"Our UBC History" (Short excerpt)

"Peter J McGuire" The first UBC General Secretary. One of the great labor leaders of the 19th century and was one of the Founding farther's of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and served as the General Secretary for our first 21 years.

Mcguire was born to Irish immigrants on July 6th 1852. He was the first child in a family of 5, growing up on the raucous Lowe East Side of New York City. When his farther joined the Union Army in 1863, Peter left school to become the families breadwinner.

Even though his formal education was over, he still found ways to satisfy his unending hunger for knowledge, not only immersing himself in the culture of the city streets but also by attending classes and lectures at the Cooper Union. This meeting place was both a center for continuing education and a hub of radical reform movements.

At 17, Peter began an apprenticeship in a Haines Piano Shop. The long hours, low wages, and difficult working conditions reinforced the rhetoric he absorbed at Cooper Union. Under the hard tutelage of Haines, Peter learned the importance of labor organization. Not long after, he led a successful fight against wage reduction at Haines. But he was harassed out of his position and took his journeyman status from job to job until the onset of the post-civil war depression of the 1870s.

Rather than hang his head, McGuire spoke, And roused the crowds of the fellow un-employed. The venerable New York Times branded him a "disturber of the peace:, and still he thrived!

Hopping freight trains and walking hundreds of miles,McGuire went from town to town and making speeches marked by eloquence, biting wit, and a rich voice. In 1881, he organized a Chicago convention to for a Union. Representatives from 11 cities joined him, and over 4 spirited days they produced a constitution and structure. The UBC was born, with P.J. Mcquire as its first general secretary.

He worked tirelessly to keep the union alive in the early years, and his efforts led to the eighty hour work day, the founding of the American Federation of Labor, and wages that more than doubled, and he built union membership to more than 167,000 members by 1903. He also crafted a lasting and historical memorial to all workers The Labor Day holiday.