United Auto Workers Conference May 8, 1962 - History

United Auto Workers Conference May 8, 1962 - History

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United Auto Workers Conference May 8, 1962

President Reuther; distinguished Governor of the State of New Jersey, my friend, Governor Hughes; Emil Mazey; Leonard Woodcock; our visitor from Washington, Jack Conway; Mr. Potofsky; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen:

Last week, after speaking to the Chamber of Commerce and the presidents of the American Medical Association, I began to wonder how I got elected. And now I remember.

I said last week to the Chamber that I thought I was the second choice for President of a majority of the members of the Chamber; anyone else was first choice. But it is a source of satisfaction to me that I was the first choice, after the convention, of this organization. And it is a source of satisfaction to me to come to this convention again as President of the United States. Because this organization and this union has not interpreted its responsibilities narrowly. You have not confined yourselves to getting the best possible deal at the bargaining table, but instead year after year you have worked to strengthen the entire United States and the free world. And your action, taken at this convention, of spending over a period of 2 years over $1,400,000 per year in order to build strong, free trade unions around the world, is an example of public service that this union has rendered. And I commend you.

These are matters, which cannot be left to the Government. This is a fight for freedom, which involves us all. No greater service to the cause of the free world could possibly come forward than the development of effective, liberal, free trade unions in the newly emerging countries. These are the areas where the Communists concentrate. If they are able to have a great mass of people living in misery and a few in luxury, it suits them to a tee. And the way that progress can be made over a wide spectrum for the great majority of the people is by having an effective labor movement. And, therefore, your commitment to this cause, your willingness to assist unions to organize, to assist them with techniques, to bring new trade union leaders from Latin America and Africa and Asia to your union headquarters all over the country, to show them how a free and effective and progressive trade union functions- that is a public service of the highest quality. And I want to express my thanks to you.

But on a whole variety of ways employment, education, the fight for equality of opportunity for all Americans, regardless of their race and their color- these are the things for which America stands, and for which this union stands. And that is why I flew longer-and this will go down in the history books-that is why I flew longer in a helicopter than any President of the United States to come here today. That is the kind of forward- looking administration we have. It was an extremely hazardous flight- but we are here. And I am delighted to have a chance to say a few words about this administration's policy, which has been the subject of a good deal of discussion, acrimony, and controversy on wages and prices and profits.
Now I know there are some people who say that this isn't the business of the President of the United States, who believe that the President of the United States should be an honorary chairman of a great fraternal organization and confine himself to ceremonial functions. But that is not what the Constitution says. And I did not run for President of the United States to fulfill that Office in that way.

Harry Truman once said there are 14 or 15 million Americans who have the resources to have representatives in Washington to protect their interests, and that the interests of the great mass of other people, the hundred and fifty or sixty million, is the responsibility of the President of the United States. And I propose to fulfill it.

And there are those who say, "Stay out of this area-it would be all right if we are in a national emergency or in a war."

What do they think we are in? And what period of history do they believe this country has reached? What do they believe is occurring all over the world?

Merely because vast armies do not march against each other, does anyone think that our danger is less immediate, or the struggle is less ferocious?

As long as the United States is the great and chief guardian of freedom, all the way in a great half circle from the Brandenburg Gate to VietNam, as long as we fulfill our functions at a time of climax in the struggle for freedom, then I believe it is the business of the President of the United States to concern himself with the general welfare and the public interest. And if the people feel that it is not, then they should secure the services of a new President of the United States.

That does not mean, nor have we ever suggested, that we seek to control by statute prices and wages and profits. This is a competitive economy. We believe that this is the way this country should move ahead. We believe it has served us well, the free enterprise system.

But on the other hand, I believe also that the deliberations, which take place on these matters, particularly in the great industries, do have a public impact. If the United States is not competitive, if the United States is not able to earn at least $3 billion more each year through foreign trade than it takes in-$3 billion which we spend for national security commitments around the world- then what is the President of the United States to do? Keep pouring out gold? And there is an end to that. Or begin to withdraw his defense commitments, and begin to withdraw the United States from the great arena of the struggle, which is now taking place?

This is not a matter, which involves a few people who may live in one or two cities, in New York or Pittsburgh, who can meet in a room, without recognizing that their decisions involve the public interest. That is all I am suggesting. When they go to the table of the executive committees of great corporations, or when you negotiate labor and management, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to consider the general welfare and the public interest, because the public interest is your interest, and it is the responsibility of the President of the United States not to seek to compel, but to seek to at least be sure that the parties who are involved in these great decisions are aware of the effect of these decisions upon the national interest and the national security.

No President of the United States should do less- and I intend to meet my responsibilities. I say all this to you because this is a responsible union. I speak as President of the United States with a single voice to both management and to labor, to the men on both sides of the bargaining table, when I say that your sense of responsibility, the sense of responsibility of organized labor and of management, is the foundation upon which our hopes rest in the coming great years.

This administration has not undertaken and will not undertake to fix prices and wages in this economy.
We have no intention of intervening in every labor dispute.

We are neither able nor willing to substitute our judgment for the judgment of those who sit at the local bargaining tables across the country. We can suggest guidelines for the economy, but we cannot fix a single pattern for every plant and every industry.

We can, and must, under the responsibilities given to us by the Constitution, and by statute and by necessity, point out the national interest. And where applicable we can and must and will enforce the law restraints of trade and national emergencies.

But we possess and seek no powers of compulsion, and must rely primarily on the voluntary efforts of labor and management to make sure that their sense of public responsibility, their recognition of this dangerous and hazardous world, full of challenge and opportunity, that in this kind of world, fulfilling our role, that the national interest is preserved.

Fortunately, a sense of this public responsibility is not foreign to this union, its membership, or its leadership. You have recognized it, as I've said, in your efforts to assist unions abroad, to assist your members at home, to speak for the public interest in a whole variety of questions under the leadership of your distinguished president, Walter Reuther.

He and I do not always agree- he is happy to say, and I am not reluctant to say. But he has a proposal; his suggestions are not negative. If they are not accepted then he moves on because he recognizes the necessity and the responsibility of good will prevailing- and he recognizes that I must meet my responsibility as he does his.
And that is the spirit, which I believe should govern the relations, which must exist between all the great groups in this country. And regardless of what the attitude of some may be, I propose to continue to try to develop and maintain that relationship with all those who are concerned with the welfare of their country.
You've recognized this in your historic fights against prejudice and poverty, and neglected old age. And I remember attending a meeting near Detroit of those members of your union who had retired and who still consider themselves active participants in the United Auto Workers, even though they are now living all around the great city of Detroit, but yet they came and participated in a great Sunday afternoon where I was present.

You demonstrated your responsibility in the resolution, which you adopted yesterday, reaffirming your intention, and I quote, "to seek wage increases and improvements in fringe benefits out of the fruits of advancing technology, and not through price increases." And you recognized it in your 1961 contract with the automobile industry, contracts which have contributed to price stability. For the responsible outlook demonstrated by that agreement which served your members and the community, the industry and this union deserve a vote of thanks from the country.

But your task, like mine and the American people, is never done. The same responsibility for a non-inflationary and peaceful settlement applies both to you and to management in your forthcoming negotiations in the aircraft and missile industries. I am confident that you will meet that obligation, exercising the restraint and responsibility, which will, in the end, reward you as it rewards the country. For I do not believe it is necessary to remind this audience that neither you nor I believe in the philosophy that what is good for one company or one union is automatically good for the United States.
I believe, instead, that what is good for the United States, for the people as a whole, is going to be good for every American company and for every American union. And that is why I am confident that this union will join me in the fight against inflation.

What good is it to get an increase in wages if it is taken away by an increase in prices?
What counts is the real increase in wages, which comes from increased productivity and technology. And that, I am glad to see, has been recognized for many years by this union.
We have two tasks in economic policy: to create demand so that we will have a market for all that we can produce, and to avoid inflation.

To return to a policy of halting inflation by curbing demand would be self-defeating- but to expand the forces of demand by feeding the fires of inflation would be equally dangerous and delusive.
While individual adjustments may have to be made to fit the previous patterns in individual industries, in general a wage policy which seeks its gains out of the fruits of technology instead of the pockets of the consumers is the one basic approach that can help every segment of the economy.

This idea was not invented by this administration. It is a simple, inescapable, economic truth that increases in productivity, in output per man-hour- they set the outer limits of our economic progress. This country has the world's highest real wages and living standards simply because our output per man-hour is the highest in the world. No financial sleight of hand can raise real wages and profits faster than productivity without defeating their own purpose through inflation. And I need not tell the members of this union, with its constructive history and policies, that unjustified wage demands which require price increases, and then other demands and then other price increases, are equally as contrary to the national interest as unjustified profit demands which require price increases. But when productivity has been raised- by the skills of better management, the efficiency of labor, and the modernization financed by investors- all three groups can reap the rewards of that productivity, and still pass lower prices on to the consumer.

I don't call for higher productivity in a vacuum. Our great challenge in the 1960's is to do what they have done in Western Europe, where in the last 8 or 9 years wage rates percentage wise have increased faster than they have in the United States since 1953-over 58 percent, in France and Germany, higher than here in the United States. And yet while we have had an 11 percent increase in our price index, their price index has remained the same because they have modernized and increased their productivity per man-hour to maintain the cost constant of the productivity per unit, even though the wages have gone up.
We must achieve what they have achieved, which is full employment, in which automation and employment go hand in hand. Our economic policies must stimulate both investment and consumption. The great market is here in the United States. I recognize that when we talk of foreign trade we are talking of $10 billion, and we have a gross national product of $50 or $60 or $70 billion. The great market is here. But there is also a vital market abroad because this is the means by which we protect our national security investments in those countries. And I do not want capital to leave this country and go behind the Common Market curtain and leave us with jobless people who should be working. We seek full plant and labor capacity for all the various parts of our economy, and our national policies and international policies are bound together as never before. That is why this issue has become so important.
I am sure you must wonder why so much emphasis is now put on this. It is because this matter vitally affects our national security. We lost, from 1953 and '54 till now $5 1/2 billion in gold Of Ours, $5 1/2 billion in new claims on the gold we now have. Our gold is now reserved $16 1/2 billion, of which $12 billion are tied to our currency, so that if we continue to lose capital and gold, as we have in the past, there will be no alternative to the President of the United States, whoever he may be, than to begin to cut and withdraw, as other countries have done.

This goes, as I have said therefore, to our security. For all these parts, therefore, are tied together. There can be no lasting increases in wages without industries making a profit. There can be no lasting profit on plants when they are producing less than capacity. And that has been the great problem of the American economy since the end of 1957.

When they talk about the profit squeeze it has been because we have been operating n basic industries at 6o or 70 or 75 percent of capacity, in the steel industry as low as 38 to 40 percent. No wonder there has been, under those conditions, a squeeze on employment- on employment and on the ability to build up capital for reinvestment. And there can be no increase in sales abroad and at home, unless our prices and costs are competitive as a result of plant investment and modernization and increased productivity in a prosperous economy heading towards full employment.

I do not believe that our tasks are done. There are proposals which we have put forward which we believe will be of assistance in moving this economy toward that full employment which all of Western Europe has achieved for over a period of 15 years, and we are asking Congress for a program that will make this full employment a reality. By stimulating plant modernization and reinvestment so that our productivity will go up, through our investment tax credit; to increase our markets through trade expansion so that capital does not leave us, but instead manufactured goods. To broaden the base of our economy we have proposed a program of $600 million in capital improvements to be allocated this year to the areas of heaviest unemployment; to give new skills to those who are joining the labor force we have proposed a program of youth employment opportunities.

Seven to eight million of our sons and daughters will leave, in this decade, school before they finished. One out of every four under the age of 20 today are unemployed. Every analysis looking to the future- and this involves your sons and daughters- shows that the great needs will be, in the sixties, for those with skills and those with education. The great lack-the most difficult places to find work in the sixties will be for those boys and girls without a good education and without training. And we want to make sure that every American has a chance to develop his talent. Education is basic to the preservation of a democracy. Imagine in this rich country of ours, eight million children leaving before they finished the 12th grade– one out of four today out of work!

And I hope a program of youth employment opportunity, so strongly worked for by Secretary Goldberg and others, will finally come out of the Rules Committee so the Members of the House can vote on it.
We need a permanent unemployment insurance program so that those who want to work and can't find a job will not be shifted and living on a marginal income without hope for themselves. These are things, which other countries in Western Europe did 30 or 40 years ago. Great Britain-and we regard ourselves as a progressive society- had these provisions at the time of the First World War. And yet this is suggested as a most radical proposal.

I believe that this country has an obligation to those who want to work and can't find it, to make it possible for them to maintain themselves and their families. In 1956 I offered that as an amendment on the Senate floor and got 20 votes. We are going to do better. We may not get it this year, but we are going to get it, because it is fair.

We must increase our investment in higher education. Every one of you who has sons and daughters wants those children to be as well educated as possible. A college education gives a child an opportunity in life, which is marked in his income for the rest of his life.

We are going to have twice as many of our sons and daughters trying to get into college in 1970 as tried in 1960. We have to, in the next 8 years, build as many school buildings as we have built in our entire history, in our colleges. And yet we have found it extremely difficult to secure support for this vital program. And I believe that this is the kind of matter, which the people of the United States wish to support.
These are some of the things, which we still must do. We must eliminate racial barriers. There is no reason why if your skin is colored you have twice as much chance to be unemployed, about a half as much chance to own your own house, about a half or a third as much chance of your son or daughter going to college. This country is a free society, in which everyone can succeed or fail based on what they have inside of them, not what they have outside.

We have done some things: area redevelopment; the most comprehensive Federal housing program, upon which your former associate Jack Conway is second in charge; an increase in the minimum wage, accompanied by the first, even though still limited, increase in protection since the act was passed. Why it is so difficult to secure passage of a minimum wage paying somebody in interstate commerce a dollar or a dollar- ten and fifteen cents, I do not understand, but it is regarded in some circles as highly radical and highly inflationary.
I think that this country must pay people adequately. How else are we going to be able to buy the cars and the refrigerators and the television sets, which we produce in such mass?
For the first time, unemployed men can retire at 62. For the first time, and I do not regard this as a particularly radical proposal, dependent children can receive aid for the first time in our history without the wage earner deserting his family. In the old days, before this act was passed, if a child was undernourished it was necessary for the wage earner to desert his wife and family in order that those children should qualify for assistance. But last year that was changed, and I think it's high time.
And this year, we shall pass, I believe- we shall pass medical care for the aged tied to social security. And I am confident that the great majority, in fact all doctors, will treat those who may be covered by this national program.
Our hospitals have been supported under the Hill-Burton Act for years. The Federal Government is the great contributor to financing research and grants under the Institutes of Health. We are suggesting additional programs to develop more doctors and nurses. We cannot leave the 17 million people who have retired, and who may become ill- if they have no money, under the legislation now on the books, they have a chance to receive some as indigents. But that is not the way we believe it should be done. And if their son happens to have some money in the bank they do not qualify, and he goes and pays out. And it may break him at a time when he has responsibilities to his children.
The ones who are most adversely affected, in fact, are not necessarily those over 65, but those in their forties, whose parents live, and who must educate their children. And they do not want to have to make a choice- and they should not have to.
We have a long way to go. Every year brings new problems, every year continues old problems that are unsolved. Our basic task here at home is to attempt to develop an economy which is not subject to the violent fluctuations where we saw the recession of 1958 and the recession of 1960, and even today have too many people unemployed.
We have suggested three programs to give us standby power: tax reduction, the public works, and others; so that if we see the economy turning down we can move quickly without having to wait till it runs its course over a period of months. This is the great challenge. When Mr. Khrushchev talks about coexistence it is because he believes that the economy of the Soviet Union has enough vitality that over a period of time he can pass this country. And when he does, as he has said, the hinge of history will move.
All of us remember the impact, which was seen around the world because this formerly backward country was first in space in the fifties. Well, we are not convinced that they will be in the sixties, because we are going to make a determined effort.
But I can imagine nothing more disastrous to our cause than to have a country which had a gross national product a third of ours, or 40 percent of ours, suddenly pass this great country. That's the problem, which involves the interests of all of us. That is why everything that we have talked about, with which you've been living for years, also involves the interests of all the people and the national security.
And that is why I felt it a privilege to come here and talk to you about these problems, because this involves us all. And if we succeed then all of us succeed; and if we fail all of us fail. And in this great time, when this country is fulfilling so many great responsibilities, I believe this union made up of nearly one million, five hundred thousand people, who have been in the forefront of every fight- I believe this union's commitment to the public interest is such that it can be a trailblazer in these great economic and social areas, as it has been in the past.
Marshal Lyautey, the great French marshal, in the twenties, went out one day to his garden and asked his gardener to plant a tree. His gardener said, "Why that tree won't flower for a hundred years." He said, "In that case plant it this afternoon." Well, our trees may flower sooner than a hundred years, in 7 or 8 months, or over a period of several years. But what ever time it may take, we want to plant it and begin it this afternoon. And I ask the United Auto Workers of America to once again help move this country forward.
NOTE: The President spoke at Convention Hall in Atlantic City.


When do you pick a fight—and how? These are uncomfortable questions, yet ones leaders often face in high-stakes situations with competitors and rivals. My research on the interplay between business and political leaders shows that there are rarely easy answers. For example, the well-known story of President Kennedy’s 1962 clash with US Steel is usually told in a way that favors the popular image of Kennedy as a skillful leader. However, as my discussion shows below, Kennedy picked a mistaken fight, then had to battle hard just to save face while accomplishing nothing substantial.


The lesson of this story is not to kid yourself about how easily a potential adversary can be made an ally. You need to see the issues as your opponent sees them to gauge how likely he or she is to fight. Without such understanding, a leader may be led by ambiguous answers – as Kennedy was by Blount’s equivocations – into mistaking a disagreement for a deal. It’s bad to pick a fight unnecessarily, even worse to pursue a victory without value, and worst of all to have done so by deceiving oneself as to an antagonist’s intentions.

The Demise of a Once Great Union

Walter Reuther Embraces Cooperation

This is the story of how the UAW, one of America’s most progressive and corruption-free labor unions, was transformed by cooperative labor-management schemes from a membership-driven to a capital-driven organization. The UAW captured the world’s imagination in 1936 when workers at the sprawling Fisher Body-I plant in Flint, Michigan led by a coalition of Socialist and Communist strategists, sat down on their jobs and forced the mighty General Motors Corporation to recognize the union. The Flint sit-down strike inspired a wave of union organizing that swept into every business sector across America. By the middle of the twentieth century more than one third of private-sector workers were union members. The UAW functioned as an arm of corporate labor relations by the end of the century.

Walter Reuther was elected UAW president in 1946 and held office until an untimely death in a plane crash in 1970. In a break from his socialist past, Reuther rejected class-based unionism and became an adherent of Samuel Gompers-style business unionism, choosing to work within the capitalist system. He hoped not to replace capitalism but to transform it into a more humane economic system. The 1950 “Treaty of Detroit,” a five-year billion-dollar wage and benefit package negotiated by the UAW and GM won pension and health-care provisions, Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increases, and Annual Income Factor (AIF) wage protections that became the pattern for labor agreements across the country. 8

Success at the bargaining table ironically contributed to the labor movement’s demise. Contract gains that lifted the rank-and-file into a middle-class lifestyle separated them from the class struggle that made it all possible. The UAW leadership and the workers lost touch with the union’s organizing principles and identified more with management as labor conflict shifted from the point of production to the front office.

The post-Second World War economy delivered prosperity, and this seemed to justify the UAW’s cooperative approach. The postwar labor-capital consensus fractured in the 1970s, and this led to aggressive corporate attacks. The purge of key militants, almost all left-wingers during the Reuther years deprived the UAW of its ability to resist management’s offensive. Instead of fighting back, the UAW leadership adopted a policy of promoting corporate competitiveness. Untrammeled by the quaint notion of rank-and-file solidarity, the Administration Caucus, abandoned constitutional objectives “to improve working conditions, create a uniform system of shorter hours, higher wages, healthcare and pensions to maintain and protect the interests of workers”when they adopted jointness. 9 The jointness framework enabled the Big Three U.S. automakers to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars into the UAW. The influx of joint funds into the UAW supplemented the loss of dues paying members as the Big Three downsized.

Cooperation Deepens and Corruption Mounts

UAW and GM officials extolled the virtues of mutual respect, teamwork and shared gains when Quality of Work Life was inserted into the national agreement in 1973 by Irving Bluestone, UAW Director of the GM Department. Bluestone intended QWL to be a foothold for industrial democracy in the factories. For Bluestone, QWL was a step toward worker-control of the shop floor.

When Stephen Yokich took over the UAW GM Department in 1986, he resolved to replace QWL with “Quality Network,” (QN) a product-centered program designed to improve product quality, productivity, and facilitate cost-cutting. QN expanded the UAW bureaucracy with an elaborate system of labor-management committees to administer dozens of joint “action strategies,” each one administered by appointed representatives. Despite the promise of mutual gains, GM lost 10 percent of its market share and shed 127,000 workers in the 1980s. When GM entered bankruptcy in 2009, GM’s market share was 22 percent, roughly half the level when the cooperation scheme began in 1982, and only 69,000 hourly workers remained of the 441,000 who were on the job in1981. 10

Considering the ongoing losses to the stakeholders, why did the union and management continue the labor-cooperation scheme? Why would the UAW continue the partnership with the Big Three after losing nearly three-quarters of its membership? Why would GM continue to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars of joint funds into the UAW even though its market share continued to decline? Joint programs were a bargain for management. The Big Three purchased labor peace with JFRs to the UAW, while cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Administration Caucus became a reliable partner in the downsizing of GM operations in exchange for preserving, expanding, and financing the UAW bureaucracy.

The UAW also created nonprofit training entities controlled entirely by UAW. For example, UAW president, Bob King and secretary-treasurer, Dennis Williams were the two-person board of directors for the “International UAW Region 9 New York Training Initiative,” a nonprofit tasked with training Perry’s Ice Cream workers on “new equipment and technology.” The State of New York Department of Labor was the sole-source of revenue for the “Training Initiative.” The Training Initiative designated Perry’s Ice Cream Company as the training contractor for its own workers. State of New York provided $939,840 in training grants to the Training Initiative in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The Training Initiative paid $579,463 to Perry Ice Cream to train 127 workers during the same period. When Perry’s Ice Cream celebrated its 95 th anniversary in 2013, the firm must have had the best-trained ice cream makers in the history of making ice cream. 11 This bizarre relationship between labor and management was conceived during the heyday of jointness in the auto industry.

Democracy, UAW-Style

The corruption on display at the NTC is rooted in the political machine that has dominated the UAW since Walter Reuther was elected president in 1946. After Reuther was reelected the following year his Reuther Caucus, renamed the Administration Caucus, transformed the UAW government into a single-party state.The Public Review Board (PRB), the UAW ethical oversight body, described the International UAW as a “one-party institution like many national governments in which a single-political party controls the government and the officials who formally make and administer those laws are selected entirely by that party.” For several decades, “the lines of demarcation between party, the Administration Caucus, and the formal governing body, the International Executive Board (IEB), have become blurred, for 100 percent of its personnel are, and traditionally have been, members of the Administration Caucus.” Reuther’s political machine rewarded partisan loyalty and undermined internal democracy. Opposition activists who challenged UAW policy were crushed— sometimes violently. 12

The workers who entered the factories in the 1960s were more willing than their elders to challenge union leaders. When the grievance procedure failed to provide relief for workers, many took matters into their own hands. The civil rights struggle that was unfolding in the streets of Detroit inspired shop floor activism that alarmed Solidarity House. Black Nationalist ideology that erupted in the Detroit plants in 1968 inspired the Revolutionary Union Movement (RUM) to spread to Dodge (DRUM), Ford (FRUM), and General Motors (GRUM). As wild-cat strikes spread from one plant to another, the International UAW declared war on Black activists. When members of UAW Local 212 walked out of the Mack Stamping plant in 1973, the international UAW and management joined forces to suppress the strikers. After workers defied the UAW’s order to return to work, several hundred UAW officials armed with baseball bats attacked the picketers—ending the strike. None of the safety concerns that triggered the walkout were resolved, and only half of the 75 workers who were fired were reinstated. 13

Chaos at GM’s “plant of the future” in Lordstown, Ohio echoed conditions in the Detroit Chrysler plants. The Lordstown plant was GM’s sole producer of the Japanese import fighter, the subcompact Chevrolet Vega in 1969. GM’s Southern Strategy, moving production to southern states to avoid Detroit unions ran smack into another labor stronghold. The work force was mainly white sons of former Mahoning Valley steelworkers. A host of robots applied 520 welds to each car on the fastest assembly line in the United States, capable of producing a hundred cars per hour. When the grievance procedure failed to resolve workers’ complaints of speed-ups and dangerous conditions, cars rolled off the assembly line severely damaged. The UAW responded sympathetically to the “Lordstown Syndrome” or the “blue-collar blues” caused by the same conditions that inspired the rise of the RUM by leading a twenty-two-day strike against GM with UAW Local 1112. Lordstown militants were treated like heroes. Their grievances were resolved in contrast to Black Chrysler workers who were treated as outlaws. 14

The Administration Caucus controls the agenda from local union meetings to the constitutional conventions with judicious use of parliamentary procedure. Loyal partisans pack union meetings in order to advance the party line. Insubordination was not tolerated. In 1986, UAW Region 5 Assistant Director, Jerry Tucker defied the Administration Caucus when he decided to run against his boss Ken Worley. UAW president, Owen Bieber, promptly fired him from the position of Assistant Director, declaring falsely that Tucker was in violation of the UAW Constitution. Worley was declared the winner at the convention, but Tucker learned the election was stolen. An investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) revealed 28 votes were illegally cast for the incumbent. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently filed three lawsuits on election violations against the UAW. A federal judge to declare the election illegal two years later. In September of 1988, Tucker won the DOL supervised rerun of the election, but the IEB made it impossible for him to function as Region 5 Director. He was defeated in the next election. 15

The UAW Faces the End of the Post Second World War Prosperity

A convergence of political and economic events triggered the unraveling of more than forty years of collective bargaining gains by private-sector workers in the United States. The 1980s was a decade of transformation for the UAW and General Motors. For the first time since the 1930s, the union and the corporation faced existential threats that coincided with the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. It was the decade of the “Reagan revolution.” Ronald Reagan was elected president promising to “get government off the backs of the people” by dismantling fifty years of progressive federal policies. He attacked social programs and the institutions working class Americans relied on. Reagan’s confrontation with the Professional Air Traffic Controller Organization (PATCO) in 1981 foreshadowed the decline of organized labor. PATCO endorsed Reagan for President in the 1980 because the leadership interpreted his pledge “to you that my administration will work very closely with you to bring about the spirit of cooperation” as a promise of contract gains. When the air controllers walked off the job a year later over wage demands, Reagan fired them all. Emboldened by the PATCO firings and distressed economy, employers rolled back workers’ gains at the bargaining table. With the deindustrialization of America well underway, concessionary bargaining became the new pattern bargaining in the auto industry. 16 “Reaganomics” benefitted capital interests by reducing taxes, regulations, and the social welfare programs that conservatives had long-blamed for crippling the economy. The unfettered economy was supposed to trigger a “trickle-down effect” of wealth through society but launched a modern Gilded Age instead. The Reagan revolution was the ideal political environment for the imminent assault on organized labor.

The increase of global competition in the 1970s ended the post-Second World War monopoly profits of U.S. corporations and changed industrial labor relations forever. Seventy percent of the goods sold in the United States by 1980 had direct import competition. Back-to-back oil crises triggered by the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran contributed to a stock market crash and soaring inflation. OPEC-driven oil price increases sent inflation spiraling upward to 12.3 percent in 1975. The Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volker, doubled the Fed Reserve Rate to combat inflation. Inflation was reduced, but in 1981 the economy was mired in a deep recession. 17 The crisis in the auto industry pushed Ford and Chrysler to the brink of bankruptcy and delivered General Motors its first loss since 1921. The Big Three closed down twenty facilities between 1979 and 1980 that employed over 50,000 workers. An additional 80,000 workers lost their jobs when suppliers to the industry closed nearly 100 plants. 18 The U.S. Congress passed the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Bill securing $1.5 billion for the troubled automaker in 1979. The Chrysler relief plan included $203 million in UAW wage concessions and the deferral of $200 million in pension fund payments as a condition of congressional action. After the dust settled, Chrysler workers earned $2,000 less than workers at Ford and GM over the three-year contract. Ford and General Motors pressured the UAW into additional concessions arguing the Chrysler agreement left them at a disadvantage. Even though GM cleared $333 million in profits in 1981, the UAW agreed to reopen the 1979 GM contract seven months early. GM had twenty-five assembly plants in 1982 six plants were closed, five were reduced to one shift, and five operated at reduced line speeds. With the threat of more plant closings, the UAW agreed to $2.5 billion in concessions in the 1982 GM-UAW national agreement.The 2 ½ year agreement introduced “joint programs” into the industry lexicon. 19

Congress acted in 1978 to encourage labor-management cooperation and to promote labor peace. The Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978 (LMCA) was a self-contained amendment to the NLRA that encouraged joint labor-management cooperation in union shops. The UAW and the Big Three automakers used the LMCA as the legal basis to establish joint nonprofit corporations to administer joint activities and the joint funds used to finance the programs without having to comply with the federal “audit inspection requirement.” 20 The lack of an audit requirement enabled the UAW and the Big Three carmakers to sidestep employer prohibitions to interfere with or provide financing to unions—rules intended to discourage company-dominated unions. Social, political, and economic turmoil during the Great Depression led labor law reforms that encouraged collective bargaining and prohibited company unions. The absence of an “audit inspection requirement” in the LMCA allowed for the return of a more insidious form of company unionism exempt from any form of financial oversight.

United Auto Workers Conference May 8, 1962 - History

Brother of Cesar Chavez, and a founding member of the NFWA, provides family history.

Gilbert Padilla Oral History

Founding member of NFWA provides historical account of the work of Cesar Chavez.

Dolores Huerta Oral History

Founding member of NFWA provides historical account of the work of Cesar Chavez.

Religious Response to Farmworker Movement – California Migrant Ministry & Central Valley Churches.

Jim Drake: Worker-Priest – Philosophy & Movement Reflections – 1985

4 Oral History Interviews: “Who Was Jim Drake?”

Interviews with volunteers who worked with Jim Drake. | Chris Hartmire | John Moyer | Gilbert Padilla | Yolanda Barrera | Richard Cook | Bruce Meyerson | Herb Ely | Margaret Murphy | Jeff Sweetland |

Andy Imutan Oral History

Filipino farmworker union leader provides history of Filipino farmworkers and Cesar Chavez.
4 Audio Tapes

  • Andy Imutan UFW Board Member Interview by Rachel Goodman

The Filipino Brothers Oral History – 1981

Peter Stanley: “Exiled in California” |
Fred Abad: Essay |
Claro Runtal: Essay |
Rudy Reyes: Essay |
Andy Imutan: Essay |
Transcript: Philip Vera Cruz 1977 |
New York Times: “Last of the Manongs” |
1971 Phillip Vera Cruz Interview |
4 Interviews: | Philip Vera Cruz | Pete Velasco | Andy Imutan | Lorraine Agtang-Greer | Marissa Aroy Video: The Delano Manongs Video Clip

    Philip Vera Cruz Interviews
      (46 minutes) (44 minutes) (46 minutes) (47 minutes) (47 minutes) (47 minutes) (28 minutes)
      (10 minutes) (30 minutes)
      (47 minutes) (9 minutes)

    Luis Valdez Oral History

    Huelgistas: Delano Grape Strikers Oral History 1965

    8 strikers (huelgistas) tell the story of the Delano Grape Strike: | Marcos Muñoz | Maria Saludado | Joe Serda | Roberto Bustos | Antonia Saludado | Esther Uranday | Jesus Marin & Rico Barrera |

    • Marcos Muñoz: part 1 – part 2
    • Maria Saludado: part 1 – part 2 – part 3
    • Joe Serda: part 1 – part 2
    • Roberto Bustos: part 1 – Part 2: The March to Sacramento 1966 / 9 minutes
    • Antonia Saludado : part 1 – part 2
    • Esther Uranday

    Growing Up in a Migrant Worker Family – 8 Oral History Accounts

    | Esther Uranday | Luis Valdez | Gilbert Flores | Antonia Saludado | Yolanda Barrera | Lorraine Agtang-Greer | Abby Flores Rivera | Rudy Ahumada |

    • Esther Uranday: Part 1 / 20 minutes – Part 2 / 19 minutes
    • Luis Valdez: Part 1
    • Gilbert Flores: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Antonia Saludado – Tape 1
    • Yolanda Barrera: Growing Up In A Farmworker Family 1960’s / 13 minutesPart 1 (27 minutes) – Part 2 (32 minutes) – Part 3 (14 minutes)
    • Lorraine Agtang-Greer: Part 1 (29 minutes) – Part 2 (9 minutes)
    • Abby Flores Rivera: Tape 1
    • Rudy Ahumada: Tape 1 – Tape 2

    Jessica Govea Oral History

    United Farm Worker Volunteers – 8 Oral History Accounts

    | Doug Adair | Bill Chandler | LeRoy Chatfield | Chris Hartmire | Nick Jones | Daneen Montoya | Jerry Cohen | Paul Schrade |

    • Doug Adair: part 1 – part 2 – part 3 – part 4 – part 5
    • Bill Chandler: part 1 – part 2 – part 3
    • LeRoy Chatfield: part 1 Documentary Film Interviews: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
    • Chris Hartmire: part 1 – part 2
    • Nick Jones: part 1 – part 2
    • Daneen Montoya: part 1 – part 2
    • Jerry Cohen: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Paul Schrade: Part 1 – Part 2

    Luis Valdez Reads: “The Plan of Delano” (Spanish) – 1966

    Recording: El Teatro Campesino de Delano – 6 minutes

    Documentary Filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris: “¡HUELGA!” – 1966

    5 Documentary Film Audio Clips

    • (Huelga Audio Clip / 6 minutes)
      (Huelga Audio Clip / 4 minutes)
      (Huelga Audio Clip / 1 minute)
      (Huelga Audio Clip / 3 minutes)
      (Huelga Audio Clip / 1 minute)

    Fred Ross Sr. Oral History Archive

    In 1969, Fred Ross, mentor and friend of Cesar Chavez, conducted a series of oral interviews and collected oral background material about the farmworker movement for a book he planned to
    write but never did. However, in 1989 three years before his death, he published, “Conquering Goliath: Cesar Chavez At The Beginning” – the story of Cesar Chavez’s work with the Community Service Organization (CSO). see books out of print Forty years later, I am privileged to publish
    this priceless oral history collection created by Fred Ross, Sr. for a book I wish he had written. – LeRoy Chatfield

    • CESAR CHAVEZ INTERVIEW – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (Transcript available here) (Transcript available here)
    • 1968 FAST RICHARD CHAVEZ – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
    • GRAPE BOYCOTT PLANNING – Part 1 | Part 2
    • AL GREEN AWOC INTERVIEW – Part 1 | Part 2
    • 1960 CSO TRAINING ROSS-CHAVEZ – Part 1 | Part 2

    National TV News Clips: United Farm Workers – 1970

      (2 minutes 31 seconds) (4 minutes 18 seconds) (5 minutes 50 seconds) (2 minutes 34 seconds) (3 minutes 10 seconds) (2 minutes 8 seconds) (5 minutes 12 seconds) (3 minutes 11 seconds) (2 minutes 57 seconds) (1 minute 57 seconds)

    Michael Dukakis: “The Lettuce Boycott” Debate – 1970

    Play Audio Debate at Boston Faneuil Hall – 56 minutes

    Winthrop Yinger Farmworker Movement Oral History Archive – 1970

    California Child Labor | Chris Hartmire Migrant Ministry | Migrant: NBC White Paper
    | Governor Reagan Closes Community Organizing Training Program | Dan Berrigan |
    Allan Grant CA Farm Bureau | Proposition 22 | Delano Strike Meeting | CBS: Chavez vs
    Teamsters | NBC: Harvest of Shame | Cesar Chavez Speaking

    • California Child Labor – Part 1 | Part 2
    • NBC: Harvest of Shame – Part 1 | Part 2
    • Cesar Chavez Speaking – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

    Chet Huntley – NBC: “Migrant” – 1970

    Recorded by UFW Volunteer Ruben Montoya

    Marshall Ganz Oral History – 1971

    UFW Boycott History Explained To Union Ranch Committees (Spanish)

    UFW Boycott Conference: Right Wing Attacks | Boycott History (English)

    “Si Se Puede” Film: Cesar Chavez Arizona Fast – Rick Tejada-Flores – 1972

    3 Audio Clips: Father. Eugene Boyle/Richard Chavez/Cesar Chavez

    • (Si Se Puede Audio Clip / 1 minute)
      (Si Se Puede Audio Clip / 1 minute)
      (Si Se Puede Audio Clip / 1 minute)

    Saul Alinsky Interview: “The Professional Radical” – 1972

    Dedication of Agbayani Village for Retired Filipino Farmworkers – 1974

    LeRoy Chatfield: Introduction | Cesar Chavez Master of Ceremonies – 9 tapes

    Fred Ross Training Sessions – 1975

    Pat Hoffman: 33 Interviews “Impact of Farmworker Movement On Churches and Church Leaders” – 1985

    Patt Hoffman: Introduction | Eugene Boyle | LeRoy Chatfield | Cesar Chavez | Jerry Cohen | Loris Coletta | Cliff Crummey | Mark Day | Jessie De La Cruz | Bill & Mitzi Dew | Jim Drake | Woody Garvin | Marshall Ganz | Jean Giordano | Jessica Govea | Allan Grant | Rose Cecilia Harrington CSJ | Chris Hartmire | George Higgins | Karl & Ethelyn Irvin | Raquel Venegas Lawson & Karl Lawson | Alan McCoy | Charles McLain | Maria Saludado Magana | Howard & Rosemary Matson | John C. Moyer | John R. Moyer | Richard Norberg | Walter Press | Fred Ross | Marilyn Rudy CSJ | Augie Vandenbosche | Gertrude Welch | Winthrop Yinger | Ronald Wells: Cesar Chavez’s Protestant Allies

    Artist Carlos David Almaraz Interview: 1973 UFW Convention Mural – 1986

    La Paz: United Farm Worker Community Meetings – 1987/1988

    5 Audio Tapes – Moderator: Chris Hartmire

    May 1, 1987 – Chris Hartmire, Moderator

    March 4, 1988 – Chris Hartmire, Moderator

    California State University Northridge (CSUN): Farmworker Movement Oral History Project – 1995

    Introduction | Credits 12 Interviews: | Doug Adair | Roberto Bustos | Bill Chandler | LeRoy Chatfield | Richard Chavez | Gilbert Flores | Chris Hartmire | Nick Jones | Daneen Montoya | Maria Saludado Magana | Antonia Saludado | Joe Serda |

    • Adair, Doug – tape 1 – tape 2 – tape 3 – tape 4 – tape 5
    • Bustos, Roberto – tape 1
    • Chandler, Bill – tape 1 – tape 2 – tape 3
    • Chatfield, LeRoy – tape 1
    • Chavez, Richard – tape 1 – tape 2 – tape 3 – tape 4 – tape 5 – tape 6
    • Flores, Gilbert – tape 1 – tape 2
    • Hartmire, Chris – tape 1 – tape 2
    • Jones, Nick – tape 1 – tape 2
    • Montoya, Daneen – tape 1 – tape 2
    • Saludado de Magana, Maria – tape 1 – tape 2 – tape 3
    • Saludado, Antonia – tape 1 – tape 2
    • Serda, Joe – tape 1 – tape 2

    Co-Founder of El Teatro Campesino: Interview & Music (30+ minutes) – Interview by Janis Peterson production and edit by Abby Flores Rivera. Studio work: Double D Music (Prather, CA) & Sal Navarro Recording Studio (Fresno, CA)

    Mary Kambic Oral History Project: UFW Pittsburgh Boycott 1967-1970

    Interviews with religious, labor, community activists about UFW boycott and Al Rojas family. | Father Jack O’Malley | Molly Rush | Jim Scardina | Florence Black | Cary Lund | Russell Gibbons |

    Paradigm Productions Farmworker Movement Interviews – 1995/1996

    Linda Chavez | Pete Velasco | Mike Ybarra | Arturo Rodriguez | Dolores Huerta | Richard Chavez | Cardinal Roger Mahony | David Ronquillo | Paul
    Schrade | Bert Corona | Kathy & Lupe Murguia | Fred Abad | Adelina Gurola | Jessie DeLaCruz | Ben Maddock | Jerry Brown | Fred Ross Jr. | Herman Gallegos | Jerry Cohen | Sabino Lopez | Pete
    Maturino | Bill Grammi | Rita Chavez Medina | Chris Hartmire | LeRoy Chatfield | Al Rojas | Daryl Arnold | Lionel Steinberg | Marion Moses | Juanita
    Brown | Dorothy Coyle | Paul Chavez | Marta Rodriguez | Jessica Govea | Luis Valdez | Ethel Kennedy | Monsignor George Higgins

    Paradigm Productions Interview Transcripts – 1995/1996

    Paradigm Productions Farmworker Movement Archive 1995/1996

    Interview With Filmmakers, Ray Telles & Rick Tejada-Flores of Paradigm Productions – 2009

    Bob Hatton Oral History Archive: Delano Grape Strikers – 2005

    4 Interviews: | Gilbert Padilla | Yolanda Barrera | Jesus Marin & Rico Barrera | Roberto Bustos | Transcript: Barrera Brothers Interview

    Agustin Lira: Music & Interview by Abby Flores Rivera/Jan Peterson – 2005

    Terry Scott Interviews Jon Lewis UFW Photographer 1966/1968 – 2006

    Elaine Elinson UFW Boycott Volunteer: KPFA Interview & Readings – 2006

    Ray Telles/Rick Tejada-Flores Farmworker Movement Interviews – 2006

    8 Interviews | Lorraine Agtang-Greer | Yolanda Barrera | LeRoy Chatfield | Jerry Cohen | Andy Imutan | Marcos Muñoz | Paul Schrade | Luis Valdez |

    • Lorraine Agtang-Greer: Part 1 (29 minutes) – Part 2 (9 minutes)
    • Yolanda Barrera: Part 1 (27 minutes) – Part 2 (32 minutes) – Part 3 (14 minutes)
    • LeRoy Chatfield: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
    • Jerry Cohen: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Andy Imutan: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Marcos Muñoz: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Paul Schrade: Part 1 – Part 2
    • Luis Valdez: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4

    LeRoy Chatfield Interviews Esther Uranday Delano Grape Striker and UFW Volunteer 1965-2008

    Discussion: “Cesar Chavez 1968 Fast for Nonviolence” – 2008

    Panelists: | Jerry Cohen | Abby Flores Rivera | Chris Hartmire | Esther Uranday | LeRoy Chatfield |

    Paul Schrade Oral History Transcript (1996) – 2009

    Marshall Ganz: Oral History Interview by LeRoy Chatfield – 2009


    Pancho Medrano – Born October 2, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. Francisco F. Medrano, known as Pancho Medrano, was an official for the United Auto Workers. He was active in local politics in Dallas, Texas, and supported the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee efforts in Texas and California. He was also well-known as a Mexican heavyweight boxing champion.

    Don Watson – Don Watson, the focus of this month’s oral history, was a CP member between 1948 and 1956. One would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated adherent to the cause of labor. Watson retired from ship clerks Local 34 in 1993 after years of activist work for the ILWU and other unions, including the Marine Cooks and Stewards (MCS) in the early 1950s and the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the 1960s and 1970s. Today he is still helping the ILWU by assisting with the union’s lobbying program at the California state capitol.

    1966 Virgin Banner: March to Sacramento – Our last story explores the birth of a major American labor and cultural movement. It’s March 17, 1966. On a cold winter morning, a small group of mostly Mexican and Mexican-American farm workers set out by foot from Delano, California, to the state capitol in Sacramento. Their goal: to gain public support for their struggle to end over a hundred years of exploitation of. At first, few people take notice. But as the marchers passed through town after town, they picked up more and more supporters… and national more attention. Twenty-five days, and 350 grueling miles later, they reached the steps of the state capitol, ten thousand people strong. What started as a tiny group of largely ignored day laborers has grown into a powerful movement that captures the nation’s attention. Their leader, César Chávez, becomes a household name. The march marked a pivotal moment in American labor history, and the birth of a Latino cultural and political movement. Leading the way is a banner that hasn’t been seen since. Over 30 years later, a woman from San Francisco believes this beautiful banner led the famous 1966 march. If she’s right, then it’s not only an artifact from a celebrated labor struggle, but also the symbolic focus of the emergence of Chicanos in American history. Vicki Vertiz came across the banner at San Francisco State University Labor Archives. In 1994, she joined another march commemorating César Chávez’s life and legacy.

    EL TEATRO CAMPESINO: “Mundo Mata” – Introduction by Luis Valdez, performed in San Juan Bautista/May 2001. Premier performance in El Paso Texas (1976). Run-time: 2.27 Language: In English, with some Spanish. Synopsis: It is the summer of 1973, and the United Farm Workers are fighting for their lives. Led by Cesar Chavez, a march comes to Burlap, California, a fictional tank town in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. This is the background for playwright, director and El Teatro Campesinos founder Luis Valdez vintage classic, Mundo Mata a period piece that exposes the raw realities of life in a small farmworker town. As part of an epic struggle to achieve victory in union elections among ranches up and down the state, the campaign in Burlap brings together two brothers and pulls them apart. One is Bullet Mata, who returns to his old hometown for the first time in twelve years the other, his older brother Mundo, a Vietnam veteran. Bullet is a college dropout, turned Chavista sworn to non-violence. Mundo is a drug dealer, secretly hired by two growers to stop Chavez. While the issue of violence versus non-violence becomes a personal matter between the two brothers, Mundo Mata also resonates within a larger landscape of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. What if Cesar Chavez had been assassinated in 1973? Would history remember him differently? These are some of the questions implied in this gritty drama about the farmworkers struggle for justice. Mundo Mata premiered in 1976 in El Paso, Texas in the Chamizal Theater on the borderline with Juarez, Mexico. After being retired, the play was revived, rewritten and restaged, as documented in this 2001 production.

    Raul Trejo: “Dedicado a la Memoria Trabajo y Legado de Cesar Chavez” – A four minute U-Tube video. Presentation with music, quotations from Cesar Chavez, and some excellent photos of a relaxed and confident Chavez. (Spanish).

    © 2004&ndash2012 Si Se Puede Press

    Primary source accounts: photographs, oral histories, videos, essays and historical documents from the United Farm Worker Delano Grape Strikers and the UFW Volunteers who worked with Cesar Chavez to build his farmworker movement.

    This site was purchased by the Library from its original curator in 2014 and made available as a curated collection for educational purposes. Unfortunately, we do not currently have access to high resolution images, nor do we hold copyright at the file level. Therefore we cannot extend permission for reuse or reproduction. Reuse of the material is dependent on your investigation of any existing copyright claim, and/or at your own risk.

    The Library presents this material in the context of scholarly fair use. Please see our copyright notice and takedown procedures if you are a rights owner with concerns about this material.

    In addition to organizing traditional workplaces, union-backed worker centers are now targeting the fast-growing gig-economy.

    UAW Under Investigation

    The latest updates on the United Auto Workers’ “culture of corruption.”

    Political Spending by Public-Sector Labor Unions

    Union members can track political spending by thousands of public-sector unions.

    Big Labor Sends Over $1.6 Billion to the Left

    Union bosses funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to left-leaning political advocacy.

    Former UAW Prez Gets 28 Months for Role in Corruption Scandal

    A recent settlement put an end to a years-long corruption investigation at the United Auto Workers (UAW), but the punishments keep rolling in for former high-ranking officials. The investigation found that “from 2009 to 2018…the union’s top leadership embezzled millions of dollars to fund lavish lifestyles, including resort stays, golf outings, top-shelf liquor and cigars.”

    Most recently, former union president Gary Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison for “his part in a scheme with other leaders to steal as much as $1.5 million in union funds.” Jones is also required to pay $550,000 in restitution to the UAW and $42,000 to the IRS, in addition to other forfeitures.

    Jones admitted that he and other top union officials used over $750,000 in union funds to pay for personal expenses , “including golf clubs, private villas, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals.” This included $60,000 to pay for cigars and custom-made golf clubs.

    Jones’ sentence comes after another former union president Dennis Williams was given 21 months in prison for his role in the scandal. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle union funds and was sentenced in May 2021. In addition to jail time , Williams was “ordered to pay a $10,000 fine in addition to restitution to the UAW amounting to $132,000.”

    Jones’ sentencing is one of the last to come out of this investigation that found 15 high-ranking officials guilty of being involved in the scandal.

    As a result of the corruption investigation, the union has been placed under a six-year federal monitorship. As we’ve said before, this oversight is a good first step to ensuring meaningful reforms take root at the UAW — but it’s not free. The current UAW President Rory Gamble expects the monitorship will be a “costly” expense — one that will be covered by members’ dues.

    While workers aren’t off the hook just yet, let’s hope acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin’s statement on the sentencing holds true: “The working men and women of the UAW can feel that justice was done, and that their union is on the road to reform.”

    Labor Racket Weekly: A month of May-hem

    Check out some of these latest labor rackets to see what union bosses were up to in May.

    In California, Scott Wilson, former Information Technology Director for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 (located in Alameda, Calif.), was charged in a one-count information with embezzlement of labor organization assets.

    In New Jersey, Linda Rogers, former Treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2254 (located in Jersey City, N.J.), was sentenced to six months of electronically monitored home confinement and 24 months of probation. She was also ordered to pay $40,455 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On January 12, 2021, Rogers pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds.

    In California, Peter Burns, former Financial Secretary of United Steelworkers Local 5632 (located in Fontana, Calif.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $1,137.

    In Texas, Harold Bryan Weatherford, former Treasurer of the National Staff Organization, Professional Staff Association (located in Plano, Tex.), was sentenced to five months in prison, five months of house arrest, and three years of probation. Weatherford was also ordered to pay $73,949 in restitution. On September 17, 2020, Weatherford pleaded guilty to embezzlement and theft of labor union assets.

    In Pennsylvania, Donald “Gus” Dougherty, owner and operator of Dougherty Electric, Inc., an employer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 (located in Philadelphia, Pa.), was sentenced to two years in prison. Dougherty was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $358,913 and a $125,000 fine. On January 21, 2021, Dougherty pleaded guilty to one count of making and subscribing to false federal income tax returns and one count of theft from employee benefit plans.

    In Georgia, Connie Deal, former office manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 508 (located in Savannah, Ga.), was charged in a two-count information with making a false statement in a report required to be filed with the Secretary of Labor and making a false entry in a union record.

    In Texas, KaSandra Hall, former Secretary-Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 235 (located in Waco, Tex.), pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

    In Michigan, Dennis Williams, former President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), located in Detroit, Mich., was sentenced to 21 months in prison and 12 months of supervised release. Williams was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $100 special assessment. Williams also paid over $130,000 in restitution before being sentenced. On September 30, 2020, Williams pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to embezzle union funds.

    In California, Lorena Becerra, former Secretary-Treasurer of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 14904 (located in Long Beach, Calif.), was charged in a one-count information with making a false statement in a report required to be filed by a labor union.

    DOL Abandons Transparency Requirements for Labor Unions

    Under the Trump administration, the Department of Labor added additional transparency requirements for unions in an effort to weed out corruption. A final rule — which created the form T-1 — mandated any union with at least $250,000 in annual receipts to disclose information about their credit unions, strike funds, apprenticeship programs, and any additional trust information.

    Under President Biden, the Department of Labor put a hold on this rule back in March 2021. Now, the Biden-appointed director of the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) Jeffrey Freund has decided to nix the rule altogether . Freud has already indicated that he plans to act as a PR agency for unions he feels are misjudged. This latest decision only confirms that position.

    Labor unions are undoubtedly applauding Freud’s decision to let them skip the extra paperwork. But workers who care about how their dues are spent have a lot less to celebrate.

    The rule was put into place soon after the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership was caught in a nasty fraud and embezzlement scheme that resulted in multiple union officials being sent to federal prison. The UAW has since been placed under six years of federal monitorship. Much of the illicit spending was buried in generic “credit card chargebacks” that failed to raise any red flags on the union’s financial filings.

    Needless to say, many are confused as to why the Biden administration is taking steps to rescind this rule given the recent corruption at UAW, not to mention the labor movement’s long history of corruption, coercion, and other crooked behavior.

    Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee Virginia Foxx issued the following statement:

    “Secretary Walsh is in bed with Big Labor. Rescinding this rule is a slap in the face to hard-working union members. Workers deserve to know how union bosses are spending their union dues, which come directly out of member paychecks. The recent United Auto Worker embezzlement scandal involving the convictions of 15 union officials, including multiple former union presidents, is proof that we must demand more transparency and accountability from union bosses, especially when President Biden is demanding Congress send him the PRO Act, a bill that would hand them an additional $9.3 billion out of taxpayers’ pockets.”

    We agree. As the Center for Union Facts recently told Bloomberg , “It is not the role of the taxpayer-funded OLMS to be the PR department for labor union leadership—it’s to provide transparency and accountability for union members and the public at large…If anything, OLMS needs to go further in requiring additional scrutiny for union spending of compulsory dues.”

    Before the rule is officially nixed, the issue must be left open for public comment for 60 days.

    Unions Would Gain Billions In Dues Dollars Under PRO Act

    />Like most legislation labor unions promote, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is just another way union leaders can line their coffers.

    The PRO Act, a bill before Congress that would overhaul the U.S. labor system, is estimated to nearly double the amount of money unions collect in a given year, according to a new report from the Institute for the American Worker. The report revealed that, even under the most conservative estimates, unions could make $20 billion per year in dues and fees — about double the $10 billion per year the unions already rake in.

    Of course, it’s unlikely that the majority of that money will be put toward workers. It will likely go to help fund overhead costs — think six-figure union leader salaries or thousands of dollars in travel expenses — as well as political spending. Under the PRO Act, the report estimates that unions will be able to spend an additional $3 billion on political activities and lobbying in the coming two-year campaign cycle.

    If current trends hold, a significant portion of that money could go to line the pockets of the Democratic legislators who are pushing the PRO Act through Congress. In 2020, 87 percent of union political spending benefited Democrats. Under the PRO Act, Democrats can expect to see an additional $574 million in financial support each year, according to the report.

    Meanwhile, the American people are uncomfortable with a lot of the PRO Act’s provisions. A recent survey from Rasmussen Reports found that 48 percent of Americans were opposed to a provision that would require employers to hand over employees’ personal information (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) so the union can use that information for recruitment. Only 36 percent of respondents supported the measure.

    Similarly, 41 percent of respondents opposed a provision that would force independent contractors, including Uber drivers and other freelancers, to abandon their flexibility and be classified as full-time employees, while just 35 percent of respondents supported the measure. Moreover, 48 percent of respondents said they opposed the PRO Act’s ability to overturn legislation in Right to Work states.

    The PRO Act is a terrible policy filled with provisions the American people do not want. Still, union leaders and their allies in Congress are pushing the legislation forward because they see the pot of gold they stand to gain if the bill becomes law.

    Labor Racket Weekly: April Roundup

    Check out the below labor rackets to see what union bosses across the country were up to last month.

    In New York, Salvatore Tagliaferro, former President of Carpenters Local 926 and a former New York City District Council of Carpenters Representative, was found guilty following a five-day trial on all charges relating to a scheme to sell union “books” or membership cards(union property) for cash bribes. Specifically, Tagliaferro was found guilty of conversion of union assets (29 U.S.C. 501(c)), honest services wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1346 and 1343), aiding and abetting (18 U.S.C. 2) both the conversion of union assets and the honest services wire fraud, as well as conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371).

    In California, Kurt Kittleson, former Secretary-Treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 151D (located in Rancho Palos Verde, Calif.), pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement in a report required to be filed by a labor union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(b).

    In New York, Scott Merritt, former Financial Secretary of Ironworkers Local 470 (located in Jamestown, N.Y.), was charged in a one-count information with embezzlement of union funds totaling $50,850, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). He then pleaded guilty to the charge.

    In Louisiana, Matthew Cuomo, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1047 (located in Kenner, La.), was sentenced to three years of probation. He was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On September 30, 2020, Cuomo pleaded guilty to one count of forgery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 513(a).

    In New Jersey, Jennifer Rogers, former member of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2254 (located in Jersey City, N.J.), was sentenced to six months of electronically monitored home confinement and 24 months of probation. She was also ordered to pay $40,455 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On December 1, 2020, Rogers pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an embezzlement of union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c) and 18 U.S.C. 2.

    In Louisiana, Michael Wood, former Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3957 (located in Grant, La.), was charged in a bill of information with one count of forgery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 513(a).

    In Pennsylvania, Joseph Whitbeck, former Vice President of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 274 (located in Allentown, Pa.), was indicted on 10 counts of honest services wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343 and 1346, and 10 counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343.

    In Michigan, Hasan Zahdeh, President of Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers (MUHW), (located in Muskegon, Mich.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds totaling $140,498, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).

    In Oklahoma, Thomas Burkhart, former President of Steelworkers Local 145 (located in Sapulpa, Okla.), pleaded guilty to embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $19,900, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).

    In Arkansas, Trey Huffty, former President of Steelworkers Local 1731 (located in White Hall, Ark.), was charged in a one-count information with embezzling union funds in the amount of $37,368, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). Huffty then pleaded guilty to the charge.

    CWA Called Out For Allegedly Spreading “Misinformation” On Pay Discrepancies

    Gannett, the newspaper management firm, issued a devastating fact-check of a misleading report published by the Communications Workers of America’s NewsGuild.

    The journalist union claimed that Gannett was paying non-white and female reporters less than their white male counterparts. The report was based on the survey responses of 450 journalists in 14 Gannett newsrooms. Unionized reporters shared the report far and wide on social media and many sympathetic newsrooms demanded answers from Gannett.

    Unfortunately for the NewsGuild, Gannett had answers and the company published the receipts.

    In a three-page letter (see each page here, here and here), Gannett picked apart the NewsGuild’s report piece-by-piece, citing an Inclusion Report released by the company last year. Gannett’s Labor Relations Counsel Thomas Zipfel accused the NewsGuild of spreading misinformation by surveying just 14 of the company’s more than 250 newsrooms. He also claimed the guild only released the report as a bad faith effort to “disparage the company in the court of public opinion.”

    Zipfel picked apart the statistical methods used by the NewsGuild, noting that the guild chose not to release the job titles of the respondents which heavily influenced the survey’s findings. He explained that the guild did not even separate the positions that required only a high school diploma from the jobs that required a college degree which lead to a deceptive comparison of median salaries. The survey also excluded newsrooms in cities with higher costs of living which would be relevant for any comparison to the national median.

    Zipfel also broke down how Gannett’s unionized newsrooms compared to Gannett’s non-unionized newsrooms — and it wasn’t pretty for the Newsguild. According to Zipfel, Gannett’s non-unionized newsrooms had a larger share of females compared to males. Women in non-unionized newsrooms also earned more than women in the NewsGuild’s newsrooms, as did non-white staff members. Twelve percent of non-unionized newsrooms had racial diversity levels on par or above the national average compared to just 8 percent of unionized newsrooms.

    Overall, it appears reporters at the NewsGuild’s newsrooms work in environments that are less diverse, have fewer female employees, and are lower-paying — all for the privilege of getting to line CWA leaders’ pockets with their union dues.

    RWDSU Has Itself to Blame For Blowout Loss at Amazon Facility

    No amount of support from Democrats — including President Biden — could save the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) from suffering a blowout loss at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama earlier this month. The RWDSU received just 738 votes in favor of being represented by the union from the group of nearly 5,800 workers. For those without a calculator handy, that’s less than 13 percent of employees.

    Unwilling to admit defeat, the RWDSU claimed workers only voted against the union because they were victims of an intimidation campaign launched by Amazon. Before the vote count was even finalized, the RWDSU lodged complaints about the election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and notified the board that it intended to file unfair labor practice charges against the company. Union President Stuart Appelbaum even blamed the loss on a “very strange mailbox” that Amazon set up on its property for ballot collection.

    The more likely cause of the union’s defeat? Its inability to convince Amazon employees that joining the RWDSU and paying union dues was in their best interest.

    Several employees who opposed the union detailed the reasoning behind their decision during a press conference hosted by Amazon after the vote. Many noted that the RWDSU’s claims that workers were being mistreated didn’t reflect their time with the company.

    “I personally didn’t see the need for a union,” said Graham Brooks, an Amazon employee who joined the company because he could be paid more than he was earning as a local reporter. “If I was being treated differently, I may have voted differently.” “I was able to come in Day 1 with benefits, and that could have possibly made the difference in life or death,” added Carla Johnson, an Amazon employee who discovered she had brain cancer shortly after beginning her employment in the warehouse.

    On social media, another worker commented : “It’s useless to settle for a bad union and be stuck paying dues for an organization that isn’t working for you.” Even the World Socialist Website reported that the union “made little effort to talk directly to workers at all.” It’s no wonder workers weren’t sold on the merits of membership.

    Employees’ voices were heard in Alabama. But the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) — misguided labor-backed legislation before Congress — would make it much harder for workers to have a say in their representation. Instead, Congress should reconsider the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would guarantee secret ballot elections, periodic union recertifications, and give members greater control over their dues dollars.

    Longshoremen’s Association Linked to Lack of Diversity, Crime, and Corruption

    Years of reports detailing mob influence at ports in New York and New Jersey have finally been released by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The reports had been kept under wraps for years out of fear that they would drive away business. Now public, these documents describe how the International Longshoremen’s Association’s (ILA) control “over hiring in the Port for over 60 years has not only led to a lack of diversity and inclusion in waterfront employment, but also to the perpetuation of criminality and corruption.”

    According to the reports, “very little progress has been made in diversifying the registered deep sea longshore workers in the respective ILA locals.” The majority of Black workers are placed into one predominantly Black local, ILA Local 1233 in Newark, New Jersey. Highly-sought positions are primarily given to white males, who become members of ILA Local 1. 85 percent of ILA Local 1’s members are white, with only 7 percent Black and 7 percent Hispanic. For comparison, almost 86 percent of ILA Local 1233’s registered longshore members are Black.

    The reports, which date back to 2013, suggest this segregated system is due in large part to how “sweetheart jobs were steered to friends and family” and raised questions about systematic exclusion by the ILA.

    That’s not all. According to the documents, between 2019-2020, 590 people received over $147 million in “outsized salaries not required by the industry’s collective bargaining agreement and for hours they do not even have to be at the Port.” In fact, nearly 20 individuals were paid more than $450,000 a year for a job that “did not require them to show up to work.” Then, there’s the connections to organized crime. Between 2019-2020, “eleven alleged members and associates of the Genovese crime family…were charged with racketeering for reaping millions of dollars in criminal profits through loansharking, illegal check cashing, gambling and money laundering in the Port district , including laundering of proceeds from narcotics trafficking.”

    Under the ILA’s control , countless qualified community members were “systematically denied the opportunity to work on the waterfront.” Instead, those connected to union leadership or organized crime figures reaped the benefits of lucrative salaries for doing next to nothing. Last year, ILA representatives agreed to establish basic transparent hiring procedures and recordkeeping protocols for the union. The real shock is how the union got away without these systems in place for so long.

    Even after decades of attempted reform, it’s clear the ILA has a harmful and undue influence at the waterfront. Only time will tell if the commission’s continued efforts to weed out corruption and organized crime will be successful.

    Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

    In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

    People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

    As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

    Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

    The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

    On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

    Lyndon Johnson and the United Auto Workers

    LBJ Arrives by Helicopter, Greeted

    by U-M President Harlan Hatcher

    On May 22, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered his famous “Great Society” speech at the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony. The address is best known for Johnson’s endorsement of the civil rights movement and preview of the War on Poverty, captured in his pledge that the Great Society "demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time." But the president also made a third commitment to the cause of environmental protection, part of the growing liberal focus on "quality of life" issues in the 1960s. He lamented the decay of the crowded urban centers and the "despoiling of the suburbs," the traffic jams on the highways and the disappearance of open land:

    Audio of Environmental Section of LBJ's Speech

    We have always prided ourselves on being not only America the strong and America the free, but America the beautiful. Today that beauty is in danger. The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air that we breathe, are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded, our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing. . . . Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.

    In his U-M speech, Johnson called for a new approach by the government and citizens alike to build a Great Society where “man can renew contact with nature,” which “honors creation for its own sake,” where “our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit.” The Michigan Daily reported “thunderous applause” from the crowd of 80,000 people at the football stadium and even described the president’s speech as a “non-political mission,” a questionable verdict at best. During his presidency, Johnson ordered federal agencies to make environmental quality a higher priority, commissioned a White House Conference on Natural Beauty, and signed nearly three hundred conservation laws to address air and water pollution and protect national parks. While these measures were modest compared to the environmental policies of the early 1970s, the “achievements of the Great Society were critical in the evolution of the environmental movement,” according to historian Adam Rome. Most of all, Lyndon Johnson’s actions set a precedent that the federal government bore responsibility for tackling the problems of pollution and protecting quality of life against unrestrained growth.

    at Natural Beauty Conference

    On May 24 and 25, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson held “the White House Conference on Natural Beauty” at the State Department. Many people were unfamiliar with environmental issues plaguing the country and “mistook the conference to be a search for a new Miss America or new varieties of roses.” At the conference, a series of panels discussed the Great Society’s role in restoring beauty to the American landscape as well as environmental issues of the day. More than one thousand people attended the conference, including Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers. In his remarks, Reuther stated, “to me, this conference is about how we build a tomorrow in which we can have not only more bread, but also more roses. Satisfying our material needs is a very simple thing with our advanced technology, but if we stand committed almost exclusively to the expansion of man’s material well-being and neglect his spiritual well-being, then I think we will fail to achieve that “Great Society.”

    The United Auto Workers (UAW) strongly supported the liberal environmental agenda of the Great Society, an alliance that has largely disappeared from mainstream accounts of the modern environmental movement. UAW President Walter Reuther sat on the stage when Lyndon Johnson delivered the Great Society address at the U-M commencement and soon launched an anti-pollution environmental initiative through the union. In 1965, the UAW organized a "United Action for Clean Water" conference in Detroit, where Reuther called for a "great citizen crusade" to fight for clean air and clean water in addition to civil rights and anti-poverty programs "to create a total living environment worthy of free men." In 1967, the UAW established a Department of Conservation and Resource Development to promote anti-pollution programs, including restrictions on car emissions opposed by the Big Three automakers, because union members had to "breathe the same air and drink and bathe in the same water" as other Americans.

    At this 1967 congressional hearing on air quality, the UAW stated its position that "no one has the right to pollute our environment" and labeled the "deterioration of our natural resources . . . a national disgrace." Walter Reuther also endorsed the Earth Day demonstrations in 1970, and the UAW then joined the Urban Environmental Conference, which focused on environmental justice campaigns in polluted inner-city areas and hazardous workplaces. According to Olga Madar, the head of the UAW's environmental campaign, "the chief victims of pollution are the urban poor, blacks and workers who cannot escape their environment. . . . Unless we join together now to stop those who pollute for profit, our cities will soon become ugly cesspools of poisonous pollutants.”

    Bentley Image Bank, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

    John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958)

    John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, https://www.jfklibrary.org

    Public Papers of the Presidents, 1963-1964

    Lyndon B. Johnson, "Remarks at the University of Michigan," May 22, 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4Qc1VM80aQ [public domain audio recording]

    Michigan Daily Digital Archives

    Genevieve Gillette Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

    Adam Rome, The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), 16-20

    Chad Montrie, The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018), 2-5, 107-110

    Campaign GM

    General Motors Advertisement Praising Its Air Pollution Control Efforts, April 18, 1970

    Auto industry critic Ralph Nader

    speaks at U-M teach-in, 1970.

    On November 30, 1965, lawyer Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, a book in which he criticized the auto industry for manufacturing unsafe vehicles that endangered the public and polluted the nation's air. The book became a bestseller in spring 1966, and in September, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Public concern had pushed new safety standards into law, but automakers still had no mandate to invest in improvements that would decrease their vehicles' environmental impacts.

    Inspired by Nader’s assertion that "the roots of the unsafe vehicle problem are so entrenched that the situation can be improved only by the forging of new instruments of citizen action," a group of lawyers created the Project on Corporate Responsibility to launch campaigns to reform public corporations like General Motors. On February 8, 1970, Nader announced the group’s national Campaign to Make General Motors Responsible or “Campaign GM” which demanded that GM adopt measures to give the public a voice in its corporate policies. One of the group’s leaders summarized Campaign GM’s arguments in a letter:

    “We have been concerned about the myriad ways in which General Motors’ decisions affect the lives of virtually all Americans— in areas ranging from auto safety to repair bills, environmental pollution, minority employment and worker health and safety. Too many of General Motors’ past corporate decisions have been made with eyes fixed on their short-range profitability rather than their social effects.”

    Campaign GM sent General Motors a list of nine proposals addressing these concerns and requested that it place them on a proxy statement that would be sent to shareholders. GM refused, but the federal Securities and Exchange Commission ordered the corporation to include two. The first proposal would add three representatives from the public to GM's board, and the second would create a committee to study GM's contributions to issues of public concern including mass transportation, safety, and pollution. With these changes, GM, the world’s largest corporation, would become more accountable to the public.

    Michigan Daily, March 1970.

    The campaign drew strength from student environmental groups on college campuses because they resonated with its anti-auto, anti-pollution message. These groups and the leaders of Campaign GM pressured universities, who collectively owned one and a half million shares of GM stock, to vote in favor of the proposals. Phillip Moore, the executive secretary of Campaign GM urged the University of Michigan "to follow up with a real commitment" its support for the environmental teach-in. Members of ENACT wrote a letter to President Fleming urging the University to vote in favor of the proposals with its 28,000 shares. The Michigan Daily endorsed Campaign GM and called on U-M to do the same:

    "As long as the University continues to passively assent to GM's policies, it must share in the guilt that are the consequences of GM's actions."

    Ralph Nader spoke at the March 1970 Teach-In on the Environment and used the opportunity to gather support for the campaign. Despite widespread enthusiasm for Campaign GM on campus, in late April the U-M Board of Regents decided to vote against Campaign GM's proposals to reform General Motors.

    Environmental Action Newsletter

    article about Campaign GM's defeat.

    The May 22 shareholders’ meeting in Detroit lasted six hours and twenty-seven minutes, the longest in GM’s history. During the meeting, GM chairman James Roche answered questions in front of a crowd of more than 3,000—including, as the Michigan Daily reported, “a swimsuit-clad, gasmask-wearing, flag-waving woman calling for [Roche's] resignation.” Campaign GM issues dominated the meeting. The movement drew widespread attention, but among GM shareholders its support was limited. Because of this, it was unsurprising that both of Campaign GM’s proposals failed, each securing the votes of less than three percent of the 285 million shares of GM's stock.

    Though the proposals did not pass, Campaign GM leaders saw their movement as successful. They had sparked a national conversation about corporations’ responsibility to act in the public interest. The meeting itself enabled members of the public to pressure GM to act. Before the May meeting, only white men served on GM’s board of directors. Several months after the meeting, GM added an African American pastor and a woman to the board. The following year, GM created a public policy committee to advise the board about the ways in which its policies contributed to problems like air pollution and safety.

    During Campaign GM, an outside group tried to change the auto industry by creating public pressure. Other groups, like the United Auto Workers, tried to reform it from within.

    The History of Public Sector Unionism

    To understand the history of public-sector unionism, we need first to understand the development of the private-sector unionism that it is replacing. We can call this the first Wagner era, from 1935 until 1958. And that will require saying a few words about the labor policy that preceded the first Wagner Era, what might be called the labor policy of the free society, or relatively classically liberal society. But let me tall you the end of the story first—or at least where we are today, for the story is probably not finished yet. The best description of public sector unionism comes from the Rutgers University labor economist Leo Troy. He describes it as the New Socialism. The Old Socialism was about the state taking over the means of production and distribution. The perfect example would be the old Soviet Union. England after the Second World War had quite a bit of this. We never had much of it in the United States. After the New Deal the U.S. had a system of what has been called private socialism, or the private welfare state, and might also be described as union syndicalism. It was erected by unions like the United Auto Workers and companies like General Motors. In this system, unions voted for politicians (Democratic ones, for the most part) who enacted legislation (like the Wagner Act) that gave unions the power to extract more of the income of their employers. This system began to unravel in the 1970s its decline accelerated in the 1980s and it is nearly defunct today. Private sector unionism is actually less powerful in the American economy today than it was before the Wagner Act.

    Public sector unionism works like private sector unionism, but it cuts out the middleman. Rather than voting for politicians who enact laws that enable unions to gain more private income, unions simply elect their employers and bargain with them. As Victor Gotbaum, the head of the New York City chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), famously put it, “We have the power, in a sense, to elect our own boss.” Thus the strongest public sector unions today are in secondary education, which has always been overwhelming a government-provided service. Why bother organizing a private health care industry? Have the government take over that industry and bargain with the government—the one that your members’ dues helped to elect.

    Now, let me start from the beginning, to try to explain how we got here. My talk will cover three periods: the employment-at-will period before the Wagner Act of 1935 the Wagner Act period of the mid-twentieth century and the public union period since 1958.

    As the United States became an industrial economy in the nineteenth century, its labor law adapted to that new economy. The common law of labor relations had been known under the heading of “master and servant,” redolent of the paternal, personal, feudal world of the Middle Ages. Although this is not an uncontested point among historians, most saw the shedding of this premodern system in the nineteenth century and the adoption of employer-employee relations appropriate to a modern, democratic, egalitarian society. The abolition of slavery with the Civil War made this system of “free labor” the national norm. The law treated all individuals (and corporations were considered individuals) as equal before the law. Their relations were to be entirely voluntary and contractual. Nobody could coerce someone else to work for him nobody could coerce someone else to employ him. Either party to an employment contract could terminate the agreement for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.

    Groups of workers were perfectly free to form labor unions. (Despite many historical legends, American courts had probably never regarded trade unions as inherently criminal conspiracies, as English courts had.) And they were perfectly free to quit en masse (to strike) to achieve their goals. But the employer was equally free to replace those who had quit. When this happened, unions often resorted to threats and violence against the replacement workers (known as scabs or finks) or sabotage against employers, to prevent their carrying on their business. This is the point at which the law stepped in, to maintain order and protect the rights of employers and non-striking workers to carry on their business.

    Labor leaders claimed that the “free labor” system was a sham, that the apparent system of freedom of contract was in reality a coercive one in which employers had all the power. Chattel slavery, they claimed, had been replaced by “wage slavery.” As American businesses became gigantic in the late 19th century, this became an increasingly plausible argument. How, after all, could a penniless immigrant from Poland be able to bargain individually with the billion-dollar United States Steel Corporation? This claim that unions are necessary to redress the unequal bargaining power of unorganized workers was the principal basis for doing away with the old employment-at-will doctrine and replacing it with one in which government tries to build up unions by legislature that gives them special privileges. So it is important to observe that it is a specious claim. In economic terms, it confuses monopoly power in product markets with monopsony power in labor markets. In other words, just because US Steel has a monopoly selling steel (which it never did, by the way) doesn’t mean that it is the only purchaser of labor. Rather, it competed with lots of other monopolistic producers in the labor market, along with innumerable small business employers. The individual worker was free so long as employers competing with one another for labor, in the same way that an individual consumer is free of monopoly power so long as large producer firms compete among one another for customers. On further reflection, the idea of employer monopsony in 1908 seems manifestly absurd. The United States had always suffered a labor shortage, making American wages higher than those in Europe. In a typical year around a century ago, over a million and a quarter immigrants came to the United States. The U.S. absorbed over 25 million immigrants between the Civil War and World War One, yet real wages for unskilled labor rose 44% over these years. They rose 35%, and rose almost every year, from the end of the depression of 1893 until the beginning of the First World War. Real wages of all workers rose more than fifty percent 1860-90, and rose by another third in the next twenty years.

    Be the economic facts what they may, the cornerstone of American labor law, the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act of 1935, was based on this premise of unequal bargaining power. (Actually, this was prefaced in the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, which concerned a set of privileges regarding injunctions and the antitrust laws that time and space did not permit me to detail.) But this would be just one example of the lack of congruence between popular or political economy and technical economics. A similar one would be the careless use of the term “exploitation.” Technically, labor is exploited when its wage is less than its marginal product. But this can mean that a 12-year old girl in a central American sweatshop earning 20 cents an hour is not exploited, while a Major League shortstop earning eight million dollars a year is.

    What did the Wagner Act do? In a nutshell, it required employers to bargain collectively with any organization chosen by a majority of its employees. Those are the basic principles—compulsory unionism, and majority unionism. It was an unabashedly pro-union measure. It outlawed a host of “unfair labor practices” by employers, but not for unions. Congress probably enacted it only because it expected the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. Though the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 tried to restore some balance to the law, it still maintained the compulsory and majority principles of the Wagner Act. The most important change that the Taft-Hartley Act made was section 14(b), which allowed states to enact right-to-work laws. Over the course of time, industries relocated from Wagner Act or union-shop states to right-to-work states. Even more than the competition of right-to-work states, the rise of global competition in the late 20th century is the principal reason for the decline of private-sector unionism. Quite simply, they priced themselves out of the market, or killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

    Now to the public sector union story. Section 2 of the Wagner Act explicitly exempted public employees from its coverage. Congress declared that the United States, states, and political subdivisions of states were not “employers” under the terms of the act. Many of you may be familiar with the letter that President Roosevelt wrote to the President of the Federation of Federal Employees in 1937, in which he explained why this must be. “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rule in personnel matters.” The crucial phrases are Roosevelt’s references to “the very nature and purposes of government,” and his definition of a public employer as “the whole people, who speak by means of laws”—that is to say, the government is sovereign. Some economic principles, like labor’s unequal bargaining power or an exploited Major-League shortstop, are understandably difficult to grasp right away. But this one—that you could not compel the sovereign power to bargain collectively—because whoever can compel the sovereign must perforce become the sovereign power—this one was such a no-brainer that even F.D.R. could understand it.

    But this basic principle is one that most of today’s scholars of the public sector labor movement deny. Joseph Slater, for instance, the author of what I take to be the standard narrative history, entitled Public Workers, makes this the central theme of his work.

    Public unions began much as private unions did, as voluntary associations that tried to improve the working conditions of their members. A century ago they were especially prominent among postal workers, since the Post Office was one of the few large-scale federal services. In the first decade of the 20th century Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft recognized the danger of these federal employee organizations lobbying Congress and issued executive orders prohibiting federal employee membership in such organizations. Organized labor leaders and historians have condemned these as “gag orders” and limitations of free speech. But T.R. was hardly a reactionary, and consider what another eminent progressive, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, said when he upheld a Massachusetts law that prohibited police officers from soliciting contributions to political organizations. “The petitioner may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.”Congress overturned these executive orders in the 1912 Lloyd-La Follette Act. (Notably, the La Follette was Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. Wisconsin was the seedbed of many progressive initiatives, and that of union empowerment especially. As we will see Wisconsin became the first state to promote public employee unions.) But this at was limited to Post Office employees. It did not establish collective bargaining or the right to strike, but merely the freedom to petition Congress. There was no significant extension of federal employee organizing rights until the 1960s.

    The decisive episode in public sector unionism was the 1919 Boston police strike. The public reaction to this strike probably set back public sector unionism several decades. No public service better underscored the sovereign nature of government than the police. The federal equivalent would be to allow the soldiers and sailors of the Army or Navy to form unions. (This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Norway and Germany allow army unions. Maybe we could have avoided World War II if that had been part of the Treaty of Versailles.) The strike made a national hero of Calvin Coolidge, who succinctly explained that “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” President Woodrow Wilson called the strike “an intolerable crime against civilization.” Today, the American left is chagrined that liberal Democrats like Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York are taking tough stands with state employee unions, but this is not new. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York City did the same in the 1940s when the city took over the subways and 26,000 members of the Transport Workers Union became public employees. John Lindsay took a similar stance in the 1970s—until Governor Nelson Rockefeller undercut him.

    By the late 1950s, public opinion had become more open to the prospect of public labor unions. Private sector unions began to decline in relative terms in the mid-1950s, and they had become much less radical, less prone to strike, and less prone to violence when they did strike. The expansion of business in the right-to-work states of the South and West probably made union leaders more cautious. [Ironically, insofar as the Taft-Hartley Act weakened private-sector unions by section 14(b), and spurred economic growth, it paved the way for the buildup of public unions.] The postwar prosperity of the American economy also made the potential costs of unionization seem manageable. It is also likely that Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s ordering state legislative reapportionment helped, by strengthening liberal, urban areas of states. Above all, there was tremendous growth in the public sector work force—nearly 9 million by 1962, or one of every 8 workers. This proportion would reach nearly 1 in 5 (18%) by 1970. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees led the effort to get a state to allow public employee unionization. AFSCME originated in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin had been a leading state in enacting pro-union legislation. Less well known was the fact that Wisconsin also was one of the first states to have second thoughts about such legislation, which it began to amend as early as 1939. The state was dominated by Republicans in the 1950s—this was the era of Joseph McCarthy, after all. But the Democrats swept the state in the 1958 elections, and public employees won the right to organize and bargain collectively, but not to strike. New York City actually preceded Wisconsin with similar legislation in 1958, and many other states and cities followed.

    The federal government followed suit when President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988 in 1962. This order permitted federal employees to form unions and bargain collectively, but it did not grant the right to bargain over wages, which remain under Congress’ control. Unions could not compel federal employees to join, and they cannot strike. This order was strengthened by President Nixon, and finally given a statutory basis by Congress in the Civil Service Act of 1978.

    With these new federal and state policies in place, the numbers of pubic union members swelled rapidly, from 400,000 to 4 million by 1970. This was largely because many public employees were already organized. Old professional associations simply became labor unions. The National Educational Association, for example, had been formed in 1857, as the National Teachers Association. It regarded itself as a professional association, like the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association. [Indeed, the NEA was formed by anti-union administrators and given a congressional charter in 1906.] But when it faced the trade unionism of the American Federation of Teachers-AFL-CIO, it had to convert or die. The NEA is today the largest labor union in America, but it remains unaffiliated with the AFL-CIO.

    When the Wagner Act promoted private-sector unionization in the 1930s, the principal justification for the policy was that it would promote industrial peace and facilitate interstate commerce. It actually had the opposite effect, producing more strikes and greater labor militancy in 1937. State and federal encouragement of public-sector bargaining had a similar—and even greater—effect. Unprecedented strikes by teachers, garbage collectors, postal workers and others became common in the late 1960s and 1970s, despite the fact that every state prohibited strikes by public employees. The issue reached the crisis point in the mid-to-late 1970s. AFSCME pushed for Congress to force all the states to recognize public employee unions, and to give public employee unions even greater powers than private-sector unions enjoyed. The push for the National Public Employment Relations Law,–what was called “a Wagner Act for public employees”–was led by Representative William Clay of Missouri (his son William Clay Jr. holds this seat today). AFSCME was encouraged by the Supreme Court’s willingness to let Congress regulate just about anything under the interstate commerce clause. In 1968, for example, it allowed Congress to extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to employees of public schools and hospitals. The Watergate crisis helped the effort, as a flood of liberal Democrats were elected to Congress in 1974. The next year, the Senate amended its cloture rule, requiring 60 rather than 67 votes to end filibusters.

    While the prospects for public employee unionism seemed bright, there were also foreboding signs. AFSCME had begun to arouse resentment from other union federations—the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union especially. Its president, Jerry Wurf, was notably abrasive and became an easy target for his opponents. He said, for example, that police and firefighter unions should “Let our cities burn” if they didn’t get what they demanded—the phrase became the title of a book by Ralph Toledano. But most of all, the disruptive and illegal strikes of the period—like the sit-down strikes of the 1930s—began to turn public opinion against public unions. The Supreme Court began to get cold feet. In March, 1976 it decided that Congress could not extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to state employees. Justice Harry Blackmun, a recent Nixon appointee, was the swing vote. For the first time since the New Deal, the Court had recognized a limit on Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. The Court recognized the fact that “the States as states stand on a quite different footing from an individual or a corporation.”

    This decision, National League of Cities v. Usery, took the wind out of the sails of the public-employee union movement. It may have prevented the United States from going the way of Great Britain and Italy in the late 1970s. It prevented the nationalization of union policies adopted in states like New York and Wisconsin. It is often said that one of the fundamental differences between private- and public-sector labor markets is that a local government, unlike an auto maker, cannot respond to excessive union demands by moving to another location. The National League of Cities decision at least ensured that, if unions drove up the cost of government, individuals could relocate to cities or states that were less expensive. In this sense it acted like section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which permitted private employers to move from union-shop to right-to-work states, and preserved an element of competitive federalism.

    The reaction to the costs of public unions helped revive conservative movements, electing Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. The defeat of the National Public Employment Relations Act was decisive but, since it involved complicated and technical legislative and judicial doctrine and maneuvers, it was overshadowed by the dramatic confrontation of Ronald Reagan and the air traffic controllers in 1981. Ironies abound in this episode. Reagan had been not only a union member but the president of the Screen Actors Guild. He had also signed California’s 1968 law permitting public employee unions. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) had endorsed him in the 1980 election. But when their demands were not met, the union decided to play hardball. They took the advice of Representative Clay, who made the following statement to the 1980 PATCO convention:

    “Your plan must be one which completely revises your political thinking. It should start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests. It must be selfish and pragmatic. You must learn the rules of the game and learn them well:

    Rule Number 1 says that you don’t put the interest of any other group ahead of your own. What’s good for the federal employees must be interpreted as being good for the nation.

    Rule Number 2 says that you take what you can, give up only what you must.

    Rule Number 3 says that you take it from whomever you can, whenever you can, however you can.

    If you are not prepared to play by the rules then you have not reached the age of political maturity and perhaps you deserve everything that’s happening to you.”

    We can call this the Melian Dialogue of the PATCO strike. It makes it easy to understand why Reagan was able to take the strong stand that he did, firing and replacing the striking controllers, and why the public overwhelmingly supported him.

    The PATCO strike is invariably depicted as a replay of the 1919 Boston police strike. Reagan, after all, had taken down FDR’s portrait in the Oval Office and replaced it with one of Calvin Coolidge. PATCO was the opening salvo of the Republicans’ campaign to repeal the New Deal, destroying organized labor in order to redistribute income from Main Street to Wall Street, et cetera. But breaking the PATCO strike had approximately zero impact on public sector unionism. It may have cooled their willingness to strike, but their numbers continued to flourish. In the 1980s, state employment grew 20%, or twice the rate of population growth. The number of public employee union members has grown over 25% in the last 25 years, keeping pace with the growth of population, and becoming a majority of all union members in 2010. The PATCO replacements soon joined the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and carried on PATCO’s work. The failure to reverse public-sector unionism—indeed, the failure even to attempt it—is another indication of how limited the impact of the so-called “Reagan Revolution” was in domestic affairs.

    It is often said that Reagan’s breaking of the PATCO strike “sent a signal” to private-sector employers, that it was now acceptable to take a hard line against their unions. But this is also dubious. The factors responsible for private-sector union decline long antedated the PATCO strike and continued after it. I would argue that Reagan actually helped the public employee union movement. By reviving the private sector economy, he caused public opinion to lose concern about the issue. Public unions do well in flush times—thus their rapid growth in the 1950s and 1960s. And they become unpopular when the taxpayers begin to feel the cost of them—as in the 1970s and today. During the flush times, they add to the cost of government. (Government at all levels consumed 13% of GDP in 1929, 33% in 1960, and 45% in 1994.) And the time may come when we will be unable to revive the private economy due to that burden.

    This leads to one final point. Defenders of public unions often deny that union-negotiated wages and benefits—even pensions—are responsible for the tremendous state and federal deficits and debts. But the direct costs of public employment are only the tip of the iceberg. Consider, for example, the decline in the quality of education along with its increased cost since unionization. Public employee unions do not simply lobby for greater benefits for their own members, but for the expansion of government at all levels. Was there any greater supporter of President Obama and Obamacare than the public employee unions? (Private-sector union members, who have to pay higher taxes for an expanded public sector, were bought off with an exemption for their “Cadillac” health insurance plans.) When the health care industry is fully nationalized, it will add some 15% to the government share of GDP. (Actually less than that, because the industry is already half-nationalized by Medicare and Medicaid.) Once the federal government is the employer, it will be that much easier to organize the unorganized health care workers.

    But I have done speaking as a historian, now speaking about the future. But it is obvious that this cannot go on forever if the US is to remain a constitutional republic. More than the economic or social costs of public-sector unionism is the political question of sovereignty.

    Scope and arrangement

    The Richard Parrish Papers (Additions) and Richard Parrish Papers are two separate but complementary collections. While the Richard Parrish Papers are generally centered around the activities of Parrish and include his personal papers as well as files from the different organizations he worked with, the Additions papers primarily consist of the records of the NALC, of which Parrish was successively, treasurer, 1960-1974, and president, 1974-1976. The bulk of the Richard Parrish Papers were created between 1966 and 1973. The Additions papers contain the records of the office of the treasurer between 1960 and 1975, particularly under the presidency of A. Philip Randolph, 1960-1966.

    The Richard Parrish Papers (Additions) offer a general and indepth understanding of the development and operation of an organization whose leaders and membership played a significant role in the struggle for equal rights in this country. They are divided into two series: Records of the NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONand the CHAPTER FILES.

    The Richard Parrish papers (Additions 1) is arranged in two series:

    The records of the NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONinclude the original copy and a 1970 revised edition of the constitution of the NALC, correspondence, minutes, reports, resolutions, financial records, press releases, programs, photographs and newspaper clippings dating from 1959 to 1976. They are divided into three subseries: the Administrative Fileswhich include the records of the National Executive Board, those of Richard Parrish and L. Joseph Overton, respectively treasurer and secretary of the NALC, and the records of the Workshop and Institute on Racial Bias in Trade-Unions, Industry and Government a General File and records of the NALC Conventions.

    The correspondence in the General Fileincludes correspondence between John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the West Indian writer, Paule Marshall and the officers of the NALC. Other letters from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nelson Rockefeller, Roy Wilkins and various trade-unions leaders can be found in the Correspondence folder of the workshop and Institute on Racial Bias in Trade-Unions, Industry and Government. The minutes of various meetings of the National Executive Board offer valuable information on the internal workings and structure of the NALC. In addition, different resolutions adopted by the 1960, 1961 and consecutive conventions, as well as various addresses by A. Philip Randolph--including his statement to the Steering Committee of the Proposed NALC in November 1959 (kept with other printed material of the founding convention)--document the general orientation and political choices of the NALC.

    The NALC CHAPTER FILESconsist primarily of correspondence and membership records. In a few cases the files contain information regarding the activities of the chapters.

    The folder on the Buffalo Chapter illustrates the general anticommunist attitudes prevailing in the NALC during the 1960's. Stating that he would rather not have a chapter of the NALC than one under communist control, Randolph ordered the immediate dissolution of the Buffalo chapter when its president, John H. Coston, resigned, due to “communist infiltration and domination.” The “Chicago Dispute” is another example of strong anti-communist feelings in the NALC. Lola Belle Holmes, national vice-president of the NALC in charge of the Chicago district, was an FBI informer who infiltrated the Communist Party-USA and the NALC. During a 1963 public trial of an alleged member of the Communist Party, she testified that local leadership of the NALC was controlled by Communists. Members of the Chicago chapter, demanded her removal from the NALC. The New York chapter documents the struggle of black artists to gain equal opportunities in the New York show business industry, and the relationship between the Afro-American Music Society and the Greater New York Chapter of the NALC. The Westchester chapter folder includes transcripts of a lawsuit initiated by Local 664 of the United Auto Workers against the NALC.

    Watch the video: JFK State of the Union speech 1962