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News: History

Today: UBC Meets the Challenge

Monday, February 1, 2016 - 7:50am Written by group7even

Initially, many of unions were taken by surprise by the non-union sector's developing economic clout. In the absence of a comprehensive counter-strategy, a number of locals and district councils adopted wage concessions in order to stay competitive with the non-union sector. Non-union employers effectively undercut that tactic by simply driving their own pay rates down further. At the same time, the ABC grew in political sophistication and became one of the linchpins of the "New Right" that propelled Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980.

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Prosperity, Complacency and Trouble

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 9:48am Written by group7even

Local unions took advantage of the favorable conditions to expand into new areas of collective bargaining. In 1950, for example, the New York District Council of Carpenters negotiated a 3% payroll tax to support a Carpenters Welfare Fund. The idea of health and welfare funds became so attractive that the national office's Health and Welfare Committee, appointed in 1954, urged all locals to set up programs as quickly as possible. Jointly trusteed pension funds soon followed, as well as other contract gains, such as safety measures, travel time, and coffee breaks.

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Decline and Recovery

Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 9:47am Written by group7even

The American Plan of the 1920s challenged the status of unions in the United States, but the Great Depression of the 1930s threatened the very existence of working people. The stock market crash in 1929 was a signal to the world that the economy was in crisis. In the months that followed unemployment rose at the astonishing rate of 4,000 workers a week.

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Beating the Open Shop, The Early 1900s: Part 2

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 9:42am Written by group7even

The basic mission of the union--protecting carpenters' rights on the job--remained the same. With the onset of World War I, the union faced a new challenge. Wartime needs for temporary military housing, shipbuilding, and ammunition factories pushed the federal government into a massive construction spending program. When President Woodrow Wilson allowed open shop contractors on federal construction sites, Hutcheson refused to participate in the government's oversight boards. "While we have every desire to assist the government in the crisis we are now passing through," he said, "we have no intention of waiving our rights to maintain for ourselves the conditions we have established."

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Beating the Open Shop, The Early 1900s: Part 1

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 9:40am Written by group7even

During the twenty-one years of McGuire's stewardship, the UBC succeeded in setting union standards for most carpenters on most construction sites in the U.S. The struggle to achieve these goals was long and difficult. Building contractors used all the tools that employers have typically adopted to drive away unionism—strikebreakers, blacklisting, yellow-dog contracts, and violence. Long after the UBC had established a firm foothold in the industry, contractor associations continued to attempt to undermine the union's power.

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Founding A National Union

Monday, January 25, 2016 - 9:30am Written by group7even

The Chicago convention was the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, a 29-year-old carpenter who was to become one of the great labor leaders of the 19th century. A product of the tenements of New York City's lower East Side, McGuire decided to devote his life to the cause of labor at an early age.

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