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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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are separate. He also talked with Mr. Elliot of the National Brotherhood of Painters. He said his union, welcomed colored craftsmen, and there were many in the order, but that they had no members in Baltimore.
In Norfolk Va. there are many competent and reliable colored mechanics. They are doing some high grade work, some of it under white contractors. Labor unions are not felt very much. The contractors hire whom they please as a rule. The sentiment is against admitting colored men to the unions that do exist.
Mr. N. B. Clark reports that in Newport News Va. there are about one hundred skilled colored workmen. The Longshoreman's Union is the only colored labor organization in the city. No white unions admit colored members, but both white and colored unions affiliate with the national union.
The Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company employees over 5000 persons; of this number two-thirds are colored. The company is disposed to place colored mechanics whenever and wherever it can upon its work. They are now teaching colored men and boys trades in the various departments; this is indeed an opportunity which should be appreciated by us, when we consider that a boy who is learning a trade in this yard receives more wages per month that the average farm hand.
Mr. W. P. Burrell reports that in Richmond Va. the colored people are not organized in any manner for the protection of labor. Among the whites all the principal trades are affiliated with the national unions, but none of them admit colored workmen, with the possible exception of the Tobacco Workers' Association, lately organized. The colored people of Richmond are employed principally in all branches of the tobacco business, with the exception of cigarette making, cigarmaking, and cheroot rolling. About 8000 men, women, and children are employed in the factories; of this number about 2000 might be classed as skilled laborers. Perhaps 2000 more are employed in the iron works. This branch of business was at one time controlled almost entirely by colored men, but now they are employed chiefly as common laborers, with only here and there a master mechanic.
There are also 50 bricklayers and plasterers, and 30 printers, besides numbers of carpenters and broom-makers. On account of the competition, the number of skilled laborers among the colored people is on the decrease. There are practically no apprentices employed in the various trades, and after the present generation passes away, the prospects for the continuation of colored skilled labor are very meagre.
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