The Cigar Makers' International Union
(CMIU) was a labor union
that represented workers in the cigar
The union was founded in 1864
as the Cigar Makers' National Union of America and changed its name to the Cigar Makers' International Union in 1867
. It participated in the formation of the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions
in 1881. The following year, seceding New York City locals formed the Cigarmakers' Progressive Union of America
, which rejoined the International in 1886. The American Federation of Labor
chartered the Cigar Makers in 1887.
The CMIU represented skilled cigar makers of various ethnic backgrounds. By its 1867 constitution the union admitted women, although the policy was openly defied by some of its own city locals The union pressed for higher wages, shorter hours, better working conditions, and the right of collective bargaining.
After 1880, Cigar manufacturers who negotiated labor contracts with the CIMU affixed blue labels to boxes of "union made" cigars. Previously, local chapters issued their own stamps including white labels, used by the Cigar Makers' Association of the Pacific Coast to show that their cigars were made by white labor, in response to the growing use of low-wage, Chinese immigrant labor. In 1875, the cigar makers' local in St Louis tried to encourage consumers to buy union-made cigars by using a red label. The national union created a standard blue "union made" label in 1880. Union stamps underwent frequent changes and are an excellent help in dating cigar boxes. The "Sept. 1880" date added top center on a label was added in 1888 and appears on all CMIU cigar (not stogie) issues until 1974.
The CMIU's membership dropped steadily as mechanization and unskilled cigar workers (known as "bunch breakers" ) replaced skilled cigar makers after World War I, and as cigarettes grew in popularity. The union was eventually disbanded in 1974.
- No. 7 - Utica, New York
- No. 14 - Chicago, Illinois
- No. 15 - New York City
- No. 17 - Cleveland, Ohio
- No. 25 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- No. 39 - New Haven, Connecticut
- No. 44 - St Louis, Missouri
- No. 85 - Eau Claire, Wisconsin
- No. 98 - St Paul, Minnesota
- No. 130 - Detroit, Michigan
- No. 144 - New York City
- No. 165 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- No. 188 - Seattle, Washington
- No. 228 - San Francisco, California
- No. 291 - San Jose, California
- No. 316 - Adams County, Pennsylvania
- No. 371 - Barre, Vermont
- The CMIU was the first union that Samuel Gompers belonged to. Gompers was vice president of the National union and President of Local 144.
- Patricia A. Cooper, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 (University of Illinois Press, 1987)