19,000 to Return to Work As Garment Strike is Settled
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19,000 to Return to Work As Garment Strike is Settled

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The strike in the ladies garment industry, affecting 30,000 workers, will be brought to an official close tomorrow with the formal signing of an agreement by representatives of the union and the employers groups involved. The ceremonies will take plplace in the Governor’s room at City Hall and will be attended by Lieutenant Governor Herbert H. Lehman, who as Governor Roosevelt’s representative, has played a leading part in the peace negotiations, and Mayor James J. Walker.

Nineteen thousand workers are expected to return to work on Tuesday.

Announcement of the amicable settlement of the strike, with agreement on all points by all factors, was made Friday evening by Lieutenant Governor Lehman, following a conference in the office of the Impartial Chairman, Raymond V. Ingersoll, attended by Benjamin Schlessinger, President, and I. Dubinsky, Acting President of the Union; I. Grossman, President of the Industrial Council; Morris Haft, President of the Jobbers, and Harry Uviller, President of the Contractors.

According to the terms of the agreement, the draft of which was to be prepared in its final form over the week-end, a Commission will be formed to supervise standards in the industry and to eliminate sub-standard and sweat-shop conditions. The Commission, the size of which is not yet determined, is to consist of an equal number of representatives of all the factors in the industry, plus three public members, to be appointed by the Governor. The Governor’s appointees will be named in the course of the next two months. Emphasis on this point in the agreement was laid by Lieutenant Governor Lehman, who declared that the Commission would have no hesitancy in making public its findings on wages, working hours and the integrity of the industry.

While the question of the wage increase is to be held in abeyance for one year, and no action was taken on unemployment insurance, despite a last-minute plea by Benjamin Schlessinger, President of the International, the agreement offers recognition of important union principles. The new pact formally recognizes the right of the unions to visit the shops of the manufacturers once every six months to check up union membership and to assure itself that the workers are in good standing. The discharge clause is to be modified to protect the union both from reduction in size or wages of the shops. The discharge of shop chairmen is to be subject to review where the union alleges discrimination due to union activity. At the same time the period of reorganization is to be curtailed from the existing one month to one week.

On the other hand, the Industrial Council has withdrawn its demands for

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the forty-two hour week, with optional piece work, and only single time for work on Saturday.

As far as wage increase is concerned, the question will be permitted to be reopened within a year by the impartial chairman. The right is also vested in the impartial chairman to renew the question of unemployment insurance, at such a time as he thinks the industry able to cope with the problem, and the right is reserved for the union to ask the manufacturers to contribute to the costs of the insurance.

A resolution was adopted thanking Governor Roosevelt, Lieutenant Governor Lehman, and Impartial Chairman Ingersoll, for their services.

Preceding the conference Friday evening, meetings were held at which the union concluded its agreement with the jobbers and the jobbers signed an agreement with the contractors.

The jobbers declared their support for the Commission and pledged their aid to the elimination of sweat-shop conditions. They bound themselves to deal only with the Contractors Association, which employs union labor, and assumed responsibility for seven-day wages, paid by contractors, instead of the five-day liability as at present.

It was announced by I. Grossman, President of the Industrial Council, that forty-three independents have applied for membership in the organization.

A number of chain stores and mail order houses, including Montgomery Ward and Company, and the National Bellas-Hess Company, two of the largest in the country, have declared heir intention of cooperating in eliminating sub-standard conditions in the industry.

It is expected that 19,000 workers will have returned to work tomorrow morning, to be followed by the remaining strikers on Wednesday. Meetings for the ratification of the agreement on the part of the workers will be held throughout the day today.


Praise for the manner in which the negotiations were conducted was expressed by Colonel Lehman:

“The agreement, as drafted, marks a great step forward in the amicable and sympathetic relations between all factions in the industry,” Colonel Lehman said, “and I am confident it will provide for the orderly conduct and prosperity of the industry. The strike, as to the associations, I am informed, was the shortest in the garment industry since 1910, and this has been made possible only through the wonderful spirit of cooperation and understanding of all the factions in the industry.

“I am confident, too, that the agreement reached is going to lead to a substantial elimination of the sub-standard and sweatshop. I feel certain that an effort is to be made by the union, the three associations and the Governor of the State to maintain good standards in all the shops of this city. We will have the cooperation of the public because they, after all, are materially interested in the industry and in the welfare of those who work in it. I can say in behalf of Isidor Grossman, president of the Industrial Counsel, that today he has received forty-three applications for admission of independent manufacturers to the council.

“The jobbers have had ten applications from independents and the contractors twenty-six.”

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