UNITE-HERE Headquarters

750 East Ave
Rochester, NY 14607, US

Category: Meeting Site

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

What is now the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees was known as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America when this building was dedicated on October 16, 1967. 1000 guests attended the dedication at which International ACWA President Jacob Potofsky spoke along with various business and elected officials. At that time, ACWA represented 15,000 workers in the area, including clothing workers, Xerox production employees, sales people at leading men’s clothing stores, and workers at Rochester Button Company, Bravo Macaroni, five box factories, and Bourjois Cosmetics.
The construction of this building was possible due to the tenacity and vision of Abraham Chatman, then Manager of the Rochester Joint Board of the ACWA. When Chatman announced that the ACWA would build a union hall on fashionable East Avenue, the neighborhood association took its opposition to the city planning commission,which denied the Amalgamated’s plans. City Council, however, reversed the commission’s vote. Despite continued outcry from area residents, the construction went on and the building itself won the “Better Rochester Building Contest” in 1967. A unique feature of the hall is that it includes a health clinic for the union’s members.
One of the most important health care struggles in Rochester took place over labor’s efforts to establish its own clinic. In early 1956, labor recognized that a merged Rochester AFL-CIO with 60,000 members would be “large enough to finance a medical clinic and diagnostic center for union workers and their families.” By mid-1956 the 13,000 Rochester clothing workers had voted and a majority of their locals approved a local ACWA medical center. In 1957 the Central Trades & Labor Council agreed to study the feasibility of a labor medical facility that would serve members of all the area’s unions. In 1958 ACWA officers and spokesmen for clothing employers appeared before the Monroe County Medical Society: although they proposed that Rochester ACWA medical center would offer “some measure of treatment as well as diagnostic service,” the Medical Society opposed offering ambulatory medical care. The Sidney Hillman Health Center, opened in 1963 in the Medical Arts Building on Alexander Street, provided diagnostic examinations and preventive medicine for ambulatory patients. It served 1200 members during its first four months of operation. The Sidney Hillman Center continues today at the UNITE HERE headquarters on East Avenue.
The Executive Board of the Rochester Labor Council held their meetings at this site in the early 1980s. ACWA later became UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees) which then merged with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees to become UNITE-HERE. In 1999, the Labor Council rallied at the hall to protest the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.