United Auto Workers (UAW), District 65, began as the Wholesale Dry Goods Workers Union organized in September 1933 by Arthur Osman and a group of Jewish workers at H. Eckstein & Sons, a dry goods warehouse on New York's Lower East Side. Originally affiliated with United Hebrew Trades, the union obtained a charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL) earily in 1935 as the Wholesale Dry Goods Employees Union. In 1937 the WDGEU with approximately 1,000 members merged with the AFL Shoe Warehouse Local and the CIO Textile House Workers Union to form the United Wholesale Employees of New York. Chartered as Local 65 of the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC), it affiliated with the CIO with the understanding that it had complete jurisdiction over all warehouse employees in New York City. In September 1937 when the United Retail and Wholesale Employees of America (URWEA) received jurisdiction over the wholesale industries, Local 65 became a local of that international. From its earliest days, Local 65 was closely associated with the left and Communist forces in the city. The Gimbels Strike in 1941 exposed the tensions between the right-wing inclinations of the international's president, Samuel Wolchok, and the left-wing leadership of the department store locals led by Local 65. Political differences lead to a split and eight of the largest New York locals including Local 65 seceded from the international in September 1948. In February 1950 the International Distributive Workers Union (DWU) was formed by a merger of Local 65 and other former retail and wholesale affiliates. Arthur Osman headed the international; David Livingston became president of Local 65.
In October 1950 the DWU merged with the remnants of two unions expelled from the CIO for Communist domination (the United Office and Professional Workers of America and the Food, Tobacco and Agricultural Workers Union) forming the Distributive, Processing and Office Workers of America (DPOWA). The merger made Local 65 (now District 65) the largest union in New York and the second largest in the country. In January, 1952, the RWDSU, then headed by Irving Simon, who had replaced Wolchok in 1949, unanimously adopted a resolution inviting any of the seceding locals to rejoin the parent international. This resolution was aimed at the DPOWA. Also, in District-wide elections in June, 1952, candidates representing the Communist Party's opposition to reunification with the CIO were decisively defeated, in part because many District 65 Communist members and officers opposed this policy. The following year negotiations occurred between the 65 and the DPOWA, and the merger, which was delayed by the death of Simon, was effected in 1954. Simon's successor, Max Greenberg, remained president of the international and Osman became a national officer. The DPOWA became District 65, RWDSU-CIO. At the same time 65 was experiencing internal strife, it was being investigated by Congressional committees and grand juries for alleged radicalism. Leaders of the union were called to appear before a grand jury in the spring of 1952. David Livingston, President and Jack Paley, Executive Vice-President of 65, were held in contempt for their refusal to release membership records. In July, 1953, union officials appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee's New York City hearings. On advice of counsel and with the approval of the membership each refused to answer questions as to whether they were Communists or supported Communist causes. Though workers in the warehouse industry remained the core of union strength, the union expanded in the 1940s and 1950s to include a variety of workers in small retail and manufacturing firms and other small shops. By 1969 differences between the RWDSU and District 65 over foreign policy, civil rights and organizational matters resulted in the disaffiliation of District 65 from the international. A new national organization, the National Council of Distributive Workers of America (NAWCDA), was formed by District 65 and ten local unions in seven states. Cleveland Robison, secretary-treasurer of District 65, was elected president. As an independent the Distributive Workers opened new organizing campaigns among white collar workers in publishing and universities. Ten years later, a merger between District 65 and the UAW was completed.
From the description of Records [microform], 1933-1992. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 590662000