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John Bertram Easton

Labor leader John Bertram Easton (September 26, 1880-December 20, 1961) was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He came to Williamstown, Wood County, in 1907 as a glassworker for Fenton Art Glass Company. Easton was a member of the Flint Glass Workers and represented that union in the Parkersburg Trades and Labor Assembly, where he was president for several years.

In 1921, Easton became a vice president of the West Virginia State Federation of Labor, and three years later he was elected president. In 1937, Easton led the State Federation out of the American Federation of Labor over the issue of industrial unionism versus the skilled trades, which the AFL had traditionally represented.

Long a believer in the importance of union members participating directly in the law-making process, Easton served in the state legislature from 1926 to 1928 as a delegate from Wood County. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Congress from the Fourth Congressional District in 1928 and 1930. John Easton died in Williamstown.

Written by Fred A. Barkey