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All Together Different: Yiddish Socialists, Garment Workers, and the Labor Roots of Multiculturalism

Overview

In the early 1930’s, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) organized large numbers of Black and Hispanic workers through a broadly conceived program of education, culture, and community involvement. The ILGWU admitted these new members, the overwhelming majority of whom were women, into racially integrated local unions and created structures to celebrate ethnic differences. All Together Different revolves around this phenomenon of interracial union building ...
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All Together Different: Yiddish Socialists, Garment Workers, and the Labor Roots of Multiculturalism

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Overview

In the early 1930’s, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) organized large numbers of Black and Hispanic workers through a broadly conceived program of education, culture, and community involvement. The ILGWU admitted these new members, the overwhelming majority of whom were women, into racially integrated local unions and created structures to celebrate ethnic differences. All Together Different revolves around this phenomenon of interracial union building and worker education during the Great Depression.

Investigating why immigrant Jewish unionists in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) appealed to an international force of coworkers, Katz traces their ideology of a working-class based cultural pluralism, which Daniel Katz newly terms “mutual culturalism,” back to the revolutionary experiences of Russian Jewish women. These militant women and their male allies constructed an ethnic identity derived from Yiddish socialist tenets based on the principle of autonomous national cultures in the late nineteenth century Russian Empire. Built on original scholarship and bolstered by exhaustive research, All Together Different offers a fresh perspective on the nature of ethnic identity and working-class consciousness and contributes to current debates about the origins of multiculturalism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This exciting book upends the conventional wisdom that puts ethnic identity and class identity at odds. Katz recovers a rich legacy of Yiddish socialist wisdom that saw how the one could animate the other, and he shows how women organizers, in particular, applied this understanding to rebuild their union in the Depression era. Cultivating mutual cultural appreciation among struggling African American, Latino, Italian, and Jewish workers, they fostered union loyalty and labor militancy. A surprising story full of timely insights for today’s readers." -Nancy MacLean,Duke University, and author of Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace

"In this fine study, Katz provides a model for how to integrate labor, racial/ethnic, immigration, and gender history."-Mary McCune,Journal of American History

"All Together Different is an inspired title for this pathbreaking study in ideological transference from Russia to America, from Jewish Bundism to interracial unionism. With insightfulness and distinctive nuance, Daniel Katz recovers the ILGWU's complicated and consequential world—united in its differences—of inter-racialism and gendered tensions.”

-David Levering Lewis,New York University, and two time Pulitzer Prize winner for W. E. B. Du Bois

"In All Together Different, Daniel Katz, an associate professor of history at Empire State College of the State University of New York, reveals why and how the predominantly Jewish leaders of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union enlisted many black and Hispanic colleagues beginning in the 1930s. Professor Katz mines archives at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and other research organizations to make his case that the recruitment was rooted in the revolutionary experiences of Russian Jewish émigrés."-Sam Roberts,The New York Times

“In this carefully constructed book, Daniel Katz offers a provocative reinterpretation of the history of New York City’s iconic early 20th century labor union, the ILGWU, highlighting the ways in which the revolutionary socialist worldview of the union’s immigrant Russian-Jewish leaders—especially its women leaders—led it to embrace and nurture workers’ diverse racial and ethnic identities. Challenging the widely held notion that radical class consciousness is undermined by such an emphasis on racial and ethnic differences, Katz argues that the two were mutually reinforcing among immigrant workers a century ago. This book is a must-read not only for labor historians, but also for anyone interested in the relationship of unions to immigrant workers in the 21st century, when once again worldviews shaped outside the United States’ borders are helping to transform the nation’s besieged labor movement.” -Ruth Milkman,Professor of Sociology at CUNY Graduate Center

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814748367
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Katz is Professor of History and Dean of Labor Studies at the National Labor College. A former union organizer, he is a member of the Board of Directors of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in New York City.
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