Collection Scope and Content Note
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Beyond the usual issues of collective bargaining, wages, grievances, strikes, organizing campaigns, local union administration and economic conditions in the clothing industry which are addressed throughout these minutes, much space is given to the Joint Board's response to contemporary social and political issues. National and local union issues discussed that are of special interest include the needs of women workers in the garment industry (1919, 1925) and the election of a female business agent (1919, 1927), claims of discrimination in job placement by the union (1925), attempts by Italian union members to form a cooperative (1926), the "pernicious" effect of communist attacks on union leadership, the roots of factionalism in the Rochester Joint Board (1926-1929), and the issue of racketeering in the union (1932).
Rochester strikes discussed include the Off Pressers Strike and the Shop 5 Stein Block Sitdown Strike (1927) among others. Important strikes around the nation were often alluded to in the minutes, with the Joint Board offering moral support and occasional financial contributions to the relevant strike funds. Of special interest were the Buffalo Clothing Workers' Strike (1919), the United Shoe Workers' Strike (1922), the Paterson, N.J. Silk Workers' Strike (1924), the Syracuse, N.Y. Bakery Strike (1925) and several strikes in 1926, including those of the United Mine Workers and the United Shoe Workers as well as the Passaic, N.J. General Strike.
Social and political issues of concern to the Joint Board as reflected in the minutes include relations with the Socialist Party, the imprisonment of Tom Mooney, the movement to create a Farmer-Labor Party, the plight of immigrants, economic downturns and the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. The Board supported Jewish charities, aid to Russia and various anti-fascist Italian movements. It also endorsed the La Follette-Wheeler ticket in the 1924 presidential campaign. The Joint Board opposed "class-collaborationism" as expressed in the B&O Plan, attacked "reactionary" labor leaders of the "Gompers and Lewis type," and called for the abolition of militarism.
The minutes also record speeches by Jean Longuet, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Roger Baldwin.