The Weber decision: a gain for the working class

July 17, 2023

In June 1979 the Supreme Court upheld a contract negotiated by the United Steelworkers of America with Kaiser Aluminum. In order to upgrade employment for those targeted by longstanding discrimination, the contract had established a quota that one-half of the places in a new job-training program would be reserved for Blacks and women. The court rejected claims by attorneys for Brian Weber, a worker at Kaiser’s plant in Gramercy, Louisiana, that he had been illegally excluded from the training program because he was white.

Prior to that USWA contract, while 39 percent of workers at the Gramercy plant were African American, only five of 273 skilled jobs there had been held by Black workers, and none by women. At the time, socialist workers and others actively campaigned across the country and throughout the labor movement with the pamphlet The Weber Case: New Threat to Affirmative Action; How Labor, Blacks, and Women Can Fight for Equal Rights and Jobs for All. Published by Pathfinder Press, it cost 75¢.

—Taken from Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism.