ACTWU's Subject Records 1925-1995

Collection Number: 5619/020

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


ACTWU's Subject Records, 1925-1995
Collection Number:
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
3 linear feet
Forms of Material:
Correspondence, reports, publications.
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
This collection consists of subject files for Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union. Arranged alphabetically for each union.
Collection material in English


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.

Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union --Archives
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America --Archives
Eaton Yale & Towne --Archives
Electrolux Group --Archives
Emerson Electric (Firm) --Archives
Flintkote Company --Archives
GAF Corporation --Archives
Globe-Union Incorporated --Archives
H.K. Porter Company --Archives
Harvey Hubbell, Inc. --Archives
Hercules Corporation --Archives
Hooker Chemical Corporation --Archives
Inmot Corporation --Archives
Interco, Inc. --Archives
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union --Archives
Johns-Manville Corporation --Archives
Johnson & Johnson --Archives
Kendall Company --Archives
Kidde, Inc. --Archives
Koppers Company --Archives
Leggett and Platt, Inc. --Archives
McGraw-Edison Company --Archives
Merck & Co. --Archives
Murray Corporation of America --Archives
National Gypsoum Company --Archives
Olin Corporation --Archives
Outboard Marine Corporation --Archives
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation --Archives
Ozite Corporation --Archives
PPG Industries --Archives
Quaker Oats Company --Archives
Revere Copper and Brass Incorporated --Archives
Rexall Drug and Chemical Company --Archives
Rohm and Hass Company --Archives
Sealy Holdings, Inc. --Archives
Sheller Manufacturing Corporation --Archives
Singer Company --Archives
Stauffer Chemical Company --Archives
Textron, Inc. --Archives
Union Carbide Corporation --Archives
Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE)--Archives
UNITE HERE (Organization) --Archives
United States Pipe and Foundry Company --Archives
United States. Occupational Safety and Health --Archives
W.R. Grace & Co. --Archives
Whirlpool Corporation --Archives

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

Form and Genre Terms:


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:
ACTWU's Subject Records, #5619/020. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related collections:
5619: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
And all other 5619 collections.


Box 1 Folder 1
ACTWU: Activities/Programs/Grants
Box 1 Folder 2
ACTWU: Amalgamated Service and Allied Industries Joint Board
Box 1 Folder 3
ACTWU: By-Laws (model form for local unions and joint board)
Box 1 Folder 4
ACTWU: Collective Bargaining/Banks/SLA's
Box 1 Folder 5
ACTWU: Companies using the ACTWU Union Label
Box 1 Folder 6
ACTWU: Companies where more than 1,000 employees are represented
Box 1 Folder 7
ACTWU: Cotton Garment Shops: Plant Average Earnings, Aug. 1994
August, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 8
ACTWU: Day care
Box 1 Folder 9
ACTWU: Denim Mills: Summary of Economic Benefits, 1/10/94
January 10, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 10
ACTWU: Elections and Recognitions in U.S. and Canada, by Jonit Board, 1983 - 1993.
Box 1 Folder 11
ACTWU: Employment at Plants (U.S.), by primary SIC, 3/21/1995
March 21, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 12
ACTWU: Establishments and Employees in Textile & Apparel Industries, by 4-digit SIC (U.S. and Canada), 3/31/95
March 31, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 13
ACTWU: Establishments and Employees, by state and province, 3/21/95
March 21, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 14
ACTWU: Member's Kit
Box 1 Folder 15
ACTWU: Membership by Geographical Region, 1977, 1986, 1994 (9/11/95)
September 11, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 16
ACTWU: Organizing Conference: 9/15/1986
September 15, 1986.
Box 1 Folder 17
ACTWU: Plants that closed and shifted operations to Mexico, 10/31/91
October 31. 1991.
Box 1 Folder 18
ACTWU: Shoe workers - Merger
Box 1 Folder 19
ACTWU: Synthetic Fiber Plants: Contract Comparison
Box 1 Folder 20
ACTWU: Total Elections won 1982 - 1994; number of workers, by industry and year
Box 1 Folder 21
ACTWU: Trade Adjustment Assistance
Box 1 Folder 22
ACTWU: Uniform and Work Wear Manufacturers and their Industrial Customers, 1/8/1992
January 8, 1992.
Box 1 Folder 23
ACTWU: United Hatters Merger
Box 1 Folder 24
ACTWU: Average Wages of Competitors of Greif, 8/26/1994
August 26, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 25
ACTWU: Workers covered under contract by region, 3/27/95
March 27, 1995.
Box 1 Folder 26
ACWA/ACTWU: politics
Box 1 Folder 27
ACWA: Bibliography [folder 1 of 2]
Box 1 Folder 28
ACWA: Bibliography [folder 2 of 2]
Box 1 Folder 29
ACWA: Credit Unions
Box 1 Folder 30
ACWA: Constitutions and by-laws [folder 1 of 2]
Box 1 Folder 31
ACWA: Constitutions and by-laws [folder 2 of 2]
Box 1 Folder 32
ACWA: Directories
Box 1 Folder 33
ACWA: Education
Box 1 Folder 34
ACWA: General Descriptive Material
Box 1 Folder 35
ACWA: Glove Workers - merger
Box 1 Folder 36
ACWA: History
Box 1 Folder 37
ACWA: History
Box 2 Folder 1
ACWA: History
Box 2 Folder 2
ACWA: membership
Box 2 Folder 3
ACWA: membership (national)
Box 2 Folder 4
ACWA: membership (by age and sex)
Box 2 Folder 5
ACWA: membership (by ethnic group)
Box 2 Folder 6
ACWA: membership (by industry branch)
Box 2 Folder 7
ACWA: membership (geographic)
Box 2 Folder 8
ACWA: merger with TWU
Box 2 Folder 9
ACWA: Textile Workers Union, Merger Clips
Box 2 Folder 10
ACWA: Pension Plans
Box 2 Folder 11
ACWA: Research Department
Box 2 Folder 12
ACWA: Staff retirement plan
Box 2 Folder 13
Amalgamated Bank of New York - Financial Statements
Box 2 Folder 14
Amalgamated Bank, merger clippings
Box 2 Folder 15
Amalgamated Bank, clippings
Box 2 Folder 16
Amalgamated Bank, clippings
Box 2 Folder 17
Amalgamated Bank, clippings
Box 2 Folder 18
Amalgamated Bank, clippings
Box 2 Folder 19
Amalgamated Bank, clippings
Box 2 Folder 20
Amalgamated Education
Box 2 Folder 21
Amalgamated Housing
Box 2 Folder 22
Amalgamated Housing
Box 3 Folder 1
Amalgamated Housing
Box 3 Folder 2
Amalgamated Housing, co-op city, Bronx
Box 3 Folder 3
Amalgamated Trust and Savings; Chicago/Financial statements
Box 3 Folder 4
Amalgamated Trust and Savings; Chicago/Financial statements
Box 3 Folder 5
Annual payments toward group insurance for bargaining unit employees; ACTWU southern textiles, prior to 1986 wage movement
Box 3 Folder 6
Automotive Airbag and Component Plants, 9/15/93
September 15, 1993.
Box 3 Folder 7
Average compensation of ACTWU workers at Southern Textile Co.
Spring 1981, January 1988- December 1988
Box 3 Folder 8
Big Units Target Unit
Box 3 Folder 9
Education Fund Plan: Chicago
Box 3 Folder 10
Establishments and Employees under contract with UNITE
June, 1996.
Box 3 Folder 11
Department of Social Services
Box 3 Folder 12
Labor - banks
Box 3 Folder 13
Labor Unions - jurisdiction
Box 3 Folder 14
Labor Unions: United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International
Box 3 Folder 15
Merger - Working Papers
Box 3 Folder 16
Merger and convention clippings
Box 3 Folder 17
Mexican plants of ACTWU companies in Auto Parts Industry
June 22, 1994.
Box 3 Folder 18
Philadelphia Scholarship Fund
Box 3 Folder 19
Productivity and Real Earnings: Apparel and Textile Industries, 1955-1992
February 1, 1996.
Box 3 Folder 20
Profile of Auto Parts Industry
March 1, 1994.
Box 3 Folder 21
Sample Loom/Weaver Ratios at ACTWU Weaving Mills
June 10, 1992.
Box 3 Folder 22
Selected Auto Parts Companies
June 15, 1994.
Box 3 Folder 23
Social Service Department
Box 3 Folder 24
Story of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and its People
Box 3 Folder 25
Survey of ACWTU "Cotton Garment" shops: brand names and customers
August 19, 1994.
Box 3 Folder 26
Tailored Clothing Research Project (preliminary report)
July 21, 1993.
Box 3 Folder 27
Tailored Clothing Industry: Survey Report, Plants Under ACTWU contract
July 28, 1993.
Box 3 Folder 28
Textile and Apparel Employment and Real Hourly Earnings (chart)
Box 3 Folder 29
UNITE Distribution Centers: Summary of Wages and Benefits
November 21, 1995.