In 1954, the Philadelphia Millwright Local was formed, like all locals were, out of necessity.   It's imperative that we remember where we came from and to thank the workers, who struggled, fought and even died for what we have today. We also need to be grateful to our unions for banding together and making a change in the work place not only for union members but for all who desire to make a decent wage with benefits in a forty hour week.


In the 19th and 20th centuries major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transport, and technology had a profound change in this country producing jobs needing a variety of skilled labor.  Men, women and even children worked long hours each day and were forced to work in deplorable conditions.  They were being paid low wages with no health benefits and were working in dangerous environments with no safeguard for them to prevent bodily harm or serve injuries.  These workers had no rights or way of protecting their jobs and could be fired at the whim of the employer.  At this time, unionization became crucial.


Here are just a few examples of what happened, making it clear, why it was necessary to organize and form unions and how important unions still are today. Credits for this information can found after each account.

In the United States, Philadelphia carpenters went on strike in 1791 for the ten-hour day. By the 1830s, this had become a general demand. In 1835, workers in Philadelphia organized a general strike, led by Irish coal heavers. Their banners read, from 6 to 6, ten hours work and two hours for meals. Labor movement publications called for an eight-hour day as early as 1836. Boston ship carpenters, although not unionized, achieved an eight-hour day in 1842.

On May 1, 1886, there were massive strikes all over America. Months before, The Knights of Labor, the largest union of that day, had said that if their members didn't get the 8-hour day 6-day week by that date they would call for a nation-wide strike. On that day in Chicago 190,000 people demonstrated for the 8-hour day. There were 340,000 people demonstrating nation-wide.

The newspapers were screaming that all unions were communist conspiracies and that the whole idea of an 8-hour day was a foreign conspiracy and an attack on the sanctity of the home. They wrote that it would lead to the degeneration of family life, debauchery, lower wages, increased poverty and social degradation for the American worker. The workers were unimpressed by such warning...read more http://obrag.org/?p=6917

One of the great labor leaders of the 19th century, Peter J. McGuire was one of the founding fathers of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners and served as general secretary for our first 21 years. At 17, Peter began an apprenticeship in the Haines Piano Shop. The long hours, low wages, and difficult working conditions reinforced the need for change and Peter learned the importance of labor organization.  In 1881, he organized a Chicago convention to form a union...read more https://carpenters.org/Todays_UBC_Top_Nav/History_copy1.aspx 

History of Local 1906 Begins:

Up until 1954, carpentry and millwright work was under the Carpenters jurisdiction so men working as Millwrights were members of Philadelphia Carpenter Locals. At this time, there was no on the job training for the intricate work of Millwrights and the tools needed for this work was not mandatory for Carpenters to carry. It became more apparent a local specifically for Millwrights was needed.


Several Carpenter members working as Millwrights realized it was time for a change and decided to take a stand and work towards forming a Millwright Local that would have jurisdiction over the installation and maintenance of heavy moving machinery and conveyor systems. This would also include the installation and maintenance of valves, pumps, and alignment of motors to the equipment. Precision alignment and lubrication is imperative to the moving parts on heavy machinery as is the proper installation and maintenance of seals and bearings that help the moving parts. These men knew that a separate local would mean the Millwrights voice would be heard and proper training would be provided for this trade.


In doing this, they took the risk of jeopardizing relationships with their fellow members and creating an adverse future with the Carpenters. With determination and perseverance they bonded together for one ultimate goal and that was to form a separate local calling themselves Millwrights and Machinery Erectors, instead of Carpenters.


In 1953, men wanting this change formed a Steering Committee. The responsibilities of this committee were to communicate and negotiate with officials from the Metropolitan District Council, create the petition for a Millwright Charter, find a location where meetings could be held, preside at the meetings, send progress reports to members, and to collect, record, and bank funds raised by donations from members. The men chosen for this committee were brothers: Charles Bauder, Frank Bossinger, Frank Cox, Marty Cunniffe, Bill Eckel, John Fairfull, Fred Lanciano, Charles McHugh, Joseph McManus, Harry Patterson, Jim Smith, Bob Solly, Clarance Stanton, George Walish, John Walish, and John Weygart. 

The Millwright Group was formed on May 26 1953 and one year after uniting, a Steering Committee had been appointed, a meeting place had been established, and temporary officers had been elected.  Meetings were held every Tuesday night at the Irish War Vets located at 712 South 52nd Street in Philadelphia.  The temporary officers elected were brothers, Fred Lanciano as Chairman, Robert Solly as Vice Chairman, George Walish as Treasurer, and Martin Cunniffe as Secretary.


Here are the events and dates that took place as found from copies of letters sent and one progress report:


December 15 1953, the Steering Committee met at the District Council Headquarters in Philadelphia with General Executive Board Member, Raleigh Rajoppi, Secretary Treasurer, Robert H Gray, and Business Agent Thomas Martin to discuss the need for a Millwright Charter. 


March 15 1954, Brother Fred Lanciano and Brother George Walish met again with Mr. Rajoppi to answer additional questions and address false accusations about funds collected by the Millwright Group. 


March 25 1954, a District Council meeting was called with 2nd General Vice President O. Wm. Blaier from the President's Office in Indianapolis, Indiana and Raleigh Rajoppi in attendance, investigating funds that were collected by the Millwright Group.  Mr. Blaier who was in favor of a Millwright Charter stated any funds raised for the sole purpose of attaining a separate charter was legal as long as all funds were used for expenses incurred in acquiring the charter and not for any other reason.


June 11-15 1954, the petition for a Millwright Charter was passed around to members where more than 250 names, addresses, and local numbers were collected by men wanting to call themselves Millwrights. 


June 23 1954, the petition was sent to Robert H Gray at the District Council in Philadelphia.


July 12 1954, the petition, copies of member's signatures along with a $15.00 check was sent to M.A. Hutcheson, the General President, at the Carpenters Building in Indianapolis, requesting a new charter is granted.


On August 24, 1954, a meeting was held to vote for the first Business Representative for the newly formed Millwright Local.  Members were "earnestly requested" to attend this meeting and a $2.00 fine was enforced for members who did not attend the meeting.


Election Announcement 


Brother George Walish won the election and became our first Business Agent.  He was BA from 1954 until 1972.  Business Agents to follow were:  Edward Harkins 1972-1979, Gary Moran 1979-1981, David Marconi 1981-1987, Bud Hooven 1987-2005, and Richard Kelly 2005 to present. 


George is the man standing and seated next to him is O.Wm Blaier


Here are random pictures of different events and occasions involving the local.  The pictures along with the letters, progress report, and other documents found on this page were provided by Brother Joe Foley.  We would like to extend our gratitude to Joe for providing us with this information.