Tag Archives: UAW

Bargaining for the Common Good: Milton Tambor Reflects on 50 Years in Labor and Social Activism



Labor leader and social activist Milton Tambor discusses his life’s work in Detroit since the 1950s as a social worker; AFSCME local union president, staff representative and assistant education director; and teaching faculty in both labor studies and social work at Wayne State University and other institutions. He also discusses the intersection of labor and social political movements through his involvement in organizations such as the Detroit Coalition to End the War Now, the Michigan Labor Committee on Central America, and the Democratic Socialists of America in both Detroit and Atlanta. Tambor recently published a memoir titled A Democratic Socialist’s Fifty Year Adventure.

Related Collections:
AFSCME Michigan Council 25 Records
Detroit Coalition to End the War Now! Records
Milton Tambor Papers

Related Resources:
A Democratic Socialist’s Fifty Year Adventure

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Milton Tambor
Music: Bart Bealmear


Brewing a Boycott: Collective Activism and the Decades-Long Coors Beer Boycott



Dr. Allyson Brantley explains how large and diverse groups joined together for a decades-long consumer boycott of the Coors Brewing Company to fight against its union busting, discriminatory hiring practices, and politics. Brantley is an assistant professor of history and Director of Honors & Interdisciplinary Initiatives at the University of La Verne and author of Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism.

Related Collections:
AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald W. McEntee Records
AFT President’s Office: Albert Shanker Records
Bob Barber Papers
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) Records
Dolores Huerta Papers
Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO Council: Tom Turner Records
Michigan Coalition for Human Rights Records
UAW President’s Office: Owen Bieber Records
UFW Office of the President: Arturo Rodriguez Records

Related Resources:
Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Allyson Brantley
Music: Bart Bealmear


Group of people some wearing labor union emblems, carry picket signs denouncing the deportation of Sam Sweet outside the Detroit Federal Building, 1950-04-08.

Communists and Community in Wartime Detroit



Dr. Ryan Pettengill explains how communist activists in Detroit worked with labor activists during and after the Second World War to enhance the quality of life in the community by advocating for civil rights, affordable housing, protections for the foreign-born, and more. Pettengill is a Professor of History at Collin College and author of Communists and Community: Activism in Detroit’s Labor Movement, 1941-1956.

Related Collections:
Don Binkowski Papers
Nat Ganley and Saul Wellman Papers
Maurice Sugar Papers
Sam Sweet Papers
Shelton Tappes Papers
Edith Van Horn Papers

UAW Fair Practices and Anti-Discrimination Department Records

UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Related Resources:
Communists and Community: Activism in Detroit’s Labor Movement, 1941-1956

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Ryan Pettengill
Music: Bart Bealmear


Midnight in Vehicle City: Modern Lessons From the Flint Sit-Down Strike



Edward McClelland recounts the gripping details of the Flint sit-down strike, and considers what we can learn today from the strikers’ successful fight for shared prosperity in 1936-1937. McClelland is a journalist, historian, and author of Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class.

Related Collections:
Flint Labor Records
Genora and Sol Dollinger Papers
Henry Kraus Papers
Hy Fish Papers
Joe Walton Papers
Roy Reuther Oral History
Victor G. Reuther Papers
Wyndham Mortimer Papers

Related Resources:
Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Edward McClelland
Music: Bart Bealmear


From Bargaining Table to Diplomatic Table: Leonard Woodcock in China (Part 2)



After Leonard Woodcock stepped down as president of the UAW in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent him to Beijing as a diplomatic envoy and ultimately as the nation’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. In the second of a two-part interview, his wife Sharon Woodcock talks about Deng Xiaoping’s visit to the United States; Leonard Woodcock’s work after leaving the State Department, including his work on the Board of Governors of Wayne State University; and his support of the Reuther Library. UAW archivist Gavin Strassel discusses Leonard Woodcock’s archival collections at the Reuther Library and the unique, first-hand view they provide into the formation of modern China and U.S / China relations.

Related Collections:
Leonard Woodcock Papers
Sharon Woodcock Oral History
UAW President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records
UAW Vice President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records

Related Resources:
Collection Spotlight: Leonard Woodcock Papers

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Gavin Strassel
Interviewee: Sharon Woodcock
Music: Bart Bealmear


From Bargaining Table to Diplomatic Table: Leonard Woodcock in China (Part 1)



After Leonard Woodcock stepped down as president of the UAW in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent him to Beijing as a diplomatic envoy and ultimately as the nation’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. In the first of a two-part interview, his wife Sharon Woodcock talks about Leonard’s labor ideals and shares tales about their time in the ambassador’s residence, including his unusually close relationship with Deng Xiaoping, the leader and architect of modern China.

Related Collections:
Leonard Woodcock Papers
Sharon Woodcock Oral History
UAW President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records
UAW Vice President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records

Related Resources:
Collection Spotlight: Leonard Woodcock Papers

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Gavin Strassel
Interviewee: Sharon Woodcock
Music: Bart Bealmear


The Long Deep Grudge: How the Haymarket “Riot” of 1886 Evolved into a Bitter Battle Between the Farm Equipment Workers Union and International Harvester in the Mid-Twentieth Century



Labor historian Dr. Toni Gilpin explores how the McCormick family’s greed and union-busting in the late 19th century set the stage for a bitter battle between the International Harvester corporation and the radical Farm Equipment Workers union in the 1930s and 1940s. Although the union was absorbed by the United Auto Workers in 1955, Gilpin describes how the militancy bred into generations of International Harvester workers influenced UAW tactics into the 1970s.

Dr. Gilpin’s book, The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland, received a Taft Labor History Award honorable mention award in 2020.

Related Collections:
UAW archival collections

Related Resources:
Gilpin, T. (2020). The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland. Haymarket Books.

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewer: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Toni Gilpin
Music: Bart Bealmear


This Union Cause: The Queer History of the United Automobile Workers



Wayne State history PhD candidate James McQuaid discusses his research on the gradual cognizance and acceptance of queer autoworkers in the twentieth century, leading toward the UAW’s rapid embrace of LGBTQ-friendly policies and initiatives in the 1990s. He shares compelling stories of several queer auto workers, including: Billie Hill discovering a lesbian enclave in a Highland Park plant in the 1940s; Gary Kapanowski winning a 1973 union election despite being aggressively outed by a rival the day before; Joni Christian, a transgender woman whose union leadership at the GM Lordstown saved her job after returning to work following sexual reassignment surgery in the 1970s; and Ron Woods and Martha Grevatt, who in speaking out about the harassment they faced successfully led the UAW and Chrysler to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. McQuaid received the 2020 Wayne State History Department’s Joe L. Norris Endowed Award for his essay, “The First Ladies of Labor: How Women Challenged Restrictive Gender Conventions and Established Lesbian Identities on the UAW Shop Floor During World War II.” His dissertation is tentatively titled “This Union Cause: The Queer History of the United Automobile Workers.”

Related Resources:
The Kapanowski Challenge: How Rank and File UAW Members Rallied Around Gay Activists to Fight Runaway Shops in 1972 Detroit

Related Collections:
Ed Liska Papers
Olga Madar Papers
UAW Region 1B Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: James McQuaid
Sound: Troy Eller English
With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


Hooked On The Line: Addiction and the North American Workplace, 1965-1995 (Part 1)



This is the first of a two-part interview with Dr. Jeremy Milloy about his forthcoming book, “Hooked On The Line: Addiction and the North American Workplace, 1965-95,” which explores the evolution of alcohol and drug addiction interventions in the workplace in the latter half of the 20th century. In this episode, Milloy explores the early days of addiction intervention in the workplace through programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and then delves into an experimental, grant-funded UAW program in the 1970s called CHIP – Curb Heroin in Plants. An employee-led initiative, CHIP sought to treat heroin dependence in autoworkers through a combination of counseling and methadone maintenance.

Dr. Milloy is a postdoctoral fellow at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. His work explores work, violence, addiction, and capitalism in Canada and the United States.

Related Collections
UAW Chrysler Department Records
UAW President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records
UAW Region 1 Records
UAW Vice President’s Office: Irving Bluestone Records
Walter P. Reuther Library Vertical Files Collection

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewer: Meghan Courtney
Interviewee: Jeremy Milloy
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


“Taxing Limits: The Political Economy of American School Finance”



Kelly Goodman speaks about the political history of funding education through local and state taxes. Having worked as a data analyst for the Detroit public schools, Goodman pursued graduate school to explore the structural issues surrounding questions she often found herself asking: why are some schools perceived to be bad? Why do some schools receive less funding than others? How does the economy work, and for whom?

To answer those questions, Goodman’s research for her dissertation, “Taxing Limits: The Political Economy of American School Finance,” reorients political history around enduring tensions between the control of decisions and the allocation of money in federalism by exploring the 1930s and 1970s public budget crises in Michigan and California. Both states were notable for their powerful labor unions and business associations, and for their pioneering role in applying the fiscal concept of tax limitation to constrain, not cut, government. Her extended research at the Reuther Library has led her deep into the archives of the American Federation of Teachers and AFT tax guru Arthur Elder, as well as records documenting the UAW’s political actions on school finance and teacher organizing. Goodman is Ph.D. candidate in History at Yale University.

Related Collections
AFL-CIO Metropolitan Detroit Records
AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records
Selma Borchardt Papers
Arthur Elder Papers
Michigan Federation of Teachers Records
Michigan AFL-CIO Records
UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Kelly Goodman
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink