Union labels can be helpful in determining date ranges for vintage clothing. The menswear unions have a turbulent history, and the labels are sometimes difficult to read and pinpoint dates. This Guide is a work in progress, as we start with the available timelines and begin to identify particular label factors that can assist with dating. I've had much help from Galetime, Maj. Nick Danger and Baron Kurtz.
Please see the related Guide for ACWA labels. The two unions are closely related and the labels look very similar. Due to the number of images, they needed to be separated.
1895 - The United Garment Workers of America (UGWA) was founded in New York City in 1891, and joined the American Federation of Labor (AFL). This was an organization of men's tailors.
1914 - a group of dissatisfied members broke away from the more conservative UGWA to form the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA). AFL refused to recognize this new union.
1933 - ACWA affiliated with AFL and agreed to use UGWA labels
1936 - ACWA left AFL and joined CIO, reinstated its own label copyright 1936..
1955 - December 5, AFL merged with CIO.
1956 - Canadian Congress of Labour(CCL) merged with Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) to form the CLC, Canadian Labour Congress
1976 - ACWA merged with Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) to form Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). ACWA used the diamond sewing machine label until 1976.
1994 - UGWA became a part of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
1995 - UFCW also took in the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA).
1995 - ACTWU merged with ILGWU to form UNITE!
2000 - UGWA and UTWA combined to form the UFCW Textile and Garment Council.
2004 - UNITE! merged with HERE to form UNITE HERE.
Union History / Information Notebook, Southern Labor Archives, Special Collections, Georgia State UniversityWebsite: United Food and Commercial Workers, UFCW Councils, UFCW Textile and Garment Council. http://www.ufcw.org/internal.cfm?subsection_id=133&internal_id=548, wikipedia
To start with, we have three labels from the US Trademark Database, uspto.gov. These are images of the blank labels that makers used. The actual labels have numbers and other identifying information stamped or printed on them.
This label has a first use date of 1913, and first use in commerce date of 1930. It was registered in 1950 and renewed in 1970. It was for use in men's and boys' overalls. Around the circle it says 'General Executive Board' and inside the circle, there is a pair of hands shaking and 'Org Apr 12th,1891.' At the top right it says 'Issued by Authority of', continued at lower left 'Registered' and continued at lower right '242'. Duck Goods is printed on the left and right of the circle over United Garment Workers of America. This is explained in the description as reading:
United Garment Workers of America AF of L Duck Goods General Executive Board Issued By Authority of Registered 242 Org April 12, 1891.
One dating identifier here is the AF of L printed in the top left margin. AF of L and CIO merged in 1955. While there is no indication CIO was added, if AFL-CIO does appear on the label, it indicates post 1955.
This is a Duck Goods label that was in an pair of overalls. I think we were able to date this to a brief period when UGWA was not in AFL, late 40s. Note, there is no AFL in the upper left. [Have not found confirmation that UGWA ever left AFL]
This is another image of a pre-1955 UGWA label. This one does have AF of L on the upper left, though it is hard to see.
Thanks to Baron Kurtz, posting on Fedora Lounge, for the picture and infomation.
This one was registered for use in work clothes of all types such as jackets, shirts, trousers, aprons and uniforms. It has a first use of 1977, was registered in 1982, and canceled April 7, 1989.
Note the AFL-CIO at the top left. CLC = Canadian Labour Congress, formed in 1956.
This one has a first use date of 1913, first use in commerce, 1930. It was registered in 1993 for use in clothing and caps, and canceled July 3, 2000.