© 2002 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and
Archives, Cornell University Library
.5 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management
Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Includes over 400 arbitration awards by
Billikopf for cases involving the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and
the New York men's clothing industry.
Collection material in English
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, ACWA 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 ladies' 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.
1925-1929 awards of Jacob Billikopf. 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 receiving work.