Chicago Laborers Council

  What is a Laborer?  
  The Chicago Laborers' District Council and our 20 affiliated locals represent workers from a wide variety of industries, including
• construction
• demolition
• environmental
• security
• waste management
• municipal
• office

All of those workers, if a member of one of our locals, could technically be considered Laborers. However, the majority of our members are in the construction field. But even within the construction field, our members perform a wide variety of work. The following is a representation of some of those types of work, and is not meant to be a comprehensive outline of our jurisdiction:

Scaffolding Erection
Laborers are trained to routinely complete the safe and efficient erection and take down of scaffolding. Safety is key when working on scaffolding projects, as it is often done at extreme heights.

Sewer Construction & Rehab
Water drainage is a complex puzzle involving sewer systems carefully engineered to carry and hold enough water to prevent floods. Building and rehabbing these sewers underground is a specialty of the Laborers trade. Safety, of course, is paramount when working under the surface of the earth.

Deep Tunnel
Deep beneath the city of Chicago and surrounding areas lies a labyrinth of deep tunnels. These are in place to alleviate flooding and to reduce the harmful effects of flushing raw sewage into Lake Michigan. Construction and maintenance of this megaproject - one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken - is largely carried out by Laborers, where they perform a wide variety of activities.

Brick Paving
Brick paving is an elegant addition to patios, roads, sidewalks and driveways. When done properly, it can last a lifetime and be as durable as nearly any other type of paving. Laborers learn the process intimately - from excavation, grading, base layering, and finally setting the stones - and execute the projects with expert precision.

Concrete Curb & Gutter
Maybe not quite an art, but there is definitely a skill to properly pouring, placing and forming concrete. Laborers acquire this knowledge through training and hands-on experience. Rule of thumb: where you find concrete being placed, you'll find a Laborer.

Asphalt Paving
An asphalt paving crew consists of several different trades working side by side - with Laborers being prominently represented. This can be some of the hottest work one can find, but at the end of the day our Laborers take pride in doing what few else are willing to do and looking back upon a job well done.

Concrete Road Paving

Although many advancements have been made in the realm of concrete road paving, with machinery becoming more and more automated and turn-key seemingly every year, Laborers are still an integral part of the concrete road paving process. Durable, well-constructed roads are important to our infrastructure and safety, and Laborers are there to build them properly.

Mason Tending

Masons, or Bricklayers, are responsible for setting the individual bricks on a masonry job...Laborers take care of most everything else. From mixing the mortar to supplying the mortar, bricks and other materials to the Masons, Mason Tenders are busy keeping the job site flowing as smoothly and efficiently as possible on a Masonry job.

Small Equipment Operation

Laborers are right at home on a variety of small power machinery found on job sites, including skid steers, lulls, and forklifts. Of course the large stuff is the home of our brothers in the Operating Engineers Union, but Laborers traditionally handle some of these smaller pieces of equipment.


Laborers handle projects concerning the abatement of asbestos, lead and other hazardous materials. Special safety regulations regarding such materials requires specialized training, education, and equipment for the Laborers. It's truly a unique skill set to be able to handle environmental jobs safely and in accordance with industry regulations.


In many ways, tearing a structure down can take every bit as much precision, planning and expertise as building it. Danger comes with the territory on demo jobs, but our Laborers are trained to minimize the risks and work as safely as possible, while also maintaining great efficiency.


Bridge construction takes the cooperation of many trades. Laborers perform a variety of roles on a bridge job, including placing the concrete, assisting other trades, rigging, and site safety management.

Saw Cutting

Enormous, powerful saws are needed to cut concrete and other paving surfaces. Large, unwieldy, and dangerous for many, the saws are operated safely and accurately by trained, experienced Laborers.

Concrete Forming

Before concrete can be poured, forms need to be built to hold the concrete in place. This requires precision building skills using a variety of materials and tools. If the forms aren't built properly, the concrete can't be placed properly, so forming is an essential part of the entire building process.

Utility & Sewer Lines

The unseen labyrinth of water, electrical and sewer lines running under the surface of the earth takes planning, cooperation, and hard work. Laborers provide all three on both residential and commercial projects.

Site Cleaning

Where there is construction, there is construction debris. In order to keep a safe and efficient work site, it is vital to keep that debris cleaned up and properly managed. Laborers do this with pride.

Concrete Pump

There are several ways to place concrete to a given area...pumps are one widely used and powerfully efficient method of doing so. The quick, powerful manner in which they can distribute concrete makes them super effective, but also quite dangerous. The well-trained hands of Laborers are called upon to corral the power of these pumps and operate them as safely as possible.

Site Safety

Many construction sites, especially larger ones, have one worker whose job it is to make sure safety regulations are being followed throughout the site. They make sure workers and the conditions of the site itself adhere to safety regulations. This work requires a large knowledge base of all safety rules and regulations, and the fortitude to enforce them amongst co-workers. In the end, site safety personnel are protecting people from injuries and improving the overall quality of working conditions on the site.

Pipeline Work

Carrying a variety of gasses and liquids throughout the country, pipelines are a integral part of our country's infrastructure. A variety jobs in their construction fall to the hands of skilled Laborers.


Contrary to the belief some hold that flaggers just stand there all day and disrupt traffic, flaggers are one of the most important crew members of any road construction job. Road crews work mere feet from moving traffic - it's the responsibility of the flaggers to decrease those inherent risks as much as possible. They're specially trained in safety and emergency procedures should an accident happen, and the work is harder and more stressful than most would ever believe...they're there for the safety of the crew as well as the travelling public.


Where there is a piece of heavy equipment, there often needs to be an experienced, reliable rigger on the ground. Rigging involves hooking or tying materials and equipment to chains, ropes, and cables so that it can be transported in the air by cranes, backhoes and other equipment. Obviously, safety is the number one concern when rigging, as this material needs to be as secure as possible in order to ensure it doesn't fall and cause damage to people or property.

Site Work

Long before a structure is built, Laborers are on site getting the land ready. This involves many different skills and specialties, including the operation of scoping, positioning, and grading equipment. It is often said that Laborers are the first trade on a given site, and the last to leave (clean up).

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