The Labor Movement of the International Union of Operating Engineers
Getting to where we are today has been no easy task for the labor movement. The road has had many bumps and obstacles. It was only through dedicated leadership, sacrifice, sweat, blood, and tears that unions were able to advance. In the 1800's working conditions were best described as horrible, and wages for 60 to 90 hour workweeks were equally miserable. Benefits were almost unheard of.
In an effort to change those conditions, eleven individuals met in Chicago on Dec. 7, 1896, and formed the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, what would eventually become today's IUOE. Each person was from a small independent U.S. local union; the largest had only 40 members and all but one of the locals was from the stationary field. The majority of these founders shared a common skill: the ability to operate the dangerous steam boilers of the day. It is fitting that the steam dial still dominates the logo of the IUOE.
A year later, the first Canadian workers joined our budding union. To reflect this expansion across the border, our union's name was changed to the International Union of Steam Engineers. Their unique ability made the steam engineers integral to the operation of steam-driven construction equipment introduced at the turn of the century.
More and more construction workers signed on, and at the 1912 convention, our union changed its name, reflecting our new make-up we became the International Union of Steam and Operating Engineers. As our members expanded our duties and began working with internal combustion engines, electric motors, hydraulic machinery, and refrigeration systems, the word "steam" was dropped from the union's name. In 1928, we officially became the International Union of Operating Engineers. As the IUOE moved forward, it attracted workers from the public sector, making it a truly diverse trade union.
Since our inception, we have endured through boom times and lean times, due in part to our hard work and high skill level. Today, our members are reaping the rewards of the sacrifices and foresight of our founding fathers.
Page Last Updated: Oct 30, 2018 (13:16:13)