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DON ELLINGER WAS A FRUSTRATED MAN IN THE SUMMER OF 1944. LEAD examiner for the Region X office of the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) in Dallas, Texas, Ellinger and a small staff of investigators had spent the last two years working to obtain entry for African Americans into the all-white training facilities at a bomber factory owned by Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) in nearby Fort Worth. Neither conferences, surveys, nor appeals to management had worked; if anything, Ellinger complained, since he began his investigations Convair's discriminatory practices had grown worse, expanding into such areas as hiring, upgrades, and discharge. "The attitude of the company, which from the first has been negative, is now openly hostile," he lamented, and the only means of reaching a resolution appeared to be through costly public hearings. Despite this negative assessment, Ellinger admitted that there was at least one small bright spot in the situation. Although African Americans were prohibited from joining the International Association of Machinists (IAM), J. D. Smith, the white president of IAM District Lodge 776, had offered his union's cooperation to the FEPC, in effect challenging the racial practices of the local aircraft industry and setting himself apart from the vast majority of southern labor activists. Even more heartening to Ellinger was the length to which Smith seemed willing to go to fulfill this pledge: in a gesture that would have been considered progressive within most American unions at the time, let alone one operating in the segregated South, Smith threatened to initiate arbitration proceedings against Convair management for unjustly firing an African American janitor, a tactic that gained the man's reinstatement. Having faced similar forms of managerial intransigence himself, Ellinger was pleased to be able to report back to his superiors in Washington, D.C., that Smith and District 776 "took a strong stand and fully represented the [black] worker as if he were a member of the IAM." (1)

1 août
Southern Historical Association

Plus de livres par Journal of Southern History