- Category : 1861-births
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (23)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Identification 2
German unionist, moderate Social Democratic politician and first President of the International Federation of Trade Unions (1913-1919).
His parents died in his childhood and Legien grew up in an orphanage in Thorn, Province of Prussia (now Toruń) from 1867 to 1875. He became a wood turner and served in the Prussian Army from 1881 to 1884. He joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1885, a wood turners' union in 1886 and worked as a turner in several cities in Germany until 1891, since 1886 in Hamburg.
On 15 November 1918 he signed the Stinnes-Legien-Agreement with industrialist Hugo Stinnes, an agreement in which the German employers for the first time accepted nationwide unions as legitimate workers-organisations and which introduced an eight-hour day, workers councils in plants with more than 50 employees and parity employment offices. The employers agreed to stop discrimination of union members and their support of "house unions" (yellow unions) while the unions rejected radical socialists’ demands. Most of the agreement's regulations became part of the Weimar German constitution.
He countered the right-wing Kapp Putsch of March 1920 by organizing a massive general strike in Germany with about 12 million employees following the joint call of the legal government and the unions. The strike immediately halted all production, transportation, mining and public services, thus ending the Kapp régime.
At that time he declined Friedrich Ebert’s offer to become Chancellor of Germany.
Legien died after a short illness in Berlin, on 26 December 1920, aged 59.