AFL-CIO considers allowing blacks to join, too

(Socialist Workers web site)

The AFL-CIO is trying to figure out its future. The Long Shoremen have voted to leave the AFL-CIO over Obamacare.

Those with a little more insight into the history of the Labor unions know that they grew in the United States specifically to try to keep blacks out of the work force. Henry Ford in particular employed a lot of black workers (and immigrants from Lebanon and Syria) in order to prevent his company from being unionized. The UAW was formed at General Motors which had been consolidating the various other car makers in Michigan. The ultimately forced Ford to have to cave to the UAW, putting the Arab American and black workers in conflict with each other – former mayor Coleman Young had been an UAW organizer at Ford.

But it wasn’t just the car companies – it was police and fire unions, construction workers, longshoremen… by taking the choice of who to hire away from the company, and putting an emphasis on relatives of existing union workers, and seniority (last hired, first fired), unions were very much focused on keeping black workers out of the work force. Those guys in KKK uniforms more than likely were carrying union cards – the areas with the highest activity by the KKK were areas in the North where blacks from the Great Northern Migration came in conflict with the White labor unions

It’s very ironic then that the NAACP is now discussing affiliating with the AFL-CIO. Have they forgotten the history or did President Obama just conquer the socialist labo[u]r movement in the United States?

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5 Responses to AFL-CIO considers allowing blacks to join, too

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Crazy uncle Joe, like a broken clock, turns out to be right sometimes – it really is a “big fricken deal” 😉

  2. HPaws says:

    Can you recommend a book to learn more about this?

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      Art is summarizing an old chapter of history… here is the new chapter of the same book summarized in about as many words as Art used for the old chapter:

    • Art Stone says:

      This was one of the points hammered on a lot by Ken Hamblin before he suddenly vanished from syndication.

      Ford found the Chaldean Arabs to be good workers and brought them into the Detroit area to work in Highland Park and the steel mills and foundry down river – hence the large Arab American population in Dearborn only a portion of which are Muslims. Because he was so familiar with the Arab people and standing up for them, and his dislike of bankers, he was branded eventually as being anti Jewish.

      One of the books on my book shelf is “the decline and fall of the American Auto Industry” by Brock Yates. I read it when I arrived at Oldsmobile to try to understand what was going on.

      For instance, one of the perverse incentives that I learned was that when it was time for the UAW contract to run out, the car companies tried to get the UAW to pick them as the strike target.

      Why? The government forced the concept of a single “blanket” contract for the entire industry. The company being struck gets to do the negotiation with the UAW and NLRB – GM would offer up benefits they knew Ford couldn’t afford or otherwise complicated their operations.

      Another huh? moment was when the car companies were shrinking in the 1980s, the union’s position became they wanted the people with the most seniority to be laid off first. They would get 90+% of what they would make, could work for cash doing other stuff, continue earning years of service toward their pension, be able to buy two cars a year at deep discounts so they could drive for free and sell the cars for a profit, etc…

      I learned a lot from reading a book on African American history – it won’t be hard to find the connections with labor unions keeping blacks out of union jobs.

      The car industry was the exception to the rule – because they needed so much labor after WW II and car assembly didn’t require lots of education, the car companies recruited heavily in the South. For blacks, it was a way out of the South – but with the notable exception of Flint Michigan, they found the North to be at least as segregated as the South. The Chicago Planning Department maps had various sections if the city assigned to various ethnic groups.

  3. Nidster says:

    Blame it on those ‘rascly ‘republicans, again….”the spread of right-to-work laws [and] the decades-long decline in union membership is threatening to become a rout.”

    If unions are already scrambling for new members wait until those ‘rascly ‘republicans pass Immigration Reform and the flood gates are opened for truly low-cost, low-information workers from 3rd world countries.

    And, to underscore just how out-of-touch the AFL-CIO leadership really are, they strongly support al-Obama’s mantra that al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. Of course once more reports like the following article receives widespread coverage even that position could crack open and may widen into a bottomless chasm…

    “After US-backed Syrian opposition forces released Italian journalist Domenico Quirico and Belgian academic Pierre Piccinin from captivity Sunday, Piccinin told Belgium’s RTL television Monday that the opposition had carried out the chemical attacks in Ghouta.”

    This is yet another indication that the US-European drive to war against Syria—based on claims that the Syrian regime carried out the August 21 Ghouta attack—is a provocation and a lie.

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