When the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) promised to organize all workers regardless of race, blacks responded by joining tbe Steel Workers Organizing Committee
and its successor, the United Steel Workers of America.
The book is organized into six chronological chapters arranged around the great steel strike of 1919; the shop floor issues of the 1920s and 1930s; the rise of a "rank-and-file" movement in the immediate aftermath of the New Deal; the formation of an Employee Representation Plan (ERP), or company union, at US Steel; the triumph of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
(SWOC) in 1937; and, its subsequent consolidation.
Much like the ILWU, the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
, a CIO affiliate, advocated "absolute racial equality in Union membership." (185) Unfortunately, even if Black steelworkers could "take the heat" (261) of the open hearth, the racial hierarchy of the steel industry ensured that White rank-and-file intransigence in the form of violence or wildcat strikes stalled the implementation of this laudable policy.
Unlike the bureaucratic leadership of some CIO outfits, such as the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
that concentrated its decision-making powers at its highest levels, the national PWOC was unable to change the nature of Chicago's local packing workers' organization.
(3) This paper contributes to filling this void by examining the rise and growth of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
(SWOC) in Canada until its metamorphosis into the United Steel Workers of America (USWA).
Officially, the Steelworkers began in Cleveland on May 22, 1942, but the convention delegates acknowledged that their spiritual origins, as embodied in the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
of the 1930's, emerged from the smoke and ashes of the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892.
Lewis and then Philip Murray as head of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
(SWOC) signed contracts with the coal companies and later with U.S.
Steel and the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
(SWOC) had been negotiating for months over a 10 cents per hour raise.
This changed in 1941 when the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
of the CIO, with the backing of Franklin Roosevelt, forced Bethlehem Steel (which took over the mill in World War I) to agree to a free vote.
Longshoring and steel are useful test cases for the whiteness thesis because Left-led interracial unions in each industry, the International Longshoreman's and Warehouseman's Union (ILWU) and the Steel Workers Organizing Committee
(SWOC), seemingly demonstrated that workers historically had been able to unite around class interests in defiance of racial divisions.