John L. Lewis: A Biography by Melvyn DubofskyJohn 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.
John L. Lewis
John L. Lewis is remembered as an exceptional orator, a tireless worker for his union members, and an effective advocate for all organized labor. Credit E-WV. Union leader John L. Lewis was born on February 12, It was in the midst of the West Virginia Mine Wars—a period of violent conflict between coal operators and miners. The deal came at a cost, though, as he allowed operators to mechanize union mines more rapidly.
Cross Currents Learn About the U. Learn About the U. Labor Leaders: John L. The US Through the Year. Work and Workplaces in the U.
At fifteen he found work as a miner in Illinois. In he was elected vice president of the UMWA. Three years later he became president of what was then the largest trade union in America. In Lewis, with the support of William Z. Foster , failed in his attempt to challenge Samuel Gompers for the presidency of the American Federation of Labour.
John L. The son of immigrants from Welsh mining towns, Lewis left school in the seventh grade and went to work in the mines at age Beginning in , President Franklin D. The formation of the National Recovery Administration through the National Industrial Recovery Act guaranteed labour the right to bargain collectively. Unions gained even more organizing rights with the passage of the Wagner Act officially, the National Labor Relations Act. Building on previous labour victories, Lewis and several other AFL union leaders formed the Committee for Industrial Organization with the intention of organizing workers in mass-production industries. The more traditional leaders of the AFL, however, preferred limiting its membership to craft unions and refused to support the new strategy.
John L. Lewis was a powerful labor leader, who through the Congress of Industrial Organizations CIO , helped raise living standards for millions of American families in the s. He was also a giant among American leaders in the first half of the 20th century, regularly advising presidents and challenging America's corporate leaders. The early years. He became a coal miner at the age of 15 after settling in Panama, Illinois , a small town in the central part of the state. Between the years and , Lewis also tried farming, construction work, and a small business, before joining the labor movement, in Lewis was voted to be a local delegate to the United Mine Workers of America UMWA convention in , which marked the beginning of Lewis' quick rise as a leader of laborers.