Reuben G. Soderstrom

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Reuben G. Soderstrom (March 10, 1888 – December 15, 1970) was an Illinois labor union leader, who served as President of the Illinois State Federation of Labor, and later, the Illinois Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, from 1930–1970.


Reuben Soderstrom was born in Waverly, Minnesota, the second son of John Frederick Soderstrom and Anna Gustafava Erikson, both immigrants from Sweden. Soderstrom left home at the age of nine, in order to seek work in a blacksmith shop.[1] At the age of twelve, Soderstrom moved to Streator, Illinois, where he would maintain a home for the rest of his life. Prior to his involvement in politics, Soderstrom also worked as a bottle blower in a glass factory, as well as a printer.[2] In 1916, Soderstrom was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served until 1936.[3] During his tenure, Soderstrom was instrumental in guiding into law much of the state's labor legislation.[2] In 1930, Soderstrom was elected President of the Illinois State Federation of Labor, and remained as President of the merged Illinois AFL-CIO until December 1, 1970.[4][5]

Soderstrom was active in enhancing the role of labor statewide, for example, by serving as a member of the University of Illinois' Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations' Advisory Committee, from 1955–1958.[6] Prior to his tenure on the Advisory Committee, Soderstrom delivered a series of well-received lectures at the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, including "Illinois Labor Legislation," "Our Manpower Control Problems," and "How Can We Improve the Workmen's Compensation Law and its Administration."[7] Soderstrom also served, during World War II, on the Illinois State Council of Defense.[8]

Soderstrom died on December 15, 1970, in Streator, Illinois.[2]