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Conciliator in 1948 Cafeteria Local 471 strike: 1944 | by Washington Area Spark
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Conciliator in 1948 Cafeteria Local 471 strike: 1944

Colonel George E. Strong, the Army air force industrial relations expert is shown in a 1944 photograph.


Strong was called upon by Secretary of Labor Lewis B. Schwellenbach in 1948 to act as conciliator in the bitter strike by the predominantly African American United Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers Union Local 471, CIO against the Government Service Inc. (GSI) in Washington, D.C.


Local 471 officials refused to sign non-communist affidavits called for in the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and GSI refused to meet, negotiate or enter into a contract with the officials of Local 471.


Further GSI insisted that the union be certified through an NLRB election after GSI had replaced them with strikebreakers.


Strong had vast experience in settling difficult strikes and had acted as the military person in charge of Detroit’s industrial relations. Among his challenging assignments were settling strikes in the auto industry by white workers protesting the hiring of African Americans and women during the war under the Fair Employment Practices Commission.


Strong was able to craft the outlines of a settlement for the Local 471 strike, but withdrew in protest of Republican congressional representative interference and backtracking by GSI.


The U.S. government eventually threatened to terminate GSI’s contract and that move brought about a settlement along the lines of Strong’s terms after 78 days.


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


For a deep dive into the 1948 cafeteria workers strike, see


The photographer is unknown. The original source is unknown. The photograph was obtained via an Internet sale.

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Taken sometime in 1944