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The SG signature Papers

This microfilm series is available at the Library of Congress, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the George Meany Memorial Archives, the U.S. Department of Labor Library, and serveral university libraries.

Executive Council Minutes

Reel 4
July 1913 meeting:

1355, p. 35,: George E. Haynes of Urban League on educating Negroes to trade union principles

1369, p. 64, July 1913, EC will gladly receive the cooperation of Urban League

September 1913 meeting:

1415, p. 41, re: Urban League and Labor Dept. Appropriation

January 1914 meeting:

1469, p. 29, black Railway Carmen's union

Reel 5

October 1917 meeting:

1444, pp. 347-9, Carter to SG, 11-1-17, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers won’t affiliate because AFL
would somehow make them admit blacks:“You have explained to me personally that no such result would follow.”

December 1917 meeting:

1486, pp. 26-29: meeting with black representatives

November 1918 meeting:

1612, p. 281, Re: John Riley and Negro Labor and War Production meeting.

Reel 6

May 1919 meeting:

1021 deferred action on chartering Black Trainmen of Houston

1021 denied charter to Silver Employees of Canal Zone (black)

1024 Black Trainmen’s Protective Association request for charter referred for a conference

October 1919 meeting:

1101, 47, black railway union charters

December 1919 meeting:

1167 holds off on charter application for Black Railway Trainmen of Wilmington, NC

1176, turns down black union charters

February-March 1920 meeting:

1227, p. 74, re: black workers.

1268 black representatives; Executive Council does not agree with organizing along racial lines

May 1920 meeting:

1284 charter for Black Railway Coach and Car Cleaners denied.

1287, p. 41, various black charters denied

May 1921 meeting:

1528, p. 37, Resolution 74 re: Black Freight Handlers

August 1921 meeting:

1544 Resolution 11, to organize unskilled and Resolution 32 to organize and educate all wage earners, apparently
including black workers

1551, p. 21, Ethel Smith et al to EC, 8-16-21, re: problem of International unions not accepting women. Equates
their request for Federal Labor Unions to AFL policy towards blacks. [more on this follows through p. 29]

September 1922 meeting:

1192 Res. 32, re: black Boilermakers’ Helpers

1194, pp. 11-12, black freight handlers resolution

Reel 7

Feb. 14-20, 1923

1276 Organizers of the proposed International Federation of Warehouse Employees want to include black freight handlers; “They are not eligible to the Railway Clerks organization for the reason that the constitution of that organization designates that only white persons shall be eligible, and the colored freight handlers have not had proper representation before the Railroad Labor Board.”


1432 Agreement re: Colored Helpers in RR shops, 55-59 [more, 60]

1439 BM Jewell to FM, 2-16-24, they decide against the agreement re: colored helpers, above.

AFL Convention Files

Reel 27

2269 memo, 2-28-16, notes meeting with James O’Connell and Mr. Armistead Goode, black organizer, of Portsmouth,
re: Res. 64, to appoint special organizer; Goode is appointed for 2 months

Reel 28

1570 Forrester to SG 11-15-16, Negro migration north

2246 Frayne to SG, 1-28-18, re: his meeting with Harris about organizing black workers [another letter, written that same morning follows; includes call for Conference on Negro Labor in America, National Urban League;
points out that no AFL representatives ere asked to participate; NB, this letter is very hard to read.]

2249 Thompson to SG, 3-16-18, re: Black RR Helpers and Laborers

2256 Synopsis of meeting with Black representatives re: organizing, 4-22-18, and some notes on black union workers.

Reel 29

2702 [Unidentified] to SG, 6-24-19, letter is incomplete; however it deals with great migration of Negroes to the north; writer might be Emmett Flood, as it is from Chicago and deals with impact on packing house workers. Also deals with East St. Louis riot in 1917.

2747 Carter to Frank Morrison, 10-30-19, re: organizing black non government workers in Panama Canal Zone. The July 28, 199 letter referred to can be found a few frames back. [Reply follows; EC votes to return charter fee on a technicality.]

2158 Frank Clark to SG, 7-14-19, re: AFL’s anti lynching resolution; suggests it’s unfair to the South; also notes that blacks are not shot down for trying to get work in the South as they were in East St. Louis.

2159 Huggs to SG, n.d., Black Men’s Civic Association – thanks for anti lynching resolution. Notes that with AFL’s help they could join unions to help hold up banner of justice.

Reel 30
1600 James Weldon Johnson to Editor, American Federationist, 2-18-21, NAACP pamphlet re: disenfranchising black Americans in 1920 election.

1607 Mojica to SG, Vargas, and Lord, 7-18-20, re: AFL convention res. claiming Panama Canal work for white American workers. [SG replies, 11-30-20, 1615]

1617 T. J. Rath, secretary to Wm. F. Kramer, Blacksmiths, 2-16-21, gives information re: ethnic/skill breakdown of labor force in Panama Canal Zone. Notes that alien white labor usually gets same wage as American white for similar work; notes that to organize Negro aliens is to create a menace or danger to American skilled workmen of the Canal Zone, i.e., should the alien mechanics become organized as skilled crafts and be given equal rights, “we will suffer the loss of many jobs by gradual intrusion. We have been striving to make this an American job.” Not opposed to their organizing and improving admittedly poor conditions, but does not want aliens “intruding” on skilled labor’s work. Also wants them affiliated with Pan American Federation of Labor, not AFL so crafts won’t be drawn into their fights.

Reel 31

1165 6-22-[21] Negro Exodus from the South Conference, Chicago; “Whether we like it or not, negro ownership as such is gone.”

1176 Fitzgerald to SG, 8-3-21, re: negotiating for black freight handlers

1187 Meeting 9-2-21 with black freight handler representatives. Another copy follows that is difficult to read; however, it picks ups where this leaves off, 1189 – no real discussion recorded; mostly administrative information, including delegates with addresses and local union numbers. Election of officers, p.15, 1190; notes SG made an impressive address but it is not recorded here; lots of memos and information follow.

1209 Shurtleff to Thomas, 10-9-21, Shurtleff is organizer in charge of black freight handlers’ campaign. [NB, lots of correspondence
from Shurtleff on this reel]

1216 Shurtleff to SG, 12-7-21, more on the campaign and pretty good on race.

1218 Coles et al, to Shurtleff, 11-25-21, complaint re: organizer Worthy

1232 Shurtleff to Sir and Brother, 1-8-22, notes there are 73 freight handler unions.

Reel 32

1459 minimum wage conference, 4-26-23; notes that Supreme Court has held minimum wage law for women and minors unconstitutional and wages have been reduced as a result; Miss Smith notes that colored girls most likely to be cut.

1466, minutes, 5-3-23, minimum wage conference; 5-2-23 minutes included thru p. 5;p. 8, notes that Woodward and Lothrop only reduced wages of colored personnel; those who refused the cut were fired; Woodies also made it clear that they did not want the trade of city union members so could not care less about campaign; p. 9 efforts to organize colored Woodie employees; most black employees in hotel and restaurant work, not mercantile establishments [51% of total employees] and laundry [81%];notes Mr Berberich’s argument – do the hotel men want another race riot in DC?; apparently that was how they got the minimum wage there. Had a harder time with laundries. Miss Smith says she brings it up because of the sentiment existing in regard to wages of colored workers even among the white workers and what the committee will be up against and that in this organizing campaign there should be some way we can put over to the workers themselves the necessity for the single standard. Suggests organizing a colored organization “Get the colored workers to support the movement so they won’t be underbidders and cut the ground from under our feet."

1472, June 15 1923 minutes, hold off on organizing colored laundry workers; 1473, June 29, notes total lack of interest on the part of local people

2403 Wallace to SG, 11-24-23, memo re: AFT criticism of proposed Dept of Education bill; also black teachers' criticism.

National and International Union File

Reel 34

1106 Letters re: Black workers in Canal Zone: Hussey to Alifas, 1-13-20, Machinist local in Cristobal, “emphatically” does not take them in. “We try to keep the black fellows as far away from our locals and work as we can no matter where they belong.” Kenyon to Alifas, 1-25-20, makes the same comment; local continues to live up to the Machinist obligation, not “to propose any other than a sober and industrious white machinist for membership.”

1108 Hughes to Morrison, 12-3-19, Teamsters in Panama Canal Zone only takes in whites [N.B., Morrison is asking all the unions with locals in Canal Zone if they take in “blacks.”]

1108 Duffy to Morrison, 12-3-19, if black carpenters can qualify if they are eligible; notes that in canal region blacks employed on less skilled work, and are paid less, causing friction.

1109 Kramer to Morrison, 12-3-19, Blacksmiths do not take black workers into white locals; however, they can organize separately if white local agrees.

1110 Weeks to Morrison, 12-4-19, Railway Carmen locals do not take black members; Same with Masters, Mates and Pilots, Tennywood to Morrison, 12-8-19; Stillman to Morrison. 12-3-19, notes that some teachers unions in North take them in, in South they charter separate locals; doesn’t know about Canal Zone; H. M. Comerford to Morrison, 12-3-19, International Union allows them but locals do not comply; says members in Panama Canal zone are especially racist; RR Telegraphers, all white

2588 McCarthy to Morrison, 9-26-18, Boilermakers’ refusal to take in black workers ruined Fore River organizing campaign [reply precedes, 9-28-28]. Refers to allegedly “trained” black critics of segregated unions.

2589 Morrison to Flynn, 10-2-18, more on above; more follows, 10-17-18

2593 Flynn to Morrison, 11-13-19, black boilermakers [more follows]

2673 Nee to Morrison, 8-11-17, wants a black organizer in Portsmouth, VA [reply precedes, see 8-23-17, which precedes reply]

2676 Sause to Morrison, 4-8-18 and Morrison to Sause, 4-10-18, re: organizing railroad laborers including blacks.

2677 Ryan to Morrison, 4-8-18; wants AFL to organize black Federal Labor Union at La Junta for black railway shopmen who “are not eligible for membership”; Morrison to Ryan, 4-24-18, follows; Federation is not in a position to place an organizer” in La Junta.

2678 Sause to Morrison, 4-12-18, more on above and on general organizing in Altoona. [Morrison response, 4-15-18, follows; tells him to organize Laborers and send application to him.]

2679 SG to Franklin, 5-9-18, re: organizing black Boilermakers in Florida; 4-27 letter referred to follows; includes information re: workers involved; other letters follow referring to this.

2695 Smith to Morrison, 2-8-20, re: black boilermakers in Texas

Reel 35
2531 Duffy to SG, 8-9-17, Black men, white women, East St. Louis riot.

2073 Sullivan to SG, 7-12-17, re: black business agent and Washington, D.C. Hotel and Restaurant Employes’ union.

2074 Castelli to SG, 8-21-17, re: Black restaurant workers

2085 Sullivan to Morrison, 10-2-18, Hotel and Restaurant workers’ union claims black railroad car cleaners.

Reel 37
2107 Diggs to Morrison, 5-24-15, re: color line; "We black engineers have to live as well as the white ones" [lots of correspondence follows; there's another case involved as well; Morrison's reply, 6-5-15, 2108]

2341 Healy to SG, 11-5-23, re: colored machinist helpers federal laborl union charters in the South; says these helpers should be tranferred to Brotherhood of Firemen and Oiler locals: When boilermakers and machinists change their constitutions to admit blacks, union will turn over those belonging to them.[more follows, context, 2342, Healey to FM, 11-5-23; FM to Franklin, 11-12-23 re Healey’s letter but it is hard to read; notes that SG said he had no authority to make the change but wants a meeting to be called to submit subject to EC; 2343, FM replies to Healy, 11-12-23; says SG says EC has to consider the matter]

Reel 38

2089 Sullivan to Morrison, 2-3-19, hard to read; he is opposed to lower scale black unions; won’t let admit Asians at all.

1317 Clark to FM, 5-7-23, Does AFL have a black organizer to assist Flints in Columbus, Ohio? [FM’s reply follows, 5-9-23, no black organizer on payroll; he sends P.F. Duffy, 6-15-23 telegram follows; for more on organizing campaign, see Clarke to FM, 6-5-23, 1318]

Reel 39
1581 Arthur Keep to SG, 5-25-17, re: organizing blacks in Jacksonville; "The success achieved has been considerable." "The negro needs to be properly handled."

2248 Roach to SG, 1-27-19, re: black machinist not eligible for IAM.

2460 J. Cohen to Morrison, 10-13-19, interesting twist: Shop Craft trades want black helpers back!

Reel 41

2278: Morrison to Seal, 9-27-18, re: black workers and Maintenance of War union; “The division of the black workers in separate locals is a provision that is necessary in some localities and there is no need for complaint on this score. There will be, however,
if they are not getting the same representation on the basis of taxation as is accorded to other lodges.”

2456 Scully to Morrison, 2-20-20, Cement Workers (Plasterers) local in Detroit elected black Business Agent

Reel 42

2717, FM to Barrett, 5-17-23, mentions black migration[nb, FM to McMahon, 5-17-23, notes that Barrett is an organizer].

Reel 43

2548 Richie to Morrison, 1-28-20, organizing Black RR Clerks [Reply, 2-3-20, 2550]

2616 Fenstenacher to FM, 3-20-23, re: colored freight handlers want a white representative; is that proper?

2616 FM to Fenstenacher, 3-27-23, reply to above. Why not? Also notes that Southern System Bd of Arbitration has separate Bd of Adjudication for black workers.

Reel 45
1228 Welch to Morrison, 7-11-18, won’t accept black members [Morrison’s reply follows]

1367 Morrison to Wm. Weeks, 3-26-18, re: black car cleaners in St. Louis

1367 Ryan to Morrison, 3-27-19, White and black car cleaners entitled to same conditions. Ryan does not claim jurisdiction over black workers, however. Enclosed in Morrison to Ryan, 3-29-19.

1370 FM [7-23-22] Circular re: Colored Car Cleaners and RR Carmen’s Union [correspondence from local member to Ryan follows, 1371]

1384, FM to Chambers, more on Colored Cleaners – urges them to join Joint Protective Bd so they can voice their dissatisfaction. [more follows]

1389 Shoemaker to T. H. Flynn, 6-24-21, re: organizing black workers at Ralston’s Steel Car Plant

2067 Lampson to Morrison, 5-28-18, organizing black teachers

Reel 49
1060 [8–1-22] Conference re: black freight handlers – very hard to read; SG statement p. 3-6

Reel 51
1476 Wynn to SG, 6-3-18, a Pullman porter wants to organize [note, there’s plenty of correspondence here re: formation of Pullman Employees union]

1479 Sullivan to Morrison, 10-2-18, re: black Pullman car cleaners

President's Correspondence

Reel 85

312 Carter to SG, 6-23-17, if railroads use war to substitute black for white firemen, there will be trouble

557 Gleitz to Holder, 7-2-17, in Cleveland, Erie RR Shops are using white women to run drill press machines
and black women to wipe engines. “I am under the impression they are working 9 hours and receive 25 cents
per hour. The men receive 42 cents.”

590 Gleitz to Holder, 7-3-17, re: the Negro is playing vital role in Cleveland manufacturing:. “It was discussed
at our Lodge meeting of Lodge 83 last night, and if there is not some legislation passed that will prevent them
from importing the Black man we are going to see one of the worse race wars that has ever existed.”

848. SG to Daniels, 7-12-17, he passes on telegram re: Negroes sent to Jamestown to undercut Building Trades Council

Reel 86
295 Shea to SG, 7-23-17, B&O employing Negro firemen, union succeeded in having them removed.

Reel 88

324 Flood to SG, 9-18-17, packing house campaign; notes cooperation of building trades in Denver; then his view of William Z. Foster and Anton Johnston; Also corruption in Chicago’s Janitors union involving black organizer Simms. [More on Simms and Flood, Fitzpatrick to SG, 9-25-17, p. 675; this gives a very different picture, Simms is hard working and underpaid, says Fitzpatrick who has known him for 18 years.]

601 Horne to SG, 9-22-17, trouble at Norfolk ship yards: plumbers, pipefitters, shipsmiths, boilermakers want the
same wages as machinists and Metal Trades Council pledges to back them up [more, 625; 651; note Wilson to SG.
9-24-17, 656, adds that whites and black riggers, drillers and tappers are out–others just white; more, 666]

Reel 89
625 J. E. Smith to SG, 10-31-17, Armour worker discharged for not “learning” black workers; strike threatened.
[Smith’s letter to Flood, 11-3-17, 708, gives details]

502 Cupinski to Flood, 10-29-17, packers firing “6 of our best negroes” in Omaha.

Reel 91
136 Jackson to SG, 1-1-18, Bureau of Negro Economics

479 Jackson to SG, 1-14-18, more on Bureau of Negro Economics [SG replies, 745]

Reel 93
33 Giles Jackson to SG, 3-2-18, more on Bureau of Negro Economics – asks for a conference.

433 Sullivan memo to SG, 3-19-18, re: appointments for black men to tour the South on production of food
and promoting patriotism. Reports that black representative want church to make the appointments.

Reel 97
172 Ethelbert Barbour to SG 8-8-18, apparently a black attorney in Oklahoma who wants to organize trainmen.
Letters of endorsement follow.

Reel 99
260 Blackwell to SG, 12-12-18, Chicago Defender elated at SG’s optimistic point of view re: Negroes.
Abraham Lincoln freed them socially; SG destined to free them industrially

Reel 102
190, Eugene K. Jones, National Urban League, to SG, 9-12-19, notes plans for convention on labor problems called by Woodrow Wilson, but has seen no mention of Negro labor problems; urges selection of a black representative. Mentions AFL resolution to included black members. [199, form letter reply -- will consider his suggestion.]

255 Jones to SG, 9-17-19, re: securing competent Negro to attend President’s Conference will help.

Reel 103
866 R. Lee Guard to Oyster, re: AAISW pulling out of Steel Workers Organizing Committee; also mentions 5-3-20 meeting to consider use of Negroes as strikebreakers in steel strike. Includes letter from Fitzpatrick, 4-14-20.

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