In 1904 local businessmen established the Employers Association of Indianapolis to combat labor strikes in the city. Membership grew steadily over the next decade. In 1914 the organization absorbed a similar antilabor group, the Commercial Vehicle Protective Association, formed in response to a 1913 teamsters’ strike.

A banner with stars over the U.S. eagle which is holding a sign reading "American Plan Product Independent Shop".
Associated Employers of Indianapolis emblem, 1921 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Renamed the Associated Employers of Indianapolis, the group began publishing the Associated Employers’ Digest in 1923 to review local and national business conditions relevant to its anti-union stance and to focus on wage trends and labor legislation. About 4,000 copies of the first issue announced goals of discouraging union practices, upholding open-shop principles, and encouraging law enforcement.

In 1923 the Associated Employers claimed 500 anti-union employers as members, a significant number of the city’s businessmen. They bragged that their organization had given Indianapolis an open-shop reputation that promoted business growth in the city.

The organization’s minutes reflect an active group during the 1920s and early 1930s, with supporters including some of the city’s best-known firms: Eli Lilly And Company, Indiana Bell, Merchants National Bank, Kingan And Company, Prest-0-Lite, L. S. Ayres And Company. Based on the association’s minutes, the organization had become less active by the mid-1930s. In 1939 the group appears to have changed its name to the Associated Employers of Indiana.

Few public records from the organization exist for the 1950s and 1960s, although a 1961 pamphlet indicates the group had become a labor relations service specializing in personnel policies, arbitration, and cost of living figures. By 1974 the Associated Employers of Indiana, Inc., no longer appeared in Indianapolis city directories.

Revised February 2021

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