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EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
FRIDAY, JULY 26, 1963
U.S. SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT AND MANPOWER OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Hon. Joseph Clark (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Clark (presiding), Burdick, and Jordan.
Committee staff members present: Stewart E. McClure, chief clerk; Edward D. Friedman, counsel; Dr. Garth L. Mangum, research director; Raymond D. Hurley, associate minority counsel; and Michael Bernstein, minority counsel.
Senator CLARK. The subcommittee will resume its session.
We have three witnesses today on the pending Fair Employment Practices Commission bills. I would like to urge each of them to make their initial presentations as brief as possible.
possible. The prepared statements will be printed in the record in full and since we want to give all witnesses and members of the subcommittee on opportunity to ask and to respond to questions we have for some time had a rule which has not been enforced hitherto, that opening statements of witnesses should be confined to 10 minutes.
All of our witnesses this morning are experienced and able gentlemen who are accustomed to testifying before congressional committees and I will ask them to do their very best to cooperate with the subcommittee in making their presentation in as brief a time as possible.
Our first witness is Mr. Roy Wilkins, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, chairman of the leadership conference on civil rights.
Mr. Wilkins, will you please move forward and take the witness chair? We are very happy to have you with us today. All of the subcommittee is aware of the very active part you have played in attempting to secure equal opportunity under the law for all minority groups and we are sure that your testimony will be of great benefit to the committee. Will you please proceed in your own way?
STATEMENT OF ROY WILKINS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, CHAIRMAN, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS
Mr. WILKINS. Thank you, Senator Clark. My name is Roy Wilkins. I live in New York City and I am executive secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
I wish first of all to thank the chairman and members of this subcommittee for the opportunity to appear and state the views of our association on S. 733 and related legislation.
We urge that the Congress approve fair employment practice legislation with enforcement powers. So much has been said about the need to correct discrimination in employment that it is unnecessary for me to present extensive statistical data on employment discrimination.
The pattern of exclusion of Negro workers from industry, commerce, and finance, or the limitation placed upon their employment and promotion is one of the principal reasons for the protest demonstrations which are taking place today in all parts of the Nation.
Negro citizens find themselves, as a racial group, charged with irresponsibility as citizens, as persons to be satisfied with welfare benefits, as unstable units in the communities in which they live, as juvenile delinquents, criminals, and immoral persons.
These loose charges are certainly not true with respect to the entire body of Negro Americans, comprising some 18 to 20 millions of people. The great body of this population is frustrated because it cannot find employment opportunities which will permit it to assune its proper obligations toward its families and toward the community and the Nation.
The same chamber of commerce or association of manufacturers or other civil or economic body which points the finger at Negro citizenship instability will be found to be denying jobs to Negroes who apply for openings which are available, but not to Negro applicants.
With some notable exceptions and with new, if reluctant recruits joining each day-labor unions, especially the old-line craft unions, have been barring opportunity for training and employment to nonwhites.
Thus, the Negro citizen finds himself in a box. If he prepares himself for a particular type of job, he may be denied it on the ground that he is not properly prepared.
Today, in some localities, those who hitherto have kept the doors tightly closed are cracking them under the moral and economic pressure of protest.
But hardly have they loosened the latch a tiny bit before they cry out that they "cannot find" qualified Negro applicants. For generation after discouraged generation, the bars have been up. All but the most determined among the Negroes have given up hope.
Parents have given up hope for their children. Now today it is expected that thousands will be clamoring at the reception desks for the jobs that since 1900 have never-for them-existed. Obviously, this is unrealistic, to use the kindest word.
Even so, the openings thus made available are but a drop in the bucket. The employment situation among Negro workers is a very grave one. Although the affronts in public accommodation are most abrasive to the spirit, the deeper hurt, the one that ramifies into all other areas of living, is economic deprivation and discrimination.
I recall that during World War II a workman told me with an apologetic, yet defiant, grin, that he was a mechanic at a southern shipyard.' "Of course," he said, “I am classified as a helper and I get only a helper's rate, but I do the work of a mechanic.'
Today the number of helpers is shrinking. Unskilled labor opportunities are vanishing. White collar exclusion and blue collar restrictions based upon race and color are plunging the Negro into desperate despair. His workers and his racial life are in a precarious plight.
The labor secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People appeared before the House Committee on Education and Labor last May 7, 1963. These are pertinent excerpts from his testimony:
In northern industrial centers, one of every three Negro workers was unemployed during the past 2 years and a very high proportion exhausted all of their unemployment compensation benefits. More than 50 percent of all the unskilled Negro workers in the country have been unemployed for substantial periods since 1958.
During the past 5 years, the rate of Negro unemployment was consistently between 2 and 242 times greater than the comparable rate for white workers. Of great significance is the fact that since 1952, the gap between the income of white and Negro workers has been growing steadily greater.
The Commission on Civil Rights has also reported in its 1961 report on the difficulties in employment opportunities even within one industry, and it cites the automobile industry.
Although this industry has a nationwide policy of nondiscrimination it was found that employment opportunities for minority workers differed from city to city.
In Detroit Negroes constituted a substantial portion, that is from 20 to 30 percent, of the total work force in the automobile industry.
Although their representation in nontraditional jobs was slight, all companies employed them in all classifications other than management positions, and one company employed Negroes in administrative and management jobs as well.
But in Baltimore, each of the companies employed Negroes only in production work and not above the semiskilled level as assemblers, repairmen, inspectors, and material handlers.
On the other hand, in Atlanta, the two automobile assembly plants contacted employed no Negroes in assembly operations. Except for one driver of an inside power truck, all Negro employees observed were engaged in janitorial work--sweeping, mopping, carrying away trash.
This means that even where an industry has a nondiscrimination policy its nationwide actual operations may differ as is illustrated by Detroit, Baltimore, and Atlanta in the industry. The Commission report also filed comment which will be found in the complete report on qualified applicants and their lack of good fortune in securing placement once they have applied.
And it goes on to comment on the number of dropouts. There are 350,000 young people between 16 and 24 who left school between
January and mid-October 1961. Negroes made up 20 percent of the total. The disadvantaged position of the Negro dropouts is shown by the fact that 80 percent of the unemployed non white dropouts were in unskilled laboring or service jobs, compared with 45 percent of the white dropouts.
It is often suggested, Mr. Chairman, that lack of training is the major reason for job discrimination against colored citizens. The foregoing comments from the Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor suggest that lack of training is not the reason.
It is true that in the labor market of the future, the worker with a good education will have the best chance to get a job, but at present, it can be said that no matter whether a white person is trained or untrained, the mere fact that he is white gives him a better chance to get a job at a semiskilled or higher level.
The average worker in skilled clerical and sales occupations has from 10 to 12 years of schooling. Although the number of colored persons who are in this educational group has risen steadily, less than 10 percent of them have been able to find jobs in the skilled clerical and sales occupations.
It seems to us that the need for a remedy to job discrimination is so apparent that it is hardly debatable. We hope that this subcommittee will speedily approve a bill. We have considered the relative merits of the Clark and Humphrey bills, the draft of the Humphrey bill
Senator CLARK. Mr. Wilkins, I would like to interrupt to say that I think this subcommittee is going to have a big job in writing a committee bill. In my opinion, neither my bill, nor Senator Humphrey's, or Senator Case's meet the answer.
Mr. WILKINS. We are suggesting, Senator, that the good features of your bill and the Humphrey bill and Senator Case's bill be considered and used by this subcommitte in drafting a satisfactory bill.
Senator CLARK. I think that is what we are going to have to do, and I wonder whether you or your organization has any strong views as to what features you think should be developed and what features should perhaps be excluded from the bill the committee will work on.
We really do need some technical help based on experience in this area, and I am not suggesting that you can or should not give it to us, but if you were in a position to do it, it would be helpful.
Mr. WILKINS. Senator, since the Humphrey version has just been drafted, we have had no opportunity to consider all three.
Senator CLARK. The things that are giving me some concern are whether we ought to lodge some of the enforcement procedures in the Department of Labor or whether it is best to have an independent agency which has no connection with the Department of Labor.
The step through which the enforcement agency should be authorized to initiate its procedures for assuring equal employment, or, on the other hand, whether they should be entirely placed in a judicial body waiting for a complaint to be filed.
It occurred to me that your individual experience would be of benefit to us in connection with whether one can rely on complaint procedure or whether something over and above that is necessary.
Mr. WILKINS. I think, sir, that the experience of a number of Gov. ernment agencies, both Federal and State, in relying on the complaint procedure might be a valuable resource for this subcommittee, as it has been found in some State agencies that complete reliance on complaint procedure does not produce either widespread or accelerated or volumetric attack on this problem.
Senator CLARK. Is there anything in the thought that in many parts of the country Negroes might be intimidated against making complaints ?
Mr. WILKINS. Well, there is something to that, Senator, but our experience has been that even in the States of the Deep South where intimidation is more or less a fact of life that Negro workers can be found, in fact, they do not have to be hunted, they hunt you out, to outline their grievances, so that while this may have some effect in smaller industries and isolated communities, it would not have a terribly deterrent effect in the large urban concentrations of industry.
Voluntarily offering complaints might present some slowdown, and that is why it is well to consider the initiatory policy of an agency so that it could act in itself, either with complaints or without complaints, or as a result of its own investigation.
Senator CLARK. I would like your comment, too, if you feel prepared to give it, on the labor situation.
Mr. WILKINS. Of course, we believe the labor unions should be included in this type of legislation, and on the same basis as employers and with the same penalties assessed if the violations are found to exist.
Now, the labor unions are improving in some respects, their approach to this, and when I say labor unions, I mean those that have been the hard core of resistance and where the representation of Negro labor has been very slight, if at all.
Senator CLARK. Where are those areas?
Mr. WILKINS. Those are largely, of course, in the building trades.. They are in the transportation unions which are embattled in the rules dispute, and the railroad brotherhoods have been a bastion of white only employment for many, many years.
The building trades likewise, and some aspects of the steelworkers, structural steel, not the work covered by the United Steelworkers Union, and the sheet metal workers have been fairly lily white almost exclusively, and the plumbers.
It has been as hard to get in a plumbers union as it has been to get in the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Senator CLARK. Is it pretty hard to get into the Chase Manhattan Bank? [Laughter.]
Mr. WILKINS. It is if you want to get something from him.
Mr. WILKINS. I did not mean employment, I meant breaking into the bank. (Laughter.]
Mr. Wilkins. But their employment practices in the Chase Manhattan Bank are better than the general banking industry, I would say.
Senator CLARK. Would you make a comment on employment practices in service industries and white-collar industries generally? I