Infighting in the UAW: The 1946 Election and the Ascendancy of Walter Reuther

Infighting in the UAW: The 1946 Election and the Ascendancy of Walter Reuther

Infighting in the UAW: The 1946 Election and the Ascendancy of Walter Reuther

Infighting in the UAW: The 1946 Election and the Ascendancy of Walter Reuther

Synopsis

Usually the defeat of one union official by another would not occasion great interest by historians. The highly charged atmosphere after World War II and at the beginning of the cold war however led to a strongly disputed election which left Walter Reuther the new president of the UAW. The opinions as to why Reuther unseated the incumbents are many and varied. Dr. Goode goes into these in depth in his interesting and well documented work dealing with this watershed event in American Unionism. The research for the work has been done with the aid of union archives, published material, and oral history from some of the participants in the event.

Excerpt

One of the exciting aspects of writing about a contemporary problem is that so many people are still alive who have lived through the situation. Some of the information about the 1946 and 1947 United Automobile Workers (UAW) conventions, the minority representation, for example, would have been impossible to have discovered without the evidence of those involved. Cross-checking with several sources produced an astonishing correspondence in their recollections.

It is apparent, and I am delighted to acknowledge the fact, that much is owed to many people who wrote before me. On the Communist Party activities, I am indebted to Irving Howe and Lewis Coser The American Communist Party (1957) and Bert Cochran Labor and Communism (1977) and, for the early days of the Communist Party in the auto industry, Roger Keeran The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Unions (1980). Joseph Rayback A History of American Labor (1966) was of great value to me on early labor history. All have made excellent contributions to the field, and my efforts would have been impoverished without their fine work.

Others spent many hours of their precious time in discussions with me. Their patience and openness added considerably to this study. Notable were Irving Bluestone, Jack Conway, George Merrilli, Ken Morris, Brendan Sexton, and Leonard Woodrock. I am grateful to them.

As important as these contributions were, it is obvious that the major sources for this book were archives and libraries. Every researcher should have at their disposal a collection such as the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University. If the researcher were extremely lucky, he or she would also encounter a staff like that of the Wayne State archives, who are outstanding for their knowledge and helpfulness. The Detroit Public Library, the Flint Purdy Library , Wayne State University, the New York Public Library, and the Wagner Library . . .

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