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President’s Committee Reports Racial Bias on U.S. Contract Work

January 19, 1953
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Although the President’s Committee on Government Contract Compliance reported this week-end that the non-discrimination clause in contracts was “almost forgotten” by some Federal departments, there were indications in the report that the Committee had achieved concrete results for Jewish workers in some instances.

The Bureau of Jewish Employment Problems, Chicago, furnished the Committee with documents alleging that a defense contractor with the Army Ordnance Department discriminated against qualified Jewish and Negro Applicants and members of other groups. This complaint had been referred previously to the Ordnance Department which reinvestigated the case following notification by the Committee. This complaint had been referred previously to. The company, which employs an estimated 1,000 persons, subsequently invited the Bureau of Jewish Employment Problems to a conference to work out an arrangement designed to comply with the nondiscrimination clause.

The firm then agreed to issue a statement of merit employment policy to all supervisory and employment personnel; to eliminate discriminatory questions on religion and nationality from employment application forms; and to instruct its personnel department to employ qualified applicants from all ethnic groups. It has been verified, said the Committee, that Jewish workers now are employed by the company in office and plant occupations.

The Committee, formed by President Truman on December 3, 1951, reported it had found that “evidence of discrimination is everywhere and takes many forms. To see bias in stark boldness, one need only read the help wanted section of almost any daily newspaper and note the advertisements signifying ‘white only’ or ‘Gentiles only.'” Dwight R.G. Palmer of New York, chairman of the General Cable Co., beaded the Committee. Its members included Irving M. Engel, Boris Shiskin, James B. Carey, George Meany, and others.

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