ACTWU's Conventions Records 1972-1987

Collection Number: 5619/028

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
ACTWU's Conventions Records, 1972-1987
Collection Number:
5619/028
Creator:
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Textile Workers' Union of America
Quantity:
3.3 linear feet
Forms of Material:
Correspondence, reports, publications.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
This collection consists of convention transcripts and other convention material from the 1972 Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America convention, the 1974 Textile Workers' Union of America convention, the 1976 Amalgamate Clothing and Textile Workers' Union merger convention, and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union triennial conventions for 1978, 1981, 1984, and 1987.
Language:
Collection material in English


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 and Textile Workers Union
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union --Archives
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America --Archives
Textile Workers' Union of America --Archives
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union --Archives
Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) --Archives
UNITE HERE (Organization) --Archives

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

Form and Genre Terms:
Records


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:
ACTWU's Conventions Records #5619/028. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

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

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Date
Box 1 Folder 1
Resolutions Correspondence
1972
Box 1 Folder 2
Miscellaneous Material
1972
Box 1 Folder 3
Statements on Staff
1972
Box 1 Folder 4
Sergeants-At-Arms
1972
Box 1 Folder 5
Tellers
1972
Box 1 Folder 6
Committee Distributions Lists
1972
Box 1 Folder 7
Committee Designations Correspondence
1972
Box 1 Folder 8
Committee Final Lists
1972
See also Box 4 for more information on Committee Members
Box 1 Folder 9
Resolutions From Affiliates
1972
Box 1 Folder 10
Resolutions. A: Amalgamated Insurance Program. Notes
1972
Box 1 Folder 11
Resolutions. A: Amalgamated Insurance Program.
1972
Box 1 Folder 12
Resolutions. A: Amalgamated Pension Program. Notes
1972
Box 1 Folder 13
Resolutions. A: Amalgamated Pension Program.
1972
Box 1 Folder 14
Resolutions. A: Industrial Matters
1972
Box 1 Folder 15
Resolutions. A: Law and Constitution
1972
Box 1 Folder 16
Resolutions. A1: Report to the GEB
1972
Box 1 Folder 17
Resolutions. A2: Organization
1972
Box 1 Folder 18
Resolutions. A3: Union Label
1972
Box 1 Folder 19
Resolutions. A4: Amalgamated Medical Care
1972
Box 1 Folder 20
Resolutions. A5: Amalgamated Day Care Centers
1972
Box 1 Folder 21
Resolutions. A6: Amalgamated Education Program
1972
Box 1 Folder 22
Resolutions. A8: Amalgamated Housing
1972
Box 1 Folder 23
Resolutions. A9: Amalgamated Retiree Services
1972
Box 1 Folder 24
Resolutions. B: Farm Workers
1972
Box 1 Folder 25
Resolutions. B: Martin Luther King Legislation
1972
Box 1 Folder 26
Resolutions. B: Miscellaneous
1972
Box 1 Folder 27
Resolutions. B1: Statement on Education
1972
Includes Wage-Price Freeze
Box 1 Folder 28
Resolutions. B2: Fair Labor Standards Act
1972
Includes 4 day, 40 Hour Week
Box 1 Folder 29
Resolutions. B4: Social Security
1972
Box 1 Folder 30
Resolutions. B5: Workmen's Compensation
1972
Box 1 Folder 31
Resolutions. B7: Political Education
1972
Box 1 Folder 32
Resolutions. B8: Crisis of the Cities
1972
Box 1 Folder 33
Resolutions. B9: Education
1972
Box 1 Folder 34
Resolutions. B10: The Environment
1972
Box 1 Folder 35
Resolutions. B11: NLRB and Taft-Hartley
1972
Box 1 Folder 36
Resolutions. B12: Women Workers
1972
Box 1 Folder 37
Resolutions. B13: Nation's Health
1972
Box 1 Folder 38
Resolutions. B14: Consumer Protection
1972
Box 1 Folder 39
Resolutions. B15: Civil Rights
1972
Box 1 Folder 40
Resolutions. B18: Occupational Safety and Health
1972
Box 1 Folder 41
Resolutions. B19: Unemployment Insurance
1972
Box 1 Folder 42
Resolutions. C2: Imports
1972
Box 1 Folder 43
Resolutions. C3: Foreign Policy
1972
Box 1 Folder 44
Resolutions. C4: Boys and Girls Town of Italy
1972
Box 1 Folder 45
Resolutions. C6: Italian-American Labor Council
1972
Box 1 Folder 46
Resolutions. C9: Israel and Histadrut
1972
Box 2 Folder 1
TWUA Convention. Decorations
1974
Box 2 Folder 2
TWUA Convention. Entertainment
1974
Box 2 Folder 3
TWUA Convention. Agenda
1974
Box 2 Folder 4
TWUA Convention. Manncraft
1974
Box 2 Folder 5
TWUA Convention. Electing the Slate
1974
Box 2 Folder 6
Merger Committee
1974-1976
Box 2 Folder 7
Merger. Salaries
1975
Box 2 Folder 8
Merger. Agreement and Plan
1976
Box 2 Folder 9
Merger. Correspondence
1976
Box 2 Folder 10
Merger Convention. Agenda
1976
Box 2 Folder 11
Merger Convention. Committees
1976
Box 2 Folder 12
Merger Convention. Decorations
1976
Box 2 Folder 13
Merger Convention. Delegates
1976
Box 2 Folder 14
Merger Convention. Dramatization. Owen Tapper
1976
Box 2 Folder 15
Merger Convention. Entertainment
1976
Box 2 Folder 16
Merger Convention. Exhibits
1976
Box 2 Folder 17
Merger Convention. Hargrove
1976
Box 2 Folder 18
Merger Convention. Marvin Himmel
1976
Box 2 Folder 19
Merger Convention. Hotel Arrangements
1976
Box 2 Folder 20
Merger Convention. Hotel Confirmation
1976
Box 2 Folder 21
Merger Convention. Memorial
1976
Box 2 Folder 22
Merger Convention. Rules for Elections and Voting on Merger
1976
Box 2 Folder 23
Merger Convention. Simultaneous Translation
1976
Box 2 Folder 24
Merger Convention. Staff Letters and Assignments
1976
Box 2 Folder 25
Merger Convention. Staff Meeting
1976
Box 2 Folder 26
Merger Convention. TWUA-ACWA Joint Meeting
1976
Box 2 Folder 27
Merger Convention. To Do Folder. Pre-Convention
1976
Box 2 Folder 28
Merger Convention. Bruce Raynor
1976
Box 2 Folder 29
Merger Convention. Usher Management
1976
Box 2 Folder 30
Merger Convention. Visual Aid Electronics. Bill Whalen
1976
Box 2 Folder 31
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. September 25, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 32
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. September 26, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 33
Convention Transcript. Afternoon Session. September 26, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 34
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. September 27, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 35
Convention Transcript. Afternoon Session. September 27, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 36
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. September 28, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 37
Convention Transcript. Afternoon Session. September 28, 1978
1978
Box 2 Folder 38
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. September 29, 1978
1978
Box 3 Folder 1
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. June 3, 1981
1981
Box 3 Folder 2
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. June 4, 1981
1981
Box 3 Folder 3
Convention Transcript. Morning Session. June 5, 1981
1981
Box 3 Folder 4
Convention Committees and Sergeants-At-Arms
1984
Box 3 Folder 5
Proposed Amendments to Constitution
1984
Box 3 Folder 6
Proposed Resolutions
1984
Box 3 Folder 7
Proposed Resolutions
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 8
Convention Unity
1984
June 11-15, 1984
Box 3 Folder 9
Convention Transcript. June 11, 1984
1984
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 10
Convention Transcript. June 11, 1984
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 11
Convention Transcript. June 11, 1984
1984
Copy 3
Box 3 Folder 12
Convention Transcript. June 12, 1984
1984
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 13
Convention Transcript. June 12, 1984
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 14
Convention Transcript. June 12, 1984
1984
Copy 3
Box 3 Folder 15
Convention Transcript. June 13, 1984
1984
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 16
Convention Transcript. June 13, 1984
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 17
Convention Transcript. June 13, 1984
1984
Copy 3
Box 3 Folder 18
Convention Transcript. June 14, 1984
1984
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 19
Convention Transcript. June 14, 1984
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 20
Convention Transcript. June 14, 1984
1984
Copy 3
Box 3 Folder 21
Convention Transcript. June 15, 1984
1984
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 22
Convention Transcript. June 15, 1984
1984
Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 23
Convention Transcript. June 15, 1984
1984
Copy 3
Box 3 Folder 24
Proposed Amendments to Constitution
1987
Box 3 Folder 25
Proposed Resolutions
1987
Box 3 Folder 26
Convention Committees and Sergeants-At-Arms
1987
Box 3 Folder 27
Convention Unity
1987
June 15-19, 1987
Box 3 Folder 28
Burt Beck. A Commitment to Progress
1987
Box 3 Folder 29
Convention. Handouts
1987
Box 3 Folder 30
Convention. Credentials
1987
Box 3 Folder 31
Convention Transcript. Fisrt Session. June 15, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 32
Convention Transcript. First Session. June 15, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 33
Convention Transcript. Second Session. June 16, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 34
Convention Transcript. Second Session. June 16, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 35
Convention Transcript. Third Session. June 16, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 36
Convention Transcript. Third Session. June 16, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 37
Convention Transcript. Fourth Session. June 17, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 38
Convention Transcript. Fourth Session. June 17, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 39
Convention Transcript. Fifth Session. June 18, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 40
Convention Transcript. Fifth Session. June 18, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 41
Convention Transcript. Sixth Session. June 18, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 42
Convention Transcript. Sixth Session. June 18, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 3 Folder 43
Convention Transcript. Seventh Session. June 19, 1987
1987
Unedited
Box 3 Folder 44
Convention Transcript. Seventh Session. June 19, 1987
1987
Unedited. Copy 2
Box 4 Folder 1
Index File of Convention Committee Members
1972
See also Box 1, Folder 19