"Make Sewing Your Career" Flyer in Spanish and English, New York City, c. 1970s

Historical Context
American labor unions arose out of the need for workers to organize themselves and work together to demand fair wages, safety in the workplace, and job security. A collective voice could not be ignored by employers as easily as individual protests, and workers who banded together could engage in strikes and other joint activities to strengthen their hand in bargaining with management. Latino unions gave workers a voice in overcoming discrimination in the workplace.  They often functioned to help members gain education and improve job skills.
Essential Question
How do immigrants impact the economy and culture of a community?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main purpose of this poster and explain why this message is targeted toward certain ethnic groups.
[click to enlarge]
Flyer - Mejore su futuro...Aprendiendo a coser/ Make sewing your career, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY, CEN_KaAn_BflyF9_1396
Document Description
Local 23-25 International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) flyer announcing sewing instruction classes in English and Spanish, New York, NY, n.d. Words on flyer: "Aprendiendo a coser/ Make sewing your career" ("Learn to sew/Make sewing your career").
  1. What is the flyer advertising?
  2. Why would a union be interested in helping people learn to do industrial sewing?
  3. Why do you think the flyer is in both English and Spanish?
  4. What skills are being taught in these courses?
  5. Where do you think these flyers would be posted?
  6. What is the name of the union that is sponsoring these classes?
Historical Challenge
Using the Resources section, learn more about the history of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).
Research the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. How did this tragedy affect the growth of the ILGWU?
Where is our clothing made today? Check clothing labels and place the names of those countries on a map of the world.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Foreign Language/English as a Second Language: Use the document to reinforce vocabulary and grammar structure.
Science: Beginning with the sewing machine, make a poster display of the machines used in the garment worker industry.

    Labor Council for Latin American Advancement “About Us”

    New York State Library. "Selected Hispanic and Latino Websites."
  4. Max D. Danish. The Story of the ILGWU. New York: ILGWU, 1947.
  5. Juan Gonzalez. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. New York: Penguin, 2001.
  6. Marcelo Suarez-Orozco and Mariele Paez, eds. Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley: University of California, 2002.
  7. Gus Tyler. Look for the Union Label: A History of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers' Union. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1995.
  8. Robert H. Ziegler and Gilbert J. Gall. American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.