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“Black and White, Unite and Fight”: Interracial Working‐Class Solidarity and Racial Employment Equality1

University of California, Los Angeles

How do the policies and practices of rival workers’ organizations affect the level of racial inequality under advanced capitalism? This article addresses this theoretical question by assessing how the interracial unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, as opposed to the racially exclusionist affiliates of the American Federation of Labor, affected the level of employment equality between black and white workers during the 1940s. The study finds that in the 37 nonsouthern states, and especially in the 15 highly unionized states, the stronger the CIO unions were, the more equal were the reductions in the unemployment rates of white and black workers during 1940–50.