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Finding aid to Sue Ko Lee Scrapbook on Chinese Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
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Scrapbook belonging to Sue Ko Lee, a button hole machine operator at the National Dollar Store garment factory in San Francisco's Chinatown, and member of the Chinese Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (CLGWU), Local 341.
Sue Ko Lee was a member of the Chinese Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. After working at the National Dollar Store/Golden Gate Manufacturing, Sue Ko Lee became a business agent at another garment factory, then secretary of the union local and the San Francisco Joint Board, as well as a delegate to the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union national convention.In the 1930s, the garment industry was the largest employer in San Francisco's Chinatown and employees worked in sweatshop conditions, earning low wages. In response to these conditions, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) organized a campaign to keep work from flowing out of union shops to Chinese manufacturers and established the Chinese Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local 361 in 1937. Under the leadership of ILGWU organizer Jennie Matyas, a successful union election was won at the National Dollar Store factory for better wages in 1938. The owner, a prominent Chinatown businessman, quickly sold the facility to Golden Gate Manufacturing, a supposedly new company, headed by the factory manager and another former National Dollar Store employee. This supposed change of ownership allowed management to disregard the hard won contract. Seeing this move as an attempt to break the union, the workers went on strike, picketing the factory and its three retail stores in San Francisco for 15 weeks before the owner finally negotiated with the workers to settle a contract.
1 album (44 pages); 26 x 32.5 cm.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives and Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives and Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Collection is open for research.