The origins of masons is very much like an original union, just as AsteroidX said. They were a guild (union) for masons/builders just as there were guilds for every other group of labourers. Each guild of masons kept things secret so that other masons couldn't steal their ideas. Ever hear of trade secrets? Ever sign a non-disclosure agreement for an employer? They want to make sure that you don't go running off and telling people how your employer does certain things within the framework of their business. The masons and every other guild did way back then. They were protecting their trade secrets.
And can someone please tell me how to teach my bosses to be more nefarious? After all, that's what an architect is, right? A chief builder or carpenter or mason.
True, in part, but the Masons had some strange rituals for a trade union! and these rituals seem to have carried forward to the present day when the organisation is apparently not acting as a union for builders? Secret societies must surely be treated with suspicion by their very nature of being secret not open?