The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941

By Walter Galenson | Go to book overview

7
The Men's Clothing Industry

The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, under the leadership of Sidney Hillman, was one of the founding unions of the CIO, and remained loyal to it until the final merger with the AFL. The break with the AFL was not a difficult one for the Amalgamated to make. It had been established in 1914 as a breakaway group from the United Garment Workers, and remained independent until 1933, when, through the intermediation of John L. Lewis and Daniel Tobin, the Amalgamated affiliated with the AFL. But almost immediately the craft-industrial unionism dispute broke out, with the Amalgamated supporting Lewis strongly on the issue. Suspension from the AFL was accepted with equanimity, and at a CIO board meeting in November 1936, when several CIO members were in favor of renewed peace efforts, Hillman declared:

We made sacrifices to come into the A.F. of L. I appreciate the [negative] feeling of Murray, because during the N.R.A. I saw that failure was due not alone to the Chambers of Commerce but also to the A.F. of L. . . . Two vice-presidents on the Executive Council openly worked with the Liberty Leaguers, and were not censured. . . . Peace conferences have brought a certain amount of demoralization. If you want a committee, I'd be for it, but I wouldn't be a member. 1

As one of the principal beneficiaries of the NRA period, together with the United Mine Workers and the ILGWU, the Amalgamated was in a position to render substantial aid to the new industrial unions.

The Amalgamated, the ILGWU, and the United Mine Workers faced one important economic factor in common: a highly competitive price structure, induced by the presence of a great number of small firms. The NRA was effective for a time in restraining product market competition and stabilizing product prices, which made employers much more susceptible to unionization. When the NRA collapsed, the Amalgamated and the ILGWU sought to continue along the price-stabilization fine through collective bargaining, while the United Mine Workers, as already noted, relied primarily upon federal legislation. From 1933 to 1935, between

-283-

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The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relations i
  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relation ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xiv
  • Illustrations (following Page 620) xv
  • Author's Preface xvii
  • 1 - Background of the Struggle 3
  • 2 - The Organization of Steel 75
  • 3 - The Automobile Industry 123
  • 4 - Coal Mining 193
  • 5 - The Electrical and Radio Manufacturing Industries 239
  • 6 - The Rubber Industry 266
  • 7 - The Men's Clothing Industry 283
  • 8 - The Women's Clothing Industry 300
  • 9 - The Renascence of Textile Unionism 325
  • 10 - The Meat Industry 349
  • 11 - The Lumber Industry 379
  • 12 - The Petroleum Industry 409
  • 13 - The Maritime Industry 427
  • 14 - The Teamsters 459
  • 15 - The Machinists 495
  • 16 - The Building Trades 514
  • 17 - Printing and Publishing 530
  • 18 - Railroad Unionism 566
  • 19 - Some General Aspects of the Labor Movement 583
  • Notes 645
  • Index 715
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