Monday, June 3, 2013

Railroaded 2: how white quotas and special preferences blockade black employment and training

[b]In numerous cities, white quotas and job reservations imposed by white unions froze qualified blacks out of employment in the building trades. White unions used “gentleman’s agreements” with employers to oust black workers or keep them out, confinement to “colored” areas (but whites could displace blacks in these areas at will), denial of apprenticeship training, and second-class “colored” auxiliary unions. Cities like Miami mirrored cities nationwide. [/b]- QUOTE:

“Throughout the first half of the decade, not a single construction-related union admitted black applicants, no matter how highly qualified. This left black craftsmen, who were determined to work as skilled mechanics.. with little recourse but to form their own unions.. Generally these organizations served as segregated auxiliaries of the regular white unions..

These Jim Crow unions had difficulty conducting business. Discriminatory hiring-hall practices, for instance, limited the scope of employment for African-Americans. Invariable, white union bosses enforced “gentlemen's agreements” restricting black operatives to job sites in “colored” districts while reserving all work in white areas for whites. During the mid-1950s, union managers violated these covenants whenever business in white areas tapered off, however, “furloughing” black artisans so that out-of-work whites could find employment in black neighborhoods..

[b]White quota enforcers collected money from black unionists in second-class auxiliaries, but failed to deliver apprenticeship training that would have helped black workers progress. They took the money, then shafted the blacks.[/b]  QUOTE:

Workmen in “colored” auxiliaries paid union dues to the main local, but they seldom received voting rights or other privileges.. labor contracts secured for white union members. Furthermore, not one of Miami’s segregated unions allowed its black members to receive apprenticeship training, effectively denying them access to the craft opportunities and vocational instruction that prepared white operatives for career advancement.”
--Eric Tscheschlol, 1977. “So Goes The Negro”: Race and Labor in Miami, 1940-1963. Florida Historical Quarterly, Summer 1997, 42-67

[b]Local white government regimes, working in tandem with white unions even gave them control over some vocational training in schools, which they used to deliver watered down, low-quality training for low-level “negro jobs” [/b] QUOTE:

“..the city's conservative leadership accorded flag-waving AFL organizations carte blanche to tighten racial controls. In the early 1950s, therefore, union officials were allowed to dictate the curricula of black vocational schools in Dade County. Predictably, labor leaders compelled these schools to offer training in traditional “colored” trades only, so that black graduates could not compete in white-dominated fields.’
--Eric Tscheschlol, 1977. “So Goes The Negro”: Race and Labor in Miami, 1940-1963. Florida Historical Quarterly, Summer 1997, 42-67

[b]White quotas not only froze out qualified blacks and blocked blacks from training but intimidated employers who sought to hire blacks, even threatening violence when white employers attempted to give black workers a chance- hampering black progress [/b]  QUOTE:

“Unions representing carpenters, painters, tilesetters, sheetmetal workers, and nearly all other building tradesmen held firmly to the color bar, refusing to admit qualified black mechanics.. By the same token, union leaders continued to enforce covenants preventing black artisans from working outside “colored” areas. And not infrequently, union officials maintained this arrangement by compelling contractors to refuse jobs to black workmen. In 1955 for example, when one contractor attempted to employ African-American carpenters on a “white” project, he was informed by the AFL  business agent that “he’d better lay off if he didn't want something to happen to his building.” Even the newly integrated bricklayers local adopted a policy prohibiting the use of interracial work details..

In the early 1960s, several state agencies documented the extent of racial bias in Miami  unions... The Florida Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights made similar observations in 1963.. The committee detected blatant patterns of color-based exclusion in many locals, white reporting that gentleman's agreements remained pervasive in building-trades unions.. A plumber's union spokesman meanwhile, indicated that black apprentices were not welcome in his field due to the “close physical association required for instruction.”
--Eric Tscheschlol, 1977. “So Goes The Negro”: Race and Labor in Miami, 1940-1963. Florida Historical Quarterly, Summer 1997, 42-67

Even as they cynically urged blacks to "pull themselves up" whites moved to block them when they did just that. Whites attacked and murdered blacks who tried to go into business for themselves, and white law enforcement stood by while it happened. Ida B. Wells,  well known civil rights activist of the first half of the 20th century experienced white greed and violence along these lines first-hand.

"In March 1892, violence struck close to [Ida B.] Wells. Her close friend Tom Moss, along with two of his friends and their supporters, were arrested for defending themselves against an attack on Moss̢۪s store. Moss was a highly respected figure in the black community, a postman as well as the owner of a grocery store. A white competitor, enraged that Moss̢۪s store had drawn away his black customers, hired some off-duty deputy sheriffs to destroy it. Moss and his friends, not knowing the men were deputies, resisted. A gun battle broke out, and several deputies were wounded. Late one night, masked vigilantes dragged Moss and his two friends from their cells, took them to a deserted railroad yard, and shot them to death. Enraged by Moss's death, Wells lashed out at the refusal of Memphis police to arrest the well-known killers."
--Richard Wormser. 2003. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

Nixon administration took on discriminatory white unions in the 1970s
QUOTE from one conservative writer:

"The Nixon Administration was eager to guarantee fair hiring practices in construction and chose Philadelphia as a test site. In the words of Nixon's assistant labor secretary, Arthur Fletcher, "The craft unions and the construction industry are among the most egregious offenders against equal opportunity laws.. openly hostile toward letting blacks into their closed circle."
--Phil Valentine. 2016. The Conservatives Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z

Quotas are nothing new, and originated in the 1930s to help white union members discriminated against due to union membership, recognizing that merely saying "please stop" would do nothing to redress the damage inflicted.  In like manner Cuurts have ordered "make whole" remedies using quotas to redress damage done to working people directly impacted by discrimination. QUOTE:

"Backward, redneck segregationists, hanging onto the last vestiges of institutionalized racism in Alabama, attracted the wrath of the Supreme Court in 1987. In United States v. Paradise, the Alabama Stat Department of Public Safety had thumbed its nose at a 1970 federal court ruling orering an end to its systematic discrimination against black state troopers. At the time of that ruling, there was not a single black on the force. Twelve years after the federal court ruling, no black state trooper had been advanced beyond entry level. In response, the federal court ordered racial quotas to end the "pervasive, systematic and obstinate discriminatory exclusion of blacks."
--Phil Valentine. 2016. The Conservatives Handbook: Defining the Right Position on Issues from A to Z

The above are only the tip of the iceberg on how white affirmative action systematically blocked, sandbagged and hindered black progress. They are worth remembering in an era where in many quarters a campaign of distortion and deception posits a pious white concern with "merit", and demonizes alleged "vast quotas for blacks"- when in fact the allegedly vast quotas are non-existent, and it was whites themselves that created and imposed white affirmative action quotas, preferences and set-asides (using violence and intimidation at times) to blockade black training and employment, and sandbagged qualified blacks in numerous fields. Pious posturings of white innocence, cannot hide the record of history.


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