About the CFL



The Chicago Federation of Labor was founded in 1896 as a way to strengthen the efforts of individual local unions by creating a unified voice for the labor movement in the Chicago area.

Chicago is considered by many as the birthplace of the American labor movement, home to more “Local 1” unions than any other city and the movement for the eight-hour day. 

First organized as the General Trades Assembly in 1864 and later the Trades Council and Trades and Labor Assembly, it was finally reorganized as the Chicago Federation of Labor and received its charter from the American Federation of Labor on November 9, 1896. 

From the Haymarket Affair in 1886 spurred by the fight for the eight-hour day, to the Pullman railroad strike in 1894 over corporate greed and poverty, to the Memorial Day Massacre during the “Little Steel” strikes in 1937, Chicago’s rich labor history stems back to the formative years of our nation’s economy and the modern labor movement. 

Today, Chicago’s union members continue to be students of history and the struggles of the men and women who fought for fairness, justice and equality at work. 

The Presidents of the Chicago Federation of Labor

Robert G. Reiter, Jr., 2018–present

Jorge Ramirez, 2010–2018

Dennis J. Gannon, 2002–2010

Don Turner, 1995–2002

Michael Bruton, 1994–1995

Robert Healey, 1987–1994

Edward F. Brabec, 1984–1986

William A. Lee, 1946–1984

John Fitzpatrick, 1906–1946

Charles M. Dold, 1905–1906

William Schardt, 1903–1905

George Lighthall, 1902–1903

James H. Bowman, 1901–1902

John Fitzpatrick, 1900–1901

James Daly, 1899–1900

P. F. Doyle, 1898–1899

William T. Dunn, 1898–1898

P. F. Doyle, 1897–1898

Thomas Preece, 1896–1897