Rose, Alex

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ROSE, ALEX (Royz, Olesh ; 1898–1976), U.S. trade unionist and politician. Rose, who was born in Warsaw, Poland, was the son of a wealthy tanner. Arriving in the U.S. in 1913, Rose found employment as a millinery operator and became active in the labor union. During World War i, he enlisted in the Jewish Legion and saw service in the Middle East. In 1923, three years after his return, Rose became secretary-treasurer of the United Hat, Cap, and Millinery Workers Union, Local 24. He held this post until 1950, when he became the union's president. Here, he was instrumental in overcoming the incursions of communists and labor racketeers, and in combating the chaotic competition so destructive of labor standards in the garment industries. Rose also became prominent in the field of labor and liberal politics. As New York State secretary of the American Labor Party (1936–44), Rose helped to steer a course away from independent labor and ideological politics toward balance of power and pressure politics. The party provided the margin of victory for New Deal candidates in New York, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Lehman and Fiorello La Guardia.

As chief strategist for the Liberal Party from its founding in 1944, Rose came to embody a politics of compromise. The Liberal Party became a minor satellite party, fearful of innovation and excess, despite its position as New York State's leading minor party. During the early 1960s, a period of decline set in but under Rose's leadership the Liberal Party reasserted its decisive position in New York politics by providing the balance of power for John Lindsay's election as New York City's mayor in 1965 and 1969.


D. Robinson, Spotlight on a Union (1948), passim; B. Rosenberg, in: Commentary, 37 (Feb. 1964), 69–75; Zion, in: New York Times (June 28, 1965), 24:2.

[Kenneth Waltzer]