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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Handley, John Joseph 1876 - 1941

Definition: labor leader, b. Horicon. He served his apprenticeship as a machinist at Horicon. As journeyman, he affiliated with the International Association of Machinists in Rockford, Ill. (1899). In Milwaukee in 1901 he participated actively in the machinists' city-wide strike for the 8-hour day. Between 1902 and 1910 he served Milwaukee's District Lodge No. 10 as business agent and special organizer, and was business agent for United Lodge No. 66. An executive board member of the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor (1905-1907), he succeeded Frederick Brockhausen (q.v.) as secretary-treasurer and held this office from 1912 until his death, the position becoming a full-time one in 1919. In the W.S.F.L. Handley worked closely with Frank J. Weber (q.v.) in implementing the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1911. As the federation's lobbyist at the state legislature after 1919, he promoted pensions for the unemployed, the aged, and for mothers; he also pressed for wages and hours laws, a collective bargaining code, broader educational facilities, and limitations on labor injunctions. Originally a Socialist, he served Milwaukee's government by appointment from Socialist mayors Seidel (q.v.) and Hoan, but between 1935 and 1940 he and Henry Ohl, Jr., led the W.S.F.L. in promoting the Farmer-Labor-Progressive Federation as a vehicle for influencing the La Follette Progressive party. Milwaukee Post, Oct. 17, 1941; W. G. Bruce, ed., Hist. of Milwaukee (3 vols., Chicago, 1922).

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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