The Cincinnati Labor Advocate first appeared in 1913 during the height of the Reform Movement in Ohio. Published by the Building Trades Council of Cincinnati, the weekly paper gave commentary on the struggles surrounding the implementation of Ohio’s new labor reform amendments. Its initial motto was “A Paper for All Who Toil,” but a later addition included “A Paper without a Muzzle for All Who Toil” to show its editorial independence. W.E. Meyers was the editor of the Labor Advocate in the initial years and kept the paper non-partisan in official political affiliation but staunchly pro-labor until it ended publication in 1937.
The Cincinnati Labor Advocate focused on the activities of the labor movement in Cincinnati, but also reported and editorialized on state and national labor concerns. The years before the start of publication saw a reform movement and a rising Socialist party in Ohio, generating political concerns and giving way to a series of amendments to the state constitution. The 1912 amendments established workmen’s compensation and work hour limits. The Labor Advocate frequently tracked legislation and covered political leaders who were fighting over these new amendments and Ohio’s first workmen’s compensation laws. Throughout 1915 and 1916, the Labor Advocateconducted an editorial war against the policies and person of Ohio’s Governor, Frank Willis. The paper frequently commented on Willis’s small-town background and referred to him in one headline as “the same kind of friend to Labor that Judas was to The Savior.” Willis was defeated in 1916 by former Governor James Cox, whom the Labor Advocate had characterized as “the best Governor for labor that Ohio ever had and a good fellow.”
In that same year, the Labor Advocate featured an interview with William Green, a state senator from Coshocton. Green described the dangerous conditions he had witnessed firsthand working in the mines of Ohio and observed that widowed women of mine workers inherited nothing but lawsuits. Green then explained how the labor movement had succeeded in passing a workmen’s compensation law in Ohio. “After it had been in operation one year,” Green contended, “employers who had opposed it were loud in its praise and labor lived in a day they thought would never come.” The Labor Advocate strongly supported Green, who later rose to become a leader in the American Federation of Labor.
Researched and written by T. Alex Beres