The Dress Strike at Three Finger Brown's: The Complex Realities of Antiracketeering from the Union Perspective in the 1950s

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In 1958 the International Ladies Garment Workers Union waged a strike in the dress industry. The union's central goal was to curb the growing influence of organized crime, particularly among the factories being set up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Garment Workers' leadership saw the conflict as a pivotal test for their organization. Drawing on newly available source materials, including FBI files and the records of a Senate investigation, this article argues that the union's approach to this strike reflected the complex realities it faced in dealing with corruption in the garment industry. Organized crime played long term and fundamental roles in the New York Garment District and especially in the industry's trucking sector. The union had found itself forced to accommodate aspects of the mob's role in order to build its organization. The 1958 strike was about curbing the mob sector and, in effect, renegotiating the previously made arrangements. It was, the article argues, a kind of real-world anticorruption effort, waged by union members and union leaders at some risk to themselves in mob-dominated towns such as Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-189
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Labor and Working-Class History
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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