he International Typographical Union (ITU) was a US trade union for the printing trade for newspapers and other media.
It was founded on May 3, 1852 in the United States as the National Typographical Union, and changed its name to the International Typographical Union at its Albany, New York convention in 1869 after it began organizing members in Canada.
The ITU was one of the first unions to admit female members, admitting women members such as Augusta Lewis, Mary Moore and Eva Howard in 1869.Typographers were educated, economically mobile, in every major urban center with newspapers, and had the unique possibility to influence publicity in favour of their cause.
This led the union to the forefront of improving working conditions. ITU President W.B. Prescott led the ITU in 1897 to win a 48-hour work week and a standard wage scale for all printers.
During the Great Depression, the ITU introduced the 40-hour work week across the industry at no cost to employers as a way to share the fewer jobs available. That ITU initiative spread to other unions and has since been codified across the labor sector by federal legislation in the U.S. establishing the 40-hour work week.
All contracts had to be approved and ratified by both the Executive Council and the newspaper publisher. For most of its history, the ITU benefited from friendly and strong competition between Independents and Progressives for control of the union.
As the work of typographers declined with automation, computers and mechanization of the print media, the ITU was disbanded. In 1986, a majority of ITU mailers voted to merge with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the remaining typographers joined the Communications Workers of America.
Before its dissolution, the ITU was the oldest union in the United States.