Document 26: [Jennie Matyas], "Pres. Dubinsky Reaches Coast, 'Frisco Gives Cordial Greeting," clipping in Sue Ko Lee scrapbook, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University.


    This clipping from the Sue Ko Lee scrapbook described ILGWU president David Dubinsky's visit to San Francisco, probably in the fall of 1938. While in the city, Dubinsky met with local leaders, heard reports of local activities, assisted in negotiations, and planned future strategies. Like the members of the cast of "Pins and Needles" a month earlier, Dubinsky was feted at an elaborate banquet. Jennie Matyas's account of the event reveals the exoticism of Chinese and Mexican cultures in her Eastern European eyes but also the ILGWU's commitment to construct a "family of many races."



By J.M.

    We were all aflutter for a while. President Dubinsky was coming to town!

    Our Los Angeles and San Francisco members who had never met our dynamic leader before took to him in a big way. Knitgoods workers and Chinese members to whom he had been only a name and a title, now feel a personal esteem and fondness for him. The International itself has taken on a personality and meaning that our new members could not have really known it had.

    He arrived Friday morning, September 29, and immediately got into harness. Negotiations between the Gantner & Mattern knitgoods firm were at an impasse. He made an immediate appointment with the firm's attorney for an informal conference.

    The local leadership came directly from the shops to meet their chief, to give him an account of their volunteer stewardship, and to hear from him a report of conditions throughout the nation.

    The exchange of reports lasted for nearly three hours.


    The Chinese local had asked to be allowed to do the honors. They invited our president and our executive boards to a Chinese meal, and what a meal! Bird's nest chicken soup, peanut duck, pot roast squab with grass and mushrooms, oyster sauce mushrooms, almond chicken, fried shrimps, Chinese fried faviolies with sweet and sour sauce, pineapple spare ribs and Chinese wine. A group of Chinese high school musicians played Chinese music, and not to be outdone, a group of our attractive Mexican members sang Mexican songs in true Mexican style and costume.

    Our Chinese members had never seen their president, and our president had never seen so many Chinese members. I don't think he had any idea that there were so many pretty girls among them, or that they could be quite so appreciative and union conscious! The Chinese men and women who were the pioneers in the history-making strike against non-unionism were there.

    They told our president how much they appreciated the great help our international had given them in their struggle to abolish exploitation of the Chinese district. On behalf of all the members, their shy local president, Brother Go Quai Sing, and one of our very attractive Chinese girls, Lilly Yip, presented President Dubinsky with a jade they hoped he would use for a ring. In presenting him with the bit of their precious national jewel they gave him the gratitude of a new race that joined our family of many races.


    The last day of the president's stay in San Francisco was a full one. Meetings and conferences were scheduled from morning to night. The cloak, suit, dress and blouse manufacturers met him at lunch. In the evening he addressed our membership at an open meeting and delivered an inspiring talk, voicing the idealism of our International. It will be long remembered.

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