Unions Now

The ticklish problem of racial discrimination that has been consistently side-stepped during peacetime complacency is now on the fire and is rapidly coming to a boil. The poll tax is on the spot and an even more important question has been raised with the labor unions as a result of the all-out production necessity of hiring more Negroes. In many cases Negroes are not given equal rights in unions that are designed to be the voice of all the workers. Often colored workers are refused membership, a refusal which may later ham-string plants with closed shop agreements.

Not all unions at fault, and neither the CIO nor the AF of L have any national ruling against Negro workers. In fact, the CIO is actively engaged in stamping out such practices whenever they are noticed. The AF of L is the main offender. Labor leader Green merely shrugs his shoulders and pleads impotence when a union under his organization such as Kaiser's record-breaking shipbuilders refuse an equal voice to all races. Negroes can join and pay dues, but they have to hold separate meetings and they are allowed no representation in national conventions.

It's labor's next move and whichever way it goes, the decision will be crucial. If national labor leaders force local unions to drop these discriminations because of practical purposes now, a precedent may be established that will be the key to racial equality in the post war world. The situation invites action. The time is now, the place is labor.