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John L. Lewis received a telegram from President Roosevelt regarding the United Mine Workers of America strike At his Press Conference on April 29, 1943 .

John L. Lewis was born in Iowa in 1880. His parents were Welsh immigrants, and his father got a job in the coal mines. He was soon blacklisted by mine owners for protesting the terrible working conditions under which miners labored for little pay and no benefits. Lewis dropped out of grammar school to go to work in the mines, and in 1906 he was appointed a delegate of the United Mine Workers union. In that capacity he traveled to dozens of mine operations around the country and got to see first-hand just how bad life for the average miner really was, and it was an image he carried with him for the rest of his life. In 1918 he became Vice President of the UMW, and two years later he was President. Mine owners who were used to intimidating and bullying timid union leaders--very often foreigners who were ill-educated and from countries where standing up to authority usually got you killed--got a big surprise when they had to deal with Lewis. He was not one to be bullied, took no guff from anyone, had a will of iron--once he staked out a position or a condition there was no power on earth that could move him from it--and he could go head to head with them on just about any issue and turn out to be even more knowledgeable about it than they were. His peak power came with the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Lewis had strongly supported (on the other hand, he despised Roosevelt's VP, John Nance Garner, calling him an "evil old man").

In 1935 Lewis took the UMW out of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) group and started the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), mainly because he wanted to unionize unskilled labor and the AFL was only interested in the skilled trades. Lewis' efforts were quite successful, especially in Detroit, where after strikes and sit-down actions he managed to unionize many of Detroit's auto workers.

Lewis and Roosevelt split in 1938, when Lewis was in the midst of negotiations with the steel industry. He was expecting Roosevelt's help during the negotiations and didn't get it. Enraged, lhe put his union's backing behind Roosevelt's opponent in the next Presidential election, Wendell Willkie, promising that if Wilkie wasn't elected, he would resign as UMW president. Roosvelt won the 1940 election, and Lewis stepped down.

During World War II Lewis' union struck the coal mines several times, and Lewis even pulled his miners out of the pits altogether on several occasions. The government responded by taking over the mines and fining Lewis and the union more than $2 million for ignoring court orders to return to work.

Lewis retired as president of the UMW in 1959. The last few years of his tenure there were somewhat acrimonious, with several factions accusing him of "selling out" by agreeing to allow automation in the mines, but Lewis saw that the days of coal as a major energy source were ending. UMW membership was dropping as mines were consolidating and in some cases even closing, and oil, gas and even nuclear power had begun replacing coal in many industries.

His almost 40-year reign as president of the United Mine Workers union had resulted in vast improvements in the lives of mine workers. When he took over the union in 1920, the average pay of a miner was $6.00 a day. Miners who were injured at work were promptly fired and had to fend for themselves, there was no such thing as vacations, no sick pay, no pension, working conditions were atrocious--explosions and cave-ins killed and injured thousands of miners annually because companies would not spend money on adequate safety precautions--and workers had virtually no rights (the infamous "company store" system designed to keep workes permanently indebted to their employer originated in the mining industry). When Lewis left in 1960, the average wage had risen to more than $20 a day and miners had some of the best medical coverage, pension system and benefits of any industry in the country.

John L. Lewis died in Washington, DC, in 1989.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: [email protected]

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Chief founder and first president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (1936-1940).
President of the United Mine Workers of America (1920-1960).

QUOTES. If there is to be peace in our industrial life let the employer recognize his obligation to his employees. Labor was marching toward the goal of industrial .

John L. Lewis: A Biography

john l lewis quotes

John L. Lewis (1880-1969), who ruled the United Mine Workers for four decades beginning in 1919, defied presidents, challenged Congress, and kept American political life in an uproar. Drawing upon previously untapped resources in the UMW archives and upon oral histories by major figures of the 1930s and 1940s, the authors have created a remarkable portrait of this 'self-maJohn L. Lewis (1880-1969), who ruled the United Mine Workers for four decades beginning in 1919, defied presidents, challenged Congress, and kept American political life in an uproar. Drawing upon previously untapped resources in the UMW archives and upon oral histories by major figures of the 1930s and 1940s, the authors have created a remarkable portrait of this 'self-made man' and his times....more

Paperback, Abridged, 416 pages

Published June 1st 1986 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1977)

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Original Title

John L. Lewis: A Biography

ISBN

0252012879 (ISBN13: 9780252012877)

Characters

Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Saul Alinsky, William Green, Franklin D. Roosevelt...more, Frances Perkins, John L. Lewis, Lee Pressman, John Brophy, Philip Murray, Sidney Hillman, David Dubinsky, Len De Caux, Adolph Germer, Alexander Howat, William Hutcheson, Thomas Kennedy, Daniel J. Tobin...less

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WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: C. S. Lewis - Top 10 Quotes
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John L. Lewis Quotes

john l lewis quotes

John L. Lewis received a telegram from President Roosevelt regarding the United Mine Workers of America strike  At his Press Conference on April 29, 1943 President Roosevelt read the telegram.  “The production of coal must continue. Without coal our war industries cannot produce tanks, guns, and ammunition for our armed forces. Without these weapons our sailors on the high seas, and our armies in the field, will be helpless against our enemies.”

 

John L. Lewis (1880-1969) was the dominant figure shaping the labor movement in the 1930s.  President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from 1920 until 1960 and founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), he was a vigorous advocate of industrial unionism and of government assistance in organizing industry.  Yet he was widely hated for calling nationwide coal strikes damaging the American economy in the middle of World War II.  Although Lewis was a Republican, he favored the New Deal aspects and supported Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 and 1936 campaigns.  However, Lewis opposed FDR’s third term bid, and resigned the CIO when FDR was re-elected.  Lewis retained his leadership of the UMWA, a post he held until 1960, and after retirement, he chaired the UMWA’s Welfare and Retirement Fund until his death in 1969.

 

Weekly Labor Quote – John L. Lewis. “Increased interest and participation by labor in the affairs of government should make for economic and political stability .

John L. Lewis

john l lewis quotes

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WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: History Brief: John L Lewis and the CIO

John L. Lewis Quote: “The workers of the nation were ” The workers of the nation were tired of waiting for corporate industry to right their economic wrongs, .

john l lewis quotes
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