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The story of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, AFL-CIO – one of the most progressive and respected central labor organizations in the country – began during organized labor’s roughest era in American history.

The labor unions of 1885 were opposed by strikebreakers, state and national militias, anti-union laws and courts that readily issued injunctions and restraining orders in behalf of companies. Workers across the country were clamoring for an eight-hour workday, and St. Louis – a major industrial center – was a leading center of support for the movement. The eight-hour movement gave birth that year to two umbrella labor organizations: The St. Louis Trades Assembly and the Central Labor Union.

Two years later, in 1887, the organizations’ farsighted officers merged the two groups to form a strong, single voice for labor – the St. Louis Trades and Labor Assembly.  The new central body also included leaders from the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor and, a few years later, the dissolved German Arbeiter-Verband.  The new assembly was granted a charter from the American Federation of Labor (A.F.of L.) in September 1887.

The Assembly changed its name a decade later to the St. Louis Central Trades and Labor Union, but it never changed its focus of its constitution:  To work for the final emancipation of all workers from the “bonds of slavery” through the long process of organization and education. The assembly was off to a good start.  Membership was up to 35,000 by 1893.  And the assembly could count among its affiliates a union with a unique place in labor history:  The Cigar Makers’ Union of St. Louis claimed its cigar box label gave birth to the union label movement. The assembly gave financial and moral support to strikes and boycotts in St. Louis and across the country, and it tried to settle many jurisdictional disputes among its union affiliates.  The assembly worked diligently to draw workers together in a sense of fellowship.


SEIU Healthcare is the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest. Uniting more than 91,000 workers who provide vital care to our states’ children, seniors, patients and people with disabilities, we are committed to quality care and quality jobs for home care, hospital, nursing home and child care workers.


We organize together to build power to demand and win social and economic justice for our communities.


A society defined by freedom and justice, where we can all have quality education, healthcare and jobs, and where we can all live a full and plentiful life of our choosing.