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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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STATUS IN WASHINGTON
In Washington there are over 500 skilled colored workmen, not including barbers. There are about 100 bricklayers, 75 carpenters, 80 painters, 75 plasterers, 100 stationary engineers, 100 of various other skilled occupations. There are also many skilled brick-makers. Only the engineers and barbers are organized. The white unions generally will not admit colored workmen, or if they do admit them, manage in some way to freeze them out. The hackmen and master barbers, recently organized, have mixed unions. There are some colored members in the Cigar-makers Union, and several employees in the Government Printing Office and Bindery belong to the local Printers and Bookbinders Unions. But is not believed that these union colored workmen could find employment in any union office outside of the government service. Your committee was unable to learn of any other colored union men in Washington.
During the last ten years over 500 houses have been built in Washington, almost entirely by colored labor, some of them costing as high as fifteen thousand dollars. Many of them are fine specimens of the mechanic's art.
White labor is quite thoroughly organized in Washington. Their organizations control almost all the large contract work, and appear to be driving the unorganized colored workmen out of the better class of work in the building trades; they being now quite generally restricted in Washington to the smaller houses, to houses built by colored owners and to jobs and repairs. At this kind of work several of the more intelligent and reliable colored mechanics, I am told, make more than $100 a month by taking small contracts. This is more than they could earn as journeymen in the white union, consequently the best colored mechanics in Washington are indifferent about organizing.
The Colored Hod-Carriers have a strong union, belong to the National Federation of Labor, the local Building Trades Council and the Central LaborUnion, send their delegates to those bodies and are well treated. They carry hods for white and colored bricklayers, are very efficient workmen and are held up by white men as a model, colored, labor organization. But they do not come into competition with any white union. Other colored organizations are the Colored Barbers, the Hod Carriers No. 2, and the Plumbers' Laborers. These hod-carriers
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