Organized Labor Helps to Stamp out Institutional Racism

By Elliott, Gary W. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 12, 2017 | Go to article overview

Organized Labor Helps to Stamp out Institutional Racism


Elliott, Gary W., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


I read the commentary by Missouri state Rep. Shamed Dogan that stated his feelings on right-to-work legislation and the state prevailing wage law ("Unions ignore long history of excluding minorities from jobs," Nov. 14). It is Rep. Dogan's opinion that "union bosses" have a stranglehold on the labor market and are discriminatory (mainly against African-Americans), as well as stating that African-Americans are willing to work longer and harder than their white counterparts. Talk about promoting racial division.

Also, he believes the current "Fight for $15" would cost minority youth jobs and that arbitrary minimum wages are bad. Oh, he also believes that state prevailing wage laws are somehow discriminatory and bad.

Three rebuttals to Dogan's attempt at rewriting history by John Gaal; Lew Moye, president emeritus of St. Louis Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and Missouri state Rep. Joshua Peters list facts and updates of things that are happening right now and are nothing like what Rep. Dogan espouses.

What I would offer is information from the 2010 U.S. Census report and December 2012 report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2010, the black population was highly concentrated in counties of the South. Two things that these counties had in common were right-to-work laws and no state prevailing wage law. These data sources also show a dramatic decline in African-American men in the construction industry in the South; I thought that right-to-work and absence of states' prevailing wage laws were supposed to prevent that?

Institutional racism is real and deplorable. Organized labor is helping to stamp out this cancer . To blame that ailment on absence of a right-to-work and the presence of a state prevailing wage laws is utterly ridiculous. Right-to-work has not created good-paying jobs nor put more African-Americans to work. Nor has the Missouri prevailing wage law stopped African-Americans (or for that matter people of any particular race, color, creed, religious faction or sexual orientation) from being compensated for their hourly labor the same, across the board. …

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