Young Black Workers Speak Their Minds

by Theodore Purcell, Irene Rodgers



The article comments on the unemployment and underemployment of black workers. Young blacks were particularly dissatisfied in one unit at National Acme Chicago where all light work was done by whites with seniority and almost all new employees with heavy jobs were black. The situation was apparently aggravated by old-line managers and supervisors, one of whom referred to his disadvantaged workers as jungle bunnies. The young blacks felt that neither company nor union was responsive to their interests and that they needed a role in decision-making. To get a piece of the action, they organized the Afro-American Committee in conjunction with the Black Labor Alliance, then growing rapidly in Chicago. Three young blacks at Raytheon also actively protested a grievance. Angry that they had not been promoted as soon as some fellow trainees in another plant, they pressured their foreman for weeks, enlisted active union support. Disadvantaged young blacks entering the plant may feel ill at ease in an unfamiliar situation controlled by whites. Distrust often makes it difficult to establish the personal relationships necessary to help them adjust, that fear of failure may intensify their anxieties.

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