Guide to the Guide to the Jacob Billikopf Arbitration Awards,

Collection Number: 5110

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library

Contact Information:
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Compiled by:
Kheel Center staff
EAD encoding:
Casey S. Westerman, September 10, 2002

© 2002 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


Jacob Billikopf. Arbitration awards, 1925-1927.
Collection Number:
Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950.
.5 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Arbitration awards.
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


Jacob Billikopf was born the first of June, 1883, in Wilna, Russia. After coming to the United States, he attended the University of Chicago, and, upon graduation, began a career in public service work. He served as superintendent of the United Jewish Charities in Milwaukee and in Kansas City; Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in Philadelphia; Impartial Chairman in the New York men's clothing industry; Chairman of the National Labor Board for the Philadelphia region during the New Deal; Chairman of the ladies' garment industry in Philadelphia. He was a member of the boards of the Hew School for Social Research, and of Howard University. He died on the last day of December, 1950. (N.Y. Times obituary 1 Jan. 1951)


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.


Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950.
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

Arbitration, Industrial--New York (State)--New York--Cases.
Arbitrators, Industrial.
Clothing workers.

Form and Genre Terms:


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Cite As:
Jacob Billikopf. Arbitration awards, 1925-1927. #5110. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


5619. Amalgamated Clothing Workers Of America. Records, 1914-1980.


Also known as: New York City men's clothing industry vs. Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: arbitration awards of Jacob Billikopf.


Collection arranged by form of document.