Today in Labor History February 12, 2020

John L Lewis

Labor leader John L. Lewis was born in Cleveland, Iowa to Welsh immigrant parents. Lewis began working as a miner when he was a teenager, worked as a mine workers’ organizer for the American Federation of Labor, and went on to serve the president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) for 40 years. A firm believer in industrial unionism, he pulled the UAW from the American Federation of Labor (and punched out Carpenter’s Union President William Hutcheson in the process) when the AFL refused to endorse industrial unionism. Lewis formed the predecessor organization to what would become the Congress of Industrial Organizations. They organized millions of unskilled, mass production workers into unions in the 1930s and 1940s. – 1880

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