Samuel Gompers Papers

To  Joseph Skemp

                                                                                                                                                      Oct. 21, 1911

Mr. J. C. Skemp,
Secretary-Treasurer, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America,
Drawer 99, Lafayette, Ind.

Dear Sir and Brother:

        Among other matters which have received the consideration of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor, now in session in this city, has been the correspondence with you and with our organizer in Waycross, Georgia, in regard to the colored painters of that city.

        Briefly stated, the case is as follows:

        Organizer Sauls of Waycross reported that the local union of colored painters, affiliated with your Brotherhood, became so reduced in numbers during the panic, that it was unable to hold a charter; that the men now want to re-organize, but that the local union of white painters object.

        The matter was then taken up with you. You stated that the local union of colored painters, when in existence, had given so much trouble to the local union of white painters, that the latter refused to consent to the re-issuance of a charter to the former. You further stated that your Executive Board would not consent to the issuance of a charter by the A.F. of L to the colored painters of Waycross as a federal labor union.

        Later, Organizer Sauls advised this office that the situation was becoming quite difficult, as the negro carpenters were organized, but the negro painters were not permitted to organize. The above is the situation briefly stated.

        The Executive Council directed that it should be referred to the executive officers of your Brotherhood. Not only in the interests of the colored painters of Waycross, but in the interests of the white painters and of the entire labor movement of that city, I am sure you will agree with me that some way should be found whereby the colored painters may become identified with the organized labor movement of your locality, for otherwise it can very readily be seen that in the case of any trade controversy arising whereby your members, or the members of other unions of the building trades might become involved in a strike, the colored painters could be most advantageously used as strike breakers.

        May I ask that this matter be further considered by your Executive Board, and that you will let me hear from you in regard thereto.

        With kind regards, I remain,

                                               Fraternally yours,
                                               Saml Gompers.

                                               President
                                              American Federation of Labor.

TLpS, reel 160, vol. 172, pp. 277-78, SG Letterbooks, DLC.