JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen (Canada and United States) Labor Day and Jewish Influence in Union Formation #general

Jan Meisels Allen

Both Canada and the United States celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of
September. Other countries also celebrate Labor Day but on other dates:
Australia, New Zealand, India and the Netherlands to name a few. May 1 is
International Workers' Day and many countries celebrate that day as Labor
Day. Labor Day is the day to celebrate workers' rights organized by trade

At least in the United States, Jews were involved in early efforts to
unionize the working class. Many Jews worked in sweatshops located in
tenements. An early (1885) spontaneous walkout occurred by cloak and skirt
workers. While this organization did not survive by 1890 the United Hebrew
trades has established 22 unions. Later Samuel Gompers, a Dutch-Sephardic
Jew, participated in the founding of the cigar-makers union and he
negotiated the formation of the American Federation of Labor becoming its
first president.

Many of us had ancestors in the women's garment industry, especially in New
York City. Immigrant Jews were actively involved especially in the needle
trades union formation. Women's clothing was a major consumer-goods industry
in the early part of 20th century.

To read more about the history of the Jewish movement in unionization, see:

The Legal Genealogist also has an interesting post regarding labor union
resources with an interactive map. The repositories are across the US and I
found that several such as at YIVO in New York City may be of special
The map of labor archives in both Canada and the United States may be found
Original url:
To read the Legal Genealogist article see:

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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