Student Group Checking Racial Bias In Hiring Policies of Boston Firms
Students In Civil Rights: II
Racial discrimination in employment opportunities is a problem plaguing Negro communities throughout the urban areas of the Northeast. Laws designed to eliminate biased hiring procedures are easily evaded and provide little check on employers. This is the case in Massachusetts.
The widespread attitude of "northern saints and southern sinners" in regard to the race problem has been proven patently unwarranted by revelations of racial bias in many areas of Northern life.
One of the earliest campaigns against discrimination in employment was initiated by a group of 400 ministers in Philadelphia last year. Through the use of "selective buying," or boycotting, the ministers' group convinced a number of major firms to hire Negroes in other than the most menial of jobs.
Students Aid Urban League
This fall students from local colleges formed the Boston Action Group (BAG) to aid the Urban League and other organizations examining employment practices in the area. The new Civil Rights Coordinating Committee has chosen the BAG project as one of the three for which it will provide volunteer workers.
Prior to initiating any selective buying campaign BAG is examining the employment policies of Boston firms which are located in Negro districts and sell to Negro customers. It is primarily concerned with food companies which operate on a low profit margin and depend on regular customers. A boycott would be most effective against such firms.
Students are gathering information on employment policies by talking to workers, observing plant procedures, and asking for information from company officials. According to Karen M. Weissburg, a leader of BAG, they want to be perfectly sure discrimination exists before initiating any sort of a campaign.
Other students are canvassing Negro neighborhoods to discover how widely various products are used; only those with extensive distribution could be effectively boycotted. At the same time the canvassers are compiling a list of people who need jobs or want to attain better ones. Thus they will have a list of available workers if a company should decide to hire more Negroes.
A third purpose of the canvassing is to alert the Negro community to the possibility of a selective patronage campaign if discriminatory practices are confirmed. This is also being done through churches and community leaders who are being enlisted in the project.
Before undertaking any campaign BAG will present a firm with specific demands for the hiring of Negro workers and offer to negotiate. This approach often causes the company to relent immediately, Miss Weissberg said.
The Civil Rights Coordinating Committee will meet tomorrow at 8 p.m. In sever 5, not tonight as originally announced.