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IUOE Local 925
PO Box 398
Mango, FL 33550

813-626-4161
813-623-1381 Fax

THE HISTORY OF THE IUOE


 

The Birth of the IUOE

Eleven men from eight states gathered in Chicago on December 7, 1896 to draft the first constitution
of the National Union of Steam Engineers of America - parent organization of today’s International
Union of Operating Engineers. These men, representing five local unions - the largest having 40
members - formulated basic principles that still remain the foundations of today’s IUOE constitution.
Eleven steam engineers (from local unions in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas,
Missouri, Michigan and Colorado) assembled to form the organization we now know as the IUOE.
Their success was the result of long planning and foresight and considerable fortitude in overcoming
major obstacles.

A week after the Chicago meeting, delegates were dispatched to the American Federation of Labor
(AFL) convention in Cincinnati to petition for a charter. The petition was approved, temporary
officers elected and, on May 7, 1897, the charter was granted.

Following their acceptance into the AFL, the National Union of Steam Engineers formally began
granting charters to its local unions. Charter No. 1 was awarded to the Brotherhood of Steam
Engineers of Denver, Colorado on June 23, 1897. In August 1897, the first convention staged under
the AFL charter was held in St. Louis. At this convention, aims and purposes of the organization
were spelled out and the constitution prepared in detail. Near the end of 1897 the movement had
progressed to a point that it was necessary to change the name to “International Union of Steam
Engineers of America” with the enlargement of jurisdiction to include Canadian unions.

By 1902, there were 123 active unions extending from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts, from the
Hudson Bay to Mexico. By the end of the year, progress was reported on all fronts, with
membership increasing to 20,000.

In 1912, engineers first took up serious consideration of a death benefits fund. A referendum for
death benefits brought union members their first insurance plan two years later.

Also in 1912, a unique contract between Locals 68 and 185 and the brewery owners of New Jersey
provided the eight-hour day, $23.50 per week, and the provisions that “during working hours the
men shall receive beer free of charge.” Engineers began the study of mechanical refrigeration, when
it was predicted that within 25 years ice would be practically abandoned as a means of refrigeration.
The cooling of residents, office buildings and theaters was in progress.

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