Did you know the first labor unions in the US were started by craftspeople? Yes, that's right, artists and designers have always struggled to make a fair wage! The first recorded labor protest took place in 1768 when tailors in New York were unhappy with wage reductions.
The first union to organize in the US was actually that of shoemakers. Called the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers this organization laid the foundation for workers rights. This group began the trend of craftspeople setting standardized wages for their work. They also defended their trade from being watered down by cheaper labor and upheld the integrity of their craft (www.history.com). How amazing is that!
Women also played a key role in unionization as war and industrialization increased the need for a wider labor force. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the US. It was founded in NYC in 1900. The ILGWU was also one of the first to have a primarily female membership. The union was instrumental in the labor movement of the 1920s and 30s.
The ILGWU was involved in enriching its community throughout its run. The lives of laborers were improved through the work of the union. This included the availability of classes in topics such as English, law, and patternmaking. There were health centers that provided medical care for union workers and their families. The ILGWU made housing available, as well as funded musicals, radio stations and sports teams. This helped make the long hours and difficult working conditions more bearable to this largely immigrant population.
In 1970, the ILGWU created a commercial jingle that went like this:
Look for the union label When you are buying a coat, dress, or blouse, Remember somewhere our union's sewing, Our wages going to feed the kids and run the house, We work hard, but who's complaining? Thanks to the ILG, we're paying our way, So always look for the union label, It says we're able to make it in the USA!
I am so proud that Mirame products are Made in the USA. Our factory is woman owned and operated. The sewers are able to bring their children to work if they need to. The women are paid a livable wage. This is what we stand for as a business.