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United Garment Workers.                 more selected entries

First national clothing workers union to represent the diverse labor force in the men's ready-made clothing industry. Chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the United Garment Workers (UGW) was formed in New York City in 1891, joining the more skilled, largely native-born Journeyman Tailors' Union of America and the less skilled, largely foreign-born Tailors' National Progressive Union. Though dominated by the skilled cutters, the union maintained a tenuous peace amidst employer attacks. The UGW successfully led an 1893 strike of 16,000 garment workers in New York City, but a number of reversals in 1896 led to a more conservative strategy of accommodation. This shift alienated more radical, primarily Jewish workers. Between 1907 and 1912, a series of strikes heightened internal divisions. Union leaders halted strikes, against the wishes of many of the rank and file, and members were disillusioned by the union's growing nativist and craft-bound parochialism following the general strike of clothing workers in New York City in 1913. Dissatisfied workers bolted the UGW convention in 1914 to establish the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACW). Despite court challenges by the AFL, the ACW quickly became the dominant national labor organization in the men's clothing industry.

Carpenter, Jesse Thomas. Competition and Collective Bargaining in the Needle Trades, 1910-1967 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ Press, 1972)

Fraser, Steven. Labor Will Rule: Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor (New York: Free Press, 1991)

Christopher Martin


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