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MONTALBO, GREGORIA GOYA

ILGWU Logo
Logo, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Gregoria Montalbo was president of the ILGWU Local 180 in San Antonio, Texas, in which she led the strike against Tex-Son. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MONTALBO, GREGORIA GOYA (1919–1995). Gregoria Montalbo, local labor union official, daughter of Nasario Hernandez and Bernice (de Luna) Hernandez Alvarado, was born at San Antonio, Texas, on May 9, 1919. Montalbo spent her childhood years with three sisters and four brothers on the grounds of Espada and San Juan Capistrano missions. She became a student in the mission schools, but her education was interrupted by frequent family migrations to other parts of Texas to look for work, and she quit school at the end of the seventh grade. She had vivid memories of those trips “north,” including having to sit with her family in the colored section of movie houses. Montalbo’s ties to the Catholic Church continued with her membership in a religious organization known as the Hijas de María de la Espada.

In 1941 she started working as a thread cutter at Sunshine, a garment plant in San Antonio. In 1948 she moved to downtown San Antonio and looked for a better employment situation. She eventually became a supervisor in one of the plants there. Although she had worked in a unionized plant in San Antonio, a brief three-month stint in a highly organized shop in Chicago in 1955 left her determined to be more active in union matters after her return to Texas.

Tex-Son Strikers Local 180
Photograph, Tex-Son strikers from Local 180, San Antonio, Texas. Gregoria Montalbo was president of Local 180. Image courtesy of the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local 180 (San Antonio, TX) Records Collections. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

By the time the garment strike at Tex-Son Company began in 1959, Montalbo was president of Local 180 of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). Her duties during the strike extended beyond being president of the local. She headed the bargaining and the picketline committees as well. In her position as picketline captain, she was at the Tex-Son plant by seven o’clock every morning to get the pickets started. During the strike, she worked assiduously to obtain funds from other locals and organizations. Anti-union sentiment across the nation and an overabundance of unskilled workers in San Antonio eventually led to the defeat of the strike. Montalbo left the picket line at the end of October 1962, and by early 1963 the strike was totally abandoned.

In 1941 Montalbo married Jimmy Bazan; she divorced him in 1955. Two years after her divorce, she married Simon Montalbo. There were no children from either marriage. Gregoria Montalbo died in San Antonio on July 15, 1995.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

AFL-CIO Weekly Dispatch (San Antonio), October 2, 1959; October 28, 1960. Lori A. Flores, “An Unladylike Strike Fashionably Clothed: Mexicana and Anglo Women Garment Workers Against Tex-Son, 1959–1963,” Pacific Historical Review 78 (2009). Sophie Gonzales, Interview by author, April 13, 1990, El Paso, Texas. George N. Green, “ILGWU in Texas, 1930–1970,” Journal of Mexican American History 1 (Spring 1971). Irene Ledesma, Unlikely Strikers: Mexican American Women in Strike Activity in Texas, 1919–1974 (Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1992). San Antonio Express, February 26, 27, 1959; July 18, 1959. San Antonio Light, July 19, 1959. Texas Observer, September 4, 1959.

Irene Ledesma

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Handbook of Texas Online, Irene Ledesma, "Montalbo, Gregoria Goya," accessed October 18, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmobe.

Uploaded on December 15, 2015. Modified on July 6, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.