About the Author

Dr. Melissa R. Klapper is Professor of History at Rowan University, where she teaches American, Jewish, and women's history. She received her BA from Goucher College and her PhD from Rutgers University. She is the author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 (NYU Press, 2005) and Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in the United States, 1880-1925 (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2007).

20th-century Jewish Immigration

The Protocol of Peace (1910)


The Protocol of Peace settled a nine-week strike of cloak makers in New York City. This strike was only one in a series of such labor actions during the early 20th century, but the intervention of the established, middle- and upper-class Jewish community helped bring the parties to the negotiating table. While not everyone involved was Jewish, the vast majority of the manufacturers and most of the workers were, as were the negotiators, including Meyer London, the attorney for the union (a Socialist who was later elected to represent the Lower East Side district in Congress); Julius Cohen, the attorney for the manufacturers; and Louis Marshall. The provision that Jewish workers who observed the Sabbath could work on Sundays instead demonstrated the Jewish sensibilities involved in the negotiations. Less obvious from the document, with its talk of “union men,” was the high percentage of women workers in the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Although the strike would not have succeeded without these women, the minimum-wage scale for various job descriptions set up by the Protocol of Peace continued to discriminate against women, with the jobs designated for women earning less than similar jobs designated for men. The Protocol of Peace was, for its time, quite favorable for the workers, who won a 50-hour work week. However, working conditions remained deplorable, as tragically seen in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire only six months later.

Excerpt from "The Protocol of Peace in the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Trade":
Protocol of an agreement entered into this 2nd day of September, 1910, between the Cloak, Suit & Skirt Manufacturers’ Protective Association, herein called the manufacturers, and the following locals of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. . .

Whereas, differences have arisen between the manufacturers and their employees who are members of the unions with regard to various matters, which have resulted in a strike, and it is now desired by the parties hereto to terminate said strike and to arrive at an understanding with regard to the future relations between the manufacturers and their employees, it is therefore stipulated as follows:

First: So far as practicable, and by December 31st, 1910, electric power be installed for the operation of machines, and that no charge for power be made against any of the employees of the manufacturers.

Second: No charge shall be made against any employees of the manufacturers for material except in the event of the negligence or wrongful act of the employees resulting in loss or injury to the employer. . .

Fourth: No work shall be given to or taken to employees to be performed at their homes.

Seventh: Employees shall not be required to work during the ten (10) legal holidays as established by the laws of the State of New York; and no employees shall be permitted to work more than six (6) days in each week, those observing Saturday to be permitted to work Sunday in lieu thereof; all week workers to receive pay for legal holidays.

Eighth: The manufacturers will establish a regular weekly pay day and they will pay for labor in cash, and each piece worker will be paid for all work delivered as soon as his work is inspected and approved, which shall be within a reasonable time.

Tenth:. . .The weekly hours of labor shall consist of fifty (50) hour in six (6) working days, to wit, nine hours on all days except the sixth day, which shall consist of five hours only.

Fourteenth: Each member of the manufacturers is to maintain a union shop; a “union shop” being understood to refer to a shop where union standards as to working conditions, hours of labor and rates of wages as herein stipulated prevail, and where, when hiring help, union men are preferred; it being recognized that, since there are differences in degrees of skill among those employed in the trade, employers shall have freedom of selection as between one union man and another, and shall not be confined to any list, nor bound to follow any prescribed order whatever.

Sixteenth: The parties hereby establish a Board of Arbitration to consist of three (3) members, composed of one nominee of the manufacturers, one nominee of the unions, and one representative of the public, the latter to be named by Meyer London, Esq., and Julius Cohen, Esq., and in the even of their inability to agree, by Louis Marshall, Esq.


"The Protocol of Peace in the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Trade, September 2, 1910" in Jacob Rader Marcus, ed., The Jew in the American World: A Source Book. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996. Excerpts available through Google Books, page 326.