History of Local 473

Laborers’ Local 473 was given its charter by the Laborers’ International Union of North America on September 16, 1919.  The original name of our union was actually the International Hod Carriers Building and Common Laborers’ Union of America.  At its beginning the local was primarily a Building Construction Local.  A little know fact the geographical area of Local 473 is approximately 2,242 square miles.

Throughout our early years’ the hardworking laborers’ worked on many historic projects that shaped the growth of Berkshire County. Our forefathers worked in many of the textile and papers mills that shaped the worked force of the early 1900’s. As the county expanded the laborers’ constructed the cobblestone roads and trolley rails the allowed the citizens of Berkshire to travel north and south in a much easier manner.

With the end of World War II many of our brave soldiers came back to gain employment in the construction field.  In the 1950’s marquis projects such as the Hoosic River Flood Control Project, rebuilding of the Shadowbrook Estate and expansion of the Massachusetts Turnpike eastward employed our laborers. A mason tender in 1952 was paid $1.80 per hour.

 In the 1960’s Berkshire County growth experienced a significant growth spurt.  Laborers’ from Local 473 were once again on the job. Building100 at General Electric, Yankee Rowe, and Vermont Yankee which began construction in May of 1967 and was completed in 1972. One of the largest projects ever taken on by Local 473 the Hydro Electric Project at Bear Swamp began construction in 1968 and completed in 1974 employed 200 laborers at its peak. A general construction laborer earned $2.60 in 1962. Also in 1962 the local went out on strike, which lasted months and was for an increase of $0.29 over 3 years.

The 1970’s brought to the local some major diversification from the traditional general laborer membership. In 1974 we welcomed Unistress Corporation a producer of pre-cast concrete products into our ranks. The company has continued to grow and prosper. Some of their early projects included renovations to the Old Yankee Stadium, and a Bridge over the Battenkill River. Most recently they constructed segmental bridge beams for the “Big Dig” in Boston.

In 1977 we had the Custodians at the Lenox Public Schools become members of the local.

The 1980’s and 1990’s showed a tremendous need for upgrading of membership training. With the advent of large projects that involved Hazardous Waste and Asbestos remediation. The construction of the Altresco Co-Generation and several large gas pipeline projects highlighted that period. In June of 1990 Laborers’ Local 473 formed the first in the state Retiree Council.  

With the emergence of the new millennium, new challenges faced the local. We were asked to embark on the decommissioning of the Yankee Rowe Atomic Plant. Many large Heavy and Highway projects took place. They included the relocation of Route 7 at Pontoosac Lake, and the Lenox By-Pass. We also helped build major additions at the North Adams Regional Hospital, Clark Art Institute and Williams College. Men and Women from our local are now also being trained to work traffic details on various work sites.

Laborers’ Local 473 looks forward to growing our membership and expanding our traditional construction base. And lead our great local forward for another 93 strong and prosperous years.