Philadelphia Joint Board, Workers United

History of the Philadelphia Joint Board, Workers united

The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) union was formed in 1914. ACWA concentrated on workers in the men's ready-to-wear garment industry.


For more than 20 years, Philadelphia was a center of non-union shops and subcontracting. Several Philadelphia locals had joined ACWA in 1915 and the Philadelphia branch of the union grew to 3,000 members in the city by 1919.


In 1929, the National ACWA launched a successful organizing campaign, increasing membership in Philadelphia locals from 700 in 1928 to 10,0000 in 1930. Charles Weinstein was appointed head of the ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board in 1929, and remained in that position for 30 years. In 1934, the ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board relocated to its new headquarters at 2115 South Street.


After World War II, the ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board emerged as the second largest component of the national union. In the decades following World War II, the union concentrated on education, health and social welfare benefits.


The ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board's greatest innovation was the establishment, in Philadelphia, of the Hillman Medical Center in 1951. This was the first attempt by a major industrial union to provide full prepaid medical care to its members.


The Philadelphia union also concentrated on Democratic Party politics, internal labor education and organizing drives in the Southern United States, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico.


In the 1970s, ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board's membership shifted from a predominantly Jewish and Italian presence to include more African Americans and Hispanics. In 1976, the ACWA merged with the Textiles Workers Union. The ACWA Philadelphia Joint Board became part of the Clothing Division of the new Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.