Murder in the Garment District: Catherine Rios, David Witwer, Joseph McCartin
May 26, 2020
- 7:00 PM- 8:30 PM EST
Virtual Event - Register Below

Please join The New Press and the Brooklyn Historical Society for a discusison of Murder in the Garment District: The Grip of Organized Crime and the Decline of Labor in the United States, as part of our Radical May programming. Labor scholar and author Joseph McCartin will moderate a discussion with authors Catherine Rios and David Witwer. 

Details for joining the virtual event to come. 

In 1949, in New York City’s crowded Garment District, a union organizer named William Lurye was stabbed to death by a mob assassin. Through the lens of this murder case, prize-winning authors David Witwer and Catherine Rios explore American labor history at its critical turning point, drawing on FBI case files and the private papers of investigative journalists who first broke the story. A narrative that originates in the garment industry of mid-century New York, which produced over 80 percent of the nation’s dresses at the time, Murder in the Garment District quickly moves to a national stage, where congressional anti-corruption hearings gripped the nation and forever tainted the reputation of American unions.
Replete with elements of a true-crime thriller, Murder in the Garment District includes a riveting cast of characters, from wheeling and dealing union president David Dubinsky to the notorious gangster Abe Chait and the crusading Robert F. Kennedy, whose public duel with Jimmy Hoffa became front-page news.
Deeply researched and grounded in the street-level events that put people’s lives and livelihoods at stake, Murder in the Garment District is destined to become a classic work of history—one that also explains the current troubled state of unions in America.
David Witwer is a professor of history and American studies at Penn State Harrisburg and the author (with Catherine Rios) of Murder in the Garment District (The New Press) as well as Corruption and Reform in the Teamsters Union and Shadow of the Racketeer. Witwer also worked in the Labor Racketeering Bureau of the New York County District Attorney’s Office and served as a staff researcher at the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.
Catherine Rios is an award-winning filmmaker and writer, an associate professor of humanities and communications at Penn State Harrisburg, and the author (with David Witwer) of Murder in the Garment District (The New Press).

Joseph A. McCartin is Professor Executive Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. He is an expert on U.S. labor, social and political history. His research and writing focuses on the intersection of labor organization, politics, and public policy. He teaches courses in 20th Century U.S. Labor History, U.S. Since 1945, America Between the Wars, Modern U.S. State and Society, and 20th Century U.S. Social History. His books include Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations and Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America.