Cross Currents Home
Resources | About Us | 日本語サイト
Home Learn About Japan Learn About Japan-U.S. Cross Currents Learn About the U.S.

Older photo of men holding signs on strike.
Labor Unions
  1. U.S. Labor Unions in the 1940s
  2. U.S. Unions in the Cold War
  3. Public worker unions in the United States
  4. Decline in Strike Activity in the US
  5. Union Membership Across the United States
  6. Right-to-Work Laws
  7. Types of Unions in the United States
  8. The AFL-CIO
  9. Labor Contracts in the United States
  10. Strikes in the United States
  11. What Happens During a Strike
  12. Long Strikes and Violence
  13. The 1964 Civil Rights Act
  14. Union Campaign Contributions and Political Influence
  15. Unions and Politics
  16. U.S. Unions in the 90s and Today
  17. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: George Meany
  18. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: John L. Lewis
  19. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: Walter Reuther
  20. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: A. Philip Randolph
  21. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: Jimmy Hoffa
  22. Important U.S. Labor Leaders: Caesar Chavez
Listen in English English | Japanese Japanese View Article in English | Japanese
John L. Lewis, the Miner’s Hero, dirty from work.
John L. Lewis, the "Miner’s Hero," in 1951.
Photo Courtesy of Roger Philpot.
Important U.S. Labor Leaders: John L. Lewis
John L. Lewis served as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from 1920 to 1960. In addition to fighting for better wages, working conditions, and health care for the nation’s miners, he also worked to organize American industrial unions into a unified federation–the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Lewis never wavered in his dedication to improve the lives of America’s coal miners, even if his actions were sometimes very unpopular. For example, in 1943 Lewis led half-a-million coal miners in a strike for better wages. Because coal is used in the steel-making process, the strike shut down the steel industry for two weeks at the height of the war. Lewis was widely condemned as being un-American and the labor movement lost valuable support. Perhaps Lewis’ greatest achievement was securing better medical care for coal miners. Under Lewis’ leadership, the government forged an agreement with the UMWA that resulted in the building of eight hospitals and numerous clinics in coal mining regions. These facilities served the medical needs of coal miners, many of whom suffered from black-lung disease. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson awarded John L. Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor an American citizen can receive. Lewis died in 1969. To see UMWA workers gathered at a 1998 demonstration, click on pictures below.
Special Terms: Congress

Download Podcast in English | Japanese
Document | Audio-Video | Chart | Picture | Map