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False Hope for Black Workers from CIO

In essence, the SWOC adopted a policy of white supremacy: "Privileges of white workers were frozen, and highly discriminatory job-classification systems were strengthened by the acceptance of department, rather than plant-wide priority" (Goldfield, 1993, p. 11).

Goldfield (1993) concludes that although structural factors such as the racial and ethnic composition of the work force within a specified industry played a prominent role in the racial egalitarianism of CIO unions during the 1930s and 1940s, such factors were not sufficient in and of themselves. An example is the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). Although adopting an initial policy of racial egalitarianism, white leadership within the ILGWU became progressively racist as its nonwhite membership increased (Goldfield, 1993, p. 22).

A critical aspect in the egalitarian policies of industrial organizations is the tradeoffs between white supremacy and racial solidarity. According to Goldfield (1993): "For many white industrial workers, the benefits of successful solidarity, even on a day-to-day level, often outweighed the benefits of racial exclusion and division. In the long run, antiegalitarianism was a losing strategy for almost all workers" (p. 23). For this reason, the early unionization efforts of the steel industry were characterized by interracial solidarity as whites supported the struggles of blacks for equality.

Goldfield (1993) contends that the unions which experienced the most success in racial solidarity were left-led unions with interracial leadership. Even unions with large percentages of black rank-and-file members were often plagued by discrimination because the leadership was not committed to working for equality. In contrast, left-wing organizations recognized racial discrimination as an impediment to the objectives of socialism: "They tended to have and to promote more extensive Black leadership, organizers, and the gen...

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False Hope for Black Workers from CIO. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:58, August 18, 2017, from
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