J.R. Johnson

It Is Up to The Transport Workers Now!

(7 April 1941)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 14, 7 April 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

It is now up to the Transport Workers Union and every labor organization in the city and in the state. They must take action to help the Negroes get jobs. Last week we pointed out that the Harlem Negroes in their justified fight for jobs on the buses should have been careful to express and show solidarity with the bus strikers. In politics who is not with me is against me. It was not sufficient not to attack the strikers. Both the workers and the bosses were fighting for public support. To raise the question of jobs for Negroes at that necessary to show which side you were on and which side you were against.

But no great harm was done, if any. Now, however, the Transport Workers Union must do more than just give support. They sent a speaker to the Harlem Committee meeting. They have issued a leaflet saying that they are in sympathy with the demands of the Negroes, and that they have never opposed any persons entering the union or being employed by the company on account of race, color, etc. It is not enough, in fact it is very little. The transport workers, the bus drivers, must demand that Negroes be employed. They must demonstrate by vigorous action that they wish to establish solidarity of all labor, black and white. For if the men themselves demand it from the company, then the bosses will be in a terrible hole and will have to capitulate. Because the general public has no objection whatever to Negroes driving buses.

Now there may be difficulties about Negroes causing whites to lose their jobs. The bosses will do their best to create dissension and confusion. That can be handled without difficulty only if the union takes the initiative. If the union takes up the demands of the Harlem Committee, insists that they are accepted, and then works out a plan with the Harlem Committee about numbers of jobs, seniority rights, so many jobs to be given now; if union and committee work openly and carry out all negotiations before the eyes of the working class there can be no serious friction. It is up to the unions. They must act. It is no good to say: We are not against, we support – and leave it there.

And not only the Transport Workers Union. Every other union in the city, especially those who have Negro workers, should solidarize themselves with the movement and demand that the unions act. Particularly those unions where whites and Negroes work together, for the simple reason that they will be able to point out their own experiences, and their Negro members will be able to build union strength and popular support among the Negro people in Harlem. Big battles are on, bigger battles are ahead. The unions must not only build union solidarity but must get the great masses of the people in the habit of looking to unions for clear, progressive and decisive action on any matter before the public that concerns labor.

Last updated on 15.12.2012