Alton Evening Telegraph, January 5, 1911
Former Head of Glassblowers Organization, Main Builder of that Organization, Dies
Louis Arrington, father of the glassblowers union in the United States, died at his residence, 931 East Third Street, Thursday morning at 7 o'clock after an illness of seven years. Cancer of the liver was the cause of death, although he had been a sufferer from heart trouble for six years preceding the appearance of the cancer.
Probably no man in the glassblowing trade was more beloved, trusted and honored by the members of that organization in the United States. A number of years ago when the glassblowers throughout the country learned that their beloved former chief had lost heavily in a business venture and was in need of some assistance, they raised a handsome testimonial, which they hoped would be enough to make him comfortable the remainder of his life.
Honest, plain spoken, faithful in every strictest construction of those terms, "Old Lew", as he was affectionately known among his fellow tradesmen, carried to the grave with him the undying respect and esteem of the men he had helped and for whom he never ceased to labor until death struck him with a fatal disease.
Louis Arrington was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, September 4, 1837, and was in his 74th year. At the age of 13 he went with his mother to Licken County, Ohio, thence to Wheeling, W. Va., in 1851, where he went to work as "carrying in" boy in the plant of Quarter, Ott & Co. He was apprenticed to the trade September 14, 1852, and served four years. Having finished his trade he found himself unable to procure a situation without taking a reduction of wages or displacing some older workman, partly owing to the unorganized condition of the bottle blowers, and also to business depression. Few bottle blowers were then receiving the full list price. Men were working from 5 to 15 percent off the "list". Young Arrington would not work under such conditions, so he left the trade and took a job in the Crescent rail mills in 1856, where he remained five years.
In 1861 he enlisted in the 2nd West Virginia volunteers, following the flag until he was mustered out with his regiment June 24, 1864. He re-entered the glass factory on returning home, and began instilling the principles of organization. He connected himself with the union in 1866, and stayed with it to the last. In 1875 he became connected with the organization existing in the west, and took an active part in organizing branch 31, at Alton, in 1877. He was elected to represent that branch at the first session of the improved league held in the west and was chosen one of the executive committee. He was re-elected in 1878, but declined re-election the year following. He was elected manager of the league and held that position until 1886, when the Knights of Labor was organized. He was elected master workman of District 143 and retained that position until they withdrew from the Knights of labor in 1891.
When the Eastern and Western divisions united at Baltimore in 1890, he was elected president of the United Association, known as the United Green Glass Workers Association of the United States and Canada. He held the office four years, when he retired to engage in the shoe business at Alton. In March 1895, he was elected treasurer of Branch No. 2 at Alton which he held five years.
Since retiring from business in 1897, he suffered bad health. Notwithstanding sickness, he attended all meetings of the union he was able to attend, and never lost interest. In 1908 he was elected a delegate of the nations glassblowers convention at Baltimore, but owing to a technicality was not allowed to take his seat. He was much disappointed, but in 1909 at Milwaukee and 1910 at Atlantic City, he sat as a delegate. His stay at Atlantic City did not improve him in 1910 as it was hoped and seemed to make him worse.
Mr. Arrington was a thinker, a good executive, and impartial in official capacity. He believed in the Golden Rule and practiced it, asking only a "square deal for every man". Louis Arrington was appointed state factory inspector of Illinois by Governor Tanner in 1897.
In politics he was a Republican, preaching the doctrine of tariff protection. He was a personal friend of President William McKinley and Mr. Arrington had much to do with the making of glass schedule of the McKinley tariff bill and subsequent bills. He appeared before the Ways and Means committee of Congress to give the side of the glassworker. It was Arrington's plan of settling wage scales by joint conferences of committees representing the manufacturers and the workmen and it can be said that no agreement thus made was ever broken.
Louis Arrington, his fellow workers believe, belongs to them as much as to his family, and now that his suffering is ended there will be many who will say they are glad "Old Lew's" pain is finished, as his malady was an incurable one. In the office of state factory inspector, he acquitted himself with great credit, although maligned by many fanatical women in Chicago who did not know him well enough not to ascribe base motives in explanation of his official course. He enforced the law and retired after a creditable career in office.
Knowing his death was near, some time ago he made all preparations for his funeral. He requested that J.C. Mench, a former glassblower, conduct his funeral services, saying that "Jake is a good enough Christian for me". Mr. Mench is Y.M.C.A. secretary at Mounds, Ill., and will comply with his friend's wish. The funeral will be held Sunday afternoon from the Arrington home, and the glassblowers will attend in a body.
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