International Fur & Leather Workers Union

Founders of the International Association of Fur Workers of the United States and Canada
Founders of the International Association of Fur Workers of the United States and Canada
Full name International Fur & Leather Workers Union
Founded 1913
Date dissolved 1955
Union merger Amalgamated Meat Cutters (United Food and Commercial Workers)
Affiliation AFL, CIO, expelled for communist ties
Key people Ben Gold, President
Office location New York City
Country United States

The International Fur and Leather Workers Union (IFLWU), was a labor union that represented workers in the fur and leather trades.

History [ edit ]

"Group of striking fur girls at picnic: Shops reopen, but workers remain out" (1912)

The IFLWU was founded in 1913 and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

Radical union organizers, including Communists, played a role in the union from its early years. They took control using violence in the 1920s, and it became one of the major bases in the labor movement. Irving Howe says that the Communist used:

shock troops, a sort of paramilitary vanguard handy with knives, belts, pikes.[1]

The most active radical and long-time Communist Ben Gold, was president from 1935 until he was forced out by moderates in the 1940s.

In 1937, the IFLWU left the AFL and joined the new Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), led by John L. Lewis.

In 1948, former CIO general counsel Lee Pressman joined Joseph Forer, a Washington-based attorney, in representing Irving Potash, vice president of the Fur and Leather Workers Union along with four others (Gerhard Eisler, supposedly the top Soviet agent in America; Ferdinand C. Smith, secretary of the National Maritime Union; Charles A. Doyle of the Gas, Coke and Chemical Workers Union, and John Williamson, labor secretary of the CPUSA). On May 5, 1946, Pressman and Forer received a preliminary injunction so their defendants might have hearings with examiners unconnected with the investigations and prosecutions by examiners of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.[2]

Between 1949 and 1950, with Cold War tensions rising, the CIO expelled the IFLWU and 10 other unions that it accused of being "communist dominated."

In 1955, the union dissolved into the Amalgamated Meat Cutters union.

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Irving Howe, The World of Our Fathers (1976) pp 338-41, quote on page 339
  2. ^ "Eisler, 4 Others Win New Hearings: Goldsborough Enjoins Their Deportation Pending Compliance With 1946 Law". New York Times. 6 May 1948. p. 18. Retrieved 18 March 2017.

External links [ edit ]

Further reading [ edit ]

  • Steve Rosswurm, The CIO's Left-Led Unions (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 159–181.

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