Sorry, I can't really help you, but I happened to see an article on I.W. Abel in section D of the Sept. 4, 2000 Repository newspaper out of Canton, Stark County, Ohio.Thought I'd see if anyone was researching him.It's a nice article and has a good picture that descendents would probably enjoy, even though it doesn't discuss his heritage or family.
Just thought I'd mention in case someone comes across this and would like a copy.I'm sure copies could be obtained through The Repository.There is an on-line version of the article in the Lifestyle sectionat:http://www.cantonrep.com/archiveframeset.php?TheDate=20000904http://www.cantonrep.com/archiveframeset.php?TheDate=20000904
Here is the article:
Monday after: From laborer to labor leader, I.W. Abel rose through union’s ranks
By GARY BROWN Repository Living Section editor
Magnolia native I.W. Abel was called “the biggest union hell-raiser in Canton” by those who ran steel companies in the 1930s and 1940s.
His fellow steelworkers knew him simply as “Abe.”
Iorwith Wilbur Abel came off the mill floor to help forge the United Steelworkers of America into one of the world’s most powerful labor unions. He was international president of the USW from 1965 until 1977.
“Abe was not only a lifelong and dedicated trade unionist who helped forge landmark improvements in the lot of the working people,” said union executive Lynn R. Williams in August 1987, at the time of Abel’s death from cancer. “He was also a compassionate human being who strove to improve the total society in which we live.
“He was a visionary who recognized, decades before the notion became fashionable, that workers, employers and the public each have a stake in the other’s well-being,” said Williams, who was USW president when Abel died.
Born Aug. 11, 1908, Abel attended grade school and two years of high school in Magnolia. He then came to Canton and took the Canton Actual Business College course, graduating in 1924.
Abel got a “seat-of-the-pants” education in the steel industry in Canton, “eating mill dust,” he once said. He began in 1925 with a job at American Sheet and Tin Mill works and continued his education through jobs at Canton Malleable Iron Co, the then-Timken Roller Bearing Co., and Colonial Foundry in Louisville.
During the Depression, he fired kilns in brickyards — National Fireproofing Co. in Magnolia and Metropolitan Paving Brick in Canton — for 16 cents an hour, 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
“That miserable job helped straighten out my social thinking and point me in the direction I was to travel the rest of my life,” he once said.
Abel, who moved to East Canton after marrying Bernice Joseph, helped found USW Local 1123, the Golden Lodge, at the Timken plant in Canton, then served it as president. As an appointed representative to the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, his rumbling baritone voice and stocky frame drew attention in labor circles. And his firm hand was felt far outside his local. During one year in the 1930s, he led 42 wildcat strikes.
He ascended to USW president through such offices as District 27 director and national USW secretary-treasurer.
In 1964, fighting what he called “tuxedo unionism” and arguing that the USW had slipped from the hands of its membership, he became a candidate for its top post. After a bitter campaign against incumbent David McDonald, in whose administration he had served, Abel became the third president in USW history by only 10,142 votes, out of more than 600,000 ballots cast.
Abel inherited a stagnant union that was losing members and had a net worth of only $21. During his tenure, about 400,000 members were added, making USW the nation’s largest industrial union, with 1.2 million members in more than 5,000 locals. Under his leadership, USW increased its net worth to more than $130 million, including a strike fund of $67 million established in 1968.
Although Abel once claimed that “when you need it, a strike is an effective weapon,” and despite his reputation as a strike leader, he was fond of pointing out that many of the union’s accomplishments during his presidency were made without the membership’s spending a single minute “on the bricks” in a nationwide strike.
It was his closeness to the rank and file of his union that made Abel choose not to try to succeed George Meany as head of the AFL-CIO in the mid-1970s. He was considered a logical successor, but chose not to leave the steelworkers.
Regard for the labor leader was so widespread that when he retired in 1977, many steel company officials attended his retirement dinner. It proved, he joked that night, “I’m not the S.O.B. some have tried to make me out to be.”
Before returning to Stark County in his final days, Abel retired to Sun City, Ariz., to “take advantage of the good life we’ve been trying to achieve all these years,” he said atthe time.
But, his attention to the labor movement was not distracted by the years of fishing, travel and golf. Shortly after he retired, he was elected first president of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees. In 1979, at the age of 71, Abel helped organize the Union Club, to counterbalance what he and others saw as an anti-labor attitude among some of the people who lived in Sun City.
Abel, literally, was a union man until his end. He continued to maintain contact with international USW leaders. And he paid his USW dues to Local 1123 until his death Aug. 10, 1987, the day before his 79th birthday.