BLACK WORKERS IN WHITE UNIONS: Job Discrimination in the United States by William B. Gould

BLACK WORKERS IN WHITE UNIONS: Job Discrimination in the United States

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A former NLRB member and EEOC consultant, Gould has produced a voluminous scholarly account of how trade unions have resisted--and by and large successfully fended off--the equal opportunity provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Despite a multitude of court cases which have expanded the original scope of Title VII, Gould charges that both craft and industrial unions have used the loaded issue of seniority rights to circumvent and restrict black penetration of the union hiring hall, apprenticeship programs, and the union hierarchy. Most culpable have been the building trades of the AFL--which have fobbed off on the gullible a variety of ""voluntary"" programs to promote integration. Such programs, says Gould, have succeeded only in protecting entrenched union officials from the threat of class action suits--the single most effective weapon in the activists' arsenal. Reconciling equal employment practices with yesterday's hard-won seniority rights is an extraordinarily complex problem, bringing up such disputed legal questions as to what extent the Taft-Hartley Act can be utilized to ensure compliance with Title VII, and the nature of the adjustments in job categories and referral systems which unions may be asked to make. But as matters stand, Gould notes, blacks are still unprotected from being the last hired and first fired. He concludes with a warning that things are getting worse: the government now seems to be ""switching sides"" or, at least, entering a phase of ""benign neglect."" If unions are indeed the current ""focal point of racial discord in our society,"" then this eminently clear, exhaustively researched, and closely reasoned book should be a mandatory reference.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1977
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press