From Ohio History Central
Mechanics Associations were organized labor organizations founded in individual communities in Ohio beginning in the 1810s and 1820s. (A mechanic was a machinist�someone who worked in a factory in the 1800s.) One established in Dayton in 1813 was possibly the first labor organization in the state, but others began to emerge in urban areas as well. While the Ohio Mechanics Institute focused on education, mechanics associations attempted to organize factory workers to obtain better pay and labor conditions in the workplace. In the first half of the nineteenth century, these organizations were usually unsuccessful in obtaining their aims, but they did provide some of the background for later labor unions. Mechanics associations tended to not allow many immigrant groups or African Americans to join and, therefore, had limited membership. Each association tended to recruit its members from a specific trade.