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John Heiden, First Vice President, CTLC

John Heiden! A veteran of eight Rochester strikes, a leader in the labor movement of Rochester, and a jolly good fellow among his friends and others classed as union men of this city.

That fittingly describes the man who guards the office of the Carpenters’ District Council and directs the activities of that organization with other officers. Young in appearance and thought, he is still one of the veterans in the Rochester labor movement. He joined his first Union in 1896, the now disbanded Amalgamated Association of Wood Workers. When this organization disbanded in 1903, John Heiden was already a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, having joined this body in 1902. He is still a member of this latter organization.

It was a strange coincidence that marked Heiden’s entry into the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. He was initiated into this organization on his thirtieth birthday. He was born in New York City on November 7, 1902.

Young Heiden came to Rochester with his parents while still a babe in arms. When he became old enough he attended Public School No. 18 and was graduated from that institution with honors. He finished his schooling by going to night school for four years and attending that great school of self education, newspaper selling. He had a route of his own, all his customers being regular subscribers of the old Rochester Herald.

Heiden early became interested in Union labor in this city. He became such an earnest worker that following the strike in 1908 he was elected vice-president. During the strike itself he was trustee. He wasn’t vice president long before he was called upon to fill an unexpired term as president after which he was elected in 1914 to hold this office on his own. He was also chosen president of the Carpenters’ District Council.

In 1915, on July 1, Heiden was elected secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters District Council and has held that office ever since. Every election finds Heiden as the logical man for this office and he usually is elected without any opposition. His services to his organization have been marked by numerous successes.

Heiden’s first experience in a strike came in 1903 when the Carpenters went out for a nine-hour day. This strike was a victory for the Union men. In 1908 the Carpenters went out for the eight-hour day and that, too, was won. Then followed a succession of strikes which lasted through 1911. In 1909 another strike was called for higher wages, which resulted in a compromise between the Employers and Carpenters. In 1910 another strike was called and a 5--cent increase per day was given the workers by the Employers. The 1911 strike was for the label and this was another victory for the Union.

No more strikes were held until 1917 when the daily wage went to $7.50 per day. In 1919 the employers had a lockout of all employees in the building trades. The International organization stepped in that year and recommended an arbitration clause. A fifteen per cent cut in wages was put in effect by the employers in 1921, the year that a general strike in all building trades crafts was held. This went into effect, the wages dropping from $1 per hour to 85 cents. In 1922 all crafts regained that 15 per cent cut. The following year, 1923, the wages jumped to $1.10 per hour and a little later to $1.15. There has been no change from this figure since then. In all these strikes, Heiden, as secretary-treasurer, aided in terms of settlement.

Mr. Heiden’s job as secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters District Council keeps him busy every day. He may be found at his offices in Carpenters Hall daily. Complaints coming to him receive his undivided attention. He is always ready to assist the unemployed carpenter and do what he can to obtain work for those looking for something to do. No one has to be told that John Heiden is popular. Organized labor knows it. Besides his office as secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council, he is first vice-president of the Central Trades and Labor Council and a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge. He is past president of the Building Trades Council and a former treasurer of the Central Trades body. He was first elected vice-president of the Central Trades a year ago and was re-elected to that office at the annual election a few weeks ago.