Decision of the Boards Regarding Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers

Collection Number: 5107

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
Decision of the Boards Regarding Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers, 1913- 1925
Collection Number:
5107
Creator:
Board of Arbitration;
Trade Board
Quantity:
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Records (documents).
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers, United Garment Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Board of Arbitration and the Trade Board : decisions of the Boards, 1913-1925.
Language:
Collection material in English


ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

Section I
In 1910 the clothing industry was made up of many small tailor shops, the Chicago Wholesale Clothiers Association (an organization of large firms) and Hart, Schaffner and Marx, the one big firm which refused to join the Association. As competition forced the smaller shops out of independent existence, many of them turned to contract work for the larger shops. Finally, Hart, Schaffner and Marx withdrew all their work from the contractors and opened inside shops, employing over 8,000 workers.
This was the signal for both groups to try to reduce their labor costs and the worker was caught in the middle. Almost without exception they were recent immigrants from several European nations who had learned their trade at home and had no other skill. They were without a common language, unable to speak English and had no knowledge of industrial conditions in America. Few of them were organized in a trade union, the work was seasonal in character and an abundant supply of labor was available so that the worker's earnings were low and his hours excessive.
Wages averaged from four to fourteen dollars a week and the day began at 7:30 a.m. and lasted until six. On September 22, 1910 Hart, Schaffner and Marx reduced the rate for seaming pants from four cents a pair to 3.74 cents. Several girls walked out rather than accept the cut, and this unexpectedly provoked an immediate response in the other shops.
A group of workers appealed to District Council 6 of the United Garment Workers for help, but not until more than 18,000 had walked off the job and the Chicago Daily Socialist threatened to publish a call for a general strike did the Council act. Then the strike grew so fast they were unable to handle it alone.
The Chicago Federation of Labor and the Women's Trade Union League supported the strikers and early in November a Joint Strike Conference Board was set up.
On November 5, the United Garment Workers signed an agreement with Hart, Schaffner and Marx, alone, and when it was presented to the workers they turned it down. A second agreement was proposed in December and voted down.
On January 11, 1911 Hart, Schaffner and Marx and the United Garment Workers agreed to a settlement which stipulated that all employees be returned to work without discrimination against union members, and an arbitration committee of three be chosen to settle all grievances.
The Joint Board selected Clarence Darrow as their arbitrator and Hart, Schaffner end Marx chose Carl Meyer. Unable to secure a third arbitrator, the parties agreed that the Board of Arbitration would be made up of only two. Among the first recommendations of the new board was one suggesting the company provide a means of handling grievances which resulted in setting up a Labor Complaint Department. During its first year the Department handled over 800 complaints. The arbitrators met fifty times and handed down twenty written decisions and many oral ones.
The system, however, was not satisfactory. It still took too long for a case to be decided and discontent grew. A conference proposed that a committee of five (two from the company, two from the union and a fifth chosen by the four) be appointed to formulate rules and adjust prices. This committee created a Trade Board of eleven members whose decisions would be binding unless appealed to the Board of Arbitration in three days.
Later the Trade Board was reduced to five members and a third person selected for the Board of Arbitration. A new agreement was signed in 1913 which continued in effect through the period of the formation of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the general strikes of 1915-16. There were no work stoppages at Hart, Schaffner and Marx.
John E. Williams served as impartial chairman of the Board of Arbitration from 1912 until his death in 1919. James H. Tufts served until 1921, when he was succeeded by Harry A. Millis. In 1923 William M. Leiserson became impartial chairman.
* Section II
On February 3, 1911 the United Garment Workers called off the general strike. The workers slowly trickled back to the other firms without any agreement. Dissatisfaction with the United Garment Workers came to a head in the 191?- convention at Nashville when a rump convention elected a second slate of officers, which in a second convention adopted the name of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.
The Amalgamated launched an organizing drive in the summer of 1915 and at a mass meeting in Chicago in September a list of demands on the non-union manufacturers was drawn up with an ultimatum that if they were not met a general strike would be called. The strike lasted until December 12, 1915, and although the union was not recognized, several concessions were made by the employers.
Organization of the market continued, but it was not until May 1919 that all of the associations recognized the union. In that agreement arbitration machinery patterned after the experience under the Hart, Schaffner and Marx agreement was set up. Although there were separate agreements and separate impartial machinery set up, the personnel of the two boards were the same. In the late 30's the boards were merged to form a single trade board and a single board of arbitration for the entire market.

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers, United Garment Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Board of Arbitration and the Trade Board : decisions of the Boards, 1913-1925.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers.
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America--Sources.
Hart, Schaffner & Marx--Sources.
Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers--Sources.
United Garment Workers of America--Sources.

Subjects:
Arbitration, Industrial--United States--Sources.

Form and Genre Terms:
Records (documents).


INFORMATION FOR USERS

Access Restrictions:
Access to the collections in the Kheel Center is restricted. Please contact a reference archivist for access to these materials.
Restrictions on Use:
This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.
Cite As:
Decision of the Boards Regarding Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Chicago Industrial Federation of Clothing Manufacturers #5107. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related Collections:
5108: Rochester (NY) Clothiers Exchange Arbitration Files
5110: Jacob Billikopf New York City Men's Clothing Industry Arbitration Case Files
5619: ACWA Records
5619/001: ACTWU Collective Bargaining Agreements
5619/003: ACWA Sidney Hillman Scrapbooks
5619/005: ACWA Bessie Hillman Papers
5619/010: ACWA Jacob Potofsky files
5619/012: ACTWU Company Files
5619/018: ACTWU Secretary-Treasurer's Office Files
5619/036: ACTWU President's Office Murray Finley Files
5619/040: ACWA Sidney Hillman Award Files
5981 P: ACTWU Labor Unity Photograph Files
5999 P: Jacob Potofsky Photographs
6000/048: UNITE Executive Assistant to the President David Melman Papers
6046: Archives Union File (AUF)
6060 mf: American Trust for the British Library Project Master Negatives on Microfilm

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Box 1 Folder 1
Box 1 Folder 2
Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Box 1 Folder 5
Box 1 Folder 6
Box 1 Folder 7
Box 1 Folder 8
Box 1 Folder 9
Box 1 Folder 10
Box 2 Folder 1
Box 2 Folder 2
Box 2 Folder 3
Box 2 Folder 4