Memory in Cloth

Safety and Solidarity for New York City Garment Workers

Courtesy of Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation, Cornell University.

The 1982 Chinatown garment worker rallies showed the ILGWU’s social unionism in action. This was a landmark moment in the history of workers in New York City, when an estimated 20,000 members of Local 23-25 of the ILGWU—most of them Chinese immigrant women—walked off the job. The labor and community organizing tapped into an extraordinary outpouring of energy from the rank-and-file workers. Two rallies in Columbus Park on June 24, 1982 and July 15, 1982 and this march down Mott Street transformed the Chinatown community and the union.