This chapter discusses the poor working conditions for Negroes and those within the labor movement trying to improve them after emancipation, as reflected in the so-called “slave market” in a Chicago street in 1938. As Negro migrants came from the South, they were often excluded from unions. However, some in the meatpacking and garment industries allowed Negroes into their unions after seeing them used as strikebreakers. This chapter considers some important developments that spoke of advancements for Negro laborers, including the establishment in 1925 of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, made up entirely of Negro porters, in Chicago and eventually admitted into the American Federation of Labor; the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which organized workers industry-wide and openly recruited Negroes; and the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), which conducted a hearing in Chicago early in 1942 to investigate allegations that several firms practiced discrimination in their employment practices.
Keywords: working conditions, Negroes, labor movement, slave market, Chicago, unions, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, American Federation of Labor, Congress of Industrial Organizations, Fair Employment Practices Commission
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