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GSI board chair General U. S. Grant III: 1928 ca. | by Washington Area Spark
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GSI board chair General U. S. Grant III: 1928 ca.

Government Services Inc. (GSI) board chairman Gen. Ulysses S. Grant III is shown in a photograph circa December 1928 while he served as Inauguration chair for President Herbert Hoover.

 

Grant led the GSI board to refuse to bargain with United Cafeteria and Restaurant Union Local 471, UPWA CIO in 1948 leading to a 78-day strike by the predominantly African American union.

 

Grant was the grandson of the Civil War general and former President. He served in the Philippine-American War, World War I and World War II, but his politics were different from his grandfather.

 

He served as Inauguration chair for President Herbert Hoover who led the country into the Great Depression.

 

In regards to his attitudes toward African Americans, in 1948 while head of the National Capital Planning Commission he called the charges that local institutions were entrenching segregation "false and unjust" despite rampant Jim Crow under the purview of the commission.

 

Grant would still later resign his chairmanship of a Civil War Centennial commission after he declined to intervene when an African American commission board member was refused admittance to a Jim Crow hotel. The NAACP then launched a boycott of all centennial celebrations.

 

The strike by Local 471 began January 5, 1948 after GSI refused to meet, negotiate or enter a contract with the union unless local officials and the parent UPWA union signed non-communist affidavits. In addition, GSI insisted the union win a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election even though they had entered into contracts with the union for the past 10 years.

 

The union was initially recognized in a preference ballot conducted by the NLRB in 1938 after GSI took the position then that as a quasi-government agency they were not covered by the NLRB.

 

The federal government eventually intervened in the long strike after a campaign to put pressure on President Harry S. Truman by the union.

 

The Truman administration insisted local officials sign the affidavits before they would help, although the parent UPWA officials never did. Eventually the government threatened to terminate the GSI contract in order to force a settlement of the 78-day strike.

 

The largest African American union in the city at about 4,000 members was preserved and continued as a progressive union. It provided ground troops in 1950-53 for pickets, sit-ins and boycotts of public facilities in the District that practiced Jim Crow, resulting in complete victory over segregation of public facilities in 1953.

 

For more information and related images, see flic.kr/s/aHsm1ZnVra

 

For a deep dive into the 1948 cafeteria workers strike, see washingtonspark.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/against-the-cold...

 

The photographer is unknown. The image was sent out December 18, 1928 to news outlets affiliated with the Newspaper Enterprise Association service.

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Taken in December 1928