New York Clothing Cutters Union, Local Big 4, ACWA

In the center of the banner is a replica of a union label with an image of three key tools of the trade—a sewing machine, an iron and a pair of scissors—in the center. The lettering on the label reads: Issued by authority of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America General Executive Council. The bright red silk with gold lettering, fringe, tassels and designs is typical of the early garment industry banners.

The cutters’ local included the most skilled workers in the industry—almost all of them men. One of the oldest and most active locals, it was described in 1940 as the place where "active Amalgamated participation in such vital movements as the C.I.O., or in the American Labor Party, is first discussed. … If the cutters are for something they can be relied upon to throw all their strength and resources behind it. They know a good fight when they see one and they know how to fight to win. … It is an historical fact, however, that when the cutters propose or accept a policy, it is 10 to 1 that the rest of the Amalgamated follows suit."

The lack of either an AFL or a CIO logo could indicate that this banner was made before the Amalgamated was officially part of the AFL (1933), or that it was made during a time of uncertainty or conflict about affiliation.

silk, cotton and synthetic
57″ x 39″
circa 1930s–1940s

Kheel Center, Cornell University