Zimmerman, Charles S., 1896-1983Alternative names
Charles S. Zimmerman (1896-1983) was a labor leader and political activist. Zimmerman was born in Russia in 1896 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1913. He worked in the New York garment industry and joined the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) Local 22. Shortly thereafter, he became its secretary-manager. He was also an organizer for the Joint Board of the Dress and Waistmaker Union. Zimmerman joined the Socialist Party in 1917. Throughout the 1920s, Zimmerman was an active member of the Communist Party, which affiliation cost him his union leadership positions in 1925. By 1931 however, he had broken with the CP and was reinstated in the ILGWU, he was elected a vice-president in 1934.
From the guide to the Charles S. Zimmerman Papers, 1920s-1930s, undated, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
Charles S. Zimmerman, labor leader, political activist, and officer, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).
Charles Zimmerman was born in Russia in 1896 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1913. He worked in the New York garment industry and joined ILGWU Local 22; shortly thereafter, he became its secretary-manager. He was also an organizer for the Joint Board of the Dress and Waistmakers' Union. Throughout the 1920s, Zimmerman was an active member of the Communist Party, which affiliation cost him his union leadership positions in 1925. By 1931, however, he was reinstated in the ILGWU and was elected a vice-president in 1934.
Born in Talne, Ukraine, Russia. Studied in Kheder and Talmud Torah.
Entered local Russian secular school.
Arrived in United States. Lived with relatives on Lower East Side.
1913- 16: Worked in garment and non garment shops.
Participated in a strike to form a union and joined Local 19, United Garment Workers, on Clinton Street.
Mother and brother came from Europe and joined CSZ and his sister.
1913- 17: Attended public night school and Manhattan Preparatory School.
Joined Local 25, ILGWU, and factory went out on strike. Elected shop chairman.
Joined Socialist Party.
International Workers of the World (IWW).
Conducted organizing drive for Local 9 in Long Branch, N.J. Hall chairman in organization strike of Local 25.
Joined the United Cloak and Dressmakers Progressive League as member #1.
Formed Committee of 25 to rebuild Local 22.
After rejoining Local 22, formed Progressive League (or Group).
Elected to executive board of Local 22.
Elected manager-secretary of Local 22.
Elected to General Executive Board.
Resigned from Lovestone group.
1945- 46: Trip to Europe, visiting Poland, Sweden and Norway on behalf of Jewish Labor Committee.
Elected chairman, Trade Union Council, Liberal Party. 1958 Elected general manager of Dress Joint Board.
Served as worker delegate to Sixth Session of Textiles Committee of International Labour Organization.
Helped found Inter-American Federation of Textile and Garment Workers.
Training ship, "Charles S. Zimmerman," christened by Seafarers International Union.
Resigned as Union vice president and general manager of Dress Joint Council and N.Y., Dress Joint Board.
From the guide to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Charles S. Zimmerman papers, 1919-1958 [bulk 1920-1945]., (Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library)
The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union was founded in New York City in 1900 by mostly Socialist immigrant workers who sought to unite the various crafts in the growing women's garment industry. The union soon reflected changes in the sector and rapidly organized thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled women, mostly Jewish and Italian young immigrants. Exemplifying the “new unionism,” the ILGWU led two of the most widespread and best-known industrial strikes of the early Twentieth Century: the shirtwaist makers’ strike of 1909 in New York City and the cloak makers’ strike of 1910 in Chicago. The union also tried to adapt to the fragmented and unstable nature of the industry. It adopted the “protocol of peace,” a system of industrial relations that attempted to ensure stability and limit strikes and production disruption by providing for an arbitration system to resolve disputes.
The ILGWU exemplified the European-style social unionism of its founding members. They pursued bread and butter issues but provided educational opportunities, benefits, and social programs to union members as well. In 1919, the ILGWU became the first American union to negotiate an unemployment compensation fund that was contributed to by its employers. The ILGWU also pioneered in the establishment of an extremely progressive health care program for its members which included not only regional Union Health Centers but also a resort for union workers, known as Unity House. The Union also had an imaginative and pioneering Education Department which not only trained workers in traditional union techniques, but provided courses in citizenship and the English language.
David Dubinsky, an immigrant from Belarus who came to the US in 1911, provided strong leadership that led to unprecedented growth in the union during his presidency from 1932 to 1966. He led the union through successful internal anti-communist struggles, built on the ascendancy of industrial unionism by encouraging the formation of the Committee for Industrial Organization, and helped the union become an important political force in New York City and state politics, and in the national Democratic Party and Liberal Party as well.
In the period following the Second World War, the union suffered a decline in membership as manufacturers avoided unionization and took advantage of less expensive labor by moving shops from the urban centers in the northeast to the south, and later abroad. The ethnic and racial character of the ILGWU also changed as European immigrants were supplanted by Asians, Latin Americans, African- Americans, and immigrants from the Caribbean.
In July 1995 the ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) at a joint convention, forming UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees). At the time the new union had a membership of about 250,000 in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
From the guide to the ILGWU. Charles Zimmerman Collection of Radical Pamphlets, 1914-1958., (Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (State)|
|Women's clothing industry|
|Clothing workers--Labor unions--United States|
|Labor unions and communism--New York (State)--New York|
|Labor union locals|
|Strikes and lockouts--United States|
|Labor unions and communism--United States|
|Jewish socialists--United States|
|Labor disputes--United States|
|Labor unions and communism|
|Women's clothing industry--United States|
|Labor unions--Officials and employees--United States|
|Industrial relations--United States|
|Labor unions--Clothing workers|
|Working class--Education--United States|
|Labor unions--Clothing workers--United States|
|Jewish communists--United States|
|Civil rights--United States|
|Clothing workers--United States|
|Congresses and conventions--New York (State)--New York--Pictorial works|
|Strikes and lockouts--Canada|
|Labor unions--Officials and employees|