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Garment District

49 - 198 St. Paul Street
Rochester, NY 14604, US

Category: Labor Struggles

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

For years Rochester was among the top five U.S. cities in clothing and shoe production -- half of the city’s workforce worked in one industry or the other. In 1904-05 this area was the heart of the garment district with over 25 wholesale clothing dealers on this section of St. Paul Street alone; there were others throughout this neighborhood as well as many manufacturers. The men’s clothing industry employed over 5000 workers in Rochester factories while another 10,000 did homework or piecework in small shops.
In 1911, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in which 146 clothing workers were killed as a result of employer negligence, Senator Robert Wagner conducted factory inspections statewide and found fault with 31 of the 33 factories inspected in Rochester.
Ten thousand Rochester clothing workers went on strike on January 23, 1913 for the 8 hour day, a 10% wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held throughout the clothing district; there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers on St. Paul Street and arresting 25 picketers. Over the course of the 1913 strike, six people were wounded and one worker, 18 year old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor.
The pocketmakers and pressers at Rosenberg's struck for higher wages on July 16, 1918 precipitating strikes in a number of other shops. Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, came here to negotiate a settlement on behalf of all area garment workers. The first collective bargaining agreement in the Rochester clothing industry was reached on April 1, 1919 when all members of the Clothiers Exchange agreed to recognize the ACWA.


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