ILGWU Boston Joint Board Photographs

Collection Number: 5780/055 P

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


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
ILGWU Boston Joint Board Photographs,
Collection Number:
5780/055 P
Creator:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU);
Boston Joint Board
Quantity:
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Photographs.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Language:
Collection material in English


ILGWU ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States founded in 1900 by local union delegates representing about 2,000 members in cities in the northeastern United States. It was one of the first U.S. Unions to have a membership consisting of mostly females, and it played a key role in the labor history of the 1920s and 1930s. The union is generally referred to as the "ILGWU" or the "ILG". The ILGWU grew in geographical scope, membership size, and 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. The ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in 1995 to form the Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). UNITE merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in 2004 to create a new union known as UNITE HERE. The two unions that formed UNITE in 1995 represented only 250,000 workers between them, down from the ILGWU's peak membership of 450,000 in 1969.

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

Like other cities with garment work, Boston cloak workers organized early, forming the Boston Cloak Makers' Protective Union around 1890, a decade before the founding of the ILGWU. In 1907, the Boston Pressers' Local 12, Skirt and Cloak Makers' Local 13, and Cloak and Suit Cutters' Local 26 called a general strike demanding a fifty hour week and recognition of the union. While ultimately unsuccessful, the strike did lay the ground work for the Great Revolt in 1910. Later, the locals Cloak and Skirt Pressers Local 12, Skirt Makers Local 56, Cutters Local 73, Waist and Dressmakers Local 49, and Ladies' Tailors Local 36 composed the Boston Joint Board. In 1914 though, these locals were far from flourishing, and existed merely on paper with no money in their treasury. Abraham Rosenberg was appointed manager of the Joint Board to assist with the situation in Boston. During this time, a new system of shop inspections was introduced and soon the entire trade was thoroughly organized. Also established was week work as well as job placement made through the union. In 1915, the skirtmakers from Local 56 broke off and chartered a new Local 24. Rosenberg resigned in at the end of 1916. With conditions in Boston poor, the Joint Board and locals were reorganized by the International with Abraham Snyder appointed manager for 6 months, before being passed to Hyman Hurwitz. By 1919, the Joint Board was negotiating collective agreements with a newly formed manufacturers' association. Among the demands obtained were a 44 hour work week and a minimum wage scale.
A double strike of cloakmakers and dressmakers in Boston in 1923 strengthened the union's position in the city. Max Amdur was placed in charge of the Joint Board in 1928, assisted by Philip Kramer. Like the rest of the union, the Joint Board suffered from infighting among the Communist members during this time. By 1929, there was a move toward unification, and a new administration elected. The Joint Board and locals moved to new headquarters. In 1930, ILGWU vice-president Israel Feinberg was appointed manager, replacing an ill vice-president Max Amdur. Amdur returned in 1931 to manage the Joint Board but resigned later that year due to poor health and was replaced by vice-president Jacob Halpern with Kramer in charge of organizing. Philip Kramer would become the Joint Board manager in 1932, a position he would hold for the next 41 years. The 1940s saw the silk dress industry in Boston nearly all unionized, with many of the cloak and skirt branches as well, and the Joint Board was on strong financial footing. In 1942, with the assistance of the Cotton Garment Department, the Joint Board had a successful campaign in the skirt industry bringing in new members and standardizing work. Cloakmakers won vacation pay in 1942 and in 1944 there was the first collective agreement with the Associated Dress Manufacturing Inc. This time also saw the Joint Board with active interest in the Massachusetts Liberal Labor Committee, purchasing war bonds, and contributing to Red Cross work. At the end of the decade into the 1950s, the Joint Board continued to organize substantial numbers of shops, especially with the large number of new shops which opened during the war. Locals expanded to include 12 (Pressers), 33 (Skirtmakers), 39 (Finishers), 46 (Dressmakers), 56 (Cloak Operators), 73 (Cutters), and 80 (Italian Cloak, Skirt and Dressmakers). In 1947, together with the Northeast Department, the Joint Board purchased a building to house a Union Health Center.
The Joint Board became involved in labor and philanthropy causes, and collected an extra week's dues each month for charity and humanitarian relief. In the mid-1950s, the market stabilized, and firms in the cloak industry began changing from time-work to piece-work. By 1957 all retirement fundscloak, dress, sportswearwere merged. And in 1962, the Massachusetts Legislature banned industrial homework. In 1965, Boston saw shops going out of business and relocating outside of the city. New organizing efforts were no longer a priority for the Joint Board but fell to the Northeast Department. In March 1967, the Joint Board and Northeast Department struck 67 shops which had failed to sign an agreement. Philip Kramer retired as manager of the Joint Board in 1973 and Milton Kaplan was elected as the new manager. Soon, the Joint Board voted to become a part of the Northeast Department. Further reorganization after the 1977 convention formed the Northeast and Western Pennsylvania Department.
SUBJECTS

Names:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union -- Photographs
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Boston Joint Board

Subjects:
Women's clothing industry--United States.
Women's clothing industry--Massachusetts--Boston.
Labor unions--Clothing workers--United States.
Labor unions--Clothing workers--Massachusetts--Boston.
Clothing workers--United States
Clothing workers--Massachusetts--Boston.
Industrial relations--United States.
Industrial relations--Massachusetts--Boston.

Form and Genre Terms:
Photographs.


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:
ILGWU Boston Joint Board Photographs #5780/055 P. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

RELATED MATERIALS

Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Date
Box 1 Folder 1
21 photographs
Box 1 Folder 2
17 photographs
Box 1 Folder 3
24 photographs
Box 1 Folder 4
24 photographs
Box 1 Folder 5
27 photographs
Box 1 Folder 6
8 photographs
Box 1 Folder 7 1982
16 photographs ; 7 slides
Box 1 Folder 8 1982
20 photographs
Box 1 Folder 9 1982
28 photographs
Box 1 Folder 10
19 photographs
Box 1 Folder 11
20 photographs
Box 1 Folder 12
25 photographs
Box 1 Folder 13
3 slides ; 16 photographs
Box 1 Folder 14
27 photographs
Box 1 Folder 15
17 photographs
Box 1 Folder 16
21 photographs
Box 1 Folder 17
17 photographs
Box 1 Folder 18 1978
11 photographs
Box 1 Folder 19
22 photographs
Box 1 Folder 20
26 photographs
Box 1 Folder 21
4 photographs
Box 2 Folder 1
24 photographs
Box 2 Folder 2
10 photographs
Box 2 Folder 3
15 photographs
Box 2 Folder 4 1987
5 photographs
Box 2 Folder 5
19 photographs
Box 2 Folder 6
16 photographs
Box 2 Folder 7
31 photographs
Box 2 Folder 8
20 photographs
Box 2 Folder 9
24 photographs
Box 2 Folder 10
23 photographs
Box 2 Folder 11 1988
10 photographs
Box 2 Folder 12
10 photographs
Box 2 Folder 13
1 photograph
Box 2 Folder 14
9 photographs
Box 2 Folder 15 1987
3 photographs
Box 2 Folder 16
37 photographs
Box 2 Folder 17
37 photographs
Box 2 Folder 18
36 photographs
Box 2 Folder 19
36 photographs
Box 2 Folder 20
36 photographs
Box 2 Folder 21
Box 2 Folder 22
25 photographs
Box 2 Folder 23
29 photographs
Box 2 Folder 24
11 photographs
Box 2 Folder 25
47 photographs
Box 3 Folder 1
Box 3 Folder 2
26 photographs
Box 3 Folder 3
26 photographs
Box 3 Folder 4
28 photographs
Box 3 Folder 5
25 photographs
Box 3 Folder 6
15 photographs
Box 3 Folder 7
15 photographs
Box 3 Folder 8
28 photographs
Box 3 Folder 9
29 photographs
Box 3 Folder 10
12 photographs
Box 3 Folder 11
29 photographs
Box 3 Folder 12 1984
26 photographs
Box 3 Folder 13
26 photographs
Box 3 Folder 14 1987
20 photographs
Box 3 Folder 15 1988
21 photographs
Box 3 Folder 16
17 photographs
Box 3 Folder 17
31 photographs
Box 3 Folder 18
19 photographs
Box 3 Folder 19
35 photographs
Box 4 Folder 1
86 photographs
Box 4 Folder 2
24 photographs
Box 4 Folder 3
26 photographs
Box 4 Folder 4
12 slides ; 19 photographs
Box 4 Folder 5
20 photographs
Box 4 Folder 6
26 photographs
Box 4 Folder 7
26 photographs
Box 4 Folder 8
23 photographs
Box 4 Folder 9
20 photographs
Box 4 Folder 10
27 slides
Box 4 Folder 11
27 photographs
Box 4 Folder 12
26 photographs
Box 4 Folder 13
10 photographs