Plumbers Local 75 was founded in 1891 when Milwaukee area plumbers called an organizational meeting and resolved to petition the American Federation of Labor for affiliation and they became Plumbers Union #5145. During this period, plumbers were required to work ten-hour days for the paltry wage of $2.50 per day, the lowest wage of any existing building trade in the city. In an attempt to establish a standard eight-hour workday, Plumbers Union #5145 joined other trade unions in a citywide strike. Employers resisted the idea and the movement was eventually crushed.
Following the strike, plumbing contractors refused to hire anyone who was still a member of #5145. But the remaining members had plans of their own. They formed an association known as “The Shave Hook Club”, establishing six cooperative plumbing shops to employ members who had remained loyal to the union’s vision. In 1891, the club petitioned the newly formed United Association and was granted a charter as “Plumbers and Gas Fitters Local 75.”