International Woodworkers of America

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International Woodworkers of America
Woodworkers District Lodge W1
MergerInternational Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  • United States, Canada
AffiliationsCongress of Industrial Organizations

International Woodworkers of America (IWA) was an industrial union of lumbermen, sawmill workers, timber transportation workers and others formed in 1937.


The IWA was formed when members of the Sawmill and Timber Workers' Union division of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America voted to disaffiliate their local unions and form their own union. The IWA subsequently affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

The IWA quickly moved into Canada, where it absorbed a number of smaller unions which had formed in the 1930s, and the Lumber Workers Industrial Union, one of the industrial unions of the Industrial Workers of the World. Harold Pritchett was elected president.[1] A successful strike and organizing drive in 1946 established the IWA as western Canada's largest union, a position that it has generally held since then. The union entered Newfoundland in 1956, but was expelled in 1959 after the Newfoundland Loggers' Strike.

The IWA was staunchly Democratic, and avoided left-wing politics throughout its history. Most of its members lived and worked in the American and Canadian West. Its membership reached as high as 115,000 in the early 1970s.

In the 1980s, raids, mergers and anti-union actions by employers decimated the IWA's membership. The burgeoning environmental movement also restricted access to public lands, where most old-growth timber existed. As the timber industry lost access to public land, timber companies shed thousands of jobs as well.

In 1987, the Canadian branch of the IWA separated from union, retaining the IWA initials but with the new name Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada (IWA Canada).

By 1994, the remainder of the U.S.-based IWA had just over 20,000 members. The IWA leadership felt the union was no longer viable on its own, and the IWA merged with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) on May 1, 1994. Today, the IWA is the Woodworking Department of the IAM. IWA Canada remained an independent Canadian union until 2004, when it merged with the United Steelworkers.


1937: Harold Pritchett[2]
1940: O. M. Orton[2]
1941: Worth Lowery[2]
1943: Claude Ballard[2]
1944: J. E. Fadling[2]
1951: Al Hartung[2]
1967: Ronald F. Roley[2]
1970s: Keith W. Johnson[3]
1980s: Bill Hubbell

See also[edit]


  • Christie, Robert. Empire in Wood: A History of the Carpenters' Union. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956.
  • Deibler, Frederick Shipp. The Amalgamated Wood Workers' International Union of America. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin, 1912.
  • Lembcke, Jerry and Tattam, William M. One Union in Wood: A Political History of the International Woodworkers of America. Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Publishing, 1983. ISBN 0-920080-43-X
  1. ^ "IWA locals map - Mapping American Social Movements". Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Notable Names in American History. Clifton, New Jersey: James T. White & Company. 1973. p. 558. ISBN 0883710021.
  3. ^ "Keith Johnson, 1930-2012". nwLaborPress. 12 June 2012.

External links[edit]