We Are One

Honoring Immigrant Garment Workers

SECTION 4: Legacy—Culture of Solidarity

A culture of solidarity among workers, though at times more aspirational than real, was a signature feature of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union throughout the twentieth century.

The 1982 strike was a watershed moment—particularly for the immigrant Chinese women garment workers—many of them wives/mothers. These seldom-heard women workers were emboldened. They became more active in community organizations, particularly around schools and healthcare. Their concerns were taken seriously in the union, as child care centers and the immigration project grew.

The decline of clothing manufacturing in the US began well before the strike, and the trend has only gathered momentum in the decades since.

The lasting impact of the 1982 strike can also be detected in the children and grandchildren of strikers and organizers. Many of them went to college, and some have now returned to enrich and spark positive change in the neighborhoods they grew up in and advocate for garment workers around the world.

A poem by Alina Shen (opens in new window)