Colorado Fuel and Iron: Culture and Industry in Southern Colorado

John D. Rockefeller Jr.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 29th, 1874 and died on May 11th, 1960 in Tucson, Arizona. He was the only son of John D. Rockefeller Sr. He also graduated from Brown University in 1897.
Rockefeller Jr. owned 40% of the stock within Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, also known as CF&I. While he held this controlling stock he was a part of several major events throughout the history the company.
The first major set of events took place in the early 1900’s when several labor strikes took place in coal mines all across the state of Colorado. In April 1914 one such strike was in the process of taking place in Ludlow, Colorado. During this time several miners had appealed to Rockefeller Jr. or money in order to feed their families until such time that work could resume once their offenses had been negotiated with the company of CF&I. He personally refused to help them but directed them to the Rockefeller Foundation, which ended up supplying 100,000 dollars to distribute for supplies among the many strike camps.
Ludlow of course ended in massive bloodshed and was a black mark upon many histories. Due to the Ludlow Massacre Rockefeller Jr. found himself to be criticized across the nation for it. His public response was that he was not directly in charge of the minors, management or policies of the company as well as not influencing how the events played out that lead to the massacre. In the aftermath a committee was formed in order to determine why the strike lead to such bloodshed. Rockefeller Jr. was asked to testify during the investigation. Walsh, the man who integrated Rockefeller Jr., claimed that he was indeed at fault because of communications between two member of the CF&I management staff. One man was Bowers, a man was viewed as being Rockefeller’s man and would have pursued their mutual goals, with or without orders from Rockefeller. Bowers was also notorious for not allowing negotiations to take place during any of strikes. In order to allow himself to try and salvage the situation Rockefeller convinced Bowers to move to a eastern company so he could enact his Employee Representation Plan.
The representation plan was one of the first of its kind with the labor world of America. Four committees were made in order to regulate the basic functions of CF&I. The plan also included what was essentially a Bill of Rights for both the company and its employees. A different section of the plan was devoted strictly to the industrial, social, and moral conditions that miners and their families faced daily. The plan also created company ran publications, Representatives for the employees, and was completely paid for by the company so that miner and employee wages would not suffer. Finally the plan outlined employee and living standards including the costs and servicing of housing. Work day hours were established and wages were agreed to never be below other districts and competing companies. Rockefeller also began to request constant updates from the company after his trip to Colorado, which was made in order to examine the conditions of the workers, living of families and operations of the company while creating the employee rep plan.
Later in 1918 Rockefeller Jr. returned to Colorado in order to observe the memorial of Ludlow and tour the company again. He was not invited to the memorial. The rep plan lasted until the 1930’s when FDR’s new labor laws essentially removed the need for the plan.
Beyond his work through CF&I Rockefeller Jr. was known to be a philanthropist and often donated to many charities in order to increase his public image, especially after the Ludlow Massacre. These contradictory views of Rockefeller Jr. have left him with a legacy where he is either loved or hated, there is no middle ground. 

-Trevor Cardenas, Student of History at Colorado State University-Pueblo