International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers

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Boilermakers
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers logo.jpg
Full name International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers
Founded 1880
Members 70,000+ (2011)[1]
Country United States, Canada
Affiliation AFL-CIO, CLC
Key people Newton B. Jones, president
Office location Kansas City, Kansas
Website www.boilermakers.org

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is a trade union in the United States and Canada. It is for boilermakers and related occupations, and is affiliated with both the AFL-CIO and CLC.

The Boilermakers union has a three-year apprenticeship training program before becoming a Journeyman. Boilermakers primarily work in nuclear and fossil power plants. However they also work in shipyards, refineries and chemical plants. The work involves welding, rigging and fabricating. All work done is governed by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration).

History[edit]

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers was founded on September 1, 1893. On that day, at a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, 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, Georgia, in May 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, KS.

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 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.

Members of the union holding a demonstration in 2009 in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

On 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.

On 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 10,000 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.

On 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-mining, 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, skilled 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.

Racial discrimination[edit]

Similar to other AFL craft unions within the United States, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers maintained a conservative stance of racial exclusion towards African Americans within the shipbuilding trade up until the 1930s. However, mounting competition from the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, an industrial union under the CIO, did not exclude blacks from their ranks. [1] In response to increased pressure, the IBB approved the formation of black local auxiliaries in 1937. [2] The formation of auxiliaries coincided with a rapid growth in shipbuilding because of World War II. African Americans quickly flooded the ports of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles, but even with the creation of auxiliaries, blacks were continually barred from upper advancement within the IBB. The local auxiliaries required blacks to pay the same amount in membership dues as their white counterparts, however, auxiliaries could be shut down by an all-white "parent" local auxiliary at any time. [3] The severe restrictions imposed upon the auxiliaries left blacks without the ability to voice grievances. Blacks were unable to participate within the governing of their union and were subject to the governance of an all-white body that sought to limit black advancement. Regulations by the IBB relegated blacks to unskilled labor positions within the shipyards who were under the supervision of whites. The Boilermakers did not recognize training certificates of black workers seeking skilled positions, but only recognized a worker’s training if they completed an on-plant program. This ensured that the IBB could impose restrictions on who received the training, which had the intended consequence of racial discrimination. [4]

Dissatisfaction with the racial policies of the IBB grew within the local auxiliaries along the West Coast. In Los Angeles, the Shipyard Workers Committee for Equal Participation was established in 1943 by Walter Williams. [5] Under the leadership of Williams, the local auxiliary united with other minority groups to protest the all-white parent body of Lodge 92. Workers refused to pay dues and led rallies against the discriminatory practices of the IBB. In addition to worker action against discrimination, the Fair Employment Practices Commission investigated the union’s practices in 1943. It ordered the Boilermakers to stop racial discrimination within the union. However, the FEPC had no means of enforcing their orders and its ruling was ignored by the IBB. [6] The ruling by the FEPC encouraged black Boilermakers to continue fighting against racial discrimination.

In San Francisco, thousands of workers refused to join the auxiliary union because of discrimination and were fired from their jobs within the shipyard. Organized under Joseph James, the workers brought their case to the San Francisco Committee Against Segregation and Discrimination. In 1944, a judge ruled that participation within a racially segregated auxiliary was not a requirement for employment. [7] The decision by the Superior Court judge was appealed by the IBB, and James v. Marinship came before the California Supreme Court in 1945. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Superior Court and ruled, “In our opinion an arbitrarily closed or partially closed union is incompatible with a closed shop.” [8] The unanimous decision ruled that blacks had to be employed under the same conditions as whites within a union. The ruling ended the Boilermakers practices of racial discrimination and was a monumental gain for black workers. However, the 1945 ruling had little immediate impact upon black advancement within the IBB because many were laid off with the conclusion of World War II.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rubin, Lester; Swift,, William S.; Northrup, Herbert R. (1974). Negro employment in the maritime industries : a study of racial policies in the shipbuilding, longshore, and offshore maritime industries. Philadelphia: Industrial Research Unit, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. p. 36. ISBN 0812276787. 
  2. ^ Taylor, Quintard (1999). In search of the racial frontier : African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: Norton. p. 258. ISBN 0393318893. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Quintard (1999). In search of the racial frontier : African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: Norton. p. 259. ISBN 0393318893. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Marilynn S. (1996). The second gold rush : Oakland and the East Bay in World War II (1st pbk. ed. ed.). Berkeley: Univ Of California Press. p. 70. ISBN 0520207017. 
  5. ^ Laslett, John H.M. Sunshine was never enough : Los Angeles workers, 1880-2010. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 185. ISBN 0520273451. 
  6. ^ Laslett, John H.M. Sunshine was never enough : Los Angeles workers, 1880-2010. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 184. ISBN 0520273451. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Marilynn S. (1996). The second gold rush : Oakland and the East Bay in World War II (1st pbk. ed. ed.). Berkeley: Univ Of California Press. p. 73. ISBN 0520207017. 
  8. ^ Seeking el Dorado : african Americans in California. Los Angeles [u.a.]: Autry Museum of Western Heritage [u.a.] 2001. p. 201. ISBN 0295980834. 

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