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William Levi Hutcheson
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Birth: Feb. 7, 1874
Saginaw County
Michigan, USA
Death: Oct. 20, 1953
Indianapolis
Marion County
Indiana, USA

Labor Leader.

William Levi Hutcheson rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most predominate labor leaders in the history of The United States. As a youth he was inspired to the labor movement while attending speeches by Richard F. Trevellick and Samuel Gompers. In 1902 William attempted to unionize the Dow Chemical Plant in Midland MI but succeeded only in getting himself blacklisted from most of the local industries and shops. His boldness in organizational efforts was appreciated, and by 1906 he was employed by the Carpenter's Union, riding through the community first by bicycle and later by horse and buggy enrolling new members. As the Carpenter's Business Agent he often found solutions for problems that others could not overcome. Bill rose rapidly within the Union to be elected General President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in 1915. Under his leadership the Union grew from a series of loosely organized locals with 261,000 members to a tightly managed nationwide union of 703,649 members by 1951.

"Big Bill Hutch" was energetic and broad-shouldered at 6 foot 2 inches. He championed the cause of carpenters by insisting they provide their own tools while consistently promoting ownership of the job by the Tradesman and the Union Shop. Apprenticeships were strengthened, instructing carpenters in the proper application of their tools. "Hutch" generally opposed formation of "mixed skills" unions in mass production industries because of his conviction this would dilute skills and the bargaining strength of the entire group.

Hutcheson was highly conservative in his politics. He supported Republican candidates from Harding to Eisenhower and was a highly vocal opponent of the "New Deal" as being an imposition of dictatorial powers by President Roosevelt; as well as accusing the President of condoning communist subversion during the War. Under threat of criminal prosecution and imprisonment he was sued in the case U.S. vs. Hutcheson according to the Roosevelt Administration's theory that, under the Sherman Act, jurisdictional disputes between unions constituted a restraint of trade. Before the Supreme Court "Hutch" won a complete victory for his position that such activity was permissible under the Clayton Act. He was mentioned as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate in 1944. He actively campaigned against Harry S Truman's proposal for national health insurance as "socialized medicine."

Despite Hutcheson's personal political views he insisted that Carpenters and the AFL maintain a non-partisan attitude because "The labor movement could not be ignoredůso long as it remained uncommitted to either party." His view about the societal role of unions was to form strong labor organizations co-equal with management, to settle differences by arbitration, and have government stay out of the way. He fought to assure unions remained free from communist influences and government controls. In support of his "Independent Union" views he sponsored increases in the Carpenter's Union medical, health and retirement benefits. Union-owned bathhouses and mineral springs were established for relief of carpenters' pains and injuries. Under Hutch's leadership the Union funded and constructed the National Old (Retirement) Home and Pension System for the membership at Lakeland, FL.

Hutcheson served on Presidential advisory boards under Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman including War Labor Policy and Labor Management boards. Appearing before the League of Nations in 1935 Hutcheson was an eloquent spokesman for "a free enterprise system to increase production and a free labor movement to ensure a fair distribution of that production".

On his passing he was eulogized by his close personal friend John L. Lewis; in his message of condolence President Eisenhower concluded with the words "He was a true American."

--Bio. by Ed Everett
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Daniel Orrick Hutcheson (1824 - 1910)
  Elizabeth Collver Hutcheson (1848 - 1923)
 
 Spouse:
  Bessie Mae King Hutcheson (1874 - 1957)*
 
 Children:
  William E Hutcheson (1899 - 1899)*
 
 Siblings:
  Minnie M. Hutcheson Bliss (1870 - 1957)*
  William Levi Hutcheson (1874 - 1953)
  Daniel Oliver Hutcheson (1880 - 1935)*
  Bud Amos Hutcheson (1890 - 1960)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Washington Park East Cemetery
Indianapolis
Marion County
Indiana, USA
Plot: Mt. Vernon Mausoleum, Private Room 5 Nave Floor, Section PR5, Crypt 2
 
Created by: E. Everett
Record added: May 22, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 90578069
William Levi Hutcheson
Added by: E. Everett
 
 
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- Lance
 Added: Mar. 31, 2013
 
 
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