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1903

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In 1903, Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), sent out a convention call to independent local Laborers’ Unions, urging them to join together and establish an international union of construction laborers. On April 13, the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers’ Union (IHC and BLC) was founded. The first convention, held in Washington, D.C., was attended by 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities, representing 8,186 Laborers. A Declaration of Principles was adopted during the first convention. The delegates elected Herman Lilien, a Belgian immigrant from Chicago Local Union 4, as General President. He served as General President until 1905.

The first Constitution was published in three languages: English, German and Italian.

The Charter application claimed jurisdiction over the following:

Wrecking of buildings

Excavation of buildings

Digging of trenches, piers, foundations, holes, lagging and sheeting of excavations

Concrete installation of floors, foundations or any other (by hand or any other process), signaling, handling of concrete buckets

Tending Masons & Plasterers — mixing, handling all materials, building scaffolding, building of proofing centers, drying of masonry and plaster

Tending Carpenters

Clearing debris from buildings

Shoring, underpinning and renovating of old buildings

Handling of dimension stones

Domenic D’Alessandro, from Boston Local Union 209, was elected General President in 1908 after serving as a general organizer and International Vice President. D’Alessandro left a lasting imprint on the young union serving as General President for 18 years until his death in 1926.

During his time as General President, D’Alessandro guided the union through tremendous growth as well as jurisdictional victories from rival construction trades unions.

The union's official Journal detailed early wage rates.

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