International Fur & Leather Workers Union
Founders of the International Association of Fur Workers of the United States and Canada
|Full name||International Fur & Leather Workers Union|
|Union merger||Amalgamated Meat Cutters (United Food and Commercial Workers)|
|Affiliation||AFL, CIO, expelled for communist ties|
|Key people||Ben Gold, President|
|Office location||New York City|
The International Fur and Leather Workers Union (IFLWU), was a labor union that represented workers in the fur and leather trades.
The IFLWU was founded in 1913 and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
Radical union organizers, including Communists, played a role in the union from its early years. They took control using violence in the 1920s, and it became one of the major bases in the labor movement. Irving Howe says that the Communist used:
- shock troops, a sort of paramilitary vanguard handy with knives, belts, pikes.
The most active radical and long-time Communist Ben Gold, was president from 1935 until he was forced out by moderates in the 1940s.
In 1948, former CIO general counsel Lee Pressman joined Joseph Forer, a Washington-based attorney, in representing Irving Potash, vice president of the Fur and Leather Workers Union along with four others (Gerhard Eisler, supposedly the top Soviet agent in America; Ferdinand C. Smith, secretary of the National Maritime Union; Charles A. Doyle of the Gas, Coke and Chemical Workers Union, and John Williamson, labor secretary of the CPUSA). On May 5, 1946, Pressman and Forer received a preliminary injunction so their defendants might have hearings with examiners unconnected with the investigations and prosecutions by examiners of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
In 1955, the union dissolved into the Amalgamated Meat Cutters union.
- Irving Howe, The World of Our Fathers (1976) pp 338-41, quote on page 339
- "Eisler, 4 Others Win New Hearings: Goldsborough Enjoins Their Deportation Pending Compliance With 1946 Law". New York Times. 6 May 1948. p. 18. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
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- Steve Rosswurm, The CIO's Left-Led Unions (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 159–181.
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