Laborers' International Union North America, Local 773 (Marion, Ill.) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
In 1903, Samuel Gompers, first President of the American Federation of Labor, challenged laborers across the country to coordinate and consolidate their activities into one cohesive unit. In answer to Gompers' call, 25 delegates from 17 cities representing more than 8,000 laborers met in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 1903. After four days of meetings they formed the International Hod Carriers' and Building Laborers' Union of America.
By the late 1920s, a boom in construction caused the membership rolls to approach 100,000. During this period, three amalgamations added to the union's size: the International Compressed Air and Foundation Workers Union; the Tunnel and Subway Constructors International Union; and the International Union of Pavers, Rammermen, Flag Layers, Bridge and Curb Setters and Sheet Asphalt Pavers.
After suffering through a declining membership during the Depression, the union rallied in support of World War II efforts. Membership reached 430,000 in 1942. In 1955, the International Union affiliated with the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department in order to effectively represent the 60,000 laborers working under the jurisdiction of the IUD. After the post-war industrial boom, LIUNA began organizing non-construction workers.
In 1965, the union officially changed its name to the Laborers' International Union of North America. This change reflects the continual expansion of the union beyond the construction field. The union successfully organized municipal, state and university employees and, in 1968, the 20,000-member Mail Handlers Union joined the International. In the 1970s, Canadian membership in the International increased to over 50,000.
The charter for Laborers’ Local 773 was given to Connell F. Smith on March 10, 1940, and was based in Cairo, Illinois. Its membership was largely formed by unskilled laborers. By the early 1970’s Local 773 extended their representation to not only construction jurisdiction but to public employees which began with the Pulaski County Highway Department. In 2003, eight local Laborers’ unions across Southern Illinois joined together to make up the new Laborers’ Local 773. Locals 227, 529, 508, 577, 738, 803, 962, and merged with Local 773 which then was relocated to Marion, Illinois. This covers the thirteen most southern counties in Illinois.