Nation: Labor's Voice Is Stilled

George Meany: 1894-1980

Crusty George Meany. The adjective was so often tied to his name that Meany would growl (he never just spoke, of course, always growled): "Don't they know my first name isn't Crusty?" Yet the description was apt. The downturned lips, the jowls, the half-closed lids—all were dour. As the decades passed and he retained power as American labor's most dominant and durable leader, Meany's ideas as well as his manner sometimes seemed encrusted by the past. When he criticized Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter in his raspy Bronx...

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