ILGWU. Cleveland Joint Board records

Collection Number: 5780/048

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


ILGWU. Cleveland Joint Board records, 1934-1959
Collection Number:
Cleveland Joint Board International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
3.5 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Contains correspondence, memoranda, printed material on companies and local unions throughout Ohio, and files on the Los Angeles Joint Board and Philadelphia Joint Board. Also included are files on several Cleveland locals (26, 29, 37, 42, 63, 200, 207, 211), as well as locals in Toledo (67, 368, 466), and Conneaut (175).
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).


Cleveland had a garment industry very early on, in fact, a Cloak Pressers' Protective Union was formed in 1899, before the founding of the ILGWU. The early Cleveland Joint Board consisted of Cloak and Suit Tailors 26, Skirt and Dress Makers 27, Women Garment Makers 29, Ladies' Garment Pressers 37, Ladies' Garment Cutters 42, Sample and Ladies Tailors 94.
Strikes and low membership decimated the union in Cleveland from the strike of 1911 until the near closure of the Joint Board in 1916. The union had a difficult time gaining a position in the cloak and suit trade of the city. By the summer of 1917, membership in the Joint Board had risen significantly and in 1918, the union and the Joint Board submitted demands to the Cleveland Garment Manufacturers' Association for a wage increase. After a strike, a Board of Referees was established to hear the controversy and render decisions. Relations between manufacturers and the Joint Board were strained, but in 1919, a collective agreement was signed by the manufacturers' associations and the Cleveland Joint Board finally and firmly establishing the union in Cleveland after a decade of struggle. During this time, Charles Kreindler was the manager of the Joint Board.
In the 1920s, Cleveland was one of the only large cities that did not subscribe to a 44 hour week and week-work in the garment industry. Instead, the shops that manufactured medium priced garments utilized the section system, which required less skilled labor and posed a challenge for the Cleveland cloakmakers. An investigation by Cleveland Joint Board and the Cloak Manufacturers'' Association established standards of production. In 1932, there was the Cleveland Cloak and Dress Strike. Hearings were conducted in 1938 before an impartial chairman to eliminate differences between the New York and Cleveland Cloak markets. By 1944, the Joint Board had established vacations with pay for all garment workers in the market, as well as adding a health plan with medical care, sick benefits and life insurance. The Joint Board was comprised of Locals 26, 27, 29, 37, 42, 44, 52, 207, 209, 211, 300, 358, and 368. The Joint Board and Ohio district were headed by Abraham Katovsky, who had been a business agent under Kreindler, and helmed the Cleveland Joint Board until his death in 1945. He was succeeded by Nathan Solomon as the new manager. Solomon had been serving as the secretary treasurer for many years. Approximately 1,000 knitgood workers in Cleveland were organized into four locals comprising the Cleveland Knitgoods Council. This Council was supervised by the head of the Cleveland Joint Board. During the early 1950s, Louis Friend managed the Joint Board, and Nicholas Kirtzman was the director of the Cleveland and Ohio-Kentucky Region.
A new headquarters for the Cleveland ILGWU Health Center and Ohio-Kentucky regional headquarters was dedicated in 1951. David Solomon manager of the Joint Board for many years after Friend, retired April 1956, and the organizer of the Joint Board, Julius Guralnik, took over duties as manager of the Cleveland Joint Board. From 1959 into the 1960s, with the Cleveland cloak market declining into insignificance, a shift in the Ohio-Kentucky Region took place from an emphasis on the cloak industry towards sportswear, knitgoods, and dresses. The Cleveland Knitgoods Council made significant membership gains. By 1962, Kirtzman became director and manager of the Joint Board, with Edward Milano the assistant director, and the steady decline in membership in Cleveland within the shrinking cloak and dress industry began to stabilize.
Kirtzman, an ILGWU vice-president and regional director since 1950, died in March 1963. Sam Janis, who was previously an assistant general manager of the Eastern Region, succeeded Kirtzman as the new Ohio-Kentucky Region director and was also elected manager of the Cleveland Joint Board. In 1968, Janis and the Joint Board were involved in the successful campaign for Carl Stokes election as mayor of Cleveland. Stokes was the first African American mayor of a large U.S. city, and Manager Janis was appointed to the mayor's commission as a labor representative to study the welfare crisis in the city. During the 1970s, the Joint Board was involved in community and political activities, including submitting a proposal to ease procedures for voter registration.
In 1978, there was a realignment of the Ohio-Kentucky Region and all Ohio locals became part of the Northeast and Western Pennsylvania Department, renamed the Northeast, Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Department. Sam Janis retired in May 1978 and Al Gargiulo, who had been the assistant regional director, became the manager of the Cleveland Joint Board, as well as the Knitgoods Council and the Ohio District.


The records of the Cleveland Joint Board mainly consist of subject files arranged alphabetically. The subjects reflect the interest and activity of the Joint Board within the community. Topics covered include: Amun Israeli Housing and the campaign drive in Cleveland to raise funds including a luncheon with Dubinsky; community and local religious groups in Cleveland; fund contributions (for the war) by shops and members; the Italian American Labor Council; seeking funds and donations for health organizations such as the Los Angeles Sanatorium and Ex-Patients Home, the Jew Consumptive and Ex-Patients Relief Association, City of Hope and the Jewish Orthodox Old Home (support organization); letters and postcard from members currently in the military, often thanking the union for the care packages sent; monetary collections from members for war relief; and letters from orphans in Europe that the Joint Board "adopted."
In addition to community and good will activities, the collection also focuses on the Joint Board and its work within the garment industry in Cleveland. There is organizing material for various plants such as the Bloomfield Co., which includes leaflets, newsletters and election material; the BVD non-union unfair campaign; Keller Kohn and price lists, agreements, wage adjustments, the strike following the lockout (photos); and notice for shop meetings, wage comparisons for companies like Kleinman Cloak Co. There is information on manufacturing associations such as the Cleveland Apparel Manufacturers Association which represented various firms in negotiations and contract agreements with the Joint Board, the Cleveland Dress Manufacturers Association, and the Cleveland Embroidery Manufacturers Association, as well as firms with government contracts and the knit good industry. Also, a report compiled in 1941 includes charts, graphs and tables illustrating the cost of living, hours worked, hourly wages and total pay for operators, pressers, etc. within the Cleveland Cloak industry. But the collection also contains material on other regions and locals including Chicago and Cincinnati.
Groups and organizations are represented in the collection including the C.I.O., Cleveland Federation of Labor, and Jewish Labor Committee. There is also documents relating to the ILGWU such as informational material produced by the Educational Department, as well as information on classes, lectures offered, activity reports, and programs for shows and parties. There is correspondence with local representatives and congressmen, hand written meeting minutes, submissions for the publication "Justice" to editor Max Danish, and meeting notices for locals under the Joint Board.
Locals 26 (Cloak and Suit Tailors), Local 27 (Dress and Skirt Makers), Local 29 (Women Garment Makers), Local 37 (Cloak and Dress Pressers), Local 42 (Cloak and Dress Cutters), Local 44 (Italian Cloak & Dress Makers), Local 52 Embroidery Workers, Local 209 (Cotton Goods Local), Local 211 (Alteration Local), Local 295 (Knit Goods Workers Local), Local 326 (Cotton Dress Garment Local)

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. -- Cleveland Joint Board (Cleveland (Ohio)).

Women's clothing industry -- United States.
Women's clothing industry -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Clothing workers -- Labor unions -- United States.
Clothing workers -- Labor unions -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Clothing workers -- United States.
Clothing workers -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Industrial relations -- United States.
Industrial relations -- Ohio -- Cleveland.

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. Cleveland Joint Board records #5780/048. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records
5780/174: ILGWU. Cleveland Office records
5780/183: ILGWU. Ohio Kentucky Region records
5780/183 AV: ILGWU. Ohio Kentucky Region audio-visual materials
5780/183 P: ILGWU. Ohio Kentucky Region photographs


Box 1 Folder 1 1940-1943
Box 1 Folder 2 1937-1939
Box 1 Folder 3 1950-1956
Box 1 Folder 4 1945-1948
Incl. Union's response to Brookings Institute survey of garment industry, 1945.
Box 1 Folder 5 1950-1959
Incl. organizing circulars & related printed material.
Box 1 Folder 6 1950-1959
Box 1 Folder 7 1939-1946
Box 1 Folder 8 1942-1943
Box 1 Folder 9 1955-1956
Organizing campaign.
Box 1 Folder 10 1955-1956
Box 1 Folder 11 1940-1949
Box 1 Folder 12 1952
Organizing campaign.
Box 1 Folder 13 1944-1945
Ltrs. from John S. Martin.
Box 1 Folder 14 1941-1948
Box 1 Folder 15 1940-1941
Expenses for various shops on strike; expense account summaries.
Box 1 Folder 16 1941-1948
Box 1 Folder 17 1941-1948
Box 2 Folder 1 1941-1949
Box 2 Folder 2 1938-1945
Box 2 Folder 3 1941-1946
Box 2 Folder 4 1952
Incl. Nicholas Kirtzman statement to the President's Commission on the Health of the Nation.
Box 2 Folder 5 1943-1945
Box 2 Folder 6 1942-1946
Box 2 Folder 7 1942-1946
Box 2 Folder 8 1947
Box 2 Folder 9 1939-1944
Legal advisor for Union.
Box 2 Folder 10 1941-1949
Box 2 Folder 11 1940-1949
Union and non-union material
Box 2 Folder 12 1940-1949
Box 2 Folder 13 1944-1946
Box 2 Folder 14 1941-1949
Incl. ltrs. to Louis Friend.
Box 2 Folder 15 1941-1949
Box 2 Folder 16 1940-1945
Box 3 Folder 1 1951-1953
Box 3 Folder 2 1940-1949
Box 3 Folder 3 1941-1949
Box 3 Folder 4 1941-1947
Corres. with members of all government branches.
Box 3 Folder 5 1944-1945
Box 3 Folder 6 1940-1942
Box 3 Folder 7 1941-1945
Box 3 Folder 8 1939-1945
Box 3 Folder 9 1942-1946
Box 3 Folder 10 1944
Box 3 Folder 11 1948-1952
Box 3 Folder 12 1940-1943
Box 3 Folder 13 1939-1945
Incl. Los Angeles Sanatorium, City of Hope.
Box 3 Folder 14 1940-1955
Box 3 Folder 15 1945
Box 3 Folder 16 1942-1944
Box 3 Folder 17 1941-1949
Reports of activities submitted to Justice.
Box 3 Folder 18 1942-1955
Incl. Abraham Katovsky.
Box 3 Folder 19 1939-1954
Box 3 Folder 20 1939-1954
Box 3 Folder 21 1939-1954
Box 4 Folder 1 1940-1946
Box 4 Folder 2 1941
Box 4 Folder 3 1941-1949
Box 4 Folder 4 1941-1952
Box 4 Folder 5 1941-1947
Box 4 Folder 6 1939-1944
Box 4 Folder 7 1942-1949
Box 4 Folder 8 1941-1945
Box 4 Folder 9 1940-1946
I.c.w. David Solomon.
Box 4 Folder 10 1940-1942
Box 4 Folder 11 1939-1956
Box 4 Folder 12 1939-1956
Box 4 Folder 13 1934-1942
Box 4 Folder 14 1945-1953
Box 4 Folder 15 1945-1953
Box 4 Folder 16 1945-1953
Box 5 Folder 1 1934-1950
Box 5 Folder 2 1942-1956
Box 5 Folder 3 1940-1949
Box 5 Folder 4 1940-1951
Box 5 Folder 5 1941-1945
Box 5 Folder 6 1946-1949
Box 5 Folder 7 1939-1949
Box 5 Folder 8 1940-1949
Box 5 Folder 9 1940-1949
Box 5 Folder 10 1940-1945
Box 5 Folder 11 1940-1946
Box 5 Folder 12 1945-1949
Box 5 Folder 13 1941-1946
Box 5 Folder 14 1941
Incl. hearings of cases.
Box 5 Folder 15 1948
Box 5 Folder 16 1941-1944
Incl. resolutions submitted to Ohio State Federation of Labor.
Box 6 Folder 1 1945
Box 6 Folder 2 1937
Hearing for the consideration of amendments or modifications of agreement.
Box 6 Folder 3 1952
Talk delivered by N. Kirtzman.
Box 6 Folder 4 1955
Box 6 Folder 5 1956
Box 6 Folder 6 1940-1949
Box 6 Folder 7 1940-1945
Box 6 Folder 8 1941-1948
Box 6 Folder 9 1934-1953
Box 6 Folder 10 1954
Box 6 Folder 11 1945-1950
Box 6 Folder 12 1941-1954
Incl. resolutions.
Box 6 Folder 13 1941-1946
Box 6 Folder 14 1950-1955
Box 6 Folder 15 1942-1945
Box 7 Folder 1 1944-1953
Box 7 Folder 2 1938-1940
Box 7 Folder 3 1941-1942
Box 7 Folder 4 1941-1952
Box 7 Folder 5 1941-1946
Box 7 Folder 6 1941-1944
Box 7 Folder 7 1939-1949
Box 7 Folder 8 1941
Nov. 1941. Charts and tables, Cleveland Cloak Industry.
Box 7 Folder 9 1940-1955
Incl. Toledo Garment Co.
Box 7 Folder 10 1940-1947
Box 7 Folder 11 1942-1944
Box 7 Folder 12 1952-1953
Box 7 Folder 13 1939-1953
Box 7 Folder 14 1940-1949
Collections of money during World War II for relief.