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450 S Michigan Ave, AUD 1851
Chicago IL 60605
United States

312-341-2247

Illinois Labor History Society

Hall of Honor

1996 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Federation News - Founded in 1919 by John Fitzpatrick and Edward Nockels

Federation News served as the voice of the Chicago Federation of Labor. It has used labor history to illuminate current issues as well as events and promoted labor education in schools. In 1995, Federation News received five awards in labor history from the International Labor Communications Association.


Labor Paper

“For 100 years a potent voice on behalf of labor in central Illinois.”

Began in 1896 by Walter S. Bush, Labor Paper reports on union activities, bargaining challenges, and successes throughout central Illinois. Labor Paper, a weekly periodical, is opperated by the West Central Illinois Building and Construction Council and reports on the activities of over fifty labor unions in Illinois.

1995 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Margaret Blackshere

“Possessor of a brilliant career as the teacher union’s top legislative advocate, now Illinois labor’s foremost woman leader.”

Throughout her career Blackshere advanced women’s participation in the Democratic Party and organized labor. She has served as a delegate of the Democratic National Convention during 1980-1992 and promoted the candidacy of women at all levels within the Democratic Party. Blackshere promoted teachers’ rights as the president of the American Federation of Teachers and the Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois State AFL-CIO.


Mary McDowell

“In 1903, the first president of the Chicago’s Women’s Trade Union League, and in 1913, victorious leader of the struggle for women’s suffrage in Illinois.”

From the settlement house movement at the turn of the century, McDowell sought to promote trade unionism, safer working conditions, shorter hours, women’s suffrage, improved sanitary conditions, and inter-racial harmony. She was the founder of Local 183 for female employees in the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen. McDowell promoted female labor activism in 1903 when she established the Women’s Trade Union League and was president of the Illinois branch.


Louis Pardo

“Skilled machinist, long-time leader of his union, and champion registrar of voters.”

As a significant union activist, Pardo was concerned with occupational safety and minority rights. He began his career as a tool and dye makers. He promoted the rights of workers as president of the International Association of Machinists as well as the vice-president, trustee; delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois State AFL-CIO.

1994 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Jacqueline Vaughn

“Tough but fair, calm yet inspired, leader of a great union, a teacher with a vision.”

As leader in organized labor, Vaughn has promoted the rights of teachers in Chicago and improvement in education. As a leader and spokesperson for the CTU she advocated education reform: a better learning environment in the classroom and better instruction for students. Vaughn successfully lobbied for a one million dollar grant from the MacArthur Foundation in support of improving education in Chicago with the formation of the Quest Center. She sought higher salaries for teachers as a leader in the CTU, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

1993 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Eugene Debs

“A dynamic and visionary leader of the 19th century railroad workers; preeminent spokesman for the Socialist labor tradition; beloved by those whose lives he touched.”

Debs was active in organized labor, but believed that real gains could only be achieved through political power. At the age of nineteen in 1874, he became active in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. By 1893, Debs was a co-founder of the American Railway Union which claimed over 150,000 members. During the early 1900s, he concluded that political power was essential to working class rights. Debs became the foremost leader of the Socialist Party and received over one million votes in the 1920 presidential election.


Jennie Curtis

“At age nineteen, the President of the 'Girls' Local at the Pullman Shops in 1894. She was articulate and vivacious.”

At the age of nineteen, Curtis was president of the 'Girls' Union 269, the Sewing Rooms, which had a membership of one-hundred twenty-five workers. As a union activist for the Sewing Rooms which provided drapes and curtains for Pullman palace cars, Curtis was instrumental in the Pullman Strike of 1894. She testified before the US Senate in an investigation of the strike.


William J. Adelman

“The popular and peripatetic prophet of labor history; teacher, author, lecturer, and tireless tour leader.”

Throughout his career, Adelman has promoted the history of Chicago labor. For twenty-five years he served as professor at the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois. In 1969, he was a co-founder of the ILHS and has published numerous books on labor history: Touring Pullman: Labor Sites in the Chicago Area, Haymarket Revisited, and Pilsen: A Tour Guide. During the 1990s Adelman has lectured on Chicago labor and ethnic history before a variety of unions and community groups.

1992 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Margaret A. Haley

“A pioneer of teacher unionism in Chicago, a founder of the American Federation of Teachers, political reformer, and nemesis of corporate tax dodgers.”

Until her death in 1939, Haley was active in promoting the rights of Chicago school teachers. As a leader of the Chicago Teachers Federation she fought for the protection of the pension program. She served as an intermediary between organized labor and the city and state authorities for the rights of teachers. During the Progressive Era Haley successfully lobbied for state funding for Chicago schools.

1991 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Reverend Addie L. Wyatt

“Bearer of Good News to the workplace, powerful advocate of women’s concerns, and a national leader of her Union.”

Wyatt began her career in 1944 as a member of the United Packinghouse Workers of America at Amour and Co. As she became active in organized labor, Wyatt became a proponent of women’s rights in the workplace. In 1947, she was a member of the Anti-Discrimination and Women’s Activities League. As president of the UPWA during the 1950s and 1960s, Wyatt promoted women’s leadership at all levels. To further this cause, she was a co-founder and vice-president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women in 1974.


Msgr. John J. Egan

“Both man of God and man of Action, trail blazer for social justice in Church and Community, renowned as a friend of Labor.”

Since the 1930s, Egan sympathized with the rights of workers while studying Christian Humanism in seminary school. Throughout his life Egan promoted social justice for all: the right of every human life to dignity and the opportunity to earn a living based on fair wages. As an ordained priest he spoke out on behalf of organized labor for such groups as the Chicago Stock Yards, Hotel Workers, and the Chicago Federation of Labor.


Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein

“An ethical guide in Labor’s quest for Fair Play and Fair Reward, arbitrator of disputes, and champion of Social Justice.”

As a religious leader of Chicago’s KAM Temple, Weinstein advanced the cause of organized labor thoughout his career. During World War II he served on the Chicago Area War Labor Board. Weinstein was active in civil rights during the 1960s as a leader of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and was an officer of the Public Review Board of the United Auto Workers.

1990 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Roosevelt University Labor Education Division

"As Chicago's senior labor education center, and mentor to countless labor leaders since 1946."

Roosevelt University has done a great deal to promote the study of labor history as well as train labor activists. The Labor Education Division was founded in 1946 by Frank McCulloch. During the 1960s, Duane Beeler established a long-term leadership program which has served as the core of the current Labor Education Division. Currently, fifty students a year attend one of the university's twenty four week labor leadership courses. A three year leadership curriculum covers all aspects of labor education from steward training to labor history. Roosevelt offers a Bachelor's of Arts in labor studies.


University of Illinois Labor Education Program

"Celebrating its 25th year of innovative educational programming for a great labor community."

The University of Illinois created the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations in 1946 for the purposes of providing graduate instruction, research, and extension work among labor as well as management. The Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois which was established in 1965 offers individual training programs for union activists.

1989 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

A. Philip Randolph

"Ardent, articulate, and inspirational, the paramount leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, historic champion of civil rights and justice."

Randolph promoted the cause of organized labor in general and the rights of minorities in particular. During 1925-1979 he served as the first president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. As the first African-American to serve on the Executive Council of the AFL as vice-president, he fought against employment discrimination and the integration of blacks in the armed forces.


Edward F. Brabec

"Journeyman in his trade, persuasive labor voice in public affairs, leader of the Plumbers' Union, and President of the Chicago Federation of Labor until his untimely death in 1986."

Brabec began his career within organized labor as a member of the Journeymen Plumbers Union in 1946. He became a leader as the Secretary-Treasurer of his union in 1958. Throughout the Cold War era, Brabec actively promoted the cause of labor unions in various organizations. He served on the Chicago and Cook County Trades Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Regional Transportation Authority, and in 1984 he became president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

1988 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Herbert March

"Principal Chicago leader of the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee, CIO (1937-1943). Orator, tactician, successful organizer, visionary of the Left."

Although March joined the Armour and Company plant in 1922, within a year he formed the Stock Yards Labor Council and served on its Executive Board. In 1937 he became the district director of the CIO Packinghouse Worker's Organizing Committee. Through the organizing efforts of March, Armour as well as Swift and Wilson recognized organized labor by 1941. Throughout his career, March promoted equal pay regardless of gender or race.


Agnes Nestor

"Organizer of her fellow glove makers at age 18; Strike leader at 23; President of the Chicago Women's Trade Union Leagues, President of her International Union by 1915."

During her career, Nestor was devoted to the cause of organized labor and the rights of women. In 1897, she founded the International Glove Makers Union and became its first president. In addtion, Nestor was involved in the Women's Trade Union League in which she provided support for female unionists through educational work. During 1913-1948 she was the president of the Chicago chapter of the Women's Trade Union League.


Sol Brandzel

"Born to the tailor's trade; his life dedicated to the Union; skillful manager of the Midwest Joint board, ACTWU, now a servant of the people of Chicago."

As a labor lawyer, Brandzel supported the right of labor from both men and women. He served in leadership position for the National Labor Relations Board, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the Board of Education of the Chicago Public Schools, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Brandzel sought equal treatment and pay for females. In addition, he was an advocate of child care center for working parents.

1987 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

John Mitchell

"Boy Miner at age 12, President of the UMWA at age 22, under whose Leadership the Union Membership grew from 33,000 to 260,000."

As president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1898 until 1908, Mitchell did a great deal to improve the conditions and stature of coal miners throughout the United States. Through lobbying state and federal government, Mitchell assured the miners greater pay and employment stability. Through his vigorous organizing efforts, Mitchell had made the United Mine Workers of America the nation's largest labor union by 1908.

Edward Nockels and John Fitzpatrick

"Men of principle and vision, shakers of the complacent and movers of what stood in the way. Twin builders of the Chicago Federation of Labor.”

Nockels began his career as an electrician and became secretary of the Chicago Federation of Labor from 1901 until 1937. He fostered labor solidarity with the establishment of WCFL in 1926 which served as a radio station representing "the voice of labor." During the New Deal era, Nockels fought for the social and political uplift of all working Americans by demanding that Roosevelt recognize the right to organize, collective bargaining, a law providing for the eight hour work day, and public ownership of utilities.

Throughout his career, Fitzpatrick wanted to eliminate corruption within organized labor as well as improve the welfare of the working class. In 1886 he joined Local 4 of the International Union of Journeymen Horseshoers. However, from 1905 until his death in 1946, Fitzpatrick represented the interests of all organized labor in Chicago as president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

1986 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Peter J. McGuire

"No. 1 carpenter unionist in 1881, and the First Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor in 1886.”

Throughout his career, McGuire sought to promote the interests of carpenters. In 1881, he formed the national carpenters’ federation, The Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. As a union activist and editor of The Carpenter, he demanded higher wages for all in his trade. In 1886, McGuire became the first Secretary of the AFL.


George Bynum

“A barbers’ union leader, civil rights activist, and first African-American elected to the Executive Board of the Chicago Federation of Labor.”

George Bynum served as an activist for African-American civil rights as well as for organized labor. In 1947, he founded the Chicago Barbers, Local Union 939. As a labor leader, he represented barbers, cosmologists, and hair dressers in Springfield, Illinois, to strengthen the political standing of their profession. Bynum was the first African-American elected to the Executive Board of Illinois State AFL-CIO.


William Lee

"From teamster steward to head of the Chicago Federation of Labor; superb manager of conflict and super-steward of Labor's Cause."

Although Lee was initially involved in promoting the interests of teamsters, he went on to promote the interests of labor throughout Chicago. In 1926, Lee became president of Teamsters Local 734 which was a position he held for thirty-five years. During 1950-1957 Lee served as the Vice-President of the Brotherhood of Teamsters. However, Lee assumed the responsibility of representing all organized labor throughout Chicago as president of the Chicago Federation of Labor from 1946 until 1984.


Lillian Herstein

“Brillant advocate of teacher unionism, master teacher of labor leaders and a commanding voice in Labor's councils for 25 years.”

Throughout her career, Herstein fought for women's rights in labor and politics. In 1916, she became a member of the Federation of Women High School Teachers which was the predecessor of the Chicago Teachers' Union. For 25 years, Herstein was the only woman to serve on the Executive Board of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

1985 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

William Garvey

“Tough-minded and testy, a hard-rock miner and SWOC organizer who did his job for 30 years; who saw the need for ILHS and made it come to pass.”

During his career, Garvey was active in several professional and labor-related organizations such as the Midwest Labor Press Association, the International Labor Press Association, the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and the Parkview Civic Association of Chicago. Garvey served as a United Steelworkers of America staff representative for over thirty years. He spent the majority of his career in the Midwest, mostly in the Chicago, Illinois, area.


Daniel McLaughlin

“Pioneer leader and spokesman for the Illinois miners on the national stage as early as 1873, mayor, legislator, ‘tramp’ organizer and vice-president of the AFL in 1888.”

Within a few years after immigrating to the United States from Scotland about 1869, McLaughlin wrote and lobbied for the first Illinois Mine Safety Law. During the 1870s, he became a leader of the Knights of Labor on behalf of miners’ rights. In 1885 McLaughlin founded the National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers. Shortly before his death in 1891, he became the first Vice-President of the AFL.


Agnes Wieck

“Eloquent, tireless, courageous, and inspired educator and rebel organizer of her people in Labor’s Cause, the Mother Jones of Illinois.”

Wieck began her career as a teacher but became instrumental in promoting the interests of coal miners throughout the United States. She also promoted the rights of women. During the 1930s she served as president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Progressive Miners of America. Her major work, Woman from Spillertown as well as her contributions to the Illinois Miner did a great deal to promote the causes of both women and workers.

1983 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Victor Olander

"A powerful orator, skilled debater, able legislative advocate, and Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois State Federation of Labor."

From 1914 until his death in 1949 Olander fought for the rights of workers as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois State Federation of Labor. In particular, he made social as well as material gains for the International Seamans' Union of America. Also, Olander successfully lobbied for a wage law compensating workers in public works projects.


Samuel Levin

"Imbued with a powerful vision of social reform; devoted Manager of the Chicago Joint Board of the ACWA, 1914-1948, to the cultural enrichment and economic progress of all members."

Levin began his career in organized labor in 1910 when he founded the Amalgamated Clothing Worker. During the 1920s, Levin improved the material conditions of workers as a co-founder of the Amalgamated Banks which would provide geater access to loans for workers. In addition, he promoted medical insurance be provided to workers by employers. In the 1940s, Levin sought to promote greater worker unity as the President of the CIO of Illinois.


Napolean Gillette

"One of the earliest organizers of the United Auto Workers in Chicago, the quintessential shop floor union leader, and ever an inspiration at 103 years of age."

Gillette began his career as a union organizer of the United Auto Workers in Camden, Arkansas during the 1910s. As a grievance chairman, convention delegate, and political activist, Gillette promoted racial equality within the AFL. He was also involved in humanitarian affairs at the local level. While living in Chicago, Gillette aided evicted families through financial aid which facilitated relocating to a new home.


Giovanni Pippan

"Dedicated to empowerment of the workers, both in Italy and Illinois, slain in the service of the Italian Bread Drivers League (1933) at the age of 35."

Within his short career, Pippan did a great deal to promote the plight of workers in his homeland of Italy as well as in the United States. At the age of twenty-five he became the secretary of the Italian Federation of Coal Miners in the Albona region of Italy. However, Pippan fled his native country during the 1920s with the rise of fascism. Nevertheless, in 1933, shortly before his death, he organized the Italian Bread Drivers' League.
 

1982 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Ralph Helstein

"For his brilliant leadership of the packinghouse workers as they fought their way out of the industrial jungle."

Since the 1930s, Helstein has done a great deal to promote material and social gains for workers. As a labor lawyer for the CIO, he was instrumental in negotiating a settlement for packinghouse workers in Austin, Minnesota, with the Hormel packing plant in 1937. In 1942, Helstein came to Chicago as the General Council for the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee of the CIO. Throughout his career, Helstein has promoted greater democracy within this union. He promoted the participation of women and minorities in the life of the union.


Milton P. Webster

"For 45 years as a pioneer fighter for equal employment and for his key role in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters."

Webster fought throughout his career to end racial discrimination in organized labor in general and within the defense industry in particular. In 1925 Webster was the first International Vice-President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. During World War II, Webster challenged the Roosevelt Administration by promoting worker racial integration in the defense industry. Until his death in 1965, Webster was active in civil rights within organized labor and US society at large.

1981 Union Hall of Honor

Webtrax Admin

Mollie Levitas

"Know all persons that in recognition of her thirty-one years of service to the Chicago Federation of Labor, and for her pioneer role in the Office and Professional Workers International Union."

Levitas has had a long career in organized labor. In 1926, she first became involved with labor unions as an administrator for the Chicago Federation of Labor. Throughout her career, Levitas had worked with educators, students, writers, and trade unionists on both a national and international scope. She provided moral and financial support from groups ranging from coal miners in Kentucky to textile workers in North Carolina. Although Levitas retired in 1957, where she remained active in the American Civil Liberties Union.


Joseph D. Keenan

"Chicago Electrical Union leader, key figure at the national and international levels."

Keenan had been active in labor affairs since he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 1914 at the age of eighteen. During the 1920s and 1930s, he held several leadership positions within the Chicago Federation of Labor. Since 1940, Keenan has been involved in labor affairs on a national level. He has held executive positions in such organizations as the War Production Board, Labor's League for Political Education, the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the Housing Committee within the Department of Urban Affairs, and the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO. In addition, Keenan has received the Medal of Freedom as well as the Medal of Merit.