarantee Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning, Turner Roofing and Doyle Painting. Kuntz did not hire subcontractors for concrete, framing, sheet work or trimming since they provided those services already. A representative from the Archdiocese scrutinized each business either through mail correspondence or in person. A wage was prescribed and included in the specification plans that the architect created and included in the final contract. Kuntz explains that the specification plans were crucial to the proper wage scale agreed between the contractor and Archdiocese. Lucey was adamant that those specification plans be part of the contract.

Archbishop Lucey not only ensured proper wages were within the contracts of any project with the Archdiocese, but he did not negotiate any business with any building contractor if they did not suit or fit within the framework of his ideology. This animating spirit dictated his decisions and reflected the position of the Catholic Church in San Antonio. In this way he hoped to provide an example to the rest of the city. This example signified that if you paid just wages to workers everyone would benefit in society. St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church is an example how this occurred when union officials investigated a wage disparity between the Archdiocese and the contractor J.J. Falbo.

St. Cecilia’s Parish is located on 125 Whittier Street in the south part of San Antonio, on the outer rim of the downtown area. If one ventures inside the parish grounds one’s eyes are immediately drawn to an immense gymnasium across the church. The gymnasium is roofed with sheets of metal that reminds one of a beetle. The gym has grown old as the concrete structure has deteriorated and rust has begun to take its toll on the edifice. However, things were not that always that way. The priest responsible for the construction of the gym and additional classrooms was Rev. Balthasar Janacek. As priest of St. Cecilia’s he became part of Lucey’s plan of just wages for workers.

The idea of a new gymnasium at St. Cecilia’s parish began with a correspondence from Fr. Janacek to the Archdiocesan Building Board on February 28, 1964. In this letter, the former cites several reasons why a gymnasium, additional classrooms, and toilet facilities were vital to the parish. One was an increase in enrollment at the school and youth attending the parish. He stated how in the parochial school 570 students were currently attending the 13 classrooms. Two, the purpose of the gymnasium would not only serve the parish but the south side of San Antonio. This would provide activity for children in the area which had the largest sum of Catholic youth in the city. Additionally it would be able to host athletic events for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in the area. Finally, the proposition of classrooms and gymnasium would provide more space for regular classrooms, catechetical classes, scout hall, and meeting rooms.

That same day a meeting took place between Fr. Janacek and the Building Board. The Building Board acknowledged the need for a gymnasium and classrooms not only for the parish but Southside vicinity. However there was one problem: The St. Cecilia’s debt of $160,000.00 dollars. In response, the Board recommended that three architects be submitted to draw a sketch of such a proposition. Within two weeks Fr. Janacek proposed a floor plan of the new gymnasium, an already existing basement beneath it, a meeting room, and toilet facilities. In all the project was estimated at $148,000. This would significantly increase the debt of the parish to $310,000 which the Archbishop would not permit. Instead he proposed that the present six old classrooms be used and renovated from the inside for minor repairs. Finally, he proposed two contractors, Kunz Contractors and Mr. J.J. Falbo a parishioner at St. Paul’s to estimate the project.

Kunz Contractors was selected for the job, but the proposed gymnasium was not included in the work. Secretary Popp told Father Janacek to proceed with the restoration of the six classrooms and restroom facilities, but not the gymnasium. Preliminary plans, estimates, and engineering and architectural blueprints were completed during the months of May and June of 1964 despite initial rejection by the Building Board. Father Janacek was very enthusiastic about the project even commenting how donations might alleviate the debt. However, in a letter to Father Janacek on July 24, 1964, Secretary Rev. Charles Herzig disapproved for two reasons. The main reason stemmed from a huge debt now totaling $239,795 dollars and second, was a higher cost of construction if the old building was demolished and a new foundation used instead. In the end, the project was place on hold until further notice. For three years the Building Board did not discuss the matter, until Father Janacek addressed the project to future Board Member Rev. Charles Grahmann on June 21, 1966.

In the correspondence, Father Janacek explained how critical a gymnasium was to the community. The parish hall was deteriorating and a youth center was vital to continued growth of the St. Cecilia’s community. He also explained if any construction was begun immediately, then it wound not interfere with another important project that Lucey was aware about: Hemisphere 68’. The Archbishop reviewed the last annual reports from 1963-1965 of St. Cecilia’s and made the following observations before making a decision. 1). the net profit. 2). the debt of the parish. 3). the demographics of the area, specifically looking at the number of families in the area. Lucey also weighed the continued enthusiasm and support not only by Father Janacek but the parishioners as well. In the end, he informed Father Janacek to hire the architect Robert Pizzini to submit a floor plan to the Building Board.

One may see the extent which Lucey aligned his projects with any construction done in a parish in a letter between Fr. Janacek and Msgr. Secretary Popp. On September 30, 1966 Secretary Popp advised Fr. Janacek to continue with the “detailed plans and specifications for the gymnasium at St. Cecilia’s”. Popp also reminded Janacek to tell Pizzini that the San Antonio Trades Council created a wage scale “enumerated by crafts” and to include them in the specifications. A pastor such as Father Janacek also had the responsibility that it was implemented in the project done in his parish. A priest also represented the church and archbishop as well. He symbolized the plans enumerated by Archbishop Lucey. In this way Archbishop depended on his pastors to extend his ideas across the city. Changes would have to be made however, due to a fluctuation of building materials and labor.

Robert Pizzini explained to Secretary Popp that an increase of materials and labor would enhance the cost to build the gymnasium. Initially set at $115,000 now it was estimated at $145,000. This increase worried Lucey and he proposed the following adjustments:

  1. Basement-use of concrete blocks, unpainted
  2. Steps-use of steel steps
  3. Floor frame system-use of wood and steel instead of concrete tees.
  4. Roof-2” tectum and built-in roof replaced with 1” rigid fiber glass board and 26” gauge metal roof.
  5. Siding-top half wood siding replaced with 24-gauge Type “A” siding remains the same, concrete units and plaster.

In the end the cost were reduced by $13,000.00. To begin the erection of the gymnasium excavation to create a foundation of the gymnasium was needed. The archdiocese hired, Kelly Salvage Company costing $3, 845.00. Archbishop Lucey required contractors to include certain measures, such as Workmen’s Compensation and Liability, in a contract not only to protect the archdiocese but workers as well.

The process of opening bids for any construction project was the next step. The contractor that announced the lowest bid was usually the winner. In the case of the St. Cecilia’s gym, J.J. Falbo was the successful (lowest) bidder

The next step was to create a contract between the owner (Archdiocese) and bidder (J.J. Falbo). The contract was shown to the Archbishop on March 10 1967 by Father Grahmann. The contract consisted of eight articles that bonded the owner and contractor to construct the gymnasium and Club room addition. A performance bond was created to further guarantee that Falbo would complete the project at a given time. A payment bound was also created to ensure that Archbishop Lucey would pay the said amount of $134,186.00 dollars to the contractor. To make certain that the contractor complied with Lucey’s idea of worker’s rights he insisted that Falbo provide evidence of insurance with the following stipulations: Workmen’s compensation, employer’s liability, bodily injury, and automobile bodily injury.

The last step of any construction project within the archdiocese was to send payments on the work. This was usually done in installments that ranged within six to a year from the date the project was completed. In the case of the new gymnasium, a total of six payments from August 1967 to January 1968 were given from Father Janacek to J.J. Falbo. Finally, a letter from Father Janacek to Board Member Rev. Grahmann assured him that the new gymnasium was complete, according to the plans and specifications from Architect Pizzini and accepted by the parishioners at St. Cecilia’s.

When Archbishop Lucey hired a contractor to work on a project within the archdiocese, he employed them as long as they paid a fair wage to their workers. A fair wage did not necessarily mean that a sub-contractor hire workers and pay them the prescribed union wage. Many sub-contractors, whom Lucey approved, either paid an exact, near or higher union wage. Such was the case when J.J Falbo contracted the structural steel firm, General Supply Company of San Antonio, to complete the gymnasium whose workers were not members of any sheet metal union in the city.

In a letter between Elton E Schroeder, president of the San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council, and Joseph R. Edelen, Business Manager of the Chancery, Schroeder informed Edelen that J.J. Falbo hired a company that did not pay the prevailing wage established by the Department of Labor. Furthermore, Falbo did not hire members of the Local Union of Iron Workers. In response, Mr. Edelen acknowledged Mr. Schroeder’s inquiry and assured him that the Archdiocese always paid union wages to workers on any project done in the Archdiocese. In addition, he asked Mr. Schroeder to provide three pieces of information to substantiate his accusations. Those included the prevailing wage established by the Secretary of Labor, a comparison between that wage and the rate established by the Iron Worker’s Local Union #66, and the wages paid by General Supply Company for the job paid at the St. Cecilia’s construction project.

A letter from Schroeder to Edelen dated July 11th 1967 was not found in the files, but the response to that letter gives us a sense of the reaction to the correspondence. Edelen assured Schroeder that the July 11th letter had been received and noted. He also acknowledged that he had received a payroll sheet from General Supply Company for the week ending June 28 1967. Edelen stated that the specifications for the job required a wage minimum of $4.02/hr.and maximum of $4.40/hr. The Archdiocese was paying $4.40/hour to the workers.

As the payroll sheets points out, the names of workers, job, hours per week, rate paid per hour and total earnings suggests that the workers for General Supply Company paid their workers just and equal wages for the erection of the steel frame of the gymnasium. The fine print written beneath the payroll information however, reveals information that further illuminates that Lucey trusted contractors such as J.J. Falbo to ensure wages were paid to workers justly.

Mr. Schroeder asked the archdiocese to prove that the General Supply Company was paying individuals a wage similar if not higher than the local union wage set at the time. In response, the president of General Supply Company submitted to Falbo the payroll sheet as requested but not without voicing his opinion on the matter. He stated that all employees were represented by the Carpenter’s Local Union (#3106), Sheet Metal Workers Union #14, and represented by the AFL-CIO for collective bargaining of production and maintenance of General Supply Inc. Furthermore, a contract for collective bargaining with the Carpenter and Sheet metal unions was in effect until 1968.

That was not all, however. The following paragraph states that harassment continued even though GSP paid their iron workers higher wages than the Ironworker’s Local Union 66. According to the spokesman for GSP they were the only company that produced steel structures in a union shop and were the only company that produced “union made metal building in the area”. GSP could also boast that they were one of the few firms in the construction industry who were 100% union. Lastly, GSP stated that although they were not part of a union, they could afford to give their workers a retirement, hospitalization, and vacation programs unlike unions in San Antonio.

Archbishop Lucey was adamant in his belief that projects done within the Archdiocese either paid the union wage or relief compensation to employees of a company. This was the case for several negotiations that took place between the archdiocese and company. Individuals confirmed this point of vie such as Father Janacek who stated, “You can bet that he (Lucey) was on top of everything!” Father Rihn described him as “a meticulous person who was not afraid or hesitant to tell you what was on his mind”. The following observations allow us to conclude that Lucey was an individual whose primary concerned was to ensure Catholic ideas were carried within each individual parish. Such was the case with the transfer of a building from St. Bonaventure Chapel to St. Leonard’s Catholic.

The purpose of relocating a building from St. Leonard’s to St. Bonaventure was to provide a room for catechetical instruction. On December 30, 1964 Father Hahn pastor of St. Leonard’s explained the desire which Archbishop Lucey responded stating he wanted a value and estimate of moving the building of anything was to be done. The purchase, moving, and repairing of the building would cost $5,500.00. The initial job was given to H.D. Harris who was asked for a price estimate. Once an estimate was given, an appraisal on the value of the building needed ascertaining. Finally, the Building Board would have to choose a company to begin the job.

A meeting of the Building Board allows us to see to what extent Lucey was willing to compromise his beliefs. Initially the B.B. chose H.D. Harris to complete the job. However, Father Hahn reported that Mr. Harris did not offer his employee’s worker’s compensation or public liability. The other bidder did carry Workmen’s compensation and Public Liability. As a result, the B.B. chose Dodson House Movers as the successful bidder at $1,500.00. Archbishop Lucey was not content with that however.

Kunz construction was chosen to estimate the cost of remodeling the building which would be done on a cost-plus basis. Archbishop Lucey reminded Father Hahn that before he proceed with the moving of the barrack to St. Leonard’s he certify that Dodson have workmen’s compensation and public liability. Furthermore, Lucey must have either been misinformed or overlooked that Dodson did was not paying the minimum wage in San Antonio. Before Secretary Popp presented the contract to Father Hahn, he stated:

The minimum wage paid in San Antonio for work done for the Church is $1.90 per hour. I see where Mr. Dodson pays $1.25 an hour. The Archbishop could not tolerate such a wage. Would you please be kind enough to fix up this contract the way it is acceptable to you in order that I might then present it to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop, for signature. Would you also let me know what insurances are carried by Dodson firm.

The words that Sec. Popp utilizes in the letter are worth mentioning. The word ‘tolerate’ gives the impression that the Bishop was serious in this matter. Compromise is not an option especially over the issue of wages was discussed. Also, the fact that Lucey was involved in every situation is discernable. Once the matter was fixed, only approval would be given until the Archbishop reviewed and signed the contract. As if not satisfied with the situation Popp asked for an update on the insurance policy of Dodson Co.

Proof that the Archbishop approved of the situation, is the contract that he signed between the former and Dodson House Moving Company. Several stipulations are worth discussing in detail. Underlined and in bold letters was the specific job to be completed followed by the specifications and contract documents which contained the prevailing wages for the job. Next, were several phrases that stated the earnings of the worker. This wage was determined by the local labor organization within the area. The minimum wage for every worker regardless of their specific task was $1.90/hour which so conveniently happened to be underlined and in bold.

If any business wanted to work with the Archdiocese the business needed to prove that they paid and provided compensation to their workers. Lucey was not content, however, with words. He sought proper documentation that a company paid workers fairly. He also set a model through which he hoped would set in the city of San Antonio. Father Ruben Steubben validates this idea as he stated, “He brought the idea of unions where he hoped to create an example on how to conduct business in San Antonio”. He became an overseer with local unions as well. Unions must have benefited that a powerful person fought for the same ideals as them.

On May 4th 1969, Lucey resigned as Archbishop of San Antonio. The cause did not stem over old age, but a controversy between priests, know as the ‘51’, who forced him into retirement. Many local priests had always resented Lucey’s blunt direct communication with people. Thus, it was a combination of bitter resentment and miscommunication between priests and Lucey that forced the Vatican to ask him to resign.

When Lucey became Archbishop of San Antonio, 1941 he wished to change the social landscape in a significant way. His upbringing played a major part on how he viewed society. Social justice through unions was a way to lift the status and dignity of the working class. It was a combination of his personality and social actions that gave a voice to those who had none. To pay a person a just and equal wage was a right all humans deserved. The ethic of work thus, became a highlight of his administration.

Historically, union presence in Texas was not strong. Whether or not Lucey was successful in creating a regional or state movement in Texas is not important, but the results done in building projects such as St. Lawrence and Cecilia’s. Very much in tune with President Johnson’s agenda, Lucey perceived poverty as a virus in San Antonio. Organized labor was a solution to that problem. If the people could organize themselves, then action would result. Providing compensation and benefits to an employee would protect the nucleus of society, the family. Archbishop Lucey was very much part of that social movement in Texas.

Specific building projects demonstrate Lucey’s ability to transform his words into action. He viewed contracts as avenues from which to establish a fair-minded way to ensure that construction companies paid workers a livable wage. The result was a union between unions and church. St. Leonard’s reveals how Lucey used contracts to include specific wages for the work done there. The contractor known as Kunz shows that others were willing to do the same. The Archbishop would not have been able to implement his idea of fair wages had it not been for lay people within the church who shared the same beliefs. In this way not only were new bonds formed but a system of ideas that spread throughout the city. Lucey understood then that to be Archbishop of a metropolis carried certain responsibilities entrusted to him.

The projects done at St. Leonard’s and St. Cecilia’s provide a lens of Lucey’s social agenda in San Antonio. If a contractor did not hire union workers Lucey was aware of this. He at least made certain they paid a livable wage and provide compensation to them. He did not make any accommodations when it came to the earnings for employees. Again, a contract was a binding document that provided the legal means to ensure certain specifications for workers. In this way Archbishop Lucey fulfilled his role as shepherd of his flock, especially for the lost and voiceless.

Selected Bibliography


St. Cecilia’s Parish Files, Construction Projects 1958-1969. Archives at the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

St. Lawrence Parish Files, Construction Projects 1951-1968. Archives at the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Primary Sources

Instrumentum Laboris, Synod of Bishops X Ordinary General Assembly: The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World, 2001.

Quadragesimo Anno, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI.

Rerum Novarum, Encyclical of Pope Leo XII.


Interview, Father Balthasar Janacek, 6 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Harold Kuntz Jr., 16 April 2007 and April 2008, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Gilbert Kissling, 10 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Reverend Bernard F. Popp, 12 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Father Roy Rihn, 3 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Father Sherrill Smith, 2 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Father Richard Steubben, 28 March 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Interview, Les Tschoepe, 25 March 2008, San Antonio, Texas.

Secondary Sources

Betten, Neil. Catholic Activism and the Industrial Worker. Gainesville: University Press of Florida: 1976.

Booth, John A., Harris, Richard J., Johnson, David R. ed. The Politics of San Antonio: Community, Progress, & Power. Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Bronder, Saul E. Social Justice & Church Authority: The Public Life of Archbishop Robert E.

Lucey. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982.

Gelfland, Mark I. Exploring the Johnson Years. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Husslein, Joseph and Ryan, John A. The Church and Labor Macmillan Press: New York, 1920.

Lichtenstein, Nelson. The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism, ed. Sidney M Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005.

Jones, Lamar. Mexican-American Labor Problems in Texas. R and E Research Associates: San Francisco, 1971.

Miller, Raymond. Forty Years After: Pius XI and the Social Order: A Commentary. Saint Paul: Radio Replies Press, 1948.

Privett, Stephen A. The U.S. Catholic Church and its Hispanic Members: The Pastoral Vision of Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucey. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1988.

Williams, Frankin C., Long Star Bishops: The Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Texas. Waco, Texas: Texian Press, 1997.

Winn, Charles. Mexican-Americans in the Texas Labor Movement. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University, 1972.


Amberg, Stephen. “Governing Labor in Modernizing Texas.” Social Science History 28, no. 1 (2004): 145-188.

Green, George. “ILGWU in Texas, 1930-1970. Journal of Mexican-American History, no. 1 (1971).

Walker, Kenneth P. “The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio and Mechanization.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 69, no. 1 (1965) 49-58.


Carcasson, Martin. Negotiating the Paradoxes of Poverty: Presidential Rhetoric on Welfare from Johnson to Clinton. Ph.D. Dissertation: Texas A&M University, 2004.

Landolt Robert Garland. The Mexican-American Workers of San Antonio, Texas Ph.D. Dissertation: University of Texas, 1976.

Shapiro, Harold Arthur. The Workers of San Antonio, Texas 1900-1940. Ph.D. Dissertation: University of Texas, 1952.

Electronic Sources

Katz, Lawrence F. and Kessler, Daniel P. Prevailing Wage Law and Construction Labor Markets”. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Jan. 2001), pp. 259-271.

Thurston, Herbert. Encyclical. (accessed April 7, 2008).

Interview, Bishop Bernard Popp, 2 April 2007, San Antonio, TX. (Jesus M. Rendon).

Saul E. Bronder, Social Justice & Church Authority: The Public Life of Archbishop Robert E. Lucey. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985).

Robert Garland Landolt, The Mexican-American Workers of San Antonio, Texas (Ph.D. Dissertation: University of Texas, 1976), 115-16. Other works that highlight Mexican-American labor issues in Texas are Charles Winn’s, Mexican-American’s in the Texas Labor Movement. (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University, 1972)., Lamar Jones, Mexican-American Labor Problems in Texas (R and E Research Associates: San Francisco, 1971)., George Green’s article “ILGWU in Texas, 1930-1970 , Journal of Mexican-American History, 1 (1971), and Kenneth P. Walker’s “The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio and Mechanization,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69, no. 1 (1965): 44-58.

Interview, Fr. Sherrill Smith, 3 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus Rendon).

Stephen Amberg, “Governing Labor in Modern Texas,” Social Science History 28, no. 1 (2004): 146-162, 174-179.

Harold Arthur Shapiro, Workers of San Antonio, Texas, 1900-1940. (Ph.D..Dissertation: University of Texas, 1952). 331-139.

David R. Johnson, John A. Booth, and Richard J. Harris, ed., The Politics of San Antonio: Community, Progress, & Power. (Lincoln & Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 25-27.

Interview, Woody Keller, 8 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus Rendon).

Interview, Fr. Ruben Steubben, 28 March 1997, San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus M. Rendon).

Stephen A. Privett, The U.S. Catholic Church and its Hispanic Members: The Pastoral Vision of Archbishop Robert Emmet Lucey. ( San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1988) intro. i-ii.

Privett, The U.S. Catholic Church, into. x.

Interview, Bishop Bernard F. Popp, 2 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus Rendon).

Frankin C. Williams, Long Star Bishops: The Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Texas (Texian Press: 1997), p. 361.

Williams, Long Star Bishops, 361.

Williams, Lone Star Bishops, 362-363.

Williams, Lone Star Bishops, 364.

Encyclical, Instrumentum Laboris: The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World, 2001.

Encyclical comes from the Greek words egkyklios, kyklos. Roughly translated this means “a circle” hence a letter in circulation. Although translations of its meaning have changed over the history of the Catholic Church, for our purposes an encyclical is a document written by a Pope addressed to the leaders of the Catholic Church. The purpose of an encyclical is a tool to guide the Church on a specific issue or idea of that particular period of time. For a more engaging commentary of its history see

Bronder, Social Justice and Church Authority, 22.

For an comprehensive Catholic perspective on the idea of a ‘living wage’ see Rev. John A Ryan’s A Living Wage in John A. Ryan and Joseph Husslein’s monograph The Church and Labor (Macmillan Press: New York), p. 259-271.

Rerum Novarum, 43 and 46.

Rerum Novarum, 49.

Neil Betton, Catholic Activism and the Industrial Worker. (University Press of Florida: 1976), p. 11. For a more thorough view on the impact and perspectives of Leo XII’s Rerum Novarum in the U.S. see pages 14-16.

Bronder, Social Justice and Church Authority, 26-27.

See John A. Ryan’s essay, The Reconciliation of Capital and Labor in Church and Labor pgs. 272-290 for an in-depth-analysis of this subject.

Miller, Raymond. Forty Years After: Pius XI and the Social Order: A Commentary. (Radio Replies Press: Minnesota), 63.

Miller, Forty Years After, 64-69.

Betten, Catholic Activism, 24-26. Read pgs. 27-32 for a more comprehensive perspective on the effects of Pius XI’s encyclical in America through the publication of scholarly journals during this time.

Bronder, Social Justice and Church Authority, 35-36 and 53-54.

Nelson Lichtenstein, The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism, ed. Sidney M Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), 83-85.

Mark Gelfland, Exploring the Johnson Years, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 41-48.

Lichtenstein, The Great Society, 87-88.

Lichtenstein, The Great Society, 101-108.

David R. Johnson, The Politics of San Antonio: Community, Progress, & Power (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1983) p 4.

Johnson, Power and Progress in San Antonio Politics, 5.

Ibid, 6-8.

Ibid, 10.

Ibid, 19-21.

St. Lawrence Parish files, Building Projects 1951- 1968, Archives at the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

St. Lawrence Parish files, AASA.

St. Lawrence Files, AASA.

Interview, Les Tschoepe, 25 March 2008, San Antonio.

Interview, Harold Kunz Jr., 17 April 2007, San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus M. Rendon)

Interview, Harold Kuntz Jr., 25 March 2008, San Antonio, Texas, (Jesus M. Rendon)


St. Lawrence Parish Files, AASA.

By this term, Popp states that he was Lucey’s bookkeeper.

Daniel P. Kessler and Lawrence F Katz, “Prevailing Wage Law and Construction Labor Markets”. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Jan. 2001), pp. 259-271. Due to amends to the law in 1935 and 1964 that set the idea of prevailing wages, clarification merits attention. Any work done within the archdiocese between 1935 through 1963 will be under that law. Any projects from 1964 onwards will fall under changes made onwards.

Interview, Harold Kuntz Jr.

St. Cecilia Parish Files, Building Projects 1958-1969. Archives at the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

Specifications are part of a contract that regulates the construction of a building. Most specs. were bounded in a plastic spiral notebook which included the wages of workers.

Letter from Bernard Popp to Balthasar J. Janacek September 30 1966. St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

Letter from Robert A. Pizzini to Rev. Msgr. Bernard F. Popp December 5 1966, St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

Letter from Bernard Popp to Balthasar J. Janacek February 13 1967. St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

Correspondence from Father Grahmann to Archbishop Lucey, March 10 1967, St. Cecilia’s files, AASA.

Correspondence from Rev. Balthasar Janacek to Rev. Charles Grahmann, January 24 1968, St. Cecilia files, AASA.

Letter from Elton E. Schroeder to Joseph R. Edelen, June 29 1967, St. Cecilia’s Files, AASA.

I use the word accusation because in the initial letter Mr. Schroeder had accused Mr. Falbo of a plan to undermine the Iron Workers Union in San Antonio by hiring General Supply Company. Whether the intent of the letter was more personal than business in orientation is not certain.

Letter from Joseph E Edelen to Elton E. Schroeder, July 3 1967, St. Cecilia’s file, AASA.

Letter from Joseph E Edelen to Elton E. Schroeder, July 11 1967, St. Cecilia’s file, AASA.

Interview, Father Balthasar Janacek, 20 April 2007 San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus M. Rendon)

Father Rihn, John. Interview, Father John Rihn, 13 April 2007. San Antonio, Texas. (Jesus M. Rendon)

Correspondence from Rev. Robert E. Lucey to Rev. Bernardine Hahn O.F.M., 1 February 1965, St. Leonard’s files, AASA.

Archdiocesan Building Board Meeting. March 26, 1965, St. Leonard files, AASA.

In a cost-plus fee method, the contractor is paid the actual cost of labor, materials, plus overhead and profit. With this type of method, the cost of a project is uncertain, usually until it is completed. See

Correspondence from Rev. Msgr. Bernard F. Popp to Father Hahn. 28 April 1965, St. Leonard files, AASA.

Contract between Robert E. Lucey and Dodson House Moving Company of San Antonio. 3 May 1965, St. Leonard files, AASA.