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Recently I visited two trade schools in New Orleans, one for Negroes and the other for whites. The Orleans Area Vocational & Technical School, which is for Negroes, offers only seven courses (app. A). The other school-Delgado Trades & Technical Institute for whitesoffers 47 courses (apps. B and C). Radar and communications equipment used at this school was valued at more than $1 million. One jet engine was said by the director to be valued at more than a half million dollars. This one item was worth more than six times the listed value of all the equipment of the trade school serving Negroes of New Orleans (app. E):
Most public utilities companies and aircraft, petroleum, and chemical companies with Government contracts are notorious for denying Negroes on-the-job training necessary for upgrading purposes. And as a recent article in the Negro Digest states, even Negro veterans who made significant contributions to the overall cause of freedom and victory in World War II are presently being denied on-the-job training and employment, which are available to white veterans under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act.
Someone has said that job discrimination begins at the hiring gate. I submit that job discrimination begins in the trade schools and apprenticeship training programs. And unless the barriers are removed as they relate to job training, the removal of barriers elsewhere will have only limited effect.
Discrimination by employment agencies: The role of the U.S. Employment Service is to bring the worker and the job together. However, in the Southwest, this agency often stands between the Negro and better job opportunities. It frequently directs Negroes into only traditional and menial jobs. Many USES offices continue to segregate Negro and white employees and to maintain separate files and make referrals according to race. Only a few of the 202 agencies have Negroes on their staff. And the Negro who, to my knowledge, has the longest service with USES alleges that Negroes are not promoted in accordance with their qualifications and seniority. This man was hired by the Dallas employment office as an interviewer 14 years ago. He still holds the same position. He told me recently, "On at least two occasions I have had to instruct my supervisors how to supervise."
Since there are more than 200 public employment offices in the Southwest, subsidized entirely with Federal funds, it seems that the Government could insist that these offices be operated in a manner compatible with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. This could certainly be done through a Federal act to insure equal employment opportunity to all.
Organized labor: Organized labor as a whole shouid be commended for not only raising the standard of living in the United States but for initiating many social and political reforms. Unfortunately for some minority groups, however, certain labor unions have and continue to practice the same type discrimination and bigotry which they decry in others.
Except for New Orleans, La., where Negroes have dominated the building trades crafts since the ante bellum days, Negroes are systematically excluded from unions throughout the region. And while Negro labor unions accepted whites in the building trades in New Orleans, the white unions were not so magnanimous and continue to exclude Negroes from the metal trades, such as plumbing, boilermakers, pipefitters, electricians, sheetmetal, welders, and others. Even during the war years, white union craftsmen in New Orleans would import white workers from out of State rather than utilize local Negro craftsmen.
It would be fallacious to assume that racial discrimination by labor unions is confined to building and metal trades. Negroes and other minority groups have been and continue to be victims of discrimination in petroleum, chemical, aircraft, communications, and other labor unions in this area.
Management: One of the chief and continuing responsibilities of management is not only to provide its employees with tools and directions necessary for doing an effective job, büt providing employees with the incentive to do well. For a large segment of minority group
workers in the Southwest there is no such incentive because there is no opportunity for learning new skills, being upgraded, or receiving increased wages.
Company after company continue to hire Negroes only in the capacity of laborers. Even those who are qualified to do semiskilled and skilled work are not given opportunities for advancement (apps. F and J).
In spite of some minor breakthroughs in public utilities and industries with Government contracts, the ratio of white and nonwhite workers in the Southwest region frequently runs several hundreds to
The effects of discrimination in employment: The effects of discrimination in employment because of race, religion, or color, are numerous and well known. They include low morale and low aspiration levels, low productions, misunderstanding, and ill will between the employees concerned, substandard diets and housing, sickness, debts, and finally relief.
The Social Security Administration, in Bureau of Public Assistance Report No. 42, entitled "Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of Families Receiving Aid to Dependent Children, Late 1958,” stated that the increase in ADC to non whites was closely related to the increase in unemployment among nonwhites. It was pointed out, for example, that in 1958, 13.7 percent of non white males in the labor force were unemployed, as against 6.1 percent of white males in the labor force.
Recently Labor Secretary Arthur Goldberg said that “almost 1 out of every 8 Negroes was unemployed, compared to the white group's rate of almost 1 out of 16." (Negro Digest, September 1961.)
Some say that the rate of employment among Negro workers is higher than indicated by the Secretary of Labor. But that's bad enough. For if we had 12 percent of the white workers in the United States unemployed, we would be in a major depression. Because of job discrimination against nonwhites in America these groups find themselves in a state of perpetual depression.
Some years ago, Mr. Elmo Roper, noted public opinion, marketing trends and employment attitudes analyst, stated that discrimination in employment was costing the United States $30 billion annually. Much of this loss is sustained in the Southwest region in wage differentials between white and nonwhite workers.
The people of New Mexico, both whites and non whites, feel that they have made some significant strides in race relations. And they have. However, the 1960 census report on social and economic characteristics of this state, shows that the median income for white males in 1959 was $4,101, as compared to only $2,009 for nonwhites. The total annual loss by nonwhites in wage income alone is almost $100 million.
In my home State, Louisiana, the median income for white males in 1959 (U.S. census for Louisiana, table 67, pp. 193–140) was $1,001, compared to only $1,565 for nonwhites. This represented a staggering loss of $2,436 for each male nonwhite worker. Further, this meant that the nonwhite worker's average income in the State of Louisiana in 1959 was only 41 percent of that of whites.
Because of wage differentials due to race, it seems safe to say that the 2,800,000 nonwhites in the Southwest are losing and, therefore, the region is losing more than $5 billion a year.
Findings and recommendations: In spite of the fact that more than 185 years ago the preamble to the Constitution of the United States proclaimed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to be the inalienable right of all men, and in spite of the enactment of amendments V and XIV to that Constitution, to secure and protect that right, economic freedom for minority groups-especially nonwhite minorities-in America, is far from attainment. This lack of freedom stems principally from discrimination in vocational and technical training and employment.
Many ill effects result from discrimination in employment. Among these: low morale, low production, substandard diet and housing, crimes, disease, and shortened life.
While there are not able exceptions, management, labor unions, employment agencies and vocational and technical institutions all contribute to the problem of job discrimination against certain minority groups.
In spite of some better jobs and increases in money wages by nonwhites during the past decade, the gap between the median incomes of non white and white workers increased an additional $861 or 50 percent annually. Should this trend continue, the average nonwhite workers soon will be forced to seek subsidy from the Federal Government in order to provide, for his family and himself, the barest necessities of life.
Automation is striking its heaviest blow at the ranks of semiskilled and unskilled labor. It is here that the minority of non white workers are to be found. It is they who will suffer most.
Not only do low incomes, artificially imposed upon certain persons in the Southwest, deny the Federal Government millions of dollars in taxes, but make it necessary for the Government to spend increased millions on its social and welfare programs.
But most significant of all is the fact that group discrimination in employment in this country reduces production and robs America of vital human resources which are sorely needed to meet the sinister challenge of atheistic communism. Ridding our country of discrimination in employment is not only necessary to our economy, our sense of justice and our position as recognized leader of the free world, but to survival itself.
Therefore, it is recommended:
1(a). That the Congress enact, during the current session, legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age or sex.
1(b). That the Congress enact enabling provisions to create the necessary agencies for the full and expeditious implementation of basic legislation.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Inasmuch as the chairman has to attend another conference, I would ask if he has any questions at this time.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to go to another committee after which time I will come back. Mr. Laws, your testimony makes many serious charges, some of which involve the Federal Government.
Having known you so well through the years, I am sure that your charges can be substantiated.
I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that we refer this testimony to the President's Committee, ask them what they have done, or what they are planning to do about it, No. 1.
No.2, as the chairman of the committee, I am instructing now a task force to go to Dallas, Tex., forthwith to investigate the U.S. Employment Service in Dallas, Tex., and the Southwest.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DENT. Thank you, Chairman Powell. Your suggestions will be, of course, adhered to by this committee. I think it is a very good idea that most, if not all, at least the very pertinent sections of this testimony be transferred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee named by the President.
Mr. Laws, on page 3 of your statement you refer to the employment discrimination in companies holding U.S. Government contracts. That same charge was made here yesterday by another witness. I asked at that time and I would like to ask you the same question : Can you tell this subcommittee about the activities of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity in your part of the country and if any of these companies that you know of that are under Government contract have signed and implemented plans for progress under the direction and with the cooperation of the equal opportunity group?
Mr. Laws. Sir, the only company I know of having signed such an agreement is Western Electric. This was signed after July 12 of last year.
Incidentally, this particular company is a company against which complaints were filed last May by the NAACP.
In a telephone conversation with the manager of this company last week, he stated that he would this week take action to remove the discriminatory charges alleged against his company.
Mr. DENT. What have been the results of this cooperative effort ? Has there been an improvement in the employment practices so far as discrimination is concerned ?
Mr. Laws. In Western Electric four Negro youths were hired about 2 months ago. Two in the warehouse and two in the shop. Heretofore Negroes had been hired only in the house service division, which was chiefly concerned with custodial work.
The management has agreed, has said that they would discontinue the house service department and would contract work out to some firm doing custodial work and upgrade 7 of the 11 Negroes now working for the company.
This has been the result of the President's Committee on Equal Opportunity.
Mr. DENT. How many people, do you know or can you tell this committee how many persons are employed in this particular plant?
Mr. Laws. Abouť 360 employed. Of this number there are 11 Negro men and 1 Negro woman.
Mr. Dent. In the regional hearings and also in our testimony taken here yesterday, we heard quite strong evidence about the effect of the denial of employment opportunities and the effect it has upon dropouts in our school system.
In your area of the country, do you find a disillusionment on the part of Negro youth and find that this disillusionment is one of the reasons there is such a high proportion of dropouts among the colored vouths of this country?
Mr. Laws. Yes, I did. I think I mentioned in my statement that one of the effects of discrimination in employment is low morale and low aspiration level. Negroes feeling that they will not have an opportunity to use the skills which are open to white youths just do not attempt to attain those skills in some instances. I mean even in schools teachers and guidance counselors point up the fact that because Negroes feel that they cannot, under employment discrimination patterns that we now have, they cannot move any higher than their parents did, I mean they do not strive to do a better job.
I have a good example. One of the concerns we have been working with is Southern Bell Telephone Co. For many years, Negroes were employed by Southern Bell only in custodial jobs.
I would like to point out that this is one of the public utilities which is most notorious for discriminating against Negroes.
There are some 4,100 employees in Southern Bell in Dallas and less than 100 of those employees are Negroes.
Last year two Negroes were upgraded in the Kansas City office and one of the laborers from the Southern Bell office brought a house organ, a paper, a company paper, to my office and we discussed it and, as a result, we decided to send a statement to Southern Bell commending them for the action which they had taken and expressing the hope that all telephone companies throughout the Nation and specifically the South would recognize employees on the basis of merit without respect to color. This letter was sent through channels.
As a result of that, this year two Negroes were upgraded. Since these Negroes have been upgraded, there has been an appreciable notice of initiative, of increased responsibility on the part of these Negro employees. As a matter of fact, one of these persons who was upgraded just last week said, “You know, I have been working for Southern Bell for about 15 years. Because I knew Negroes had no opportunity for being upgraded, I am sure I have not put in more than 3 good years work because I didn't have an opportunity. But now since I know that Negroes do have an opportunity to be promoted, to be upgraded on the basis of their qualifications and seniority, I and all of the rest of the persons I have talked with are going
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