ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Records 1922-1976

Collection Number: 5619/043

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Records, 1922-1976
Collection Number:
5619/043
Creator:
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Rochester Joint Board.
Sidney Hillman Foundation
Quantity:
4 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Correspondence, reports, publications.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
This collecion consists of correspondence, reports, collective bargaining agreements, and files from the Rochester Joint Board of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Includes material related to the Sidney Hillman Foundation distinguished lecture series at the University of Rochester.
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 Workers of America
Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union --Archives
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America --Archives
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Rochester Joint Board
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union --Archives
Sidney Hillman Foundation
Union of Needeltrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) --Archives
UNITE HERE (Organization) --Archives

Subjects:
Arbitration, Industrial--New York (State)--Rochester.
Clothing workers--New York (State)--Rochester.
Clothing workers--Labor unions--New York (State)--Rochester.
Collective bargaining--Clothing industry--New York (State)--Rochester.

Form and Genre Terms:
Correspondence
Publications
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:
ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Records, #5619/043. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related collections:
5273: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Minutes of Meetings
5273 mf: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Microfilm Minutes of Meetings
5285 mf: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Microfilm Scrapbooks
5416 mf: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board and the Rochester Clothiers' Exchange Records
5619: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
5619/043 AV: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Audio-Visual Materials
5993 mf: ACWA's Rochester Joint Board Microfilm Minutes of Meetings
And all other 5619 collections.

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Date
Box 1 Folder 1
Sidney Hillman Foundation. Distinguished lecturer series at University of Rochester.
1955-1963
Box 1 Folder 2
Health Center plans.
1953-1963
Box 1 Folder 3
General background of ACWA.
1922-1960
Box 1 Folder 4
Background of ACWA in Rochester.
1939-1960
Box 1 Folder 5
Memorandum of Law re Required Discharge of Union Employee
Box 1 Folder 6
Amalgamated Bank (1970)
1970
Box 1 Folder 7
Rochester Joint Board (RJB)
1970
Box 1 Folder 8
Political Material
1972
Box 1 Folder 9
Community Projects
1972
Box 1 Folder 10
RJB notices and misc. correspondence
1972
Box 1 Folder 11
Timely Clothes, Inc.
1971-1972
Box 1 Folder 12
Dues Increase Notices
1972
Box 1 Folder 13
Robert Hall Clothes
1972
Box 1 Folder 14
AFL-CIO Material
1972
Box 1 Folder 15
Advance & Newspaper (Publicity & Correspondence)
1972
Box 1 Folder 16
Joint Board Correspondence, Other than Local
1972
Box 1 Folder 17
General Office Correspondence
1972
Box 1 Folder 18
Clothier’s Exchange
1972
Box 1 Folder 19
Bourjois, Inc.
1972
Box 1 Folder 20
Bond Stores, Inc.
1972
Box 1 Folder 21
Box Plants, Correspondence
1972
Box 1 Folder 22
Amalgamated Bank (1972)
1972
Box 1 Folder 23
Fashion Park
1970-1972
Box 1 Folder 24
Chatman, Arthur, 1971
1971
Box 1 Folder 25
Fusing Material
1971
Box 1 Folder 26
Comparative Stamp Sales
1971
Box 1 Folder 27
Misc. Correspondence
1971
Box 1 Folder 28
General Office
1971
Box 1 Folder 29
Joint Board, Local
1971
Box 1 Folder 30
Timely Clothes
1971
Box 1 Folder 31
Syracuse and Utica Plants
1971
Box 1 Folder 32
State and Federal Mediation
1971
Box 1 Folder 33
Sheinkman, Jacob
1971
Box 1 Folder 34
Rochester Clothiers Exchange
1971
Box 1 Folder 35
Retail Stores
1971
Box 1 Folder 36
Joint Board (Other than local)
1971
Box 1 Folder 37
Comparative Stamp Sales, 1972
1972
Box 1 Folder 38
Amalgamated Insurance, 1971
1971
Box 1 Folder 39
Bond Industries, Inc.
1971
Box 1 Folder 40
Boxes, Bravo, Bourjois & Buttons
1971
Box 1 Folder 41
Political Material
1971
Box 1 Folder 42
Research Dept.
1971
Box 1 Folder 43
Political Material [folder 1 of 2]
1976
Box 1 Folder 44
Political Material [folder 2 of 2]
1976
Box 2 Folder 1
Misc. correspondence
1975
Box 2 Folder 2
Amalgamated Insurance Co.
1972
Box 2 Folder 3
Clothier’s Exchange & Affiliates
1970
Box 2 Folder 4
Firms not members of Clothier’s Exchange: Box, Stores, Etc.
1970
Box 2 Folder 5
Community Projects
1970
Box 2 Folder 6
Chatman, Abraham
1970
Box 2 Folder 7
Bryan, William
1970
Box 2 Folder 8
Bourjois, Inc.
1970
Box 2 Folder 9
Bond Stores, Inc
1970
Box 2 Folder 10
Arbitration (Arthur Stark)
1970
Box 2 Folder 11
New York State AFL-CIO etc.
1970
Box 2 Folder 12
Comparative Stamp Sales Reports
1970
Box 2 Folder 13
27th Biennial Convention
1970
Box 2 Folder 14
General Office ACWA
1970
Box 2 Folder 15
Material on Imports
1970
Box 2 Folder 16
Joint Boards Not Local
1970
Box 2 Folder 17
Metropolitan Thrift Store
1970
Box 2 Folder 18
Political Material
1970
Box 2 Folder 19
Research Dept, ACWA
1970
Box 2 Folder 20
Job applicant correspondence and resumes
1970
Box 2 Folder 21
Advance Editor
1976
Box 2 Folder 22
Airlines Credit Slips
1976
Box 2 Folder 23
Amalgamated Bank
1976
Box 2 Folder 24
Amalgamated Insurance [folder 1 of 2]
1976
Box 2 Folder 25
Amalgamated Insurance [folder 2 of 2]
1976
Box 2 Folder 26
Announcers
1976
Box 2 Folder 27
Bond Clothes
1976
Box 2 Folder 28
Christmas Card Order
1976
Box 2 Folder 29
Comparison Stamp Sales & Report
1976
Box 2 Folder 30
Community Projects
1976
Box 2 Folder 31
Contract Re-opening Letters
1976
Box 2 Folder 32
Contributions
1976
Box 2 Folder 33
Correspondence and Thank yous
1976
Box 2 Folder 34
Labor (State and Local)
1976
Box 2 Folder 35
AFL-CIO Material
1976
Box 2 Folder 36
John Herling's Labor Letter
1976
Box 2 Folder 37
Educational Material (Local and National)
1976
Box 2 Folder 38
National Agreements
1976
Box 3 Folder 1
Arbitration, notices and awards, 1964
1964
Box 3 Folder 2
General Office
1976
Box 3 Folder 3
Research Material
1976
Box 3 Folder 4
Rochester Button
1976
Box 3 Folder 5
Amalgamated bank
1971
Box 3 Folder 6
Cotton Garment
1976
Box 3 Folder 7
Joseph & Feiss
1976
Box 3 Folder 8
Labor Unity Newspaper
1976
Box 3 Folder 9
Michaels Stern
1976
Box 3 Folder 10
Miscellaneous
1976
Box 3 Folder 11
Joint Board notices
1976
Box 3 Folder 12
Invitations and Telegrams
1976
Box 3 Folder 13
GEB Meeting, 1976
1976
Box 3 Folder 14
NYS Judicial Nominating Committee-Robert Millonzi [folder 1 of 3]
1976
Box 3 Folder 15
NYS Judicial Nominating Committee-Robert Millonzi [folder 2 of 3]
1976
Box 3 Folder 16
NYS Judicial Nominating Committee-Robert Millonzi [folder 3 of 3]
1976
Box 3 Folder 17
Xerox Corp. Profit Sharing, 1971
1971
Box 3 Folder 18
Convention Material, 1972
1972
Box 3 Folder 19
Health Center
1970
Box 3 Folder 20
National Clothing
1976
Box 3 Folder 21
Receipts
1976
Box 3 Folder 22
Robert Hall
1976
Box 3 Folder 23
Social Services, J. Miller
1976
Box 3 Folder 24
Pavilion Nursing Home
1976
Box 3 Folder 25
Xerox Corporation
1976
Box 3 Folder 26
Tripp, HW Investments
1976
Box 3 Folder 27
Xerox Profit Sharing
1976
Box 3 Folder 28
Miscellaneous
1959-1973
Box 3 Folder 29
Brand Name Directory (ACTWU members)
1989
Box 3 Folder 30
Agreements. Bond Stores
1942-1971
Box 3 Folder 31
Agreements. Bond Stores, Sales People
1952-1972
Box 4 Folder 1
Agreements. Bond Stores, Manufacturing
1962-1966
Box 4 Folder 2
Agreements. Joseph Pietrafesca Co., Inc.
1963-1968
Box 4 Folder 3
Agreements. Hickey-Freeman Co
1965-1971
Box 4 Folder 4
Agreements. St. Joe Paper Co.
1962-1968
Box 4 Folder 5
Agreements. Timely Clothes, Inc.
1965
Box 4 Folder 6
Agreements. Sturdy Togs Inc
1965-1966
Box 4 Folder 7
Agreements. Robert Hall
1965-1974
Box 4 Folder 8
Agreements. Rochester Button
1953-1969
Box 4 Folder 9
Agreements. Rosco
1967-1970
Box 4 Folder 10
Agreements. Rubens Royal Uniform
1965
Box 4 Folder 11
Agreements. Bourjois, Inc.
1965-1966
Box 4 Folder 12
Agreements. Duxback Corp
1965-1969
Box 4 Folder 13
Agreements. Great Lakes Press
1964-1967
Box 4 Folder 14
Agreements. Joseph and Feiss Co
1963-1968
Box 4 Folder 15
Agreements. Walter Jamieson Co
1967-1969
Box 4 Folder 16
Agreements. Metropolitan Thrift Center
1964-1970
Box 4 Folder 17
Agreements. McFarlin Clothing Co, Retail Sales People
1965-1968
Box 4 Folder 18
Agreements. Michaels Stern & Co
1965-1968
Box 4 Folder 19
Agreements. National Clothing Co, Retails Sales People [folder 1 of 2]
1958-1966
Box 4 Folder 20
Agreements. National Clothing Co, Retails Sales People [folder 2 of 2]
1965-1971
Box 4 Folder 21
Agreements. National Suburban Stores
1958-1968
Box 4 Folder 22
Agreements. Clothing Manufacturers Association.
1974
Box 4 Folder 23
Audit Examinations
1965-1966
Box 4 Folder 24
Established Rules between Clothiers’ Exchange and RJB
1945-1969
Box 4 Folder 25
Rates. Michaels Stern
1969-1971
Box 4 Folder 26
Rates. Pietrafesa
1972