Transit Strike: 1951
Capital Transit workers staged a three-day strike July 1-4, 1951 around wage and seniority demands.

Financier Louis Wolfson bought the company in 1949 and Walter Bierwagen was elected president of Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motorcoach Employees of America Division 689.

It would be the first of a series of fierce clashes between the two that would ultimately result in Wolfson being forced out of the streetcar business in 1955, but only after depleting the system of all its reserves.

The 1951 strike was a win for Bierwagen. Workers made wage gains, pension improvements, gained additional paid holidays, improved vacations and upgraded a number of jobs in the maintenance department.

Perhaps equally important for Bierwagen, he obtained seniority rights for those separated and later rehired in the maintenance department. He also obtained bumping rights for those whose jobs were eliminated if they could qualify for other jobs.

This was an important provision in a contracting industry where a significant minority of workers in the maintenance department was African American. They composed a majority of workers in the track department where jobs were shrinking.

Bierwagen obtained the support of African American workers who in turn pressured him to break the barrier to operator jobs, which he finally agreed to do in 1955.
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