Even today, union members work in dangerous occupations. But nearly a century ago, it was even worse.
In the construction, manufacturing, and mining industries it was not uncommon for workers to be injured, maimed or killed on the job. To make matters worse, many union members could not get life insurance because they worked in high risk jobs or because their employers would not offer them coverage due to their affiliation with a union. Without life insurance, families of union members were often left without the financial resources they needed if their primary wage earner was killed on the job.
The need for life insurance prompted Matthew Woll, president of the Photo Engravers Union and George Perkins, president of the Cigar Makers Union, to raise the issue during the 1923 American Federation of Labor Convention. They found support from Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor, who saw the value in a labor-owned insurance company. After four years of preparation and a $400,000 dollar investment from the Bank of Labor, The Union Labor Life Insurance Company (Union Labor Life) opened its doors for business on May 1, 1927.
With the founding of Union Labor Life, union members now had greater access to life insurance coverage. The first individual life insurance policy the company issued was to its new president Matthew Woll. The first group life policy was issued to the Federal Employees Unions' Local 105 of Washington, D.C. By the end of its first year of operations, The Union Labor Life Insurance Company had issued enough life insurance policies to cover nearly 50,000 union members.
For many of these union members, this was the first time they had life insurance coverage. The greatness of this achievement was not lost on Union Labor Life's management at the time. In the company's first annual report, they noted:
"More important than all, however, many thousands of men and women know that they have through this Company protection for their homes which they never had before and they realize that they have it by means of an organization which they have helped to make."
Nearly 85 years later, Union Labor Life, a member of the Ullico family of companies, remains true to its roots of providing quality, affordable life and health insurance to union members and their families.
To learn more about The Union Labor Life Insurance Company and its insurance products, visit www.ullico.com.