Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union Records on Microfilm

Collection Number: 5685 mf

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union Records on Microfilm, 1915-1974
Collection Number:
5685 mf
Creator:
Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union;
Quantity:
33 microfilm reels
Forms of Material:
Records (documents), microfilm.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
Inventory of the Records of the Joint Board of Fur, Leather and Machine Workers
I. Papers and correspondence of executive officers including President Ben Gold (1930-53)
II. Organizers reports (1935-53)
III. Contracts (1935-53)
Language:
Collection material in English


ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The records of the International Fur and Leather Workers Union (1915-54), its New York Joint Board (1933-50) and the Joint Board Fur, Leather and Machine Workers Unions (1950-74). These records document the history of the fur and leather workers, the evolution of trade unionism in New York City's garment industries, and the political factionalism that divided all the needle trades during the 1920's and 1930's resulting in intense intra union warfare. In Garment Workers Union the radicals were either defeated or absorbed. Only the fur workers chose to be led by the left.
The Records of the International Fur and Leather Workers Union illustrate several factors that contributed to this result. As in all the needle trades, sweat shop conditions were unbearable, hours were long and wages low. For the furriers the situation was made even more intolerable by the corrupt practices of old line union leaders who accepted bribes from the fur processors of old line union leaders who accepted bribes from the fur processors who were then free to ignore their contracts. When the rank and file objected, gangsters were hired to forceably stifle discontent. The left, under the leadership of Ben Gold, manager of the New York Joint Board, and International Secretary-Treasurer Pietro Lucchi, fought to drive organized crime and corrupt union officials from New York City's fur district. After this battle was won in 1937, Ben Gold was selected as International President. The next year the fur workers struck and forced management to sign the first industry wide collective agreements.
As the records show, the union played an important role in the early C.I.O. period. After leaving the American Federation of Labor in 1937, it lent its support to the drives which organized mass production workers in the automobile, steel and rubber industries. In the late 1930's and early 1940's the fur and leather workers made a significant contributio to the C.I.O.'s Political Action Committee and its campaigns to insure the re-election of Prsident Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the second World War, the rising tide of conservatism, threw the union on to the defensive. In 1950, it was accused of being Communist controlled and was expelled from the C.I.O. Ben Gold was forced to resign as president after he was accused of perjuring himself by signing a non-Communist Taft-Hartlehy affidavit. In 1955, the union merged with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butchers Workers of North America. As part of this larger organization, the Joint Board of Fur, Leather and Machine Workers Unions continued to fight for higher wages and improved working conditions as well as for civil rights, peace and civil liberties.

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

Inventory of the Records of the Joint Board of Fur, Leather and Machine Workers
I. Papers and correspondence of executive officers including President Ben Gold (1930-53)
II. Organizers reports (1935-53)
III. Contracts (1935-53)
The Records fo the International Fur and Leather Workers and the Joint Board Fur, Leather and Machine Workers include the Papers of Presidents Morris Kaufman, Ben Gold and and Abraham Feinglass, Secretary-Treasurer Pietro Lucchi and Joint Board Managers Sam Burt and Henry Foner. Also included are administrative records, General Executive Board Minutes and local union correspondence.
A negative copy is available upon request.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Joint Board of Fur, Leather, and Machine Workers' Union

Subjects:
Leather workers-- Labor unions

Form and Genre Terms:
Records (documents)
Microfilm.


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:
Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union Records on Microfilm #5685 mf. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related Collections:
5676: International Fur and Leather Workers Union Records
5685: Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union Records
5685 P: Joint Board, Fur, Leather & Machine Workers Union Photographs
5924: International Fur and Leather Workers Union Additional Records

CONTAINER LIST

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