History of the Woodworkers Department

In May of 1994 the International Woodworkers of America, U.S. (IWA), merged with the IAMAW forming the Woodworkers Department we know today.

The International Woodworkers of America was originally formed in 1937 by members and locals who pulled away from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in the United States and Canada. The IWA prospered for many years, reaching membership as high as 115,000.

The IWA was a proud union that represented its members well. Turmoil created during the Reagan years by massive mergers, consolidations, anti-union sentiment and the willingness of some corporations to go to any lengths to get rid of unions, saw IWA’s ranks severely reduced. The 1980’s also saw the final damage by the extreme environmental movement that, through specious lawsuits, denied the mills access to raw material supplies to operate. Tens of thousands of woodworkers and IWA members lost their jobs to a little bird called a spotted owl.

In 1987, due to internal problems, the IWA split along national lines with the membership in the United States and Canada, each forming their own national union. By 1994, the IWA, U.S. was down to barely 20,000 members.

With the membership numbers so low, the IWA, U.S. officers felt that IWA could no longer provide the services their membership needed and deserved. The proposal to affiliate with the IAM was presented to the membership for ratification and passed by over a 90% margin. The proud IWA, U.S. became a proud part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on May 1, 1994.

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