Our Union’s roots begin at the turn of the 19th century, when small independent Local Unions began to organize. These early Laborer Unions sought to represent unorganized workers who preformed tough and strenuous manual labor on construction sites. The workers were primarily Italian and German immigrants that were heavily discriminated against. Often, these workers were not welcomed into other trades and were forced to work in unsafe environments while being paid low, and unfair, wages.
Over the following years, Locals continued to form, and in 1903 Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), sent out a convention call challenging these independent Local Laborer Unions to join together and establish an International Union. On April 13th, the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers Union was founded. The first convention was attended by 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities, representing 8,186 Laborers. At this first convention, those 23 delegates, all immigrants, elected Herman Lilien, a Belgian, as our Unions’ first General President.
IMPORTANT MOMENTS IN LiUNA HISTORY
In 1961, Local Unions from Southern California successfully organized a strike demanding pension retirement plans added to their contracts. Once added to contracts out West, the benefit spread throughout contracts in North America.
Advancing the Industry
In 1989, the Laborers International Union of North America founded the Laborers Employer Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET). The fund is jointly managed by Union leadership and signatory contractors, it provides a common place where we can work hand in hand with our employers to advance the construction industry as a whole.
The passage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act made it possible to establish multi-employer healthcare plans managed by our Union and signatory contractors.
Apprenticeship & Training
Throughout the 1940s, the Laborers Union established our DOL registered apprenticeship and training program. Our training has grown into a world class program that trains new generations of Laborers and helps active Members sharpen their skills.