Courtesy of The Kheel Center

David Dubinsky 1892-1982

Born in Brest-Litovsk, Belarus, American labor leader David Dubinsky (born David Dobnievski) had become an activist by the age of 14. Sentenced to exile in Siberia in 1911 for his union activities, he escaped to New York, where he became a cutter in a cloak shop. Rising through the ranks of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Dubinsky served as president of the ILGWU from 1932 until 1966. Under his leadership and with the passage of laws protecting workers' right to organize, the membership of the ILGWU swelled from 25,000 members to 300,000 members by the end of the Depression. Dubinsky, together with labor-leader Sidney Hillman, formed the American Labor Party in 1936. In 1969, President Nixon honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.