Stulberg, Louis

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STULBERG, LOUIS (1901–1977), U.S. labor leader. Stulberg, a lifelong unionist, began as a teenage garment cutter and rose to become president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ilgwu), leading that organization for 10 years. In contrast with his predecessor, the fiery, high-decibel David *Dubinsky, Stulberg was regarded as a quiet but efficient leader and an astute financial manager. He was born in Poland but his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada, when he was three. His first job was as a cutter, but he was blacklisted in Toronto because of union activities and the family moved to Chicago, where he joined the ilgwu. He attended the University of Chicago for one year, played semi-pro baseball, and briefly considered a career as a shortstop. Devoting himself instead to union activities, he moved around the Midwestern U.S., working as a cutter and organizer in Toledo, Ohio, and Chicago before settling in New York City in 1927 and joining Cutters Local 10. Within two years, he was a business agent for Local 10 and in 1933 was named its business manager. As head of the cutters' dress department, he helped bring thousands of new members to the union during an East Coast organizing drive just before the start of World War ii. In 1945, Stulberg joined the union's general staff as assistant executive secretary. Two years later he became manager of Local 62, which made women's undergarments, and was elected a vice president and member of the general executive board. In 1956 he was appointed by Dubinsky as executive vice president of the ilgwu, a non-elective position. He was elected general secretary-treasurer in 1959, making him Dubinsky's heir apparent. Stulberg became president of the ilgwu in 1966 and was reelected three times. He resigned as president in 1975, citing health problems. Stulberg's decade as president was marked by a major shift in ilgwu membership, from largely Jewish and Italian workers to Hispanics and African-Americans. Although membership had reached an all-time high of well over 400,000 in 1968, it began to fall as more apparel makers moved their operations to low-wage countries. It was during Stulberg's administration that the ilgwu broke away from the Liberal Party, which it had helped found. The union's leaders, including Stulberg, said the party had weakened the liberal-labor political coalition, contributing to Republican victories in New York State. Stulberg was also a vice president of the afl-cio and was a U.S. representative at the United Nations. He was also a fellow at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., where in 1969 the Louis Stulberg Chair of Law and Politics was established. In 1973, on the 25th anniversary of the State of Israel, he was awarded the Prime Minister's Medal.

[Mort Sheinman (2nd ed.)]