UBC History

Learn about the UBC’s roots, from our founding through the first turbulent years to growth and today.

1995–Today:
Rising to Meet the Challenges

“Our organization was set up to deal with the industry as it was in post-World War II North America,” said UBC General President Doug McCarron when he was elected in 1995. “But the industry has changed drastically since then, and we must change with it.”

Since his election, McCarron has reorganized the Brotherhood’s priorities and structure. He set organizing as the union’s number one priority and has redirected its resources to get that job done. The union’s localized—and often politically motivated—structure has also been redefined and streamlined to reflect today’s regional and national construction industry, as well as to ensure that union leaders are more accountable to members for the job they do.

The UBC faces a complex and challenging future. New tools and materials and new methods of construction are entering the industry at an accelerated rate. In many ways, the carpenter of the 1990s was no different from the carpenter of the 1880s. But all indications are that the 21st century is ushering in much more rapid technological innovation.

Union apprenticeship and journeyman-enhancement training programs have addressed these new developments, while at the same time maintained a high level of all-around craft competence that union journeymen will always need.

Ultimately, maintaining and extending a strong union for carpenters will depend on combining an awareness of the dynamics of the future with the finest traditions of the past. The UBC’s growth in the future rests on its ability to reach out and open its doors to all working carpenters.

The American workforce may look different today—more multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-lingual—but the underlying principle of organizing all the men and women who make their living at the carpentry trade is exactly the same as it was in 1881, when 36 carpenters met in Chicago to improve their lives, their futures, and their trade.