MAJOR MILESTONE: About 700 members of New York’s garment industry turned out in Chinatown Thursday night to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Greater Blouse, Skirt & Undergarment Association, a contractors’ group. Many of the association members present at the event reflected on the difficulties Chinatown has faced in recent years, from the terror of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to a recent downturn in tourist traffic out of misplaced concern over SARS.

“The Greater Blouse Association has overcome numerous obstacles and still stands on strong footing,” said Bobby Cheung, president of the group, which has 150 members employing about 11,000 city garment workers.

Teddy Lai, the group’s executive director, said the organization got its start when New York City garment contractors decided to band together to negotiate collectively with the powerful ILGWU.

Edgar Romney, secretary treasurer of UNITE — a successor of the ILGWU — said the Chinatown industry “is still a very important part of the city’s manufacturing industry, that provides jobs to thousands of people.”

Turning his attention uptown, he said the union had secured meetings with several top city officials to get them to reconsider a plan to lift the special zoning rules that set aside for manufacturing half the space of side-street buildings in the Garment Center.

To mark the anniversary, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. issued a commendation honoring the group’s work, while downtown City Councilman Alan J. Gerson issued a similar proclamation on behalf of the council.

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