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Union Soldiers

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Dear Ms. True:

In an era in which coverage of the labor movement in the general press is rare, both the Chicago Reader and Mr. Neal Pollack are to be commended for your article on the struggle of Chicago's laundry workers for basic dignity [February 26]. As this is clearly a continuing struggle, I look forward to additional information on it. The article was particularly well timed as it appeared around the date of one of the defining moments in the original struggle of the garment workers' unions, the March 25, 1911, Triangle fire in which 146 female workers perished.

Mr. Pollack's article properly noted that part of laundry worker unionization involved uniting workers of different backgrounds, getting African-American and Latino workers to cooperate and trust each other. This is part of the heritage of UNITE, whose constituent unions began with Jewish and Italian workers in the garment industry who at first felt they had nothing in common. It is worth noting that both Chicago's Sidney Hillman of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union and New York's David Dubinsky of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union were immigrants to the United States who had been activists in the Jewish Socialist Bund in eastern Europe.

It is apparent that today's UNITE, however ethnically different it may be from its founders, is a worthy heir of their traditions.

Stephen Oren

W. Granville

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