Perfection Garment Company Strike

The Martinsburg Journal
May 5, 1953

Strike at Perfection Plants Comes to End

18-Point Agreement Is Signed

Pickets Removed Immediately After Abrupt Settlement

The 12-day union strike at the Martinsburg and Ranson plants of the Perfection Garment Company came to an abrupt end last night at 10 o'clock when the striking workers agreed to accept terms agreed upon earlier in the evening by company and union representatives.

The strike by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, recognized last December 12 as bargaining agent for employes, was ended after an 18-point memorandum had been signed by officials of the opposing sides.

Pickets were removed immediately and company officials said that all striking employes would be called back to work by the first of next week. Working today were the approximately 140 who had gone through the picket lines here yesterday and the approximately 55 who remained on the job in Ranson plus certain skilled workers who had been on strike. The other employees will be recalled as work is made available for them.

Both Voice Satisfaction

Both sides this morning expressed satisfaction that the strike is now over and that there is mutual agreement on the basic economic issues involved.

The strike-ending memorandum was signed for the company by John R. Poland, Jr., vice-president and general manager; William H. Atkinson, personnel manager, and Attorneys Lacy I. Rice and Harry H. Byrer, legal counsel.

Signing for the ILGWU were Miss Angela Bambace, of Baltimore, Md., union regional head, and Virginia Rogers and Virginia Frye, members of the local committee.

Union agreement to end the strike was approved at a mass meeting last night at Union Hall.

Terms of this agreement provide for a number of points including a straight time pay raise of five cents per hour, a two-dollar per week incentive bonus for piece rate workers making above the 80-cent per hour minimum, ten cents per hour more for skilled workers, and open shop contract, an escalator clause based on living cost changes, dissolution of the mass picketing injunction obtained by the company, selection of the American Arbitration Association to arbitrate future problems, a department transfer clause guaranteeing employes former wages, a week's vacation with pay, and one and one-half percent health and welfare fund paid by the company, a check-off system for collecting union dues with provision union members may withdraw on 15-days' notice from date of the memorandum, and a contract to run until October 31, 1955.

Actual negotiations leading to signing of a formal contract embodying all of these provisions will not get under way until next week.

Leaders Comment

The following statement was made today by Poland:

"We are happy that the strike has been settled and we especially want to thank Miss Angela Bambace and the local committee for their efforts and cooperation in bringing about a quick settlement of our differences. We hope to go forward and it is our earnest desire to continue to build Perfection in the tradition of our late founder, J. R. Poland, by practicing the Golden Rule in business."

Steve Schlossberg, union spokesman, had the following comment:

"I consider this a tremendous victory for the union in that it is getting in its first year a contract that is the best ever granted in an initial agreement to any local in this section. Our members are returning to work without bitterness or rancor and with a spirit of cooperation. We appreciate the fine attitude of the people of Martinsburg during the strike which revealed the solidarity of our members. I particularly would like to thank our attorney, Whiting C. Faulkner, for his services."

Faulkner said this morning that he and Rice have agreed to drop all charges made in the arrests of some 25 persons on both sides during the controversy. An order has already been entered in Berkeley County Circuit Court dismissing the company's injunction against mass picketing and the union has withdrawn its request for an injunction against the company. Likewise dropped are the charges brought by the company against Murray Markoff, a union organizer charged with violating the injunction. This hearing had been set for tomorrow morning before Judge D. H. Rodgers.

Marked by Bitterness

The 12-day strike was marked by bitterness and with a number of incidents of minor violence, particularly during the first two days. These incidents occurred on the picket lines both here and in Ranson.

The entire City Police department was called out to maintain order throughout the strike and for two days early last week were assisted by State Police who were later withdrawn by Mayor Carlton B. Stuckey when he said he felt local officers could handle the situation.

No one was seriously injured in any of the incidents although there were minor scratches and bruises received by a number of persons.

The strike started the day after negotiations looking toward a contract had been broken off in New York City. The Perfection plant here normally employs about 400 people with 125 in Ranson. The Keyser branch of Perfectioon [sic], not organized by the union, was not struck although ILGWU pickets were on duty.

This was the first major industrial strike in Martinsburg in more than 12 years.


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