Tyler, Gus

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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.

Gus Tyler, author, commentator, educator, political leader, and official, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).

Gus Tyler was born in New York in 1911. He attended New York University on a scholarship in the early 1930s, where he became involved in left-wing political activities. After graduating in 1933, Tyler briefly worked as a writer for the Jewish Daily Forward. His sharp intellect and socialist politics caught the attention of ILGWU president David Dubinsky, who hired Tyler to work in the union's Education Department. Tyler left the ILG after a few years to work with the Socialist Party, but returned in the late 1930s. He held a number of positions in the union and in 1945 became Assistant President, which position he held until 1989. Tyler is the author of many articles and books on labor, labor history, economics, and other topics, and for many years has hosted his own radio program on station WEVD in New York. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at a number of universities and colleges in the U.S., and worked with the ILGWU's successor union, UNITE, as an assistant to the president. Tyler died on June 3, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.

From the guide to the ILGWU. Gus Tyler papers, 1948-1985., (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.

Gus Tyler, author, commentator, educator, political leader, and official, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).

Gus Tyler was born in New York in 1911. He attended New York University on a scholarship in the early 1930s, where he became involved in left-wing political activities. After graduating in 1933, Tyler briefly worked as a writer for the Jewish Daily Forward. His sharp intellect and socialist politics caught the attention of ILGWU president David Dubinsky, who hired Tyler to work in the union's Education Department. Tyler left the ILG after a few years to work with the Socialist Party, but returned in the late 1930s. He held a number of positions in the union and in 1945 became Assistant President, which position he held until 1989. Tyler is the author of many articles and books on labor, labor history, economics, and other topics, and for many years has hosted his own radio program on station WEVD in New York. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at a number of universities and colleges in the U.S., and worked with the ILGWU's successor union, UNITE, as an assistant to the president. Tyler died on June 3, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.

From the guide to the ILGWU. Gus Tyler papers, 1956-1996, (Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf ILGWU. Gus Tyler papers, 1948-1985. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU. Gus Tyler papers, 1952-1980 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU. Chorus Records and Sheet Music, 1989-2000 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU Records, 1884-2006, bulk 1923-1995. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU. Local 89. Luigi Antonini correspondence, 1919-1968 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
creatorOf ILGWU. Gus Tyler papers, 1956-1996 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU. New York Cloak Joint Board records, 1926-1973 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Louis Stulberg, General Secretary-Treasurer. Correspondence, 1956-1966 [bulk 1959-1966]. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Louis Stulberg, President. Correspondence, 1945-1977 [bulk 1966-1975]. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn ILGWU. Local 98 records, 1938-1983. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001 person
associatedWith AFL-CIO. corporateBody
associatedWith American Veterans Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Brennan, William J. (William Joseph), 1906-1997 person
associatedWith Brookings Institution. corporateBody
associatedWith Chaikin, Sol C. person
associatedWith Dinkins, David N. person
associatedWith Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982 person
associatedWith Foner, Henry. person
associatedWith Foner, Moe, 1915- person
associatedWith Foner, Philip Sheldon, 1910-1994 person
associatedWith Histadrut ha-kelalit shel ha-'ovdim be-Erets-Yiśra'el. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for the Future. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Assistant President corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Convention. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. General Secretary-Treasurer. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 98 corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. New York Cloak Joint Board. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. President's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Jackson, Jesse, 1941- person
associatedWith Lovestone, Jay. person
associatedWith Mazur, Jay. person
associatedWith McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-2005 person
associatedWith Moyers, Bill D. person
associatedWith National Endowment for the Humanities. corporateBody
associatedWith Sheinkman, Jacob. person
associatedWith Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. corporateBody
associatedWith Volker, Paul A. person
associatedWith WEVD (Radio station : New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring. corporateBody
associatedWith World Veterans Federation. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
Subject
Clothing workers--Labor unions--United States
Women's clothing industry--United States
Occupation
Activity

Person

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