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The voice of labor. : (Cumberland, Md.) 1938-1942
Alternative Titles:
  • Western Maryland voice of industrial labor
Place of publication:
Cumberland, Md.
Geographic coverage:
  • Cumberland, Allegany, Maryland  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Western Maryland Industrial Union Council
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 4, no. 4 (July 30, 1942).
  • Began in 1938.
Biweekly <Feb. 2, 1939>-1942
  • English
  • Cumberland (Md.)--Newspapers.
  • Labor movement--Maryland--Newspapers.
  • Labor movement.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00990079
  • Maryland--Cumberland.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206926
  • Maryland--Newspapers.
  • Maryland.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204739
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 10 (Dec. 1, 1938).
sn 89060375
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The voice of labor. December 1, 1938 , Image 1


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Voice, Voice of Labor, and CIO News

Founded in 1937 during a time of great upheaval in the American labor movement, the Voice became the Voice of Labor in November 1938. It was published weekly by the Western Maryland Industrial Union Council of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in Cumberland, Maryland and founded by two labor activists: James Blackwell and Clyde D. Lucas. Blackwell was a veteran labor organizer and left-wing agitator who had previously led the People's Unemployment League in Baltimore and the United Auto Workers local in that city. Lucas was a native of western Maryland and leader of the textile workers at the massive Celanese plant in Cumberland.

The Voice of Labor represented the interests of western Maryland's industrial workers who were drawn to the more radical program of the CIO, which was founded in 1936 when industrial workers broke with the traditionally-minded skilled craft unions in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The CIO formally organized at its Pittsburgh convention in November 1938, led by John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers (UMW). The Voice of Labor closely followed these events, drawing sharp distinctions between the ascendant industrial workers and their more conservative rivals in the AFL.

The Voice reported on work stoppages and other labor issues in the western Maryland coal mines, the Kelly-Springfield tire plant, and Celanese. It also took a strong stand in support of pro-labor candidates to state and local office, advocated for more labor education (health, union organizing, workers' rights), and dutifully reported on union sporting events. The CIO was vocal in its support for civil rights for African-Americans, whose membership in industrial unions was growing. With the storm clouds of world war looming in 1941, the Voice of Labor closely chronicled the success of the CIO in leveraging concessions from company owners while also emphasizing the patriotism of the American worker. Its coverage of Labor Day in September 1941 quoted Raymond Burkhart, the president of the United Rubber Workers local at the Kelly- Springfield plant, who said a strong union was the foundation of a strong national defense.

Blackwell, one of the paper's two founders, returned to Baltimore in June 1941 and was replaced as managing editor by Mel Fiske, a former reporter for the Southern West Virginia daily newspaper. The paper's other founder, Clyde D. Lucas was replaced as managing editor by Mel Fiske, a former reporter for the Southern West Virginia daily newspaper. The paper's other founder, Clyde D. Lucas was drafted during World War II and served in the U.S. Navy. His place on the newspaper was taken by John G. Thomas, who, like Lucas, was a union officer for the nearly 10,000 textile workers at Celanese.

The CIO News emerged in August 1942 as the new name of the Voice of Labor, in the aftermath a dispute with the UMW's John L. Lewis. Fiske had disagreed with Lewis' militancy in opposing President Roosevelt's war plans, and Lewis responded by threatening to sue the company that printed the Voice. Fiske neutralized that threat by changing printers and continued his support of the war effort. After the war ended, western Maryland entered a long economic decline. Union jobs disappeared, and so did the newspaper that supported them.

Provided by: University of Maryland, College Park, MD