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12E.4.2a Old Series Trademark No. 3800

International Ladies Garment Workers Union trade mark (closeup)
California Secretary of State's Office

California Secretary of State's Office. Old Series Trademark No. 3800. California State Archives Exhibits.

The first garment unions formed in the late nineteenth century. Unions represent laborers, often in a particular industry, such as the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), established in 1900. Like other unions, the ILGWU has worked to provide reasonable working hours, pay, and health and safety conditions for its laborers. Unions operate by collecting dues from their members, using these funds to cover the costs of the union staff or to help support workers when they are on strike and not collecting pay. The logic is that unions, while costing some money to their members, can deliver greater benefits through collective bargaining (like shorter workdays, higher wages, safety protections) than an individual worker could negotiate on her or his own. The ILGWU has also worked to provide additional benefits through its union, such as English language classes and basic health-care services.
Generally, union workers earn more than nonunion workers. And research suggests that unions provide greater stability, leading to lower employee turnover and higher productivity, which can benefit economic growth. Unions are organizations made up of workers who elect their own officers; these officers make decisions on behalf of all members. It is legal for employers to try to persuade employees not to unionize, but it is against the law for employers to prevent employees from unionizing through threats, violence, and other coercive action. However, there have been a number of instances in which employers have used such tactics to intimidate their workers and prevent them from organizing.

[image of pink trademark of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union] ISSUED BY AUTHORITY OF INTERNATIONAL LADIES' GARMENT WORKERS UNION
ORG. JUN. 30 1900