ILGWU members at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, female marchers, August 28, 1963 from Kheel Center

In the early 1900s, union organizers overcame the seemingly impossible task of uniting employees in factories and small scattered shops. Surmounting ethnic divisions and hostile owners, workers built lasting labor unions within the major divisions of the garment industry.


Workers United History in One Flowchart




United Garment Workers of America, UGWA, founded to organize fledgling apparel industry centered primarily on makers of work clothing.


International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union founded by NYC cloak manufacturers to organize women’s and children’s apparel workers


United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) founded by merging all of the smaller textile unions organized fabric workers.


Divisions within the UGWA led to the formation of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) focusing more on the men’s fashion clothing industry.


The Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC-CIO) founded by former ACWA president Sidney Hillman organized the Textile Workers’ Union of America (TWUA) to compete with the UTWA.


Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) was founded by the merging of ACWA and TWUA in 1976.


The United Garment Workers of America (UGWA) and the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) in 1995 merged with the UFCW.


Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) formed by the merger of International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU).


Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) form single entity UNITE-HERE.


UNITE-HERE splits into original camps with HERE maintaining control of UNITE-HERE and UNITE becoming an affiliate of SEIU as WORKERS UNITED.

Learn more about the Union Co-op history and our union labels.