Memorandum on COFEP Request from Mr. Eugene Davidson

To: Dr. Robert C. Weaver

From: Clarence M. Mitchell

Subject: Regional Matters of Immediate Importance Discussed with Mr. [Reginald A.] Johnson

COFEP REQUEST FROM MR. EUGENE DAVIDSON

Mr. [Reginald A.] Johnson discussed with me certain cases (6) which we will supply to Mr. Davidson in response to requests from him.[1] Two of these proposed cases are illustrations of employers who have changed their hiring practices or at least hire nearly in conformity with the requirements of the President’s Executive Order No. 8802. These are the Western Electric Company of Kearny, N. J., and the Federal Shipbuilding Company, also of Kearny.  In both cases, Mr. Davidson’s plans for making the “good” better will give these companies a chance to expand their Negro personnel and correct certain departmental difficulties we have been faced with.

            Four of the firms in need of disciplinary action and which we propose to submit to Mr. Davidson are:  The International Telephone Company and the Federal Telegraph Company, both of Newark, N.J.; the Walker-Turner Plant at Plainfield, N.J., and the Wright Aeronautical Company of Patterson, N.J., or the Breeze Aircraft Company in Newark, N.J. The Wright Company will possibly be used because it is likely that the training phase of the program is in need of some investigation in order to increase the admission of Negroes. The Breeze Company will be used if the most recent requests for action submitted from our office (Via Mitchell) are ignored or answered in an unsatisfactory manner. In all of these instances the final draft of material to be submitted to Mr. Davidson will be given first to you for approval. Mr. Johnson, however, will immediately notify Mr. Davidson that you have authorized the release of material.[2]

THE WESTINGHOUSE COMPANY, ESSINGTON, PA.

            In view of the alleged trouble with white employees of the Westinghouse Company over the employment of a colored machine operator,[3] Mr. Johnson and I discussed the following phases of the question:
 

a.    Mr. Harry Block, assistant to Mr. James P. Casey, labor representative on the Regional Labor Supply Committee, is to report to Mr. Johnson the results of his (Block’s) effort to secure the needed co-operation from the Union at the plant.

b.    Mr. L. B. F. Raycroft, management representative   on the Regional Labor Supply Committee, will report to Mr. Johnson on the results of contacts on the matter with plant representatives.

c.     Mr. William W. Bardsley, chairman of the Regional Labor Supply Committee, will report to Mr. Johnson on the results of a Naval Investigation of what actually happened when the colored trainee was employed. I requested Mr. Bardsley to ask for this investigation through Commander Francis Robinson, Naval representative on the committee, since the plant has a Naval contract.

THE BENDIX AVIATION COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

The first two trainees out of the group of nine called for interviews start to work today (Monday, February 2). I have also submitted to the management the names of twenty women who are enrolled in a light manufacturing course under the V.E.N.D. program. In addition I have submitted the name of Mrs. Leona Highsmith, who complained that she had not been employed when she made an application previously. The management has been informed that Mr. Johnson is replacing me in the area. He will take the necessary follow-up steps.

THE FRANKFORD ARSENAL, THE NAVY YARD, THE ARMY SIGNAL CORPS, AND THE ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT-ALL OF THE PHILADELPHIA AREA

            Discussion of contacts we have had with these government agencies was held. We especially discussed plans for informing Negro women of the examination for female learners being vien [given] for these agencies. Under the examination, women without previous experience are being trained for manufacturing operations. While in training these individuals will be paid by the government.

THE BREWSTER COMPANY, HATBORO, PA.

In order to clarify our progress with the Brewster plant at Hatboro, Pa., I arranged a meeting with Mr. J. Griffith Boardman, whom I understood to be the Vice-President of the company. Mr. Boardman stated he was “only a member of the board of directors” and referred me to Mr. Philip Stevenson, executive vice president. Mr. Johnson will make the necessary follow-up in this situation since we were unable to see Mr. Stevenson before I left.

THE BALDWIN LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

            Being unable to contact Mr. Charles E. Acker, secretary-treasurer, on January 29 and thereafter, Mr. Johnson and I have agreed that a follow-up will be made today (Monday, Feb. 2). We are moving somewhat slowly in this, however, until such time as we have a better understanding of the situation at Westinghouse which is in the Baldwin neighborhood.

THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Further contact is to be withheld pending the outcome of the Westinghouse situation.

THE NEW YORK SHIPBUILDING COMPANY, CAMDEN , N.J.

           We are in the process of preparing a separate memorandum on the New York Shipbuilding Company.

THE REGIONAL LABOR SUPPLY COMMITTEE

            We discussed the technique of action followed with the Regional Labor Supply Committee.

MS: copy, MP

  1. [1] Eugene Davidson, FEPC senior field representative, was preparing for the Committee’s hearings in New York, scheduled for 2/16, 2/17/42, which would also consider cases from northern New Jersey, a part of Mitchell’s jurisdiction. Ruchames, Race, Jobs and Politics, 27, 31, 36, 38, 41; Reed, Seedtime, 39-41. Reginald Johnson worked at the OPM with Mitchell and succeeded him in the Philadelphia office in 1942.

  2. [2] Disciplinary action available to the Committee involved submitting the case to Paul V. McNutt, chairman of the WMC, with the expectation he would use the influence of his office to obtain compliance. If that did not work, the Committee would submit the case to the president for action. See Mitchell to Johnson, memorandum, 1/18/43; J.E. Cain, executive vice president of P.R. Mallory & Co., Inc., to Weaver, 7/8/42, indicating compliance, HqR2, Cooperative Employers folder; Weaver, Negro Labor, 202-03.

  3. [3] On the struggle to upgrade African-American male and female workers throughout industry, see Weaver, Negro Labor, 220-23, for. Weaver’s: “When management took steps to upgrade Negroes, and white workers refused to work with them, it became clear that the responsibility for initiating corrective action lay with the union” (222).