Laborers' Union History

The Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA!) has a long history of working to improve the quality of life for its members and their families.  In fact, the union has been proudly serving their members for over 100 years.

In 1903, Samuel Gompers, first President of the American Federation of Labor, challenged laborers across the country to coordinate and consolidate their activities into one cohesive unit, not only for the sake of their members, but the labor movement as well.

In answer to Gompers' call, 25 delegates from 17 cities representing more than 8,000 laborers met in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 1903. After four days of meetings they formed the International Hod Carriers' and Building Laborers' Union of America.

By the late 1920s, a boom in construction caused the membership rolls to approach 100,000. During this period, three amalgamations added to the union's size: the International Compressed Air and Foundation Workers Union; the Tunnel and Subway Constructors International Union; and the International Union of Pavers, Rammermen, Flag Layers, Bridge and Curb Setters and Sheet Asphalt Pavers.

After suffering through a declining membership during the Depression, the union rallied in support of World War II efforts. Membership reached 430,000 in 1942.

In 1955, the International Union affiliated with the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department in order to effectively represent the 60,000 laborers working under the jurisdiction of the IUD. After the post-war industrial boom, LIUNA began organizing non-construction workers.

In 1965, the union officially changed its name to the Laborers' International Union of North America. This change reflects the continual expansion of the union beyond the construction field. The union successfully organized municipal, state and university employees and, in 1968, the 20,000-member Mail Handlers Union joined the International. In the 1970s, Canadian membership in the International increased to over 50,000.

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