Related Content

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • History
  • Contemporary History (post 1945)

GO

Show Summary Details

Overview

John L. Lewis

(1880—1969)


Quick Reference

(b. 12 Feb. 1880, d. 11 June 1969).

President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1920–60. A son of Welsh miner immigrants born in Lucas, Iowa, he began work as a miner aged 17. In 1901 he began his active work for the United Mineworkers of America (UMWA), becoming acting president in 1919 and president in 1920. A leading member of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), he successfully organized unskilled, mass-production workers into trade unions. This resulted in a clash with AFL policy in 1935, and in 1936 all such unions, including his miners, were expelled from the AFL; they formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), with Lewis as president. During the next four years he led a number of militant and bitter CIO strikes in such industries as steel, automobiles, tyres, and electrical products. In 1940, in protest against Roosevelt's third-term nomination, he resigned his presidency from the CIO. From this organization he withdrew the miners, whose president he remained, in 1942. A strong personality, he would challenge any authority in the interests of his members. Although more moderate in later years, in 1947 he defied the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) out of principle by refusing to declare the fact that he was not a Communist on oath.


Reference entries