Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

A bit of social history

Singer Building Postcard

The first decade of the twentieth century saw the rise of militant labour unions working for improvements in working conditions.

The Singer Company was characterised by a 'closed door' 'tight lipped' security about its affairs. It refused to recognise labour unions, even when 11000 workers went on strike at Clydebank in April 1913.

The picture shows a postcard of the then newly completed Singer building, issued by the New York Typographical Union No. 6. It was posted in New York on 17th February 1908 a few weeks after the Singer building was opened. The front of the card has been overprinted with a request 'not to purchase these magazines .......... or these dress patterns: Butterick, Standard and New Idea as they have locked out their printers for requesting the eight hour workday.'

Does anyone know how long the dispute lasted? At the time, Elizabethport worked a 58 1⁄2 hour week over 6 days!