© 2015 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was organized in December 1914, after the militant New York City locals of the
United Garment Workers of America had been denied representation at that body's October convention. Although the purposes
of the Union were expressed by its Constitution in terms of class struggle and worker solidarity, ACW leaders instituted
a program of union-management cooperation based upon the experiences of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union
with the Protocols of 1910-13, and the UGW locals in New York and Chicago with the establishment of permanent arbitration
machinery during the same period.
A prototype of subsequent agreements in the men's clothing industry may be found in the Chicago Hart, Schaffner& Marx agreements
of 1911-1913, since they involved the Union and a single manufacturer, rather than the Union and the
associated manufacturers of a particular geographical area, as was the case in the ladies1 garment industry. These agreements,
however, differed from the majority of Amalgamated Clothing Workers' agreements in following the Protocol' s model of
grievance machinery: "Clerks" for the workers and the employer attempted to settle disputes on the shop level. In cases
of disagreement, the matter went to a "Board of Trade" (Board of Grievances) composed of equal numbers of representing both
sides, but with an impartial chairman. Supreme authority was held by a Board of Arbitration, composed of a representative
each of the Union and the manufacturer, and a third person not connected with the industry chosen by the other two.
So complex a system was suitable for the Chicago market, where a few large manufacturers dominated the production of ready-to-wear
clothing, or a market in which a strong association of manufacturers might be established. The men's clothing
industry in New York City, however, was characterized by intense competition among numerous small manufacturers operating
"inside" or "outside" shops, or both. Although several associations existed, their membership determined by type of
garment produced (as Boys' Wash Suit Manufacturers' Association), geographical location (as the East Side Retail Clothing
Manufacturers' Association), or the type of manufacturing involved (ready-to-wear, special order, or custom tailoring),
none was strong enough to represent even a single sub-industry within the market. As a consequence, agreements of the
New York locals with associations or with individual manufacturers, from the time of the general strike in the winter of
1912-1913, called for negotiations of grievances by a shop chairman and a representative of the particular employer involved.
In case of disagreement, an impartial umpire was to be consulted, either as an individual arbitrator or as an
Impartial Chairman of an Arbitration Board. (Short-lived experiments with other methods were made from time to time, as
in the agreement of 1915-1916 with the American Clothing Manufacturers' Association, which provided for a "Board of
Moderators" composed of three representatives of the Union, three of the Association, and three of the public.)
Although strikes of short duration seemed to have been held before each new agreement was made, in each case the issues involved
were wages and hours, or out-of-town contracting, rather than the grievance procedure. The "Impartial Chairman"
system has functioned continuously and successfully whenever employers have been willing to bargain with the Amalgamated
and to consider seriously its demands. When they have not, as during the 1920-1921 lockout by member firms of the Clothing
Manufacturers' Association of New York, the result of a desire to return to a prewar "normalcy", amicable relations between
workers and employers has been impossible.
During the summer of 1919, a National Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers was formed by manufacturers in the New
York, Chicago, Rochester, and Baltimore markets, in an attempt to create machinery for regulating and stabilizing the
entire men's clothing industry. Such a plan was not to be successful until the Federal Government interfered to form the
Men's Clothing Code Authority under the National Recovery Administration in 1933. When the National Industrial Recovery Act
was declared unconstitutional in May, 1935, however, the cooperative Code Authority was dissolved, and conditions in the
industry reverted to those of 1932.
Includes over 400 arbitration awards by Billikopf for cases involving the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the
New York men's clothing industry.
The major issues include requests for additional contractors, the registration of contractors, requests to dispense with contractors,
dismissal, price adjustment, underproduction, contracting out to non-union shops, the use of non-union cutters,
reinstatement, work reduction in work force, wage reduction, departmental reorganization, and registered contractors not
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950
Arbitration, Industrial--New York (State)--New York--Cases.
Arbitration, Industrial. Men's clothing industry. United States.
Contracting out. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Employees, Dismissal of. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Labor contractors. Men's clothing industry. New York (N.Y.)
Labor productivity. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Trade-union security. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Trade-unions. Clothing workers. New York (N.Y.)
Wages. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Wages. Men's clothing industry. New York (N.Y.)
Work rules. Arbitration, Industrial. United States.
Form and Genre Terms: