An old pin from my Grandpa George on this May Day, or what was often referred to as the International Workers’ Day. I know he had his own side business repairing radios, along with his day job at Stewart-Warner (in Chicago), so I would imagine this is why he was a member of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America.
The UE organized in 1936, and while their charter was rejected by the AFL, it was accepted by the CIO. The Union grew to an impressive membership of well over half a million members after WWII, but soon after split from the CIO. (Apparently this split was caused by some institutionalized racial discrimination on the part of the CIO.) This split caused the CIO to create its own union covering the same types of workers. This new union poached many members from the UE.
This was also during the era of McCarthyism, which seriously attacked the UE. Members were fired, blacklisted, jailed, and their leader even faced possible deportation. Through all of that the union managed to remain and is still a strong force today. Remember the Republic Windows and Doors shop that closed in Chicago right before Christmas in 2008? (The manner in which it closed was in violation of Federal law.) This was the one that then President-elect Obama visited to show his support of the workers that had occupied the building in an old fashioned sitdown strike. Well, that was the UE at work.
Today their numbers are much smaller at roughly 35,000 but as shown above they are still quite active. Their ranks include workers from many varying fields ranging from the people that build locomotives to the Ohio Turnpike employees. The UE is also considered one of the most democratically run unions because of the high input that their members have in the direction and policies of the organization.