Union Square

A National Historic Landmark


Labor Culture, Labor Solidarity

The “culture of solidarity” that working people created in New York City was much stronger in some eras than in others, but the breadth of that culture is impressive.

This plaque depicts demonstrations by the union of municipal workers (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME), and by the hospital workers union (Local 1199) that garment workers joined in solidarity. Also shown is one of the cooperative housing developments sponsored by the garment unions, songs that were often heard in Union Square, and an album cover from a successful Broadway musical performed by garment workers.

Plaque Sources

Photograph from UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University.
We Are Here

New York City municipal workers demonstrating in 1954 to force Mayor Robert F. Wagner to bargain with public employees.

Eight Hours (song)

The Eight Hour Day Song was sung during the 1886 strike for an eight hour day, and at many detonations in subsequent years:

We mean to make things over,
We’re tired of toil for naught.
But bare enough to live on,
Never an hour for thought.

We want to feel the sunshine;
we want to smell the flowers;
we’re sure that God has willed it,
and we mean to have eight hours.

We’re summoning our forces from
shipyard, shop, and mill;

Union Label (song)

A song by Paula Green, music by Malcolm Dodds ©1975, UNITE Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (formerly International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and other unions):

Look for the union label
when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.

Remember somewhere our union’s sewing,
our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house.

We work hard, but who’s complaining?
Thanks to the I.L.G. we’re paying our way!

So always look for the union label,
it says we’re able to make it in the U.S.A.!

Photograph from UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University.
Amalgamated Housing

Garment workers’ unions and other unions invested their money in cooperative housing developments around the city in the 1930s and 1940s. This is a view of Amalgamated Dwellings, located on the Lower East Side, built in 1930 by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

Undated image from UNITE.

Labor Day Parade

Labor Day Parade, with marchers carrying signs read “End Unfair Immigrant Quotas,” “Insist on this Union Label,” “America Was Built By Immigrants,” “Full Employment is the Key to Prosperity,” and “Medicare Through Social Security is a Must.”


Image from American Federationist, Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Union Label

The Union Label Trades Department of the AF of L produced this advertisement in the early 1900s, to urge consumers to buy goods made by unionized workers.

Civil Rights, Birmingham

This extraordinary photograph of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 was taken by labor photographer Bob Adelman. His trip south to document the civil rights demonstrations there—which were joined by many New York unionists—was financed by the garment workers union president, and when he returned he repaid the loan with this photograph.

Photograph by Bob Adelman. Private collection. Reproduction not permitted.

Photograph by Burt Berinsky. Private collection. Reproduction not permitted.

Civil Rights, Selma

Labor photographer Burt Berinsky took this photo in Selma, Alabama in 1965.


Made by the garment worker and organizer Kathy Andrade with the Chinese and the Hispanic committees of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), and presented to the president of the ILGWU at a convention circa 1987. Note the plaque depicting immigrants arriving under the gaze of the statue of liberty.

Learn more about this quilt

Private collection, photograph of quilt by Teddy Fung.