Scabs wanted in Cafeteria Local 471 strike: 1948

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    An advertisement in the January 12, 1948 Washington Post by Government Services, Inc. (GSI) seeks skilled replacement workers for the 1,400-odd members of United Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers Union on strike against the company.

    The ad also displays one of the vestiges of Jim Crow Washington, D.C., advertising for “colored men and women.”

    GSI was able to fill the non-skilled jobs during the strike fairly quickly, but had to resort to bringing in prepared meals by vendors due to a lack of cooks and bakers.

    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 detailed account of the strike and its implications, see washingtonspark.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/against-the-cold...

    The image was published in the January 12, 1948 Washington Post.

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