International Woodworkers of America
(IWA) was an industrial union of lumbermen, sawmill workers, timber transportation workers and others formed in 1937.
The IWA was formed when members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America is one of the largest building trades union in the United States. One of the unions that formed the American Federation of Labor in 1886, it left the AFL-CIO in 2001.-Early years:...
voted to disaffiliate their local unions from the Carpenters and form their own union. The IWA subsequently affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations
The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, proposed by John L. Lewis in 1932, was a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1955. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not...
The IWA quickly moved into Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
, where it absorbed a number of smaller unions which had formed in the 1930s, and the Lumber Workers Industrial Union
Between 1915 and 1917, the Agricultural Workers Organization of the Industrial Workers of the World organized hundreds of thousands of migratory farm workers throughout the midwest and western United States...
, one of the industrial unions of the Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...
. A successful strike
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...
and organizing drive in 1946 established the IWA as western Canada's largest union, a position that it has generally held since then.
The IWA was staunchly Democratic, and avoided left-wing politics throughout its history. Most of its members lived and worked in the American and Canadian West. Its membership reached as high as 115,000 in the early 1970s.
In the 1980s, raids, mergers and anti-union actions by employers decimated the IWA's membership. The burgeoning environmental movement also restricted access to public lands, where most old-growth timber existed. As the timber industry lost access to public land, timber companies shed thousands of jobs as well.
In 1987, the Canadian branch of the IWA separated from union, retaining the IWA initials but with the new name Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada
By 1994, the remainder of the U.S.-based IWA had just over 20,000 members. The IWA leadership felt the union was no longer viable on its own, and the IWA merged with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) on May 1, 1994.
Today, the IWA is the Woodworking Department of the IAM.
IWA Canada remained an independent Canadian union until 2004, when it merged with the United Steelworkers
The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union is the largest industrial labor union in North America, with 705,000 members. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, U.S., the United Steelworkers represents workers in the United...