Text-based digital prints installed in the windows of For The Thundercloud Generation in Edgewater, Chicago. This window-based work uses slogans and demands of the Ladies' International Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) spanning a roughly 80-year period, from 1895 through 1982. Most of the slogans are adapted from flyers, broadsheets, and strike announcements produced by the Union. They were used as part of local and national ILGWU campaigns for the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining, a regulated work day and work week, vacation and overtime pay, improved workplace health and safety, and health care and retirement benefits for workers in the garment industry.
Historically the ILGWU was the largest union representing workers in the American women's apparel industry, uniting workers from across diverse cultures and economic status at its peak in 1969 it had over 450,000 members. By the 1950s and largely as a result of its campaigns, over half of all American garment workers were unionized and earning good wages, with benefits. While much apparel manufacturing currently occurs outside the USA, clothing continues to be produced domestically, mainly in Los Angeles, where workers often face unsafe working conditions and toil for companies that do not respect state and federal wage and labor regulations. As a result, many of the historical slogans and demands for better working conditions made by the ILGWU remain highly relevant today across the garment, manufacturing, food production, auto, coal, and many other industries.
Based on archival research conducted on-site at the ILGWU archives at the ILR School at Cornell University, in June 2015.
Twelve digital prints on paper, custom sized to fit windows ranging from 35 by 76 inches to 46 by 90 inches. Installed at For The Thundercloud Generation, 1104 West Berwyn street, Chicago. Curated by Polly Yates