Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Labor Organizations in Peoria

“A Brief History of Peoria” by Democratic State Central Committee? 1896.

Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff


by W. S. Bush


    The labor organizations in Peoria are an important factor in the community—in both a business and a social capacity. It has taken years of toil and worry on the part of the leaders to establish them on the basis they now stand. To take away the labor unions of Peoria would be almost as great a calamity as to take away all of the churches. The union is the laboring man's church, social club and board of trade. Take them away and wages would drop—the masses would be without a guiding star. Those who belong to the labor unions can best tell of their benefits—yet the unorganized also are benefitted by the organized effort.
    The Trades and Labor Assembly of Peoria and vicinity was organized on March 21, 1885, and is affiliated with the Illinois State  Federation of Labor. Since its organization it has held steadily to the course for which it was created, viz: to represent the different bodies affiliated and to look after the general welfare of the laboring classes. Almost every union in the city is represented in the assembly. Each organization is entitled to three delegates. Among the principal unions of the city we give a very short sketch.

    Peoria Typographical Union, No. 29, is the oldest union in the city. It has for its members all of the skilled printers in the job printing, magazine and newspaper work. They practically have every printer in town.
    The Tailors' Union. No. 19, is not as strong numerically as the Typographical Union, but it has some very able trades unionists in its ranks.
    The employes in the tin, sheet iron and cornice trade arc well guided by Local No. 1, of the International Tinners' Union. They have a large membership. Mr. H. H. Brauch, the vice-president of the International Union, is a member of No. 1.
    The Cigarmakers' Union, No. 118, is (as it is elsewhere) looking well after the interests of its hundred and some odd members, all of whom are working, with the exception of three or four.

    The Barbers' Union, No. 44, represents all of the first-class journeymen barbers in the city.  The card of the union is displayed in almost every shop into which you may go.

    The Bricklayers' Union, No. 3, is composed of every competent brick mason in the city, and is a strictly business concern and the promptness with which the large number of its members attend every meeting attest its life and energy.

    The Retail Clerks' Associatisn [sic], of Peoria, is composed of a very large number of clerks, both ladies and gentlemen, and you may find them, by asking for their quarterly card, at almost any retail store in the city.

    The Musicians' Union, A. F. of L., was organized about a year ago and has grown to be one of the liveliest unions in the city.

    The Knights of Labor, Assembly No. 7662, meets in Trades Assembly Hall, and takes in men of all crafts and callings.

    The Painters' Union was organized less than a year ago and is at this day a very strong body.

    The Molders' Union, No. 178 is one of the oldest local unions and has a large membership.

    The rest of the unions is the city are doing equally well and are as follows:

    Hod Carriers' Union; Pressmen's Union; Stone Cutters' Union; National League of Musicians' Press Feeders' Union; Boiler Makers and Iron Ship Builders' Union, No. 60; Carpenters and Joiners' Union, Na. [sic] 245; Coopers' Association of Peoria; Electrical Workers (Brotherhood); Engineers' (Loco.) B. of L. E., Union No. 92; Engineers' (Loco.) B. of L. E., Union No. 417; Engineers' (Stationary); Firemen (Brotherhood of Loco.) Union No. 48; Horse Shoers' (Journeymen) Union, No. 54; Machinists' International Ass'n, No. 227; Mine Workers' Union, of Bartonville; Plasterers' International Union, No. 12, Plumbers' Association of Peoria; Railway Telegraphers; Trainmen (Brotherhood of Railway), No. 27.

    Besides this collection of local unions in Peoria, which we are free to say cannot be equalled [sic] outside of Chicago in the state, there are a large number of state and international organizations with headquarters located here.

    The headquarters of the Illinois State Federation of Labor is located in Peoria, Walter S. Bush, secretary and treasurer.  The federation represents some 800 local unions and an estimated membership of 145,000.

    The headquarters of the Illinois Typographical Union, John A. Onyun, secretary and treasurer, is also located in Peoria.




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