This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book highlights an alternative vision of unionism that coexisted in the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) along with, and for a while held sway over, the more moderate vision that eventually eclipsed it. It describes the expression of a form of multiculturalism in the United States called mutual culturalism, which can be seen in a movement of union building in the ILGWU that began in the first decade of the twentieth century, climaxed in the 1930s, and had a far-reaching influence on American social and political culture. It argues for a rehabilitation of multiculturalism to counter the prevalent assumption that ethnic affiliations are inherently incompatible with militant class consciousness.
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