Peter J McGuire | Biography

Quick Wiki

  • Full Name Peter J. McGuire
  • Birth Date June 06, 1952
  • Death Date 1906-02-18
  • Place Of Death New Jersey
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace New York City, USA
  • Religious Affiliation Irish-Catholic
  • Occupation Carpenter, Vocational Leader & Businessman
  • Age At Death 54
Revolutionary Labor Rights Leader

Peter J McGuire | Biography

Founder of Social Democratic Party, Present Socialist Labor Party

McGuire was appointed as the chief administrative officer of UBC, and the same year he called for the National Conference of Labor Unions. That conference established the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU), which became responsible for Haymarket Ralley and the eventual celebration of May Day. 

Peter J. McGuire was the initiator of labor movements and the founding member of the now American Federation of Labor (ALF). He is known as the father of International Labor's Day and International Workers' Day. 

Who is Peter J. McGuire?

Peter J. McGuire was the founder of the Social Democratic Party, which later became the Socialist Labor Part. He was an essential entity in organizing labor unions and revolutionary movements throughout America and Europe. 

McGuire was born in a poor Irish Catholic family in New York City. His actual date of birth has not been deduced. But historians have accounted that during the economic depression of 1873, he was only 21 years old. Hence he was born in or around 1852. 

His father joined to fight for the Union Army when he was 11 years old, which led him to leave school and take financial responsibility for his family. He worked small jobs while attending free night classes at Cooper Union. Then at 15 years of age, he got an apprentice job under a piano maker, which became his initial working environment. 

Subsequently, during the 1873 depression, the Cooper Union pressured the local authorities to provide economic to the unemployed. They formed a Committee of Public Safety and conducted public sessions furthering their demands for assistance. McGuire was active in attaining permissions for public gatherings and rallies at that time. Specifically, he acquired the police commissioner's approval for the union to conduct a mass function at Tompkins Square Park. Which later got redacted and led to a rift between the union members and the police. 

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Eventually, in 1874, he assisted in establishing the Social Democratic Party (later turned into the Socialist Labor Party). After which, for five years, he helped organize the party's hold in different parts of America and the United Kingdom. He advocated abolishing the wage system and promoting workers' fair, equitable compensation, followed by freedom of voice through unions. 

In 1877 he also became the deputy commissioner of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics but resigned in 1889 to form the Union of Carpenters. He established St. Louis Carpenter, where he provided generous compensation resulting in the mass recruitment of carpenters. Then in 1881, he called for a national meeting of carpenters in Chicago, which went on to form the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC). 

Peter J. McGuire UBC Head Poster
Peter J. McGuire UBC Head Poster. (Photo: Facebook)

McGuire was appointed as the chief administrative officer of UBC, and the same year he called for the National Conference of Labor Unions. That conference established the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU), which became responsible for Haymarket Ralley and the eventual celebration of May Day

Why is McGuire called Father of Labors Day?

In 1882, UBC began conducting its conferences from New York, and during its central labor union meeting, McGuire proposed a festive celebration to commemorate their contribution to society. He suggested the workers conduct a rally of a 'festive parade through the streets of the city' on the first Monday of September. As a result, thousands of workers lined the parade route again in 1883, prompting the New York organization to call on other major labor unions around the country to have identical festivities the following year. 

Then, during the 1884 FOTLU convention, a resolution was passed to claim only eight hours per day as their legal working hours, commemorated by the 1884 parade. But only a few cities joined the event that year. 

Nevertheless 1885, attendance was much higher, and Oregon became the first state to make the first Monday of September an official Labor Day. After that, the Haymarket Riot occured in 1886, which pushed the worker agenda further into other states. And eventually, in 1894, United States Congress passed Labor Day as a public holiday, followed by the May Day suit. 

Therefore, McGuire's leadership under the UBC and FOTLU became a historical moment memorializing the hardships of labor workers and the requirement of their equitable rights. Which eventually made him the Father of Labors Day. 

FOTLU evolved into the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886 itself, and he was the first secretary. He continued to pursue mass movements and protests against workers' discrimination, specifically against carpenters. He resigned as secretary from AFL in 1889, but he worked closely with UBC till 1900, making it the largest affiliated labor organization under AFL. 

McGuire Group

In the view of respect for McGuire, carpenters in America have founded an exclusive Facebook group called Peter J McGuire group for carpenters. 

Although formed in a social and informal platform, the group stands as a standard formalized community for union workers and other labor societies. The group has active participation with over 13 thousand members. Their general motto is to incorporate any carpenter willing to join the group to approach their contract negotiations. 

Among their many activities, they are also protective of their image and agenda. For example, in September of 2021, the group recently decided to ban certain writers and members of the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) and Socialist Equality Party (SEP) for opposing their objectives and approaches. 

Peter J. McGuire Scholarship

In April 2018, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) formulated and awarded the first-ever Peter J McGuire Organized Labor Scholarship for labor and vocational trade studies students. The 2018 award was given to the Union County College Students, New Jersey. 

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