(John L. Lewis mincing no words before Congressional hearings on Mine Safety - 1952)
Editors Note: This is a repost from last year, the occasion being the recent Mine disaster in West Virginia. As part of this continuing look at the Labor Movement in America, I'm including it here as a reminder - G.S.
With the news earlier today of the Mine disaster in West Virginia, I was reminded how much mine safety had been an issue during the days when John L. Lewis was President of the United Mine Workers Union. How accidents were a common occurrence some 60 years ago and how much of a struggle there was to ensure safe working conditions for miners in this country. That the accident in West Virginia was the worst of its kind in 25 years suggests that conditions have improved. But the danger is still the same and the loss of life is never different. The question if whether conditions have been relaxed in recent years is always up for speculation. The notion of cutting corners to increase profit is a consideration. Perhaps not to the extent in John L. Lewis's day as is evidence by this excerpt from his opening statement during a Congressional investigation on Mine Safety in 1952.
John L. Lewis: “I sometimes wonder why the great God above don’t punish them while they’re speaking their brutal language before the Congress of the United States.”
But then, John L. Lewis was never one to mince words.