ILGWU Local 22 Israel Breslow Papers

Collection Number: 5780/067

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


ILGWU Local 22 Israel Breslow Papers, 1913-1981
Collection Number:
Breslow, Israel;
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 22;
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Records (documents).
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The collection contains the records of Local 22's manager, Israel Breslow, including speeches and articles by Breslow, files relating to local union elections, and Breslow's reports to the membership.
Collection material in English


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.


Israel Breslow (1906-1985) emigrated from the Ukraine to Canada where he worked in the garment industry and, from 1922 to 1936, was a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. In 1936, after moving to New York City and beginning work as an operator in the garment industry, Breslow joined Dressmakers Local 22. Breslow served on the local's executive board and as the local's business agent, and from 1958 to 1975, he served as manager. In 1962, Breslow became a vice president of the ILGWU. He retired from the ILGWU in 1975, after which he became president of the Jewish Daily Forward Association. Additionally, Breslow was president of the Workmen's Circle from 1958 to 1962, and again from 1966 to 1970.


Local 22 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), also known as the Dressmakers' Union, was chartered in December 1920 and based in New York City. The dress industry formed its own Joint Board in 1921 composed of Local 22 Dressmakers, Local 25 Waistmakers, Local 58 Waist Buttonhole Makers, Local 60 Waist and Dress Pressers, Local 66 Bonnaz Embroidery Workers, Local 89 Italian Waist and Dressmakers, and the waist and dress branch of Cutters' Local 10. A general work stoppage in February 1923 in the dress industry won the union a 40 hour week and 10 percent wage increase, as well as a large gain of new members. During the summer of 1923, after years of discussion and deliberation, the two dress locals, Local 23 and 22 were consolidated. The dressmakers from Local 23 transferred to Local 22 and subsequently Local 22 joined the New York Cloakmakers' Joint Board. Soon, the Dress and Waist Joint Board became unnecessary and was dissolved. Local 25 Waistmakers were left without an affiliated organization and in October 1924 merged with the Dressmakers' Union, Local 22.
By the end of 1926, the Communists had gained control of the dress organization in New York City and the union barely existed. In February 4, 1930, 25,000 dressmakers walked out of the shops. The strike was called to reorganize dressmakers and finally abolish the Communist influence in the industry. On April 8, 1930 the General Executive Board decided to separate the dressmakers from the Cloakmakers' Joint Board. In 1931, Charles Zimmerman formed a committee to rebuild Local 22. He was elected to executive board of Local 22 in 1932, and elected manager-secretary in 1933. Another walkout in all dress shops, both union and non-union on August 16, 1933 brought the dress industry to a halt.
Zimmerman left Local 22 in 1958 to become manager of the Dress Joint Board. Israel Breslow succeeded him as manager of Local 22 from 1958 until his retirement in 1975. By 1975, the New York Dress Joint Board completed restructuring of affiliate locals, and Locals 60-60A, 159, and 38 were merged into existing Locals 22 and 89. Local 22 gained jurisdiction over all dressmakers in Manhattan. In the 1980s, more locals were dissolved and members transferred to Local 22, but by 1984, Local 22 saw restructuring as well. Changes in the garment industry necessitated the dissolution of the Joint Board and Local 22 into the new Local 89-22-1.


The collection consists of the records of Local 22 manager Israel Breslow. Included are speeches given by and articles written by Breslow, much are which are in Yiddish. There are also letters and correspondence.
There are files relating to local union elections, including the Local 22 campaigns and accompanying election material, particularly as it relates to the Dressmakers Progressive Group led by Charles Zimmerman, their program and platform,
Additionally, there are agendas and notes for the Membership and Nominations meetings with brief reports. These provide information on the status of the dress industry.

Breslow, Israel
Lakatz, Moshe
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 22 (New York, N.Y.)

Women's clothing industry--United States.
Women's clothing industry--New York (State)--New York.
Labor unions--Clothing workers--United States.
Labor unions--Clothing workers--New York (State)--New York.
Industrial relations--United States.
Industrial relations--New York (State)--New York.

Form and Genre Terms:
Records (documents)


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 Local 22 Israel Breslow Papers #5780/067. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records
5780/014: ILGWU Local 22, Charles S. Zimmerman Papers
5780/014 P: ILGWU Local 22, Charles S. Zimmerman Photographs
5780/015: ILGWU Local 22 Records
5780/036: ILGWU Local 22 Minutes
5780/057: ILGWU Local 22 Education Department Records
5780/057 P: ILGWU Local 22 Education Department Photographs


Box 1 Folder 1 1959
Box 1 Folder 2 1960-1973
May 5-12, 1973
Box 1 Folder 3 1958-1970
Box 1 Folder 4 1935-1959
Box 1 Folder 5 1958-1959
Box 1 Folder 6 1960
Box 1 Folder 7 1965-1981
Box 1 Folder 8 1947-1958
Box 1 Folder 9
Box 1 Folder 10 1952-1956
Box 1 Folder 11 1942-1950
Box 1 Folder 12
Box 1 Folder 13 1942-1953
Box 1 Folder 14 1955-1956
Box 1 Folder 15 1952-1956
Box 1 Folder 16 1959-1965
Box 1 Folder 17 1965-1967
Box 1 Folder 18 1971-1975
Box 1 Folder 19 1962-1964
Box 1 Folder 20 1968-1970
Box 1 Folder 21 1958-1961
Box 1 Folder 22 1965-1967
Box 1 Folder 23
Box 2 1980
[Removed to 5780 AV]
Box 2 1977
[Removed to 5780 AV]
Box 2 1980
[Removed to 5780 AV]
Box 2 Folder 1 1926-1936
Box 2 Folder 2 1921-1958
Box 2 Folder 3 1980
Box 2 Folder 4 1940
Box 2 Folder 5 1956-1969
Box 2 Folder 6 1913
Also undated.
Box 2 Folder 7
Box 2 Folder 8 1933-1956
Box 2 Folder 9 1981
Box 2 Folder 10 1933-1980
Box 2 Folder 11 1928-1950
Box 2 Folder 12 1940-1981