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John L. Lewis (1880- 1969) served as president of the United Mine Workers Union for more than forty years. He was one of the founders of the CIO and pursued the aggressive organization of workers in his fragmented industry. Under Lewis, mine workers fought some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles with management.

Surprisingly, Lewis was a life-long Republican. He did support Franklin Roosevelt for president, but he later grew disillusioned and opposed him in the 1940 election. Lewis led strikes in 1946 and 1948 that led to royalties on coal that supported a workers' welfare fund. This money was used in part to construct ten hospitals in poverty-stricken Appalachia.

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