The Master of Seventh Avenue

David Dubinsky and the American Labor Movement

436 pages

19 illustrations

July, 2005

ISBN: 9780814767115

$89

Cloth

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Author

Robert D. Parmet is professor of history at York College of The City University of New York. He is the author of Labor and Immigration in Industrial America and Town and Gown: The Fight for Social Justice, Urban Rebirth, and Higher Education, and co-author of American Nativism, 1830-1860.

All books by Robert D. Parmet

The Master of Seventh Avenue is the definitive biography of David Dubinsky (1892—1982), one of the most controversial and influential labor leaders in 20th-century America. A “character” in the truest sense of the word, Dubinsky was both revered and reviled, but never dull, conformist, or bound by convention. A Jewish labor radical, Dubinsky fled czarist Poland in 1910 and began his career as a garment worker and union agitator in New York City. He quickly rose through the ranks of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’Union (ILGWU) and became its president in 1932. Dubinsky led the ILGWU for thirty-four years, where he championed “social unionism,” which offered workers benefits ranging from health care to housing. Moving beyond the realm of the ILGWU, Dubinsky also played a leading role in the American Federation of Labor (AFL), particularly during World War II. A staunch anti-communist, Dubinsky worked tirelessly to rid the American labor movement of communists and fellow-travelers.

Robert D. Parmet also chronicles Dubinsky’s influential role in local, national, and international politics. An extraordinary personality whose life and times present a fascinating lens into the American labor movement, Dubinsky leaps off the pages of this meticulously researched and vividly detailed biography.

Reviews

  • “Parmet's work will surely have an honored place on the shelves of Cornell University's Kheel Labor Center, as has an earlier work, David Dubinsky: A Life with Labor, co-authored by Dubinsky himself and A.H. Raskin, one of the New York Times's famed labor reporters.”

    The Weekly Standard

  • “This volume, which contains an eight-page photo section, will appeal to labor history scholars and biography enthusiasts.”

    CHOICE, recommended

  • The Master of Seventh Avenue explores the life of David Dubinsky, an East European Jewish immigrant who grew up with the ILGWU. One of the most forceful labor leaders of the twentieth century, Dubinsky also pioneered in the civil rights movement, actively involved his union in domestic politics, and fought vigorously for all workers in the international sphere. One of the most forceful labor leaders of the twentieth century, Dubinsky also pioneered in the civil rights movement, actively involved his union in domestic politics, and fought vigorously for all workers in the international sphere. Parading across the pages of this insightful and colorful biography are men like, George Meany, Sidney Hillman, John L. Lewis, Fiorello LaGuardia, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy, Arthur Goldberg, and Adlai Stevenson. Parmet examines the work of labor leaders and politicians from the inside out. It is certainly a sight worth viewing.”

    —Leonard Dinnerstein, author of Antisemitism in America

  • “Within an institutional history of Dubinsky as a uniquely influential labor warrior, Parmet finds room to portray the man as well as the public figure.”

    —Kalman Goldstein, Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • “A major work of scholarly research and writing.”

    —Ira Leonard, Southern Connecticut State University