SEATTLE—On Friday morning, Sept. 11, a group of about 150 Black workers closed down three Seattle construction sites to dramatize their struggle for jobs. By early afternoon the militant action had forced a federal judge to hand down a ruling that contractors must hire at least 90 Black workers by Oct. 1.
Last fall, exactly the same series of events took place: after demonstrations by Black workers, the same judge made a court ruling that 90 jobs must be provided for Black workers. But this ruling was never carried out or enforced. This time the Black workers, under the leadership of the newly formed United Construction Workers Association, have vowed to take further actions, if the government does not immediately enforce the legal ruling.
In a meeting with the contractors prior to the Friday shutdowns, the
Black workers were told
there is a lull in the economy and Black
people will have to wait in line. Lionel Hampton, chairman of the
United Construction Workers Association, replied that the economy was
always in bad shape as it related to Blacks and that it would
obviously be necessary for the Black workers themselves to enforce the
law, since the government has proven incapable of enforcing either the
federal judge’s rulings or the 1965 presidential executive order
concerning minority hiring practices in the construction industry.
The demonstrations at the three construction sites on Friday were carried out with a conscious attempt not to alienate the white workers. At the largest site there was not even a single token Black on the job. All but a few of the white workers left their jobs readily when the Black workers called upon them to close shop.