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Timeline

Building Towards a Bright Future

In the 21st Century, members of the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) span a variety of crafts such as general carpentry, pile driving, trade show, interior design, mill cabinet and millwrights. The UBCJA is a diverse Union with nearly half a million members in the U.S. and Canada. Our members are your neighbors, they are your little league coaches and they are your elected and appointed officials. Today, our state-of-the-art, no debt apprentice training sets the standard in our industry and ensures that workers have the training to operate efficiently and safely on the job site.

Fair Pay for the 21st Century

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 reverses a Supreme Court decision that found that people subject to pay discrimination have only 180 days to file a discrimination claim from the date the employer first decides to pay them less. It reinstates the long-standing interpretation of the law that treats each paycheck as a separate discriminatory act that starts a new clock. It is the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Blue Green Alliance Launched

The United Steelworkers Union and the Sierra Club launch the Blue Green Alliance, a labor-environmental coalition to expand the number and quality of jobs in the clean energy economy. The Blue Green Alliance unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations to solve today’s environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy.

American Rights at Work Founded

American Rights at Work, a national non-profit advocacy group, is founded to promote the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers. Through action, research and outreach, American Rights at Work exposes injustices in the workplace and advocates for the rights of America's workers.

Sisters in the Brotherhood Committee is Formed

By 1957, there were almost 9,000 female members of the Carpenters union. In 1998, the first local Sisters in the Brotherhood committee formed, and in 2002 the union held its first Women's Conference. Sisters in the Brotherhood was founded in 1998 to recruit women into the Carpenters Union. The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) was tasked by the UBCJA to pilot a SIB pre-apprenticeship program. The NRCC's SIB program celebrated the five-year anniversary of this pilot program with the inaugural SIB Leading the Way Conference on April 13-15, 2018.

Douglas McCarron elected as general president of the UBCJA

Douglas McCarron is elected as the general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Since being elected General President in 1995, McCarron has undertaken the most extensive restructuring in the Union’s more than 135-year history, moving the organization to a regional structure that matches modern construction markets. McCarron and his leadership team were re-elected to five-year terms in 2000, 2005, 2010 and most recently in 2015.

Protecting Jobs During Family and Medical Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a United States labor law requiring employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. The legislation is best known for its provision of parental leave for the birth of a child. It also guarantees that a job will be there upon return, for new foster parents, caretakers of injured or ill relatives, workers with personal health problems and others.

The Reagan Era

Union membership fell by five million between 1975 and 1985. In manufacturing, the union labor force dropped below 25 percent, while the mining and construction industries also dropped dramatically. Most notably, in August 1981, President Reagan ordered striking members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization to return to work. Two days later, he  fired 11,345 striking members who refused to return to work. 

A Failing Economy, Changing Industries & the “Business Round Table”

Major industrial construction organizations banded together to create the “Business Round Table”. The group was composed of March Group, General Electric and the Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable and lead by Roger M. Blough, then Chief Executive of U.S. Steel. It championed the anti-union Open Shop and the Merit Shop. Its effects were devastating to Unions and by the early 1990’s, Union membership had decreased by nearly half from 1970s levels.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

On December 29, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect workers’ safety and health. The purpose of the legislation was to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions."

Equal Pay Act bans wage discrimination based on gender

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law on June 10, 1963 by John F. Kennedy, as part of his New Frontier Program. This United States labor law was aimed at abolishing male/female wage disparity. The Act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. It was enacted to rectify the pay inequity that existed between men and women who perform the same job duties.

President John F. Kennedy’s gives federal workers right to bargain.

Executive Order 10988 was a United States presidential executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy on January 17, 1962 that recognized the right of federal employees to collectively bargaining. At the time, very few workers at any level of government had won the right to bargain collectively with their employers. Federal action helped inspire many states and localities to follow suit, allowing their own workers to organize. Executive Order 10988 was later replaced by President Richard Nixon's Executive Order 11491 in 1969.

Union Power Grows

With the merger of the AFL and the CIO in 1955, almost one third of American workers were union members. Unionized workers enjoyed wages and benefits that gave them a greater stake in consumer society and allowed them to pursue “the good life.” 

Post WWII Membership Boom

The years following World War II saw Union membership increase exponentially as soldiers leaving the military joined the construction workforce. In the post-WWII Boom, membership in the Brotherhood reached new heights with more than 833,000 members by 1973. 

Arkansas Becomes the First “Right to Work” State

In 1943, the Christian American Association (CAA) convinced the State Legislature to make it a felony to use force or threats of violence to prevent individuals “from engaging in any legal vocation of their choice.” This measure had the potential to transform picketing into a felony—strikebreakers could claim that the mere presence of picketers constituted a threat of violence. The next year, the CAA joined with Arkansas Free Enterprise Association to circulate petitions to enact a law forbidding labor unions and companies from signing agreements requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The state’s voters approved the so-called “Right to Work” initiative in the fall of 1944.

Fair Labor Standards Act

In the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s, both unemployed and union workers mobilized to successfully support the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the first national minimum wage at $0.25/hour (equivalent to $4.31/hour in 2017 dollars). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

The National Labor Relations Act

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) on July 5, 1935. The Act significantly expanded the government’s powers to intervene in labor relations. Before the law, employers had liberty to spy upon, question, punish, blacklist and fire Union members. In the 1930s, workers began to organize in large numbers. A great wave of work stoppages in 1933 and 1934 included citywide general strikes and factory occupations by workers. Hostile fights erupted between workers who sought to organize. Some historians maintain that Congress enacted the NLRA to stave off revolutionary labor unrest.

The Davis-Bacon Act

The Davis-Bacon Act is passed in 1931 and establishes the requirement for paying prevailing wages on publicly funded projects. In 1931, laws were enacted both in Washington and in Wisconsin to guarantee fair competition on federal and state construction projects. Over the years these laws, the Davis-Bacon Act and the state Prevailing Wage law, have become recognized by workers both inside and outside the construction industry as important milestones in the history of organized labor.

Religious Freedom and Organization

Throughout its history, the labor movement has defended the constitutional right to religious freedom. During the 19th century, religious leaders often rejected this plea and joined the opposition to unions. Their perspective began to change at the end of the century when Pope Leo XIII issued a letter to all Catholic bishops defending the right of workers to organize, leading to a growing corps of “labor priests.” At the same time, the pro-labor “social gospel” movement arose among Protestants. By the 1920s, many Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish organizations denounced low wages, dangerous conditions and anti-unionism. 

The U.S. Congress makes Labor Day a national holiday.

In the 1890s, states across the Union began to recognize the Labor Day holiday. By 1894, 23 states had adopted the Labor Day holiday in recognition of workers. On June 28th of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September each year a national holiday in the United States.

Oregon becomes the first state to recognize Labor Day.

The first state bill to recognize the Labor Day holiday was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. 

May Day

The first May Day was celebrated on May 1, 1886 and is still celebrated in various areas throughout the globe as International Workers’ Day. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor) first proclaimed that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886." The following year, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated its proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations.

The Start

Peter J. McGuire, along with representatives from 11 different cities, formed the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

8 Hour Work Day

On August 20, 1866, the National Labor Union, made up of skilled and unskilled workers, farmers and reformers was formed and called on Congress to order an eight-hour workday. The National Labor Union was created to pressure Congress to make labor law reforms. The Union failed to persuade Congress to shorten the workday and the labor organization itself dissolved in 1873. However, its efforts heightened public awareness of labor issues and increased public support for labor reform in the 1870s and 1880s.

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