Skip navigation

Daily Archives: July 30th, 2017


This brief biography of John L. Lewis and his accomplishments for the miners of America are in sharp contrast to what Mitch McConnell has done and said he has done for the miners of Kentucky (et al). When the time to re elect Mr. McConnell it would be well to remember he is not John L.  Lewis! MA.

John L. Lewis
Catherine Rapp
Waterloo High School, Waterloo
John Llewellyn Lewis, nicknamed “Ruthless Unionism” was born in Lucas, Iowa, on February 12, 1880, the son of a Welsh immigrant coal miner. Lewis became one of the most powerful and tyrannical presidents the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has ever known. Under his leadership, laborers received some of the highest wages and best benefits of the times. His retirement from the presidency of the UMWA ended a forty-year era of change and debate.
When Lewis was two, his father was blacklisted after a miner’s strike. Most of Lewis’s youth was spent moving from place to place so his father could find work and support the family. Thomas and Louisa Lewis, John’s parents, had three more sons, Thomas, Jr., A. D., and Howard, and one daughter, Hattie. In 1897 the blacklist was lifted, and the family returned to Lucas, Iowa.
When John was seventeen, he and his father and his brother, Thomas, went to work in the coal mines. When John Lewis was twenty-one, he moved west to work in mines in Colorado and Montana. Five years later he returned to Lucas. Then in 1906 he was voted to be local delegate to the UMWA convention. This marks the beginning of Lewis’s quick rise as a leader of laborers.
A year later, he wed Myrta Bell and together they had three children, Margaret Mary, Kathryn, and John, Jr. Kathryn was the only one of the children to follow in her father’s footsteps, and for many years she was an assistant to him. Margaret Mary died in 1921. John, Jr., entered Princeton Medical School and became a doctor.
In 1909, after moving to Panama, Illinois, a small town in the central part of the state, Lewis was elected president of the local UMWA. The following year, he was an Illinois representative on the state legislature of the UMWA. Throughout his career, Lewis was a patron for safety and better conditions in the mines as well as better wages and benefits for the miners.
The year 1911 brought a national position in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). For five years, Lewis’s progress to the presidency was steadfast. When, in 1916, Lewis was president of the pro-team at the UMWA convention and appointed chief statistician of the union, his rise to power quickly accelerated.
In 1917 John P. White resigned as president of the UMWA, and the vice president, Frank J. Hayes, succeeded him. President Hayes then appointed John Lewis vice president. Due to President Hayes’s alcoholism, John Lewis assumed Hayes’s duties in 1919 and became acting president. On November 1, 1919, Lewis called his first strike.
With the Lever Act, which forbade strikes, in effect at the time, U.S. Attorney General Palmer refused negotiations because “the strikers . . . break the law.” During negotiations in Washington, Lewis was arrested with others and cited for contempt. Four days later, however, President Woodrow Wilson made a deal with the miners. The miners received a 14 percent wage increase and arbitration of the other issues.
In 1920 Lewis succeeded Hayes to the presidency. The next year he ran for the presidency of the AFL, losing to his opponent Samuel Gompers by a two-to-one margin. Lewis quickly moved on to other things after his defeat. Lewis had angry miners and pitiful mines that needed his attention.
The Jacksonville Agreement signed February 18, 1924, provided the miners with a pay increase, but it also mechanized the mines. The mechanization of the mines was good for the operators, who no longer had to pay workers, but it caused unemployment. After the agreement was signed, the miners who still had jobs only worked an average of 171 days a year.
Through the years until 1932, Lewis became increasingly unpopular. The treasury’s funds decreased, miners were not working, and rumors of corruption spread. This is the year the Progressive Mine Workers of America (PMWA) broke away from the UMWA. The PMWA split because Lewis rewrote a contract for the union that contained a 30 percent pay decrease in the six-dollar day, and the PMWA charged that Lewis was in collusion with the mine owners. The new union was formed in Gillespie and Benld in Macoupin County, Illinois.
ILLINOIS HISTORY / DECEMBER 1997

In 1933 President Roosevelt enacted the National Industry Recovery Act to help end the Depression. The act gave laborers the right to choose their union, and Lewis then used the slogan “The President wants you to join a union.” In one year, unions membership quadrupled, and Lewis gained control again. Two months after the act passed, Lewis won the fight for a fifty-cent-a-day pay increase.
Two years later Lewis and eight other major union leaders formed the Committee for Industrial Organizations within the AFL. Lewis’s desire to organize the steel industry and disputes with AFL leaders were two reasons for forming the committee. Consequently, this committee launched the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee (STOC). The commitee was expelled from the AFL in May 1938, and in November of the same year, the Committee changed its name to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). John Lewis was its first president. In 1940 Lewis honored a pledge he made that if Wendell Wilke was not elected President of the United States, Lewis would retire from the CIO presidency.
In 1942, after the death of his wife, Lewis called a strike of the UMWA. At the time, striking was prohibited because of the war. When Lewis called the strike, he was denounced by many, including the CIO. In 1943 Lewis removed the UMWA from the CIO and returned it to the AFL, but on December 12, 1947, Lewis disaffiliated with the AFL because of disputes over the Taft-Hartley Act. The act, commonly known as the “Slave Labor Act,” controlled strikes, prohibited unions from making contributions to political parties, and demanded that every laborer sign a statement that he/she was not a Communist.
In 1946 Lewis established the Welfare and Retirement Fund. The Fund provided miners and their families with medical care such as hospitalization, death benefits, and treatment for the disabled. When the mine operators refused to pay the royalties on tonnage that supported the fund, Lewis called for a walkout. One week later the fund was approved.
Little more was done by Lewis during the rest of his career. A continuing loss of face caused his decline, though in 1956 he was appointed citizen advisor on President Eisenhower’s Mutual Security Program. He retired from his presidency on January 14, 1960. Nine years later, on June 11, 1969, John L. Lewis died.
As all people do, Lewis made mistakes and had triumphs. He had few friends and many enemies. Lewis was a very powerful and stubborn man. These are characteristics that caused few people who met him ever to forget him. John L. Lewis was a leader, for good or for bad.

Please Donate

Advertisements

Baltimore Sun
Peter Schmuck
13 hrs ago
The early days of Ravens training camp have delivered all manner of discouraging news and one large dose of controversy.

The back injury that has sidelined Joe Flacco led to the revelation that the team has been in contact with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and continues to ponder bringing him into camp.

The World’s Richest Agree: This Will Impact Everything
See The Tech
Sponsored by The Motley Fool
Kaepernick, of course, deeply offended a lot of Americans when he decided to sit or kneel when the national anthem was played before games last year. He has since let it be known that he will stand for the anthem if he plays in the NFL this season.
Still, there is a delicious irony to the possibility that Kaepernick might resume his football career in the city that spawned “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But even if he doesn’t, the negative reaction to that possibility — particularly on social media — illustrates just how clueless some fans are when it comes to keeping everything in its proper perspective.
This has all come about in the three days leading up to Sunday’s first public workout at M&T Bank Stadium, the timing of which presents a perfect opportunity to prove that point.
Lest anyone forget, it was at the first M&T Bank Stadium workout three years ago that fans cheered running back Ray Rice in the aftermath of his assault on his wife, Janay, in an Atlantic City casino elevator. That was before the release of the damning video that showed just how brutal the assault actually was, but Rice already had been suspended in the NFL’s original halfhearted attempt to deal with a spate of domestic abuse accusations.
NFL fans have proven they’ll put up with a lot from their favorite players. Ray Lewis is a god in this town 17 years after he was arrested in connection to a double-homicide in Atlanta. Adam “Pacman” Jones has been arrested at least nine times during his career, but is back in camp with the Cincinnati Bengals to begin his 12th season in the league. Former Dallas Cowboys star Greg Hardy was hailed as a “real leader” by owner Jerry Jones near the end of a checkered career that included arrests for domestic violence and drug possession.
And Kaepernick remained seated during the national anthem.
(Gasp!)
Let’s be clear on something. I didn’t agree with his decision to do that and I condemn his stupid decision to wear socks at a 49ers practice that portrayed police officers as pigs. But I do believe that the right to peacefully protest is one of the things that makes America truly great in spite of its many blemishes.
Both of my parents were World War II veterans, so the flag and the anthem mean a lot to me. But how many of us are really thinking about the real meaning of either one while we wait impatiently for some game to start?
I’ll say this much in defense of Kaepernick: He put a lot more thought into his pregame protests against racial inequality and oppression than some Ravens fans put into the storm of angry tweets that followed John Harbaugh’s confirmation Thursday that the team was in contact with him.
Kaepernick is not a “traitor.” Standing up for a controversial cause is not unAmerican. The founding fathers risked the noose to create a system of government that protects the right of every citizen to protest and call for change.
Should the Ravens sign him if Flacco’s back problem turns out to be more time-consuming than currently believed?
If the team determines that he’s the best possible replacement … absolutely.
Harbaugh was right on Friday to cast that potential decision predominantly in football terms.
“It has to do with our need,” Harbaugh said. “Joe’s day-to-day. Do we really have to make that move or not? That’s the decision that really has to be made. I think there’s a lot of layers to it, just from the football standpoint. I’ll focus on the football part of it. If there are other layers to it, then I think that’s taken into consideration at the appropriate level.”
The Ravens have been much more careful about character issues in the wake of the Rice situation and a long string of arrests over the two years following their Super Bowl XLVII win, but that’s not relevant in this case.
Kaepernick isn’t guilty of anything other than offending a lot of people and not playing particularly well the past couple of seasons.
If he can help, the majority of Ravens fans will be happy to have him and the rest can threaten all they want to give up their season tickets, but they’ll still come.
They paid a lot for those PSLs.


Gabrielle Gurley

Though few blacks believed that the much-vaunted post-racial America was anything more than media hyperbole, a black president nonetheless left the White House with a health-care legacy, a healthy approval rating, and a rock star patina that the hyper-partisanship of the nation’s capital failed to tarnish. His presidency may have contained few Rooseveltian moments but history will likely record that the country was stronger for his travails. The arc of the moral universe bent perhaps ever so imperceptibly toward justice during his tenure, but bend it did.

Which is why, after the Obama interregnum, Donald Trump’s assault on civil rights has set many African Americans back on their heels. Nowhere was that sentiment more evident than at the NAACP’s annual convention in Baltimore this week, where two very different conceptions of what justice means for African Americans were on display.

With Trump’s unsurprising decision to decline an invitation to speak to country’s oldest civil-rights organization, it fell to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general and a former Maryland U.S. attorney, to carry the president’s banner into a very skeptical audience. Rosenstein’s work for Democratic and Republican administrations and his long tenure in the Old Line State was about the only thing that he had going for him.

His brief remarks were pockmarked with contradictions. Rosenstein invoked Lyndon Johnson multiple times. “The rule of law is not just about the words on paper the rule of law,” he said with no trace of irony, it “is about the character of the people who are responsible for enforcing the law.” It was a curious citation that only served to spotlight that Rosenstein works for a man who has shown himself to be willing, able, and successful in inculcating the Americans’ basest inclinations and an attorney general, Jeff Sessions, actively engaged in devising ways to strip away decades of hard-won voting rights and other gains.

Voting rights will be a touchstone for the NAACP and civil-rights advocates for the next four years and likely beyond. But Rosenstein did not address the issue (after all, the Trump administration faces seven Kobach Commission-inspired lawsuits, including one filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund)Rosenstein twined Martin Luther King’s admonition that people had “a legal and moral responsibility” to obey just laws with another LBJ dictum, “The history of injustice and inequality is a history of the disuse of the law.” The intersection between just laws and disuse of law would have made for an interesting springboard into for his insights into Trumpian justice writ large. But by all indications there is not much to mine there. Instead, well aware that his audience was well aware of the myriad of ways that Trump has displayed his contempt for African Americans—not least by moving to review consent decrees with brutal and racist police departments—he turned to crime, a venerable topic for white Republican speakers facing black audiences.

Unfortunately, Rosenstein had nothing to offer beyond lukewarm platitudes. “We have to have the courage to get serious about crime,” he said, nodding to the attorney general’s crime reduction and public safety task force, a convening that is unlikely to come up with actual courageous ideas like reducing access to guns with or wrapping low-income black neighborhoods in a jobs and education dragnet.

Crime is the Trump administration’s go-to African American issue.

Crime is the Trump administration’s go-to African American issue. The topic meshed, of course, with Rosenstein’s crime-fighting record in Maryland during a period when some violent crimes declined. But it is unlikely that many agreed with Rosenstein’s parting thought. “The DOJ works for you: The attorney general and I share your goals.”

The contrast between Rosenstein and Eric Holder, Obama’s first attorney general couldn’t have been clearer. Holder (introduced as “our warrior”) used the language of war to describe a “siege” on voting rights, “aided and abetted by a wrongly decided, factually inaccurate, and disconnected Supreme Court decision” (Shelby County v. Holder), which undercut the Voting Rights Act. Holder came down like a hammer on the Republican Party’s strategies to discourage blacks and other minorities, young people, the elderly, and the poor—the very people who voted in large numbers to send Barack Obama to the White House—from exercising their right to vote. Holder also heads up the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which aims to end the political gerrymandering that has put Democrats at an electoral disadvantage.

Rosenstein was as good an emissary as any at trying to rally NAACP conventioneers to Trump’s dubious notions of justice. But the deputy attorney general’s weak-tea remarks merely underscored Trump’s and Session’s obvious distaste and disdain for African Americans. Few were convinced by an administration that plays fast and loose with the truth and relies on nonsensical and pernicious stereotypes to undergird its policies. What Trump has done is prompt Obama stalwarts like Holder and organizations like the NAACP to incessantly drum into African Americans just how much they’ve already lost in six short months


The recent press for repeal and replace of the ACA (Obamacare) has failed and is a big issue due to the staunch resistance and miscasting of what it does and has done. All of the failures of this law sits squarely on the shoulders of the Congress which is overwhelmingly Dupublican. For those who do not know Dupublican is my copyrighted, invented word for the Republicans. After 7 years of trying to repeal and replace unsuccessfully, the legislature has spent the past 6 months trying to do the same with the TOTUS pushing it along because he  and they promised. They have tried to place their failure on the Scamocrats (Democrats) because they resisted throwing millions off of their healthcare (there were many Dupublicans against it also). Their promise would at best throw millions off of a working healthcare system even with its problems. Instead of using the past 7 years plus to assist in tweaking the law, they condemned it because they did not like the President and promised at the outset that he would get no work done with their help. With all of the normal distrust many of us have for the Government, these neer do wells have shown how bad they really are. They campaigned on repealing a law that has helped many rather than campaigning on fixing its bad parts. It was determined that they exempted their healthcare from the repeal and replace  action but this was never told to the oft quoted “American People”. They (Congress) cite incomplete and incorrect facts about the ACA. It is well known that the ACA works well in some areas and not so good in others but in the same spirit neither does the VA medical system and they have not done as much as they could for that system either. We the people have been misled (partially our own fault) for years, we no longer have any real serving representatives but we do have many self serving members of Congress. If we want better government we need to get better educated as to what they do and are doing. We need to hold them to a higher standard and take them to task on what they tell us. It is always wise to remember that for the most part they are being less than forthright in what they say and to that end do some reading across multiple platforms to get the truth. Our only recourse is to get out of the rut of listening to what inflames our anger or entertains  as this is not news or many time not facts, this is merely the  nattering of paid spokespeople who make statements that appear true but are less honest than an infomercial offering a free item with the payment of “additional handling”.

 

%d bloggers like this: