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Mary Bell

Militant Action Wins Negro Women Jobs
in Akron Rubber Factories

(21 September 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 39, 21 September 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON – For the first time in the history of this city, Negro women are being hired in the rubber factories!

This is a victory which the campaign of the Young Negro Women’s Civic League and cooperating organizations have to their credit. By a militant program of picketing, and other forms of pressure and publicity, they have broken through the closed doors of Akron rubber and aircraft industries. Forty have gone to the B.F. Goodrich Co., over twenty have gone to Goodyear’s aircraft training school and applications are still being made.

Labor Action has been informed, however, that discrimination still exists in the aircraft training school. Negro women applicants are required to prove mathematical ability, so that all but the educated are eliminated. No such stipulation is made in the case of white women. Rather, they have been told by instructors: “It doesn’t matter if you can’t do fractions, or even if you don’t learn to rivet. There will be a job for you at Goodyear.”

A spokesman for the YNWCL said they will continue their efforts until the last vestige of discrimination that blocks the hiring of Negro women has been eliminated. They also plan to investigate the rumor that the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. will organize a Jim Crow plant, just as in the past they have offered to build a segregated cafeteria for Negro men employees.

The method of obtaining their success by the Akron group should not be lost on Negroes everywhere who are attempting to enter industry. These people from the outset of their campaign stated their allegiance to the union movement and used the time-honored methods of union organization, namely, picketing and militant action. They thus secured in advance the cooperation of their only real ally, the labor movement.

The problems these girls run up against in the future on their jobs can also be solved only by militant effort and the intervention of the labor unions. There has already been some indication of friction caused by the heavy concentration of Southern workers in Akron war industry. The problem of educating these workers and building up the solidarity of black and white workers rests squarely on the shoulders of the CIO unions. The problem is well on the way toward being solved by the induction of Negro women workers into the union movement.

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