Document 5: "Bilinguistic Ballot Makes Bow," [24 January 1938], Sue Ko Lee scrapbook, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Franciso State University.

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   The passage of the Wagner Act in 1935 created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and placed the power of the New Deal administration squarely behind the union push for collective bargaining. The source of this newspaper account is uncertain, but it was clipped and mounted in a scrapbook by a Chinese garment worker employed at the National Dollar Stores factory, Sue Ko Lee. It described the bilingual collective bargaining election held at the factory under the auspices of the NLRB. The NLRB counted ballots and found that 74 of 124 workers designated the International Ladies Garment Workers Union as their representative (see Document 6).

Bilingustic Labor Ballot Makes Bow


Chinese Union Prepares to Bargain
With Occidental Employers


   Mingling strangely the ways of the East and the ways of the West, the first collective bargaining between a Chinese union and occidental employers is scheduled to start today.

   The union, the Chinese local of the International Ladies' Garment Workers, is believed by spokesmen to be the first organization of its kind in the country and is said definitely to be the first designated by a consent election under the National Labor Relations Board as the collective bargaining agent for a group of Chinese workers.


   It is composed of 80 workers in the manufacturing plant of a local store, where conditions were described by Miss Jennie Matyas, organizer for the international, as being exceptionally good.

   The organization, according to Sam Kagel of the Pacific Coast Labor Board representing the union, was the achievement of the Chinese themselves and was perfected through their own leadership.

   Steps will be taken to protect Chinatown from ills that might accrue through organization, Miss Matyas said.

   "Proposed agreements provide that work must continue to go to the people who now have it, so as to make sure it will not be taken out of Chinatown."

   Six members of the union were unable to sign their names on the ballots, which were printed in both English and Chinese.


   Many of the members are unable to speak English, although they can read and write the language, Miss, Matyas said, and it is necessary to conduct meetings in both tongues.

   When she addresses a gathering she is forced to pause while an interpreter translates her words.

   The union has a secretary to inscribe proceedings in Chinese and another to write them in English.

   The organizer described the union as the first step to organize all manufacturers in Chinatown, particularly those contractors who pay only on a piece basis.

   And the union label soon may affixed to goods produced in Chinatown.


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