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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: Keyword: 'weber'

Term: Weber, Frank J. 1849 - 1943


labor leader, b. Milwaukee. He moved to Grafton in 1852 and attended district school in Ulao. After completing apprenticeship, Weber became an able seaman and sailed on Great Lakes and Atlantic merchant ships. His labor-union career began when he joined the Seafarers' Union (1868), and he was active in the Knights of Labor after 1869. In 1887 he helped organize the Milwaukee Federated Trades Council, became its secretary in 1902, and served until his retirement in Jan., 1934. In 1888 Weber organized ship-cargo handlers into what became the International Longshoremen's Union, and in the same year organized the Carpenters' Union in Milwaukee. In 1893 Wisconsin became the fifth state to form a state federation of labor and Weber was chosen the first president. Beginning in 1894 he disdained the title, preferring to be general organizer. He served in that office until 1917 when he refused re-election. As a member of the Social Democrat party (a socialist political group emphasizing gradualness, democratic processes, and political reform), Weber brought the aims and philosophy of the State Federation of Labor into close harmony with those of the party. He served in the state assembly (1907-1912, 1923-1926). As a legislator, Weber worked for the passage of laws establishing an industrial commission, workmen's compensation, the state system of industrial education, and other legislation favorable to labor. With Charles Crownhart (q.v.) and John R. Commons (q.v.) he wrote the industrial commission law in 1911. When not in the legislature, he spent time during the session at Madison lobbying for labor. Weber died in Milwaukee, and he was long known as "the grand old man of Wisconsin labor." Milwaukee Journal, Feb. 4, 1943; Milwaukee Sentinel, Nov. 2, 1933; Wis. Labor, 1942, 1943; Wis. Blue Book (1925).

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Frank J. Weber Papers for details.

[Source: Blue book]
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