John L Lewis
- Category : Politics-Labor-unions
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Revolution 1
American union leader, the President of United Mine Workers Union 1929-1960, awarded the Presidents Medal of Freedom in 1964. An elected legislature agent for the UMW in 1909, he worked his way up to Vice-President in 1918 and two years later, President. In 1935 he split with the A.F.of L. and formed the C.I.O. where he could better organize unskilled labor. The union had enormous success, notably in Detroit where the sit-down strikes brought in scab workers that in turn, brought in violence, ending with state troopers entering the fray.
The son of a Welsh coal minor, as a kid he started work in the mines at age 12 after only seven years of school. He became one of the strongest voices in America, at one time the second most powerful man in the nation next to the President.
In 1938, he and Roosevelt broke while Lewis was scrapping with the steel industry. Both colorful masters of invective with a vivid vocabulary, they were well-suited adversaries. When Roosevelt won a third term, Lewis quit as the President of the C.I.O. (1940) and to this day his union has remained aloof from the subsequent A.F.L. - C.I.O. merger.
Lewis announced his retirement in 1959 and was made President Emeritus of the United Mine Workers. When he headed the union in 1920, the average pay scale was $6.00 a day. When he retired, it was $25.25 daily. Sickness, accident and welfare packages are included for workers. Even his severest critics concede that Lewis, more than any other man, brought about federal legislation making safety measures mandatory.
Married with a son who became a doctor and a daughter, Lewis was widowed in 1942.
He died 6/11/1969, Alexandria, VA.