ILGWU. Los Angeles Joint Board records

Collection Number: 5780/046

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


ILGWU. Los Angeles Joint Board records, 1934-1968
Collection Number:
Los Angeles Joint Board International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The collection consists of the meeting minutes of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Los Angeles Cloak Joint Board, 1934-1968. Also included are weekly reports for the years 1941-1942.
Collection material in English


Founded in 1900 by local union delegates representing about 2,000 members in cities in the northeastern United States, the ILGWU grew in geographical scope, membership size, political influence to become one of the most powerful forces in American organized labor by mid-century. Representing workers in the women's garment industry, the ILGWU worked to improve working and living conditions of its members through collective bargaining agreements, training programs, health care facilities, cooperative housing, educational opportunities, and other efforts. In 1995, the ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) to form the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).


The first local in Los Angeles was founded in March 1907, and due to its low membership, existed for only three months. Approximately three years later (1910-1911), Local 52 was chartered and by 1920 had changed its name to the Cloak, Suit, Skirt, and Reefer Makers' Union of Los Angeles to reflect the broad range of manufacturing within the ladies' garment industry. During the union's struggle with Communism among the membership in the 1920s, the ILGWU General Executive Board (GEB) revoked Local 52's charter in November 1928, alleging Communist corruption and planned secession. The Los Angeles union had to be reorganized, and a new Local 65 was formed with former members who had remained loyal to the ILGWU and the GEB. In 1933, Rose Pesotta was sent to Los Angeles to begin a large scale organization drive. During 1933, both Cutters' Local 84 and Dressmakers' Local 96 were formed. While the strike in October 1933 was ineffective and gains were limited, the strike did prove the successful organizing of Latina dressmakers. At the beginning of 1934, the Los Angeles Joint Board was formed with representatives of Locals 65, 84 and 96. Early board members included H. Rubinstein (manager), L. Pine (chairman), Axelrod (vice chairman), and Paul Berg (secretary). Later that year, Pressers' Local 97 was chartered. As union membership increased, the garment workers began making substantial gains during contract negotiations. Advances were made in wages, hours and holidays. The cloak industry became a closed shop and the sector almost 100% unionized. A new local, 236, was chartered in 1936. During this time, the dressmakers underwent another strike, and Isidore Lutsky was the manager of the Joint Board.
In 1940, the Los Angeles Cloak Joint Board separated from the Dress Joint Board. George Wishnak served as the manager of the Dress Joint Board, and Louis Pine managed the Cloak Joint Board from 1941 until his death in 1946. New production in the sportswear industries necessitated the chartering of Local 266 (sportswear and cotton dress workers). By 1947, Los Angeles became the first in the manufacture of sportswear and second to New York in cloak production. Joseph Springer led the Cloak Joint Board from 1946-1950. The Cloak Joint Board was primarily composed of Operators and Finishers Local 65, Cutters Local 65, and Pressers Local 97. The Dress Joint Board was composed of the large Dressmakers' Local 96 and the cutters and pressers in the dress trade of 84 and 97. These Joint Boards represented much of the skilled workers in the garment industry in Los Angeles, and sights were set on organizing the tens of thousands of unskilled workers. Again, the activities of Communist members within the union began to bring conflict on the west coast, and in 1949, a Special Committee of the ILGWU placed the Cloak Joint Board under the direction of Morris Bagno, and the Dress Joint Board under the supervision of Margaret Di Maggio, to use special powers to remove the remaining Communist influence. In October 1950, Isidore Stenzor took over management of the Cloak Joint Board, a position he would hold until 1970. The ILGWU Health Center for Los Angeles was established in 1951, offering a wide range of service.
The Cloak Joint Board moved to new headquarters in 1955, but the 1950s also saw a shift in production towards sportswear, as membership for Local 266 continued to increase and soon surpass the Operators Local 55 in numbers. In 1955, the ILGWU GEB recommended the merger of the two non-cloak industries, and in September 1955, the Los Angeles Dress and Sportswear Joint Board was created with manager John Ulene. Ulene retired in January 1968 after 50 years of service with the ILGWU. He had been elected head of the Sportswear Joint Council then managed the combined Dress and Sportswear Joint Board from 1955-1968. Sam Schwartz, the director of organizing for the Joint Board, succeeded Ulene as manager for the Dress and Sportswear Joint Board. With decline in membership and a contraction of the union over the next decades, by December 1970, the Los Angeles Dress and Sportswear Joint Board and the Cloak Joint Board merged to form the new Los Angeles Joint Board. Stenzor, who had been manger of the Cloak Board since 1950 resigned, and Cornelius Wall, the Western States Region Director, became the manager for the new Joint Board.


The collection consists of the minute books of the Los Angeles Joint Board. The minute books date to the first meeting, which was held on January 27, 1934 at the headquarters located at 947 S. Main Street, Los Angeles. L. Pine, chairman of Local 65, initiated the Joint Board, and delegates from all three locals were present. At the first meeting, officers for the new Joint Board were nominated and elected, as well as members for the Rules and Regulation Committee. Also at the first meeting Rose Pesotta announced her decision to leave Los Angeles as she completed her duties with Local 96. The Joint Board of the Cloak and Dressmakers Union consisted of Locals 65, 84, and 96. The minute books contain information on the initial financial structure of the Joint Boardall income, dues, assessments, fines, donations, initiation fees, etc. were to go to the Joint Board, and a per capita tax of five cents would go back to each local; each local would receive 50% of initiation fees and fines, and all debts owed by locals were to be assumed by the Joint Board. These early minutes also provide the details of the forming of the Joint Board, including financial statements, roll call lists, meeting rosters, and office reports from both the cloak and dress departments. There are also reports from outside committees, communications (including with the international), manager's report, election results, and the rules and regulations of the Joint Board. The weekly reports on firms and shops of dresses, sportswear and cloaks were submitted to the Joint Board by the business representatives.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. -- Los Angeles Cloak Joint Board (Los Angeles, (Calif.)).

Women's clothing industry -- United States.
Women's clothing industry -- California -- Los Angeles.
Labor unions -- Clothing workers -- United States.
Labor unions -- Clothing workers -- California -- Los Angeles.
Clothing workers -- United States.
Clothing workers -- California -- Los Angeles.
Industrial relations -- California -- Los Angeles.

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:
ILGWU. Los Angeles Joint Board records #5780/046. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records
5780/046 P: ILGWU. Los Angeles Joint Board photographs
5780/115: ILGWU. Western States Region records


Box 1 Folder 1 1934-1938
English. Local 65
Box 1 Folder 2 1939-1943
Box 1 Folder 3 1944-1948
Box 1 Folder 4 1949-1953
Box 2 Folder 1 1954-1958
Box 2 Folder 2 1959-1963
Box 2 Folder 3 1964-1968
Box 2 Folder 4 1941-1942