Carpenters and the History of Labor Day - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Carpenters and the History of Labor Day

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YAKIMA, Wash-- Labor Day was started in the 1800s by carpenter Peter J. McGuire. In honor of the holiday KNDO decided to check in with the local carpenters union in Yakima.

"We represent about 500 local carpenters in the area and several employers throughout Washington," said Doug Palachuk, union representative.

But, for centuries carpenters were worked to the bone. That is until they came together---forming The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Pushing for an eight hour work day and now collectively bargaining working conditions, pay, medical coverage and retirement.

"Collectively last year our trust fund, which covers carpenters in the Yakima, Wenatchee and Seattle put in just over 14 million man hours," said Palachuk.

All members contribute to the fund for retirement and if the carpenter puts in for at least 25 years they can retire with full benefits at age 55. Palachuk said the apprenticeship program is really popular right now. But, there's still a lot of under the table work going on.

"You see a lot of cash payment on the non-union side unfortunately...lot of cash payment where they don't pay on social security. The employees are forced to send their families to Welfare for health care," said Palachuk

He said this labor force puts a huge strain on federal programs, like welfare. And workers aren't protected from wrongful termination. Congress officially recognized Labor Day as a holiday in 1898.