International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades has a lot to
celebrate this year as it approaches its 130th Anniversary. It has
survived 130 often difficult years when other unions have fallen by the
wayside from external pressure and internal strife. They have continued
to serve their traditional trade and kept their roots, but have
expanded their possibilities for the future. Established on April 27,
1874, as the International Union of Journeymen Horseshoers, the
International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades ranks among the
very oldest labor organizations in the United States. Pre-dating the
American Federation of Labor by 13 years, the IUJAT is the oldest union
retaining its original charter.
During its early years, it was called the
Heavy Horse Union, and its members worked for master horseshoers who
had their own organization. By 1892, there were fifty chartered locals.
On July 1, 1893, the IUJAT became affiliated with the American
Federation of Labor. By 1928 there were as many as 310 chartered
locals. Prior to the advent of the automobile, which changed
transportation drastically, the horseshoers were associated with the
Teamsters Union. The size of the union decreased considerably over the
course of the twentieth century, yet through the determination of its
membership, the organization persevered.
Like all trade unions, the IUJAT was
formed to benefit the tradesmen. They made progress toward better wages
and working conditions by remaining a viable union. The union also
benefited the horse owner by providing quality workmanship and
guaranteed service at the track. Traditionally, the prospective union
horseshoer has been expected to fulfill several requirements. First he
must pass an examination which required him to completely hand draw
four shoes from bar stock and shoe the horse. On July 18, 2003 Brother
Gary Dumas, passed such an examination with flying colors.
The IUJAT today is getting an infusion
of lifeblood under the direction of new officers who are overseeing the
revitalization of this proud union. The IUJAT now represents workers in
many industries throughout the nation. In November 2003, three national
unions USW, NPEU and NOITU affiliated with the IUJAT bring the IUJAT's
ranks to 50,000 members.