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Racism within organized labor

Racism within organized labor

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Published by Chris Stewart
A report discussing racism within organized labor between 1955-1960.
A report discussing racism within organized labor between 1955-1960.

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Published by: Chris Stewart on Oct 08, 2013
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02/01/2014

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Journal of Negro Education
Racism Within Organized Labor: A Report of Five Years of the AFL-CIO, 1955- 1960Author(s): Herbert HillSource:
The Journal of Negro Education,
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Spring, 1961), pp. 109-118Published by:
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Accessed: 08/10/2013 11:40
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This content downloaded from 204.17.31.62 on Tue, 8 Oct 2013 11:40:36 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
RacismWithinOrganizedabor:AReportfFiveYearsof theAFL-CIO,1955-1960*
HERBERTHILL
LaborSecretaryftheNAACPTheeliminationfracism withintradeunionswas oneofthe majorgoalsforrganizedabornnouncedt themer-gerconventionfthe Americaneder-ation ofLaborandtheCongressfIn-dustrialrganizationsnDecember,955.Thiswaswelcomedymanyivilrightsagenciesndespecially y theNationalAssociationortheAdvancementf Col-oredPeoplewhichfferedts fullupporttotheabormovement.Today,fiveyearsfterheAFL-CIOmerger,henationalabororganizationhasfailedoeliminatehebroadpatternof racialdiscriminationndsegregationinmanyimportantffiliatednions.Trade unionactivityn the civilrightsfield since themergerhas notbeen-markedyasystematicndcoordinatedefforty the nationalaborfederationoeliminateiscriminationndsegregationwithin ocalunions.Thisisespeciallytrue ofthecraftnionsnthebuildingandconstructionradeswherethetradi--tionalnti-Negroracticesasicallyre-main ineffect.Efforts toeliminatediscriminatory-practicesithinradeunionshavebeenpiecemealndnadequatendusuallyheresult fprotestycivilrightsgencies-acting nbehalffNegroworkers.TheNationalAFL-CIOhasrepeatedlye-fused o take ctionn itsownnitiative.*This rticles basedponreportadeat the AnnualMeetingftheNationalAssociationor heAdvancementfColoredPeopleonJanuary,1961,nNewYork'City.In toomanyasesyearsaveelapsedbe-tweenthe filingfa complaint y anaggrievedworkerandacknowledgmentandnvestigationy theFederation,fn-deed there sanyactiont all.Discriminatoryacialpracticesy tradeunions renot implysolatedr occasion-al expressionsf local biasagainst ol-oredworkers,utrather,stherecordindicates,continuationfthe institu-tionalizedatternfanti-Negromploy-mentpracticeshatistraditional ithlargeectionsforganizedabor andin-dustrialmanagement.ThepatternfunionresponsibilityorjobdiscriminationgainstNegroessnotlimitedo any oneareaofthecountryor to somefewndustriesr unionuris-dictionsut involvesmanyunionsn awidevarietyfoccupationsn manufac-turingndustries,killedrafts,ailroadsandmaritimerades sforexample,heSeafarersnternationalnionwhichper-atesunion-controllediringallsonGreatLakesports uchsDuluth,Chicago,e-troit,levelandndBuffalo. Asasys-tematicracticehisunionwilldispatchonlyNegroworkersor menial obsasmessmennthegalleydepartmentsfshipsoperatingnderS.I.U. collectivebargaininggreements.OvertheyearsNegromembersftheSeafarersnterna-tional Unionhaverepeatedlyrotestedthispractice,uttono availastheunionontinuesiscriminatoryob assign-ments n itshiringalls.On occasionne or two Negroesave
109
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110THEJOURNALOFNEGROEDUCATIONbeenadmitted ntoanall-white ocalunions atokenompliance ithstateormunicipalfairemploymentracticelaw aswithhenternationalrotherhoodofElectricalWorkers nCleveland;heBricklayersnMilwaukeendthe Rail-wayClerksnMinneapolis,utthis s es-sentiallylimitedndstrategicdjust-menttocommunityressurend repre-sentsverydubious"progress."Certainlyhetokenadmission fafewNegroesnto anelectricalworkersunionnClevelandanno morebe re-gardedsintegrationhancanthetokenadmissionftwoorthreeNegrohildrenintoSouthernublicchool.Thererealsomanynstanceswhereunionshaveremovedhe"lily-white"xclusionlausefromheironstitutionsspublicelationsgesturesutcontinuedoexcludeNegroesfrommembershipytacitonsent.Aslong as unionmembershipemainsaconditionfemploymentn thebuild-ingtrades,nthe railroadsndelsewhereandqualifiedNegroesarebarredfromunionmembershipolely ecauseftheircolor,hentradeunion discriminationsthedecisive actorndetermininghetherNegroworkersnagivenndustryhallhaveanopportunityoearnalivingorthemselvesnd their amilies.Thisises-peciallyrue ntheconstructionndustrywhere AFL-CIObuildingradesunionsexercisehighdegreefcontrol verc-cesstoemployment.AFL-CIO affiliatednionsaretodayguiltyfdiscriminatoryacialpracticesnfourategories:utrightxclusionfNe-groes,egregatedocals, eparateaciale-niorityinesncollectiveargaininggree-mentsandexclusionofNegroesfromapprenticeshiprainingprogramson-trolledylaborunions.As fortheFederation'sivilRightsDepartment,tsperformanceould seem?to indicate hat ts majorfunctions tocreate "liberal"ublic relationsmagerather han oattack hebroad attern fanti-Negropractices within affiliatedunions. TheCivil Rights ommitteefthe AFL-CIOistheonly standing om-mitteentheFederation hosechairmanis not amember f the Federation'sExecutiveCounciland/or he presidentof an internationalnion. The rigid ro-tocolof thenational aborfederationn- dicateshat such apersons notin
at
positionoimpose policy ponan inter-national rlocal unionbut must onfinehimself oissuing declarations nd to,exercisinguchpersuasions hecan mus-ter. More often hannot,hiseffortsrefruitless.
ORGANIZED LABOR INTHE SOUTH
Thethreatfseveralocal unions nthe SouthtoorganizeSouthern edera- tionfLaborhasclearlyotmaterialized.However,neisforced onote thattheWhite CitizensCouncilsbegan takingcontrolfsome ocalAFL-CIO affiliatessoonafterheSupremeourtdecisionf1954inthechool egregationases. Be-cause thenationaleadershipforganizedlaborhas madet apracticeo avoid asmuch nternal onflictnracial ssuess.possible,heKuKlux Klan and WhiteCitizensouncilforces,speciallynAla-bama,havemovedntomanyocal unionsandmadethem,neffect,irtual xten-sionsofsegregationistrganizations.As aresult,egroworkershroughouttheSouth reexperiencingnacuteenseof alienationndrejectionromrganizedlabor. This becomesncreasinglyvidentinananalysisfNegro votingehaviorinunion certificationlections onductedbytheNationalLaborRelations oard.Althought isnotpossibleogetanof-
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