ACWA's Sidney Hillman Scrapbooks, 1910-1964

Collection Number: 5619/003

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
ACWA's Sidney Hillman Scrapbooks, 1910-1964
Collection Number:
5619/003
Creator:
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Quantity:
18 linear feet
Forms of Material:
Photograph albums, Scrapbooks, News clippings.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
This collection consists of photograph albums and scrapbooks documenting strikes, organizing campaigns, and biographies of Sidney Hillman and Jacob Potofsky.
Language:
Collection material in English and Yiddish


ACWA/ACTWU ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the most significant union representing workers in the men's clothing industry, was founded in New York City in 1914 as a breakaway movement from the United Garment Workers. Radical and immigrant workers in the tailors’ and cutters’ locals were the core of the seceding group, which advocated industrial unionism and economic strikes in opposition to the UGW’s craft organization, which they saw as conservative and timid. Their diverging views had come to the fore during the historic 1910 dispute at the Chicago firm Hart, Schaffner, and Marx. The opposition called the strike against the UGW leadership’s advice, and reached a path-breaking agreement with management that established an arbitration system to settle disputes.
Members flocked to the new union. Around 50,000 strong at its founding, by 1920 the ACWA counted about 170,000 members. Initially composed mostly of immigrants of Jewish European descent with Socialist leanings, the ACWA quickly welcomed members of a great number of nationalities and diverse backgrounds. Like in other garment unions, most workers and many members were women, but the leadership was predominantly male, a situation that did not change for many decades. Early on the union adopted a centralized administrative structure combined with industrial unionism, with the joint boards’ by-laws having precedence over those of locals.
Espousing a philosophy perhaps brought over by its early immigrant socialist members, the Amalgamated went beyond bread and butter issues and adopted a distinctive form of social unionism that was largely absent in the American labor movement. Starting in the 1920s, it provided educational opportunities and recreational facilities for its members, as well as services such as an insurance plan, banks offering personal loans at low interest rates, low-cost housing cooperatives, medical clinics, and even union-owned restaurants.
Sidney Hillman was the first president of the new union and the most important officer in its history. He applied his experience as bargaining representative in Chicago to the whole industry. Under his leadership the union made significant strides in securing better wages and working conditions for its members, and at the same time it consolidated gains and provided stability to the industry through the widespread adoption of the arbitration system tested at Hart, Schaffner, and Marx. Hillman paid close attention to industry issues, such as production, pricing, and marketing. In order to help management meet the competition of non-union firms, the union conducted studies of efficiency, work methods, and factory costs. Letters to the official publication of the union, Advance, document the controversy that ensued within the union over what was perceived to be collaboration with management.
Hillman also understood the importance of labor’s involvement in national affairs and political action. In the 1920s the ACWA sent delegates to the Conference for Progressive Political Action and to the Farmer-labor party conventions. Although many members and officers were Socialists, the union stopped short of officially endorsing the party. Communist attempts at gaining influence within the union were firmly curbed. Hillman’s participation in national affairs and politics became prominent during the New Deal, when he became a close advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt on labor and economic issues. He also served on the board of the National Recovery Administration. Later, during World War II, he helped establish the Labor’s Non Partisan League. He was also named associate director of the Office of Production Management, which assisted in mobilizing the nation's resources for the war effort. Hillman’s prestige perhaps reflected the healthy condition of his union, which by the end of the conflict was strong and stable.
During the post World War II period the union faced a number of significant challenges. Membership continued to grow (peaking at 395,000 in 1968), but the union’s political influence and visibility in national affairs declined. In their never ending pursuit of lower production costs, many firms relocated to the South, forcing the union to engage in large organizing efforts. Simultaneously, signs began to appear of changes that would lead to the almost complete demise of the domestic apparel industry and, ultimately, to the erosion of union membership. Foreign imports of cheap clothing goods steadily grew in the 1950s and 1960s, and mushroomed in the following two decades, plunging employment in the apparel sector into a steady decline. Union efforts to stem the tide included Buy American campaigns and extensive lobbying in Congress, but they were to no avail. In 1976, the ACWA merged with the Textile Workers of America to become the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. Despite successful and much publicized nationwide actions such as the Farah boycott and the J.P. Stevens corporate campaign, the woes threatening the union’s existence continued unabated. The fate of the domestic industry was sealed in the late 1970s and the 1980s by the flight of firms chasing tax breaks and cheap labor abroad. By 1995, when ACTWU voted to merge with the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, their combined membership was 350,000. The new Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!) seemed poised to infuse new life in a troubled union.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Hillman, Sidney, 1887-1946
Potofsky, Jacob, 1892-1979
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union --Archives
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America --Archives
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union --Archives
Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees --Archives
UNITE HERE (Organization) --Archives

Subjects:
Textile workers--Labor unions--New York (State)
Clothing workers--Labor unions--New York (State)

Form and Genre Terms:
Scrapbooks


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:
ACWA's Sidney Hillman Scrapbooks #5619/003. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related collections:
5619: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
5619/005: ACWA's Bessie Hillman Papers
5619/010: ACWA's Jacob Potofsky Records from the President's Office
And all other 5619 collections.

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Date
Box 22
Federation of Jewish Charities
1941
Photo Album, Vol. 1.
Box 23
Dinner for David Drechsler
1947
Photo Album, Vol. 2.
Box 24
Jacob S. Potofsky
1947-1948
Photo Album, Vol. 3.
Box 25
Jacob S. Potofsky
1949
Photo Album, Vol. 4.
Box 26
Jacob S. Potofsky
1950
Photo Album, Vol. 5.
Box 27
Jacob S. Potofsky
1950-1951
Photo Album, Vol. 6.
Box 28
Jacob S. Potofsky
1951-9153
Photo Album, Vol. 7.
Box 29
Jacob S. Potofsky
1954-1958
Photo Album, Vol. 8.
Box 30
Jacob S. Potofsky
1957-1959
Photo Album, Vol. 9.
Box 31
Latin American Committee, CIO
1946-1954
Photo Album, Vol. 10.
Box 32
Silver Jubilee
1940
Photo Album, Vol. 11.
Box 33
15th Biennial Convention, ACWA
1946
Photo Album, Vol. 12. May 6-10, 1946. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 34
16th Biennial Convention, ACWA
1948
Photo Album, Vol. 13. May 10-15, 1948. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 35
17th Biennial Convention, ACWA
1950
Photo Album, Vol. 14. May 15, 1950. Cleveland, OH
Box 36
18th Biennial Convention, ACWA
1952
Photo Album, Vol. 15. May 12-16, 1952. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 37
19th Biennial Convention, 40th Anniversary, ACWA
1954
Photo Album, Vol. 16. May 10-14, 1954. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 38
20th Biennial Convention, ACWA
1956
Photo Album, Vol. 17. May 21-25, 1956,. Washington, DC
Box 39
21st Biennial Convention, ACWA
1958
Photo Album, Vol. 18. May 12-16, 1958. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 40
22nd Biennial Convention, ACWA
1960
Photo Album, Vol. 19. May 30-June 3, 1960. Bal Harbour, FL
Box 41
23rd Biennial Convention, ACWA
1962
Photo Album, Vol. 20. May 14-16, 1962. Atlantic City, NJ
Box 42
30th Anniversary, Pennsylvania Joint Board. Honoring David Monas, August 24, 1963.
1963
Photo Album, Vol. 21.
Box 43
Chicago strike
1915
Scrapbook, Vol. 22.
Box 44
ACWA clippings
1920-1921
Scrapbook, Vol. 23.
Box 45
ACWA clippings
1921
Scrapbook, Vol. 24.
Box 46
St. Louis strike
1933
Scrapbook, Vol. 31.
Box 47
Leo Wolman
1914-1933
Scrapbook, no number
Box 48
Baltimore strike
1932
Scrapbook, Vol. 29.
Box 49
Baltimore strike
1932
Scrapbook, Vol. 30.
Box 50
Jacob S. Potofsky
1940-1945
Scrapbook, Vol. 35.
Box 51
American Labor Party, ALP
1936-1944
Scrapbook, Vol. 38.
Box 52
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
1936-1938
Scrapbook, Vol. 33. English and Yiddish
Box 53
Partners in Progress. Report of the International Advisory Board, March 1951
1951
Scrapbook, Vol. 49. A Sampling of Press and Radio Reaction
Box 54
Press Book 1: General Magazines and Labor Press
1964
Scrapbook, Vol. 50.
Box 55
Press Book 2: Newspapers
1964
Scrapbook, Vol. 51.
Box 56
Sidney Hillman: With Love and Devotion
1910-1921
Red Book. Vol. 1. English and Yiddish
Box 57
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1921-1924
Red Book. Vol. 2. English and Yiddish
Box 58
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1924-1928
Red Book. Vol. 3. English and Yiddish
Box 59
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1929-1932
Red Book. Vol. 4. English and Yiddish
Box 60
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1933-1935
Red Book. Vol. 5.
Box 61
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1936-1937
Red Book. Vol. 6.
Box 62
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1938-1939
Red Book. Vol. 7.
Box 63
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1940-1941
Red Book. Vol. 8.
Box 64
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1942-1943
Red Book. Vol. 9.
Box 65
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1944
Red Book. Vol. 10: Part 1.
Box 66
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1944
Red Book. Vol. 10: Part 2.
Box 67
Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1945-1946
Red Book. Vol. 11.
Box 68
In Memory of Sidney Hillman: The Statesman of the New Industrial Order
1946
Red Book. Vol. 12.
Box 69
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: The Record from the Press
1946-1950
Red Book. Vol. 13.
Box 70
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: The Record from the Press
1951-1952
Red Book. Vol. 14.
Box 71
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: The Record from the Press
1953-1954
Red Book. Vol. 15.
Box 72
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: The Record from the Press
1955-1956
Red Book. Vol. 16.
Box 73
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: The Record from the Press
1957-1958
Red Book. Vol. 17.
Box 74
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
1959-1961
AMSL. Scrapbook.
Box 75
ACWA clippings
1934-1936
Scrapbook. Vol. 32.