History of the UBC

Peter J. McGuire, an Irish – American cabinet maker and pioneer unionist, leader, and founding father of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America began what we know today as the UBC in the late 1800's.

Working long hours, with low wages, and citing difficult working conditions in New York City, McGuire began to share his pro-labour views with his employers and fellow tradespeople. He was successful in fighting a wage cut with his employer, and when he was ousted from that job, he began to journey for his work.

During the 1870's, work dried up, he took up his cause and started an organizing campaign to create a union for carpenters to ensure their rights as workers were secure. He and carpenters from 11 other cities in the U.S. met in a Chicago Warehouse to lay the foundation of today's Union.

Peter McGuire
the ubc charter

Canadian workers were instrumental in the formation of the UBC. Out of 6 of the first original Charters signed in 1881, 2 of them were Canadian: Local 18 - Hamilton, Ontario, and Local 27 – Toronto, Ontario.

In 1887, more than 1000 carpenters – Union and non-union – walked off a job in Toronto for demands of a shorter workday and a raise from 22.5 to 25 cents per hour. With the help of McGuire and the UBC's General President Gabriel Edmonton, a May 1 General Strike helped shape the future of the UBC in Canada and the USA, winning high wages and better conditions in over 50 cities.

McGuire is credited with the efforts that led us to an eight-hour workday and fair compensation. His proposal of a day recognizing workers and their contributions we now celebrate as Labour Day in September.

After 140 years of perseverance and working for the rights of the workers, McGuire's vision is carried on by our General President – Douglas McCarron, and his team, who continue to lead the organization through challenging economies, tough political battles, and increased competition to organize and provide the tools to train our members better, so we remain the best-skilled workforce in the industry today.  

Douglas McCarron