The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Meany: save us from lily-white unions

Too preoccupied with matters Indochinese at the moment.

But I record for future reference this, originally published in Harper's in 1971 under the title The Blacks and the Unions.

There was controversy over whether the Civil Rights Bill (which eventually became the Civil Rights Act of 1964) should have an FEPC provision (many earlier pieces here on previous attempts to enact an FEPC).

The AFL-CIO was strongly in favour. But only so that government could achieve what it could not (emphasis mine):
Both President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were opposed to including an FEPC section because they thought it would kill the bill, but George Meany pressed for it. He did so for a simple reason. The AFL-CIO is a federation of affiliates which retain a relatively high degree of autonomy. The parent body can urge compliance with its policies, but the decision to act is left up to the affiliates. Meany felt that the only way the AFL-CIO could deal effectively with unions practicing discrimination would be to demand compliance with the law of the land. He testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the labor movement was calling for "legislation for the correction of shortcomings in its own ranks." And the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act greatly speeded the process of this correction.

More on the CRA shenanigan here.

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