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Rochester Button Company

300 State St
Rochester, NY 14614, US

Category: Union Workplace

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

Button manufacture in Rochester began in 1887 as a result of the city's flourishing ready-to-wear men's clothing industry. By 1910 there were three firms, employing 1500 workers, making half the nation's buttons. Using small machines, these workers carved, shaped, colored and polished individual buttons of Tagua Palm nut (vegetable ivory). During the 1930s–40s the button industry, to reduce labor costs, converted to plastics. The Rochester Button Company, which had operated at State Street since 1904, became the leading manufacturer of quality imitation mother-of-pearl buttons. However, in response to foreign competition, the company moved some operations to the South in the 1950s; 200 plant workers, represented by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, struck to prevent closing of the Rochester plant, which continued production until 1990 when takeovers and a leveraged buyout stripped company assets, including the pension fund.


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