Joint Board in Boston, Massachusetts, that formed at the beginning of the ACWA and included local unions that covered the range of ethnic groups and trades that comprised the men's clothing industry. Records include detailed minutes, abundant contracts and price lists, scrapbooks, and photographs that reveal the Joint Board's important role in local and state Democratic politics, its support of a wide range of social causes, its decisions to strike, and its reaction to the decline of the men's clothing industry in New England. Leader Joseph Salerno is well represented in the records.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Boston Joint Board
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America originated from a split in the United Garment Workers in 1914. The ACWA quickly became the dominant force for unionism in the men's clothing industry, controlling shops in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York. The Boston Joint Board, formed at the beginning of the ACWA, included-locals that covered the range of ethnic groups and trades that comprised the industry. It coordinated the activities and negotiations for ACWA Locals # 1, 12, 102, 149, 171, 172, 173, 174, 181, 183, 267, and 335 in the Boston area.
The Boston Joint Board records document the growth and maturity of the ACWA in the city, and the eventual decline of the industry in New England. Abundant contracts and price lists show the steady improvement of conditions for workers in the men's clothing industry. Detailed minutes reflect the political and social influence of the ACWA. The Joint Board played an important role in local and state Democratic politics, and it routinely contributed to and supported a wide range of social causes including, among others, the Home for Italian Children and the United Negro College Fund.
The minutes of the Boston Joint Board are much more revealing for the detail they provide about the post-World War II development of industrial relations in the industry. These minutes document Joint Board decisions to strike, but they also contain much information about more mundane shop problems like grievances, arbitrations, shop committees, and organizing. Additionally, they provide insight into the impact of the industry's decline in New England. Many of the meetings discuss the closing of shops in the Boston area, while the merger of the ACWA with the textile workers' union to form the ACTWU evinces the declining membership of the clothing workers in the region.
The extant records of the Boston Joint Board largely coincide with the years of leadership of Joseph Salerno in the New England region. An Italian immigrant, Salerno came to Boston at age 10 in 1907. He participated in his first strike as a garment worker in 1911, and became a full-time organizer for the ACWA in 1920. After spending some years as regional director of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee and as Vice-President of the Textile Workers, Salerno was elected Vice President and New England director of the ACWA in 1941 and remained in that position until 1972. He wielded substantial political power in the state, in part due to the influence of his nephew, Rep. Mario Umano. The scrapbooks and photos emphasize his importance in the Boston area and in New England more generally, and document his close relationship with Democratic politics.
The records are divided into four series, including Minutes, 1942-1979; Finances, 1954-1972; Collective Bargaining Files, 1926-1976; and Scrapbooks, 1958-1976.
Deposited by the New England Regional Joint Board, through Edward Clark, November 1984.
The records of the Boston Joint Board were maintained primarily by long-time manager Joseph Fiascone, who was succeeded in 1970 by Samuel Tancreto. They were sent to the New England Regional Joint Board headquarters in North Dartmouth, MA, in the late 1970s when the Boston Board activities were assumed by the New England Regional Joint Board. There they were maintained by New England Joint Board leaders Diana Nunes and Edward Clark.
Processed by Kenneth Fones-Wolf, December 1984.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Boston Joint Board Records (MS 2). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.