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The Structural Building Trades Alliance was organized in 1903 to eliminate costly jurisdictional strikes that were seriously disrupting the industry and to shore up the power of international unions over local building trades councils. Operating on a one-union, one-vote system, the SBTA initially proposed to accept only "primary" trades, like the Carpenters, Plumbers, and Electrical Workers, as members. In this way it hoped to force new specialty trades, like the Lathers, the Steam Fitters, and the Elevator Constructors, into the appropriate primary union and thereby cut down on fights over work. The plan did not succeed, however, due to fierce conflicts between large and small unions in local councils and on the SBTA's governing board, and in 1908 the independent SBTA gave way to the AFL-affiliated Buildings Trades Department.

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