Union History

A Brief History

The history of the Engineers serving the Chicago Public Schools can be traced to the Rules of the Board of Education of Chicago of 1863. On August 08,1902, the Chicago School Engineers Union was granted its’ first charter, known as Local 143.

A second charter was granted to the Chicago Public School Engineers on September 23,1927. Known as Local 143-B, this Branch Charter was granted to provide Union representation to the 100 Assistant Engineers hired by the Board of Education of Chicago as temporary Engineers, until they would be qualified by a Civil Service Examination. The members who were then qualified would become Local 143 members.

Throughout the history of Local 143, the past presidents and officers were able to maintain a decent standard for its’ membership. Anti-labor/anti-unionism had made it necessary to obtain a written agreement. Local 143 finally obtained its’ first “Letter of Memorandum” with the Chicago Board of Education in 1983.

Many improvements in the Chicago Public Schools can be attributed to the members of Local 143. Their dedication and knowledge insure that the School buildings are safe and comfortable for students, staff and teachers of the Chicago Public Schools.

The desire of the School Engineers to improve the School environment and conditions has inspired many positive changes in the School systems Plant Operation Department.

A School Engineer, Thomas Waters invented the indirect system of heating and ventilation. This type of heating system is used in many of the 540 plus School buildings today. Mr. Waters was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900 for his innovation. A school building was named after Mr. Waters in honor of his accomplishments.

Hugh Manley a School Engineer and member of Local 143 lost his life preventing a boiler explosion at the school where he was assigned. A school building was also named after this loyal member.

Along with improving the conditions of the School buildings the School Engineers have saved the Chicago Public Schools upwards of $6 million dollars a year since 1985, through a Gas purchasing program, initiated and run completely by members of Local 143. This program has won several awards and commendations including an Honorable Recognition from the City Council of Chicago.

Local 143 is proud of its’ heritage and its’ commitment to serving the Public Schools in Chicago. The Officers and members of Local 143 are committed to total Quality School Management.

This Steam Engine was installed in 1899 and still heats a Chicago Public School. Notice the reference to the “WATERS” ventilating system  on the fan housing in back of the fly wheel. He was a Chicago Public School Chief Engineer.

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