The New England Joint Board UNITE HERE is a union representing workers in all six New England states across various industries. Our members are cooks, stitchers, machinists, chefs, cashiers, warehouse workers, launderers, drivers, secretaries, pressers, packers, administrative assistants, tailors, disability services specialists, dyers, finishers, and human rights workers. Our union is both industrially and ethnically diverse. This unique identity of the New England Joint Board is in part due to our rich history.
The New England Joint Board comes out of the strong traditions of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (ACTWU). The ILGWU was a union established in 1900 by immigrant workers in the women’s garment industry. The union became one of the most powerful and progressive in the country. Its focus on social and cultural programs for its members became a model for other unions in the American labor movement. Some of America’s most famous labor leaders came out of the ILGWU including David Dubinsky and Clara Lemlich. The ILGWU was instrumental in pushing for many of the labor laws that exist in America today and had a lasting effect on the culture and tactics of the American labor movement.
The ACTWU was born out of a 1976 merger between two unions, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) and the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). The ACWA represented workers primarily in the men’s clothing industry and was an innovative and progressive union notably led by famous labor leader Sidney Hillman. The TWUA represented workers in the nation’s woolen, cotton, and silk textile mills and was born out of the progressive industrial unionism of the Congress for Industrial Organizing (the CIO) in the 1930s. Both the ACWA and TWUA were known for fearlessly standing up to some of the nation’s most powerful corporations and as ACTWU became known as one of the labor movement’s strongest unions.
The ILGWU and ACTWU merged in 1995 to create UNITE, Union of Needle trades, Industrial, and Textile Employees. UNITE became a consolidated power of North America’s textile, garment, and manufacturing industry workers. By 2004, UNITE chose to merge with the growing Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) to form UNITE HERE. The two unions shared a common vision for aggressive organizing and progressive, industrial unionism. The merger made UNITE HERE one of the foremost unions organizing service and industrial workers.
To this day UNITE HERE is known as a cutting-edge union that organizes all workers, across industrial, ethnic, and cultural divides. As our predecessor unions did over one hundred years ago, we continue to fight to bring the lowest-paid, poorest-treated workers into the middle class with dignity and equality. UNITE HERE leads the labor movement in standing up to the corporate interests that seek to erase the victories our predecessors struggled to win.