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Blacks, Unions, & Organizing in the South, 1956-1996


Compiled by Rudolph Lewis



International Woodworkers Union Organizing in the South


International Woodworkers of America


Southern Regional Office

95 Merpitts Avenue, N.E.

Atlanta, Georgia

December 16, 1955

Mr. A.F. Hartung, President

Int'l Woodworkers of America, AFL-CIO

418 Governor Bldg.

Portland 4, Oregon

Dear Brother Hartung:

In accordance with our conversation of December 15, I am submitting below the names of the former CIO representatives that were working on I.W.A. projects when the merger convention was held and now working under Jack Livingston.

Earl W. Davis -- Richmond, Virginia Research and Education

James R. Cochran - Presently assigned to do administrative work at Louisville, Mississippi, D.L. Fair Lumber Co., and organizing Koppers Company, Granada, Mississippi, 150 employees. Also, contacts already made for his next assignment at Macon, Georgia at Maxwell Brothers Box Factory, 400 employees. Brother Cochran is a very valuable man to the I.W.A. and has been assigned to I.W.A. under the direction of the Southern Director since January 1952 to do administrative and organizational work.

Joe Moore - Orlando, Florida. Organizing Cummer-Graham Co., Lacohee, Fla. election set December 16, 1955, and I personally am not too concerned about this man as he does not fit into the plans of I.W.A.

John Hooper Riffe - Organizing with Joe Moore in Lacohee, Florida. Will be a valuable man with a little more experience and I would like to keep him assigned to the I.W.A. as long as the Federation is paying him.

A.S. O'Bannon - Assigned to the strike at W.T. Smith Lumber Company, Chapman and Greenville, Ala. A valuable man and all the work he has done since going on the CIO payroll has been done for the I.W.A. I would like very much to keep this man and would have no objections to putting him on our staff if necessary and an opening occurred.

William (Bill) Rowe - Organizing Winnfield, Louisiana. Olin-Matheson Corp. 400 employees. Card signing in progress now. After this campaign is finished I am not personally concerned about continuing his services.

Elijah Jackson - Negro organizer, assigned to Corbett Lumber Company, Wilmington, N.C. election December 16, 1955. No new assignment. A very good man when working alone but has trouble getting along with other organizers white or colored. I do not feel that he would fit into the I.W.A. other than to be used as long as the Federation pays him.

If you desire any further information on this matter, please advise.

Fraternally yours,

J. L. Baughman

Southern Director

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International Woodworkers of America

Affiliated with Congress of Industrial Organizations

418 Governor Building

Portland 4, Oregon

June 6, 1956

Mr. Boyd Leedom, Chairman

National Labor Relations Board

Washington 25, D.C.

Dear Sir:

I am writing you relative to a situation that has developed in Dublin, Georgia which I believe involves policies of the National Labor Relations Board. This case should be of great interest to the Board and to the General Counsel if the policies of the Board are to be carried out without the direct interference of local and county officials in the conduct of legal Union activities under the provision of the Act.

The facts in this case are as follows: Some time ago the Representative of the AFL-CIO, Mr. James Cochran, who was assigned to work in behalf of our International Union on organizational work in the States of Georgia, started contacting the employees of the Georgia Plywood Company at Dublin, Georgia. A vast majority of employees signed application cards with our Union.

There was no disturbance at any time in or about the plant or around the town of Dublin but immediately there was considerable agitation on the part of local business people against the organization of any workers in the area. The basic background of this agitation is discovered in the fact that a citizen's council meeting was held in Dublin at which most of the business men of Dublin were present. Mr. Frank Twitty, Floor Leader in the Georgia Senate, made a keynote speech concerning labor organizers creating dissension and strife in Dublin and how such could be prevented.

At this citizen's meeting the Mayor and Council informally adopted an ordinance, unconstitutional on its face, which makes impossible requirements of labor union representatives in Dublin, Georgia. Later the Mayor and Council formally adopted the ordinance which requires a license of $2,500 and also requires for anyone licensed, to be a resident of Dublin for a period of years. It also required that for each man organized, a fee to be paid to the City.

With such an ordinance passed by the Council it was impossible to carry out normal organizational activities within the confines of the City of Dublin so Mr. Cochran held organizational meetings with the employees of Georgia Plywood Company outside of the City of Dublin with a great degree of success until the Company began actively discriminating against the workers who had actively supported the Union within the plant.

Some time in April a Mr. Andrews, employed by the Company, was seen by the Company officials to have a Union card in his possession. On the following day he was discharged on the pretext of being personally objectionable to the other employees. Other instances of gross discrimination were carried on by the Company to discourage organization. A charge was filed with the Regional Director of the Atlanta Board against the Company and certain supporting evidence was taken by a representative of the National labor Relations Board from the employees who were affected, including Mr. Andrews.

At this time I wish to point out that it was on the request of the representative of the Board that Mr. Cochran accompany him in making the contacts with the employees who were to give evidence of unfair labor practices in the operation.

On May 7 we were advised that Mr. Andrews went tot he employer and requested his job back. On May 8 his wife swore out a peace warrant against Mr. Cochran and on May 9 Mr. Andrews returned to his employment at Georgia Plywood Company.

We are advised by Mr. Cochran that he never spoke to or saw Mrs. Andrews and that he talked to Mr. Andrews on two occasions, once when he took the Labor Board statement in company of the Labor Board Representative and later the same day when he went to Mr. Andrew's house to ask about his brother giving a statement. No threats were made to Mr. Andrews or to any member of his family and no conversations were had with Mrs. Andrews at all.

At this point I wish to point out that on the only occasion that Mr. Cochran was in the City of Dublin after the action of the Council was when he was requested to make contacts with the Representative of the Board.

On May 17 Mr. Cochran was arrested and taken before the Justice of Peace. The Justice of Peace, Hill G. Thomas, on that occasion berated Mr. Cochran for coming to Dublin and causing people to lose their employment. No hearing was held on oath and when Mr. Cochran was brought before the Justice of peace it was ordered that he be committed to Laurens County jail in default of $1,000 bond. Mr. Cochran states that he did not waive hearing.

On the afternoon of May 18 I went to Dublin in company of our Southern Director, Mr. J.L. Baughman, and our attorney from Atlanta, Mr. Goldthwaite, to attempt to obtain Mr. Cochran's release from jail.

We had obtained a National Surety bond in the amount of $1,000 which we had been informed was the amount of bond necessary to obtain the release, which we attempted to tender to the Justice of Peace. He refused it on the pretext that some local property owner was required as surety. We asked him the names of local men who made bonds but he refused to give the names of same and referred us to the Sheriff.

Mrs. Cochran was present in Dublin and was very distraught concerning Mr. Cochran's being in jail. The Laurens County jail, as I viewed it in visiting Mr. Cochran is a filthy place crawling with bed bugs. It was my impression of the bastile that if a man spent two days within its confines he would be so filthy that a fly would slide off him.

We visited with the Sheriff at the suggestion of the Justice of Peace and required as to the names of local bondsmen which he refused to name. A Deputy Sheriff mentioned the name of Mr. Joyner who runs a filling station across from the jail and occasionally made bond. we had decided it better, due to the filthy condition of the jail, if local bond could be obtained rather than to rely upon the petition for habeas corpus which would require some time to obtain the release because of a bad heart condition which Mr. Cochran has.

We inquired of Mr. Joyner as to whether he would go the bond and he stated he had to consult with the Sheriff before doing so. It was quite apparent, when contacting Mr. Joyner and others who normally made bond, that they were in fear of the law enforcement agencies so we offered to put up the cash collateral and pay the usual premium sufficient to indemnify the bond if one could be obtained.

Mr. Joyner still had not talked to the sheriff. When the Sheriff arrived at home, Mr. Joyner crossed the street and talked to him. He then advised us he could not go on the bond.

We were finally able to get a property owner to go on the bond after depositing $1,000 cash collateral and the Justice of peace was forced to sign the release after having charged us $10.75 costs even though a hearing had never been held on the case.

It is worthy of note that on the afternoon of the same day that Mr. Cochran was released, Mr. Andrews and his wife contacted Mrs. Cochran and told her how sorry they were that they had been forced to do the things that caused Mr. Cochran to be jailed.

In relationship to the matter, I might say that Mr. Andrews was returned to the job at a higher rate of pay, payment for the necessary action by his wife to have Mr. Cochran jailed on the pretext that she feared for her life by Mr. Cochran even though he had never met the lady.

First, it is apparent that the warrant was secured by collusion between the City Council, Georgia Plywood Company and Mrs. Andrews. Second, the commitment of Mr. Cochran without a hearing and without a formal waiver of a hearing constitutes illegal detention. Third, the requirement of a local bondsman was unreasonable and arbitrary and further constitutes illegal detention. It is further apparent from the circumstances that there was collusion between the Sheriff and the citizen's committee, possibly the Justice of Peace and the local bondsman, to prevent Mr. Cochran's release.

We raise these questions with you for a specific purpose. We are not only concerned with the protection of our people who are in the field and who are legally working at their task of organization but also because we feel that the Board has some responsibility in these particular cases when they ask representatives of our Union to help obtain evidence which is the responsibility of the Board's Agent to be obtained by his personal investigation.

We do not object to giving such assistance to the Board in carrying out their responsibilities but we feel the Board has a responsibility when they [our organizers] assist in the investigation by the Board to see that they [our organizers] are protected and not jailed in the process.

We would appreciate your action in this matter even though it may require the use of the Department of Justice in making the necessary investigation so our people's rights, civil and otherwise, may be protected in assisting in the functions of the Board.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Very truly yours,

Claude Ballard

International Vice President

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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