Carpenters, Printers, and Electrical Workers
Carpenters Union Local 664 of Wood River donated four original charters for area carpenters and joiners unions to the Madison County Historical Society in 2012. The ornate framed documents each measure approximately 18 x 30 inches.
Lady Liberty presides at the top of the document, above the clasped hands symbolizing union brotherhood. She is accompanied by a carpenter on the viewer’s left and a joiner on the right. Vignettes surrounding the text depict union leaders aiding an injured worker and his family, union advocacy for an 8-hour workday, and the progress in wood home construction achieved by the profession. In the emblem at center bottom, the rule and compass represent ideals of fairness and moral clarity. The Latin motto “labor omnia vincit” translates to “work conquers all.”
The clasped hands and emblem featured in the charter also appear on the UBC & J of A Local 378 fraternal ribbon pictured below.
The typographical union represented people working in the printing trade. Alton Typographical Union No. 306 was founded in 1892. The fraternal ribbon shown here celebrates Labor Day.
The web press in the accompanying illustration was patented in 1880. The press first prints on one side of the “web” (roll of paper), then prints on the other side, and finally folds and cuts the printed paper into sheets.
In 1910, Walter Schlueter (back row, far right, in the above photograph) was a 21-year-old electrician at an electric railway, probably the Illinois Traction System or the Yellow Hammer. By 1914 he led the IB of EW Local Union No. 703 as president and had his own electrical contracting business. His younger brother Ollie (back row, fourth from left) took over the company when Walter briefly relocated to Springfield.
Nonetheless, both brothers had left the electrical contracting business by 1917. According to World War I draft registration records, Walter was a craneman and Ollie a sheet metal worker at Granite City’s National Enameling and Stamping Company (NESCO). Neither of them ever returned to the electrical trade.
Alton Telegraph. Various articles.
Butterworth, Benjamin, arr. The Growth of Industrial Art. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892. Accessed September 15, 2019. https://archive.org/details/growthindustria00Unit
Find A Grave. Accessed August 30, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/index.html
The UBC Emblem. Accessed August 30, 2019, https://www.carpenters.org/about-ubc/21st-century-union/the-ubc-emblem/
United States census records and other public records.