John L. Lewis

(John Llewellyn Lewis)

John L. Lewis
John L. Lewis
  • Born: February 12, 1880
  • Died: June 11, 1969
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Miner, Labor Leader

40

Quotes

26

Citations

89

Concepts

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Videos

John Llewellyn Lewis was an American leader of organized labor who served as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) from 1920 to 1960. A major player in the history of coal mining, he was the driving force behind the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which established the United Steel Workers of America and helped organize millions of other industrial workers in the 1930s. After resigning as head of the CIO in 1941, he took the Mine Workers out of the CIO in 1942 and in 1944 took the union into the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A labor-baiting, poker-playing, whiskey-drinking evil old man. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
A man’s right to his job transcends the right of private property. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Gentlemen, I speak to you for the miners' families... The little children are gathered around a bare table without anything to eat. They are not asking for a $100,000 yacht like yours, Mr.______..." (here, he would gesture with his cigar toward an operator), "...or for a Rolls-Royce limousine like yours, Mr. _____..." (staring at another operator). They are asking only for a slim crust of bread. Negotiating & Negotiations
Governor Murphy, when you gave ardent support to the Irish revolutionary movement against the British Empire, you were not doing that because of your high regard for law and order. You did not then say "Uphold the law!" when your father, Governor Murphy, was imprisoned by the British authorities for his activities as an Irish revolutionary. You did not sing forth with hosannas and say, "The law cannot be wrong. The law must be supported. It is right and just that my father be put in prison. Praised be the law!" And when the British government took your grandfather as an Irish revolutionary and hanged him by the neck until he was dead, you did not get down on your knees and burst forth in praise for the sanctity and the glory and the purity of the law, the law that must be upheld at all costs! But here, Governor Murphy, you do. You want my answer, sir? I give it to you. Tomorrow morning I shall personally enter General Motors Plant Chevrolet Number 4. I shall order the men to disregard your order, to stand fast. I shall then walk to the largest window in the plant, open it, divest myself of my outer rainments, remove my shirt and bare my bosom. Then when you order your troops to fire, mine will be the first breast those bullets will strike! And as my body falls from the window to the ground, you listen to the voice of your grandfather as he whispers in your ear. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Heed this cry that comes from the hearts of men. Organize the Unorganized. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
I have pleaded labor's case, not in the quavering tones of a feeble mendicant asking alms, but in the thundering voice of the captain of a mighty host, demanding the rights to which free men are entitled. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
I shall order the men to disregard your order, to stand fast. I shall then walk to the largest window in the plant, open it, divest myself of my outer reinments, remove my shirt and bare my bosom. Then when you order your troops to fire, mine will be the first breast those bullets will strike! Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
If there is to be peace in our industrial life, let the employer recognize his obligation to his employees Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
If we must grind up human flesh and bone in the industrial machine called industrial America, we owe protection to them and their widows. Miscellaneous
If we must grind up human flesh and bones in the industrial machine, then, before God, I assert that those who consume coal, and you and I who benefit from that service, owe protection to those men [the miners] first, and we owe security to their families after, if they die. I say it! I proclaim it! And I care not who in heaven or hell oppose it! Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
I'm not interested in classes ... Far be it from me to foster inferiority complexes among the workers by trying to make them think they belong to some special class. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
It ill behooves one who has supped at labor's table and who has been sheltered in labor's house to curse with equal fervor and fine impartiality both labor and its adversaries when they become locked in deadly embrace. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
It is a sad commentary upon our form of government when every decision of the Supreme Court seems designed to fatten capital and starve and destroy labor. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Labor and capital may be partners in theory, but they are enemies in fact. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Labor is marching toward the goal of industrial democracy and contributing constructively toward a more rational arrangement of our domestic economy. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Let him who will, be he economic tyrant or sordid mercenary, pit his strength against this mighty upsurge of human sentiment now being crystallized in the hearts of thirty million workers who clamor for the establishment of industrial democracy and for participation in its tangible fruits. He is a madman of a fool who believes that this river of human sentiment can be damned. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
No tin hat brigade of goose-stepping vigilantes or Bible-babbling mob of blackguarding and corporation paid scoundrels will prevent the onward march of labor. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The future of Labor is the future of America. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The nation's coal is stained with blood. Energy
The organized workers of America, free in their industrial life, conscious partners in production, secure in their homes and enjoying a decent standard of living, will prove the finest bulwark against the intrusion of alien doctrines of government. Life ;Government ;Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The President [FDR] has been scheming for years to involve us in war. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The United Mine Workers and the CIO have paid cash on the barrel for every piece of legislation that we have gotten… Lobbying & Special Interests
There is nothing to stop him from making coal mines safe except his lack of desire to do so …. J. A. Krug permitted these men to die by his inaction. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
would be a national evil of the first magnitude. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
You can’t mine coal with bayonets! Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
You can't dig coal with bayonets. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
But the Committee for Industrial Organizations is here. It is now henceforth a definite instrumentality, destined greatly to influence the lives of our people and the internal and external course of the republic.
If there is to be peace in our industrial life let the employer recognize his obligation to his employees - at least to the degree set forth in existing statutes. Life ;War & Peace
In the steel industry the corporations generally have accepted collective bargaining and negotiated wage agreements with the Committee for Industrial Organization.
Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America. Future
Out of the agony and travail of economic America the Committee for Industrial Organization was born.
The men in the steel industry who sacrificed their all were nor merely aiding their fellows at home but were adding strength to the cause of their comrades in all industry.
The organization and constant onward sweep of this movement exemplifies the resentment of the many toward the selfishness, greed and the neglect of the few.
The real breeders of discontent and alien doctrines of government and philosophies subversive of good citizenship are such as these who take the law into their own hands. Government
The steel workers have now buried their dead, while the widows weep and watch their orphaned children become objects of public charity. The murder of these unarmed men has never been publicly rebuked by any authoritative officer of the state or federal government. Government
The workers of the nation were tired of waiting for corporate industry to right their economic wrongs, to alleviate their social agony and to grant them their political rights. Despairing of fair treatment, they resolved to do something for themselves.
This is true only because the purposes and objectives of the Committee for Industrial Organization find economic, social, political and moral justification in the hearts of the millions who are its members and the millions more who support it.
Unionization, as opposed to communism, presupposes the relation of employment; it is based upon the wage system and it recognizes fully and unreservedly the institution of private property and the right to investment profit.
While the men of the steel industry were going through blood and gas in defense of their rights and their homes and their families, elsewhere on the far-flung C.I.O. front the hosts of labor were advancing and intelligent and permanent progress was being made.
Workers have kept faith in American institutions. Most of the conflicts, which have occurred have been when labor's right to live has been challenged and denied. Religion & God