Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Boston Joint Board Records
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Boston Joint Board records document the growth and maturity of the ACWA in the city, and the eventual decline of the industry in New England. Abundant contracts and price lists show the steady improvement of conditions for workers in the men's clothing industry. Detailed minutes reflect the political and social influence of the ACWA. The Joint Board played an important role in local and state Democratic politics, and it routinely contributed to and supported a wide range of social causes including, among others, the Home for Italian Children and the United Negro College Fund.
The minutes of the Boston Joint Board are much more revealing for the detail they provide about the post-World War II development of industrial relations in the industry. These minutes document Joint Board decisions to strike, but they also contain much information about more mundane shop problems like grievances, arbitrations, shop committees, and organizing. Additionally, they provide insight into the impact of the industry's decline in New England. Many of the meetings discuss the closing of shops in the Boston area, while the merger of the ACWA with the textile workers' union to form the ACTWU evinces the declining membership of the clothing workers in the region.
The extant records of the Boston Joint Board largely coincide with the years of leadership of Joseph Salerno in the New England region. An Italian immigrant, Salerno came to Boston at age 10 in 1907. He participated in his first strike as a garment worker in 1911, and became a full-time organizer for the ACWA in 1920. After spending some years as regional director of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee and as Vice-President of the Textile Workers, Salerno was elected Vice President and New England director of the ACWA in 1941 and remained in that position until 1972. He wielded substantial political power in the state, in part due to the influence of his nephew, Rep. Mario Umano. The scrapbooks and photos emphasize his importance in the Boston area and in New England more generally, and document his close relationship with Democratic politics.
The records are divided into four series, including Minutes, 1942-1979; Finances, 1954-1972; Collective Bargaining Files, 1926-1976; and Scrapbooks, 1958-1976.