Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History

By Philip S. Foner; Daniel Rosenberg | Go to book overview

Part IV: The Labor Movement

The section which follows documents the trend which supported the organization of Asian workers and the strengthening of working-class solidarity. The view represented here veered from the main attitude of organized labor during the late nineteenth century and most of the twentieth.

Of special interest is the statement taken from the Colored National Labor Union [Document 1], which itself emerged in response to the neglect of Black workers by most unions in the years following the Civil War. Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly provides the source for an early socialist statement on Chinese immigration [Document 2]. "For the sake of the white working men of California", H. C. Bennett [Document 3] defended the rights of the Chinese, Jews, and African-Americans in 1870. During the late 1870's, the Labor Standard, a weekly edited by prominent labor figure and socialist J.P. McDonnell, debated the Chinese question [Documents 4a-d]; so too did The Socialist, a paper published in Detroit [Document 5]. Despite the participation of the Knights of Labor in anti-Chinese activities in the 1870's and 1880's, some dissent from that position was expressed [Documents 6a and b].

A former slave and industrial worker, African-American pastor George Washington Woodbey was one of the few early twentieth-century socialists to back the immigration of Asians to, and their rights in, the United States [Document 7]. Occasionally, in the early 1900's, miners' unions endeavored to organize Asian workers [Documents 8a-c]; that this was accomplished at Rock Springs, Wyoming, scene of much late nineteenth-century anti- Chinese violence, is noteworthy. In sharp contrast to most other labor organizations, the Industrial Workers of the World (founded in 1905) [Document 9] established an approach to unionizing Asian workers in the West and the Pacific Northwest (including Canada) [Documents 10-c].

Central labor bodies, such as the Seattle Central Labor Council, occasionally adopted a more embracing concept of union membership [Document 11]; while these positions were not general

-165-

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Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Law and Dissent 17
  • Part II - Statements by Public Figures and Organizations 75
  • Part III - The Views of the Clergy 131
  • Part IV - The Labor Movement 165
  • Part V - African-Americans 209
  • Part VI - Relocation and Protest 247
  • Select Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
  • About the Editors *
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