In the Beginning

To understand the history and organization of Unions, Ironwork and Local One, we must start at the beginning as we know it. In the 18th Century B.C. the worlds first written code of law, the “Code of Hammurabi,” named after the King of Babylon included the formalization of training which we know as apprenticeship today.

The first labor -management agreement dates to 459 A.D. and is know as the “Sardis Building Trades Agreement” which was found on a marble slab in modern Turkey.

The “Craft Guilds” of the Middle Ages preformed many of the same functions as the Unions of today. Ornamental Ironworkers had such an organization. The members drew up the statutes of the guild, elected their own Officers, and paid there dues.

In early America, the Ironworker was important whether he be known as a Bridge Carpenter, Mechanic, Rigger or Housesmith. They erected the early bridges of heavy wooden timbers using primarily rigging skills that are still in use today.

In the 1880’s, steel had virtually replaced wood as the load bearing material in building and bridges and a new type of skill was required of the working man. Practically overnight, Bridge Carpenters became “Bridgemen”and Blacksmiths became “Architectural Ironworkers”.

In Chicago many factors contributed to the early growth of the Ironworker including the Chicago River which required multiple wood and then steel bridges to connect the various sections of the city. Another factor was the establishment of Chicago as the transportation hub of the country that required numerous railroad bridges and viaducts.

The years before 1900 in Chicago were full of events and people that shaped Ironworkers Local One as well as encouraged Unionism across the country. We shall highlight some of the events that had a major impact on the formation of our Local.

In addition we will include photos of many of the men who were instrumental in forming Local One. While some men were identified by year as being in the beginning, we can assume that those being delegates to International Conventions in the early years were also there in the beginning. These men started Local One.

As we progress through the decades from the beginning to the present, we will be presenting primarily a history of jobs and photos of the Ironworkers that developed this great Local.

In addition we will highlight other events which may have effected the lives of the Ironworker such as wars, disasters and social changes that will give you a feel of the time-frame of that decade. We will do this through the use of newspaper headlines from across the country. It is our hope that this method will add to your enjoyment of this web-site.