Use the links at the top to explore our site and find out what the ILGWU can do for you!

Featured Members

All of our members are vitally important to the success and continuation of our union. If you are interested in learning more about some of the men and women who have made valuable contributions to our efforts, please read on.

Clara Lemich has been the leading figure in many of the strikes against big business in the past few years. In 1907 she led a ten-week wildcat strike at Weisen & Goldstien waist shop. In 1908 she led the walkout of the Gotham waist factory. She is never afraid to put herself right in the front of the fight; she has been arrested seventeen times already.

  • Read an interview with her here.

Pauline Newman: is a women’s organizer for the shirtwaist industry and an employee at the Triangle Shirt Waist factory.

Letters to Michael and Hugh Owens

I was told that I was very lucky to have gotten a job with the Triangle Shirt Waist Company because there is work all year round and that I will no longer have to look for another job. Since the day’s work began at seven thirty it meant that I had to leave home at six forty, catch the horse car. The day’s work was supposed to end at six in the afternoon. But, during most of the year we youngsters worked overtime until 9 p.m. every night except Fridays and Saturdays. No, we did not get additional pay for overtime. The job was not strenuous. It was tedious. Since our day began early we were often hungry for sleep. I remember a song we used to sing which began with “I would rather sleep than eat”. This song was very popular at that time. But there were conditions of work which in our ignorance we so patiently tolerated such as deductions from your meager wages if and when you were five minutes late.

No one in those days could afford the luxury of changing jobs — there was no unemployment insurance, there was nothing better than to look for another job, which will not be better than the one we had. What good would it do to change jobs since similar conditions existed in all garment factories of that era? Therefore, we were, due to our ignorance and poverty, helpless against the power of the exploiters.

Days and Dreams: First published in the Independent, September 25, 1902

by Sadie Frowne

Sadie Frowne tells us her experiences as a young woman in a garment sweatshop. She feels the pressure from her boss to work faster and faster, to compromise her safety and to be increasingly productive. By the end of a long workday, her body is ravaged by sleep deprivation, by needles going through her fingers, by powering her machine all day by foot power.

Ms. Frowne reflects a new type of woman. She is a youth who earns for a life beyond the factory floor. She attends plays, rewards herself with nice clothes, and refuses to hurry into marriage.

Rose Schneiderman is a leader in the Women’s Suffrage Party and doubles as an ILGWU organizer and officer of the New York branch of the Women’s Trade Union League. She also spoke at the Triangle Factory memorial held at the Metropolitan Opera House on April 2, 1911.

Bessie Abrahamowitz was only twenty-one years old when she helped organize the 33,ooo men’s clothing workers to strike in Chicago in 1910 before working for the ILGWU.

Fannie Cohn is the ILGWU’s only woman vice president.

Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) is a United States organization that unites both working class and our affluent sisters to eliminate sweatshop conditions. The WTUL played an important role in supporting the massive strikes of International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. The WTUL also campaigned for women’s suffrage among men and women workers.  In 1903, William English Walling was one of the main people responsible for founding this union. 

The WTUL was co-founded by Jane Addams, Mary Anderson and other trade unionists who devoted themselves to securing better occupational conditions for women and encouraging women to empower themselves through union activity. The WTUL had a strong reformist agenda, “sponsored a combination of vocational training and protective legislation,” and quickly emerged as one of the most liberal organizations of its kind.