Rosenberg, Abraham

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ROSENBERG, ABRAHAM (1870–1935), U.S. labor leader. Born in Russia, Rosenberg immigrated to the United States in 1883. He worked as a cloakmaker in New York's sweatshops and by 1885 was active in the immigrant labor movement. Because the American Federation of Labor (afl) neglected semiskilled and unskilled immigrants, Rosenberg joined in organizing a dress and cloakmakers' union as part of the Knights of Labor. Its failure led Rosenberg to help create the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union (ilgwu), the first permanent labor organization in the women's garment industry.

In 1908 Rosenberg was elected president of the ilgwu. He assumed control at a crucial moment. The panic of 1907 and the ensuing depression spread unemployment and decimated the union's ranks. Within three years however, Rosenberg helped to guide the ilgwu to victory in two major strikes, those of the waistmakers in 1909 and the cloakmakers in the following year. The latter strike was settled on the basis of the famous Protocol of Peace–a concept which Rosenberg helped to spread of labor-management bargaining supervised by impartial arbitrators representing the public.

As president of the ilgwu, Rosenberg was overshadowed by his secretary-treasurer John *Dyche. Dyche came into conflict with New York's rank and file cloakmakers, who were anxious to break the protocol outlawing strikes. The 1914 ilgwu convention, dominated by the socialists, deposed both Rosenberg and Dyche for being union conservatives and antisocialist. In fact, while committed to peaceful collective bargaining and moderate union tactics, Rosenberg was a devoted socialist. He played no prominent role in union affairs after 1914. Rosenberg remained a general organizer of the union until his retirement in 1929. In 1920 he wrote his memoirs in Yiddish, The Cloakmakers and their Union, which show his direct, warm, and human approach to all the problems he had to deal with.

[Melvyn Dubofsky]

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Rosenberg, Abraham

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