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The History of the Boilermakers Union
Posted On: Jan 07, 2004
Very Brief History of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

Very Brief History of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

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The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers was born on September 1, 1893. On that day, at a meeting in Chicago, representatives from the International Brotherhood of Boiler Makers and Iron Ship Builders, which had been organized on October 1, 1880, and the National Brotherhood of Boiler Makers, which had been formed in Atlanta in May of 1888, resolved to consolidate their organizations. It was further agreed that the new organization, to be known as the Brotherhood of Boiler Makers and Iron Ship Builders of America, would make its Headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas.

Two and a half years later, on
the ninth of June 1896, the Brotherhood affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.

In subsequent years, the Brotherhood continued to grow, and in 1902, the Helpers division was formed. Because helpers were barred from sitting in the lodge room with mechanics, this new division had its own local unions and was entirely separate from the Boiler Makers. This would change a decade later when the Helpers Division would be consolidated with the Mechanics Division.

In March 1906, at a special Convention in
Kansas City, the name of the Union was changed to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders and Helpers of America in order to incorporate the newest division. Also at this time, the term "Boiler Makers" was condensed into one word, "Boilermakers."

The Boilermakers affiliated with the National Building Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor in February 1931. At the turn of the century, total membership stood at about 8,500, but by 1944, due in part to dramatic increases in the shipbuilding, railroad, and fabrication shop industries during World War II, the Boilermakers numbered over 350,000.

In 1954, the Boilermakers merged their organization with the International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths, Drop Forgers and Helpers. The International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths had been organized in 1889 and added Helpers to both their membership and their name in 1901. A 1919 merger with the Brotherhood of Drop Forgers created the
Union that, on June 29, 1953, merged with the Boilermakers to create the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers. A year later, a new International seal was adopted to include all crafts.

October 1, 1954, the Boilermaker National Health and Welfare Fund was established, on November 9, 1959, the Boilermakers National Joint Apprenticeship Fund began, and the Boilermaker-Blacksmith National Pension Trust became effective October 1, 1960.

Delegates to the 1977 Convention voted to establish a Construction Division at International Headquarters for the purpose of servicing those members with employment in, or related to, the construction industry.

March 15, 1984, the delegates to the Special Merger Convention of the United Cement, Lime, Gypsum and Allied Workers International Union voted to merge with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers. The merger of the CLGAW, formed in 1936, and its ten thousand members who dominate the building products and supplies industry, and the Boilermakers forged an organization with a greater ability to provide services to its members.

October 1, 1994, a merger was consummated with the Stove, Furnace and Allied Appliance Workers International Union - a skilled trade union that was organized in 1891. The Stove Workers, with 5,800 members, became a Division of the International Brotherhood known as the Stove, Furnace, Energy and Allied Appliance Workers Division. The word energy was inserted to give special recognition to the coal miners within that Division. The Division had its members employed primarily in the manufacturing of stoves and various types of appliances.

During the same period, merger talks were also being carried out with an independent union known as the Western Energy Workers. This one-local union, formed in 1978 with members employed in the coal strip pits, signed a merger agreement with the Boilermakers effective
December 1, 1994.

In October 1996, a merger agreement was made with the Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers and Allied Workers International Union. This union was also an old line, skill trade union that was organized in 1892. This merger brought 4,000 new members to the Brotherhood. These members are employed primarily in plating and polishing shops within the
United States and Canada.

On July 24, 2003, International President Charles W. Jones resigned his office, and the International Executive Council elected Newton B. Jones to complete his unexpired term.

Also see A Timeline for the Boilermakers Union with photos of the official seal as it has changed over time (may take a while to load).


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