Whether the knit goods workers of New York City will walk out in a general strike this week will be decided in a city-wide referendum to be held today by the Knit Goods Workers’ Union. Should the members of the union decide to strike, more than 18,000 men will cease employment. The majority of these men and women are Jewish.
Union leaders are asking for a reduction of hours, an increase in wages and general improvement of working conditions in the industry.
Also in the strike news yesterday was the announcement that 12,000 painters and decorators went out on strike throughout New York City to give weight to their demands for a code which would enforce the union scale of hours and wages. Philip Zausner, secretary of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paper Hangers, most of the members of which are Jews, declared that the Association of Master Painters and Decorators had ordered a wage cut from $9 to $8 a day and an increase from seven to eight hours a day.
Most of the striking painters and decorators were busy in renovating apartments for the renting season. August is the peak month in the employment in the painting and decorating industry.
Mayor LaGuardia declared yesterday that there had been a “misunderstanding” of the order sent out by the Police Department last Saturday authorizing the registration of trade union representatives in New York. He made the following statement to clear the situation:
“The police have no orders to compel union officials or delegates to file photographs or cards of certification with them so that these representatives shall be identified by the police at a subsequent time,” said the Mayor.
“The facts are as follows: there has been a tendency to start up sweatshops in poor tenements around the city and the garment union, in order to find out who was violating the city, state and federal laws in doing such work, sent out representatives. The people doing the sweatshop work spotted these union men and called the police, telling the latter that the union men were prowlers or suspicious persons.
“Naturally the union men were chased away. The order was for the sole purpose of giving to each of these union investigators a card identifying them to the police, so that they might continue their inquiry without molestation. The cards have been issued only for this reason. Later some prowlers did appear on the scene and there was confusion.”