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Unionization of Black Workers & the CIO

In its rivalry with the AFL, the CIO initiated a massive unionization drive in 1936. CIO leaders realized that the infusion of large numbers of blacks into the organization was critical to the union's success. Therefore, the CIO espoused a non-discriminatory policy and became the first union to admit blacks under the same conditions as whites: "There were no constitutional bars, no segregation of blacks into separate locals, no Jim Crow rituals" (Foner, 1974, p. 216). At the CIO's first constitutional convention in 1938, its membership unanimously resolved to endorse voting rights for blacks in the South and further adopted a resolution to initiate an intensive organizing campaign in that part of the country. In the South, CIO organizers routinely faced vicious opposition from white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan.

Foner (1974) contends that the CIO made definite gains for black workers. Due to CIO organizing activity, black membership in unions increased fivefold during the decade between 1930 and 1940 (Foner, 1974, p. 231). Union membership meant economic advancement for a significant number of blacks: "The CIO's organizing campaigns in many industries brought higher incomes, better working conditions, a


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