Samuel Gompers Monument, 2007
Southwest corner of West Foster and North Pulaski Avenues
A cigar maker since the age of 10, England-born Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) immigrated to the United States at the age of 13 and within a year joined the United Cigar Makers in New York City. He became increasingly concerned about the conditions of the workers as well as labor relations. In 1886, he became the first president of the American Federation of Labor, a role he held until his death. As the nation’s leading trade unionist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Gompers promoted collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that comprised the AFL.
Today, the federation, known as the AFL-CIO, continues to be one of the most powerful labor organizations in the country. In commemoration of this leader, nearly 40 different labor unions worked together over several years to commission this monument. It became possible after a major donation from the Edward M. Marx Foundation. The life-sized statue, with a sculpted box of cigars at the base, was unveiled during a ceremony on Labor Day, 2007.