Selected Papers

Selected Papers

Selected Papers

Selected Papers

Excerpt

Few Americans can match Walter Reuther's consistent record of expressing new ideas and devising new programs that drive to the heart of contemporary economic, social, and political issues. He is one of the most provocative thinkers in the United States today.

From the perspective of American labor history, Mr. Reuther marks a sharp break with the approach of traditional old-line labor leadership whose concern was limited to winning a few cents more per hour for their separate union constituencies. Mr. Reuther challenges labor--and the United States as a whole-- to seek new and broader horizons.

In order that the reader may proceed as rapidly as possible to examine Mr. Reuther's thinking firsthand, I shall restrict myself to the basic biographical facts and a few brief comments concerning some of his most noted ideas and programs.

Walter Philip Reuther was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on September 1, 1907. He served an apprenticeship as a tool and die maker, and studied at Wayne University in Detroit for three years. He spent the late 1920's and early 1930's working in Detroit factories including the General Motors and Ford plants, and he became a foreman at the latter. He then devoted the next three years to travel in Europe and the Orient, working in factories and studying labor conditions.

In 1935, Mr. Reuther returned to the United States to serve as one of the original organizers of the United Automobile, Aircraft, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. His first UAW office was as President of Local 174; by 1939, he was Director of the General Motors Division of the International Union. In 1946 he became President of the UAW, and in 1952, President of the CIO as well.

Since the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955, Mr. Reuther has been Vice President of the new organization and President . . .

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