Black Workers in White Unions: Job Discrimination in the United States

By William B. Gould | Go to book overview

12 The Impact of Judicial Decrees: An Empirical Analysis

In employment discrimination litigation, nothing is more significant than the actual impact of judicial decrees. True, the mere institution of litigation and the formulation of a decree radiate consequences which affect others besides the parties directly involved in the case. But in the final analysis, the respect for the law and its potential as an instrument of reform of unlawful employment practices are dependent upon the actual impact of decrees subsequent to their promulgation. This, it seems to me, is the lesson of the Seattle decree discussed in Chapter 13. For only through an understanding of the institutions and their response to court orders can the law be properly analyzed.

Since there is relatively little experience with public employee unions and Title VII as it applies to state and local government, inasmuch as the statute was amended to cover such parties only in 1972, this chapter will concentrate on decrees dealing with the problem of access to the labor market through apprenticeship and referral in the building trades. This area has seen many important and extensively monitored decrees, which provide the kind of data needed for a study of the actual impact of these judicial promulgations. We will examine a variety of decrees, beginning with the least complicated early Title VII litigation through court orders which are more comprehensive and detailed than that of Judge Lindberg in United States v. Local 86, Ironworkers.


United States v. Sheetmetal Workers Local 36 (St. Louis)

In this Justice Department suit against Local 36, Sheetmetal Workers and Local 1, IBEW, the trial court found that both locals had excluded blacks prior to 1964. At the time of oral argument, Local 1 had approximately sixteen black members. It did not accept its first Negro apprentice until February 1966, and there was no record of its referring a black for employment before March of that year. Local 36, Sheetmetal Workers had no Negro members at the time of the trial. It had 1,275 white members and accepted its second and third Negro apprentices in 1967. There was no record of any Negro having used the union's hiring hall prior to the date of the trial.

The relief formulated by the Eighth Circuit on September 16, 1969, in Sheetmetal Workers seemed reasonably broad at the time.1* The court required the

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