The Jewish Unions in America: Pages of History and Memories

The Jewish Unions in America: Pages of History and Memories Bernard Weinstein, translated and annotated by Maurice Wolfthal
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Having escaped pogrom-riddled Czarist Russia, the young Bernard Weinstein became enmeshed in the worlds of unionism, socialism, and anarchism on New York City’s Lower East Side. This first-person account, here translated from the original Yiddish, explores their development from 1889 through the 1930s, making this a rich primary document...An invaluable resource for most libraries.
R. C. Cottrell, California State University, Chico for CHOICE

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Newly arrived in New York in 1882 from Tsarist Russia, the sixteen-year-old Bernard Weinstein discovered an America in which unionism, socialism, and anarchism were very much in the air. He found a home in the tenements of New York and for the next fifty years he devoted his life to the struggles of fellow Jewish workers.

The Jewish Unions in America blends memoir and history to chronicle this time. It describes how Weinstein led countless strikes, held the unions together in the face of retaliation from the bosses, investigated sweatshops and factories with the aid of reformers, and faced down schisms by various factions, including Anarchists and Communists. He co-founded the United Hebrew Trades and wrote speeches, articles and books advancing the cause of the labor movement.

From the pages of this book emerges a vivid picture of workers’ organizations at the beginning of the twentieth century and a capitalist system that bred exploitation, poverty, and inequality. Although workers’ rights have made great progress in the decades since, Weinstein’s descriptions of workers with jobs pitted against those without, and American workers against workers abroad, still carry echoes today. The Jewish Unions in America is a testament to the struggles of working people a hundred years ago. But it is also a reminder that workers must still battle to live decent lives in the free market.

For the first time, Maurice Wolfthal’s readable translation makes Weinstein’s Yiddish text available to English readers. It is essential reading for students and scholars of labor history, Jewish history, and the history of American immigration.


The Jewish Unions in America: Pages of History and Memories
Bernard Weinstein, translated and annotated, with an introduction by Maurice Wolfthal | February 2018
334 | 6 b&w illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783743537
ISBN Hardback: 9781783743544
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783743551
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783743568
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783743575
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0118
BIC subject codes: HBLW (20th century history), JFSR1 (Jewish studies), LNHR (Industrial relations and trade unions law), JFFN (Migration, immigration and emigration); BISAC: HIS036060 (HISTORY / United States / 20th Century), HIS022000 (HISTORY / Jewish), POL013000 (POLITICAL SCIENCE / Labor & Industrial Relations), SOC007000 (SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration)


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Abbreviations

Introduction
Maurice Wolfthal

The Jewish Unions in America: Pages of History and Memories
Bernard Weinstein
The First Jewish Immigrants in the United States
How the Jewish Immigrants of the 1880s Earned a Living
The First Jewish Workers in the American Trade Unions
The First "Radicals” Among the Jewish Immigrants of the 1880s and the Beginning of the Jewish Labor Movement in America
The Strange Case of Comrade Wolf
Hymie "the American”
The First Jewish Theater Choristers’ Union
The Jewish Actors’ Union
The Yiddish Varieties
The Jewish Typesetters’ Union
The Founding of the United Hebrew Trades of New York
How We Organized Strikes
The Panic of 1893 and the First Splits Within the Jewish Labor Movement
The Schism in the Socialist Labor Party
The First Years of the Jewish Labor Movement in Philadelphia
The Beginning of the Jewish Labor Movement in Chicago
The Unions of the Cap and Millinery Trade
The Millinery Trade and the Union
The History of the Tailors in the Men’s Clothing Industry
The Struggle of the Tailors’ Union Against the Plague of the "Open Shops”
The Custom Tailors’ Union
The Story of the Knee-Pants Makers’ Union
The Union of the Children’s Jacket Makers
The Union of the Basted Children’s Jacket Pressers
The Union of the Unbasted Children’s Jacket Makers
The Pants Makers’ Union of New York
The Vest Makers’ Union in New York
The Shirt Makers’ Union
The Great Garment Workers’ Strike of 1913 in New York
How the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Was Founded
The Women’s Garment Unions in America
The Jamaica Incident and Other Trials
The Cloak Makers’ Unions in Other Cities
The First Jewish Unions of Waist Makers, Wrapper Makers, Buttonhole Makers, Embroidery Workers, and Other Ladies’ Garment Workers
The Birth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union
The Strike of 300 Skirt Makers Against the Firm of John Bonwit in 1905
The Industrial Workers of the World Also Founds a Cloak Makers’ Union
The Reefer Makers’ Strike of 1907
The Historic General Strike of the 18,000 Waist Makers in 1909
The Great Cloak Makers’ Strike of 1910 and the Founding of the Largest Jewish Union
The First Years After the Strike
The General Strike of the Cleveland Cloak Makers in 1911
The Triangle Fire
The Protocol of the New York Ladies’ Waist and Dress Makers’ Union of 1913
The General Strike of the Wrapper, Kimono, and Housedress Makers and the White Goods Workers of 1913
The Hourwich Affair and the First Civil War in the Cloak Makers’ Union
The Organizing Work of the ILGWU in Other Cities from 1915 to 1919
The Breaking of the Protocol and the Strikes of 1916, 1919, and 1921
The General Strike of the Dress Makers in 1923
The Ladies’ Tailors’ Union of New York
The Raincoat Workers’ Union
The Struggle with the Communists in the Joint Action Committee
The General Strike of 1926 and the Expulsion of the Communists
The Rebirth of the Cloak Makers’ Union
The Jewish Bakers’ Unions
The 1927 Bakers’ Strike Against Two Big Firms, Pechter and Messing
The Jewish Bakers’ Unions in Other Cities
The Furriers’ Union
The Founding of the International Fur Workers’ Union
The Union of Jewish Painters
The Pocketbook Makers’ Union
The Suitcase Workers’ Union
The Trunk Makers’ Union
The Neckwear Makers’ Union
The Union of Cleaners and Dyers
The Union of Mattress and Bed Spring Makers
The Seltzer Workers’ Union of New York
The Union of Clerks and Retail Dress-Goods Stores
The Union of Grocery Clerks
The Union of Jewish Waiters
The Union of Paper Box Makers
The Union of Jewish Barbers
The Union of Jewish Shoemakers
The Union of Jewish Tin Workers
The Union of Jewelry Workers
The Union of Butcher Workers
The Union of Jewish Newspaper Writers in New York
The Union of Jewish Bookbinders
The Jewish Laundry Workers (The Steam Laundry Workers’ Union)
The Union of Wet-Wash Laundry Drivers
The Pressers of Old Shirts in Hand Laundries
The Union of Jewish Inside Iron Workers
The Union of Jewish Furniture Drivers
The Union of Workers with Live and Kosher-Slaughter Fowl
The Little Unions
The Disappeared Unions
The New Generation of Jewish Workers in America
The Jewish Carpenters and Wood Workers
Jewish Plumbers
Jewish Moving Picture Operators
Jewish Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers
Jewish Metal Workers and Machinists
Jewish Workers in Radio and Aviation
Jewish Drivers of Cars and Taxis
Conclusion

Index

Maurice Wolfthal
has translated from the Yiddish: Yitzhak Erlichson’s Mayne fir yor in sovyet-rusland [My Four Years in Soviet Russia] (Academic Studies Press, 2013); excerpts from Nokhem Shtif’s Pogromen in ukrayne: di tsayt fun der frayviliger armey [The Pogroms in Ukraine: the Period of the Volunteer Army] in Ingeveb.org: a Journal of Yiddish Studies, September 2016; and excerpts from Nokhem Shtif’s Yidn un yidish [The Jews and Yiddish] in Ingeveb.org: a Journal of Yiddish Studies, October 2015. His translation of Shmerke Kaczerginski’s Khurbn vilne [The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Vilna] is forthcoming with Wayne State University Press.