By Lisa Phillips
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Additional info for A Renegade Union: Interracial Organizing and Labor Radicalism
The few African American men who had found jobs in New York’s various industries as skilled, semiskilled, or unskilled tradesmen or as waiters in the 1870s and 1880s were pushed out of these jobs by upwardly mobile German and Irish immigrants and their children and by newly arriving Jewish and Italian immigrants. Employers preferred to hire immigrants, and most labor unions made sure that any new, especially skilled and semiskilled, jobs were open only to their German and Irish sons. 12 World War I temporarily helped black New Yorkers move out of domestic jobs and into industrial jobs.
35 After Osman and the initial group of frustrated dry goods salesmen were “100% organized” and named officially, Osman and his fellow WDGW members confronted their boss with the need for a contract. Their boss signed, and they began operating under contract with “H. Eckstein and Company” in 1933. The WDGW initially operated independently, that is, without a parent union. Osman recalled proudly that the WDGW “got that [H. ” Osman was not alone. The combination of the economic crisis and prolabor legislation set the stage for many young men and women to find the self-respect they lacked in their jobs in union organizing.
More recently arrived Jewish immigrants were joined by Ital- 20 . 15 Whether moving out of manufacturing into the sale and distribution of garments was “white collar” in the sense of higher pay and higher status is questionable and depends on the type of wholesale establishment a person worked for and in what capacity. Jews working as skilled cutters or tailors in the garment industry often made more than small shop owners so, in that case, the assumption that white-collar work paid more does not hold.
A Renegade Union: Interracial Organizing and Labor Radicalism by Lisa Phillips
Categories: African American Studies