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Labor Review Centennial, 1907-2007
Robley Cramer became Labor Review editor in 1915 — and served 48 years

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, March 22, 2007

By Steve Share, Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — No history of the Labor Review could begin without soon introducing Robley D. Cramer. Cramer became the newspaper’s editor in 1915 —and continued in the job 48 years until he retired in 1963.

Cramer was not just the editor of the Labor Review. He became one of the local labor movement’s most eloquent speakers. He served as a top strategist advising union leaders during the pivotal Teamsters strike in 1934 and the Strutwear strikes in 1935-1936. Farmer-Labor Party Governor Floyd B. Olson hailed Cramer — his friend and advisor — as “Mr. Minneapolis Labor.” And when Cramer died in 1966, newspaper obituaries referred to him as the “godfather” of the local labor movement.

Born in New York state in 1884, Cramer earned a law degree but headed west for the rough and tumble Nevada gold fields. “Instead of finding gold, he found himself defending the underdog in many a court case,” one account of Cramer’s life related. On the way back east, Cramer stopped in Minneapolis to visit an uncle and never left.

He joined the Upholsterer’s Union in 1913 and also became involved with the Labor Review, helping to sell ads at first, then writing editorials, then winning election as editor of the newspaper in 1915 during a period of restructuring of the newspaper.

Only the initials “R.D.C” signed to an editorial September 4, 1914 appear to mark the beginning of Cramer’s many years writing for the Labor Review.

In Cramer’s first issue as editor, March 5, 1915, he titled his editorial “Workers All” and wrote: “Most of the discord in the Labor Movement comes when men forget that no matter what their brothers’ politics or religions are they are all workers. It will be the policy and effort of “Labor Review” in the year to come to make its readers think, and work and live as workers. To make them realize that their salvation lies in recognizing that first, last and all the time they are workers, and that religious and political differences are stirred up among us to keep us divided, that we may be more easily conquered.”

Cramer died at age 82 in 1966. He is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.


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