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The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America

The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA), also known as just the Amalgamated, was formed in 1914 in a move away from the more conservative, craft-oriented United Garment Workers. The ACWA focused primarily on the production of men’s, ready-to-wear garments. At its inception, the ACWA had close to 30,000 members, most of whom were drawn to the Amalgamated from the UGWU. For its first thirty years, the ACWA was led by Sidney Hillman.

By 1920, the union had contracts with 85 percent of men’s garment manufacturers in New York City and had reduced the workweek to 44 hours. The ACWA also pioneered “social unionism,” an effort that offered low-cost cooperative housing and unemployment insurance to union members. The Amalgamated also founded a bank that would serve labor’s interests. Sidney Hillman and the ACWA had strong ties to many progressive reformers, such as Jane Addams and Clarence Darrow.

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