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DC cafeteria union’s 20th anniversary: 1958 | by Washington Area Spark
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DC cafeteria union’s 20th anniversary: 1958

An advertisement in the Washington Afro American newspaper November 18, 1958 advertises the 20th anniversary of the Washington United Cafeteria and Restaurant Union Local 473 (formerly Local 471).


The predominantly African American union played a progressive role throughout its history from the late 1930s until its merger with Hotel & Restaurant Employees Local 25 in 1972.


The union was nearly broken in 1948 when a private contractor, Government Services Inc., refused to bargain with the union unless union leaders signed affidavits that they were not members of the Communist Party, USA.


The resulting eleven-week strike at 42 cafeterias in government buildings ended with defeat for the workers, but they preserved their union.


The union’s progressive role included providing ground troops for the Mary Church Terrell effort to desegregate restaurants and cafeterias in the District of Columbia 1950-53 and during the home rule campaign of the 1960s.


For more information and related images, see


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


The artist is unknown. The image was printed in the Washington Afro American November 18, 1958

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Taken in November 1958