Latest Solidarity Issue

Wray McCalester is the UAW

For all he does to help the homeless, the working poor and the uninsured,


As the minister of a small church in northern Indiana, UAW Local 2209 retiree Wray McCalester could see the need for a free health clinic. So he started one. PHOTO: MARK GEVAART / UAW LOCAL 2209
As the minister of a small church in northern Indiana, UAW Local 2209 retiree Wray McCalester could see the need for a free health clinic. So he started one. PHOTO: MARK GEVAART / UAW LOCAL 2209

After all those years working at the General Motors Fort Wayne (Ind.) Assembly plant, UAW Local 2209 member Wray McCalester was looking forward to retirement so he could do whatever he wanted.

It turns out what he really wanted to do after 31 years with GM was open a free health clinic for the homeless, working poor and uninsured in his tiny community of Wolflake in northern Indiana.

“The UAW has been great for me and my family, and it has benefited the community in more ways than it knows,” he said. “But as pastor of a small United Methodist Church here, I could see all the people who were coming in looking for health care. There’s no doctor, and many people don’t have insurance or the transportation to get to the next town where there is a doctor.”

Since last November, McCalester and a team of 45 volunteers – including eight doctors and nurse practitioners, 15 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, and the rest clerks and housekeepers – have been keeping the Wolflake Free Medical Clinic open from 1-8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. The clinic operates out of several rooms in a former hospital that closed more than 50 years ago and became a museum.

Most UAW members would never have heard McCalester’s story or the dozens of other stories from UAW members if it wasn’t for the new “I Am the UAW” Web site and TV advertising campaign.

The union’s new broadcast, cable and Internet advertising campaign tells the story of the UAW by telling the stories of individual UAW members.

The Web site, www.IAmtheUAW.org, is the union’s way of letting Americans know that UAW members not only live and work in their communities but are their friends and neighbors, too. Every day UAW members work to improve their workplaces and communities, and the Web site is one way of sharing the stories that come out of that activism.

One person who heard about the union’s new public relations campaign was Brett Molitor, a UAW member and Employee Development Trainer at GM’s Fort Wayne plant.

“After I heard about the campaign from a union meeting, I went immediately to the Web site,” he said. “Indiana is not very union friendly. The I Am the UAW campaign seemed like a good way to put a face to union people.”

The first face that came to mind was that of his buddy, Wray McCalester. Molitor took advantage of the opportunity offered by the Web site to tell the retiree’s inspiring story of helping others.

“I would like to tell you about a new retiree … (who) has started a new FREE clinic in his community. He said when he retired his top goal … was to do this,” Molitor wrote online.

McCalester and the other free clinic volunteers are devoted to helping the working poor in northern Indiana with their dental infections, broken bones and high blood pressure. But they can’t wait for the day when their services are no longer needed.

“It’s shameful that a country as rich as ours doesn’t have national health care that covers everybody,” said McCalester, who’s also working to hasten the day when he can retire once more.

You can tell your story – or someone else’s – in text, audio or video. Simply click on IAmtheUAW.org.

From the president

It’s time for a change


For too long and in too many ways, working people have been getting a raw deal.

For most of his term in office, President Bush had support of a rubber-stamp Republican Congress. Together, they demonstrated in real and painful ways what happens when corporate interests control the agenda: lost jobs, lost homes, depleted resources and devastated communities.

Is this still the land of opportunity? Is this the American Dream?

It’s time to take back this country on behalf of the working people who made it great in the first place. It’s time to restore the American Dream for ourselves and our children.

UAW members from across the country hit the ground running in February at the 2008 Community Action Program (CAP) Legislative Conference. Delegates went to Capitol Hill and told legislators from both political parties that our country must tackle key issues, like putting a halt to bad trade agreements that benefit big business but hurt workers in all countries.

UAW members also insist that our nation pay immediate attention to the 47 million Americans with no health insurance. Members of our union have always believed that health care should be a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

We also told members of Congress that it’s time to end threats by employers against workers who are trying to form a union. It’s time to restore the National Labor Relations Act to its original purpose: protecting workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively for better jobs.

The results of the primary elections show that the vast majority of Americans agree: Our country needs a fundamental change in direction. Although our union has not yet made an endorsement in the presidential race, we have two excellent candidates to choose from.

By contrast, John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, is bad news for America and American workers. He thinks, for example, that NAFTA was a terrific idea. Instead of fighting to preserve American jobs, he bluntly says: The jobs aren’t coming back. He also says we might be in Iraq for 100 years, supports privatization of Social Security and wants to make Bush’s unfair tax cuts for the rich permanent.

His record is just as bad when it comes to workers’ rights. He has voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would help restore the right to organize; raising the minimum wage, which would help lift working poor out of poverty; and extending unemployment benefits, which could help laid-off workers stay in their homes and help stabilize local economies in these hard times.

The choice for change in the coming election will be clear. Our efforts will be strong and focused, because UAW activists know that every phone call we make, every door we knock on and every person we drive to the polls can make a huge difference.

Our active and retired members – and millions of working families – are counting on us. We will not let them down.

Ron Gettelfinger

Persistence pays off for Foxwoods workers; first-ever contract ratified with Mashantucket tribe

02/04/10

NORWICH, Conn. -- Having a first-ever union contract means more than a pay raise and improved health and safety and job security for Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand casino workers.

It also means members of UAW Local 2121 are now true partners in the future success of the largest U.S. gaming complex. On Jan. 29, casino workers, on a 1,053-355 vote, approved a two-year contract that establishes a model for the Native American-owned gaming industry.

It's all due to the persistence of c

UAW Local 2121 members vote on their contract.
UAW Local 2121 member Kim Jubrey casts her vote on the contract with Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino. The contract was ratified by a 3-to-1 ratio. Photo by Scott Sommer.
asino dealers who wanted a voice on the job and the union they asked to help guide them.

"We worked hard to get dealers a fair contract," said Yan Mei Shi, a six-year veteran dealer and member of the bargaining committee. "Dealers deserve job stability and fair treatment on the job, and this agreement is a great advancement."  

In the contract reached with the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, workers will receive a 12 percent wage increase over two years, a more equitable distribution of tokes (tips) that is designed to lead to significant increases for the overwhelming majority of dealers, protections from second-hand smoke –- including a unique smoke-free 24-table section, among other improved benefits.

Foxwoods dealers asked the UAW for help three years ago. The road to this contract was difficult, but the UAW bargaining committee was up to the challenge.

"These workers stuck together for over three years, and it shows if you have the determination to win, it can happen, and workers united can succeed," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, where Foxwoods is located. "The bargaining committee and dealers should be applauded for their perseverance in accomplishing a collective bargaining agreement under tribal law. This is a historic achievement.

"We will work wholeheartedly to let people know that this is a great place to come for a union-friendly, worker-friendly gaming experience," Madore added.

The agreement stops the erosion of full-time jobs with benefits by reducing the number of casual dealers, who will be promoted to regular part-time jobs with benefits. Workers also won a real and fair grievance procedure, and programs to reduce repetitive stress and a major extension of medical leave.

"We put a stop to the erosion of full-time jobs and fought to make sure more people have jobs with benefits," added Denise Gladue, a 15-year dealer. "There are a lot of safety issues like arm and shoulder injuries from dealing. This contract is the first step to address that and many other issues."

The UAW represents gaming employees at four casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and three in Detroit, and has made a commitment to help casino workers everywhere to improve conditions at their workplaces.

"Dealers across the country have been watching this process, and we are confident that this agreement will serve as an inspiration to them," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department.

"We look forward to working with the dealers at Foxwoods and MGM and dealers at other tribal casinos interested in improving their working conditions through a collective voice on the job."

 

 

Inside This Issue...

Features

    Union Front

      Departments

        Mar / Apr  2008

        Mar / Apr 2008

        Solidarity

        March-April 2008
        Vol. 51, No. 3-4

        International Union, UAW
        President: Ron Gettelfinger
        Secretary-treasurer: Elizabeth Bunn
        Vice presidents: General Holiefield, Bob King, Cal Rapson, Jimmy Settles, Terry Thurman
        Regional directors: Joseph Peters, 1; Rory Gamble, 1A; Duane Zuckschwerdt, 1C; Don Oetman, 1D; Lloyd Mahaffey, 2B; Maurice Davison, 3; Dennis Williams, 4; Jim Wells, 5; Gary Casteel, 8; Joe Ashton, 9; Bob Madore, 9A

        Public Relations and Publications Department
        Director: Roger Kerson
        Assistant director: Christine Moroski
        International representatives: Gwynne Marie Cobb, Sandra Davis, Emily Everett, John Hammond, Vince Piscopo, Joan Silvi, Sam Stark, and Solidarity editor Jennifer John, members of CWA/The Newspaper Guild Local 34022.
        Clerical staff: Susan Fisher, Pauline Mitchell and Shelly Restivo, members of OPEIU Local 494.


        The wit and wisdom of Doug


        “I suppose you could say I belonged to the union before I went to work because we talked about it all the time.”

        “I was a teenager in the Depression. I saw misery and despair. I was angry at the injustice of it all and it had an impact on me the rest of my life.”

        (On working in a 1930s auto factory)
        “The best way to describe it … there was no dignity. You couldn’t question any decisions and you couldn’t dissent.”

        “We’re willing to sacrifice, but only if there’s an equality of sacrifice – if every segment of the economy sacrifices equally. We’ve been saying for a long time that there is not a wage-price spiral at all now but a price-wage spiral.”

        “Workers must have a say in the corporate decision-making process that so affects their lives.”

        “Nothing's too good for the workers.”

        (In response to an economist in 1980 saying autoworkers should stop complaining about low-wage competition and take a big pay cut) “No one has a bigger stake in the fight to remain noncompetitive with foreign producers than the worker. … Competing on wages with countries that share only minimally the benefits of productivity with their workers can hardly be an appropriate national goal for America.”

        “The true spirit of our democratic society embraces the fundamental rights of workers to organize and to have safe and secure jobs in democratic workplaces.”

        (On passing the presidential gavel to Owen Bieber)
        “He had a hell of a time getting it out of my hand.”

        A daughter’s remembrances


        <p>Jeanne Fraser, center, with dad Doug and sister Judy</p>

        Jeanne Fraser, center, with dad Doug and sister Judy

        (Editor's note: Jeanne Fraser is Doug's youngest daughter. Her mother, Eva Falk, was Doug's first wife, who died in 1968. Jeanne, an OPEIU 494 member, has worked at Solidarity House, the UAW headquarters in Detroit, since 1963. Here are some fond memories of her father on various topics, as told to Jennifer John.)

        On coming to America

        He'd visited Scotland many times since coming to America when he was 6. We even had a Fraser family tartan plaid with our own crest.

        My dad remembered coming over. His mother was deathly ill the entire two-week trip on the ship. Once here he always wore knickers and kids at school teased him about them, so his mother got him pants.

        Oddly enough, dad always had a thing about tablecloths being on the table whenever we went out to eat. We never understood why until one day he told us about how he and his sister Sally used to sneak up to the ship's first class dining room, climb under the tables – covered with white tablecloths – and bring bread to their mother.

        On being in the Army

        He actually used to march my sister Judy and I into dinner. We thought he must have been a general or some big shot. Turns out he was only in the Army for nine months and he never left the states. He liked to joke that the war ended because he enlisted. He also talked about a bridge he helped build during the service. We always kidded him that we'd never, ever want to cross that bridge because frankly he wasn’t much of a handyman.

        On Walter Reuther

        To this day, dad said he dreamed about Walter, whom he considered his mentor. My father thought Walter was such a visionary, so ahead of his time. He often quoted Walter regarding the media saying, “You need to talk to the press because they never run out of ink.”

        On not becoming UAW president

        After Walter’s death, dad never politicked and never asked for a vote. He knew Leonard (Woodcock) had been there longer and was due. My dad narrowly lost the board's poll and withdrew his bid for the good of the union.

        On a possible bid for the U.S. Senate

        It's not what he wanted. His heart, his soul was the UAW.

        On becoming UAW president

        We were all in Texas for the UAW Convention. It meant the world to him to become UAW president. And, just like Walter did, he never sat down while a UAW convention was in session.

        On leadership

        He really believed that if you were secure in yourself, you should always treat people with respect no matter who they are, from janitors to heads of state. He loved people and being with them. But he never took advantage of his position, like cutting in line to get a table ahead of others. He just never did that sort of thing.

        On what she most admired about him

        His humanity. He used to say “always ask why” before you judge anyone. He taught me the importance of empathy.

        On his easy-going manner

        That was just him. When we were kids, he never raised his voice or a hand to us. He'd just raise his eyebrows. Like all of us, he had his faults, but he was a genuinely caring and loving man. He was so extraordinary.

        On retirement

        He loved teaching. Once he was lecturing at a college that was more conservative than most, and afterward several students came up to him and said he didn't fit their stereotype of a union leader: an overweight, cigar-chomping, foul-mouthed boss. Without missing a beat, dad said, “You just described Lee Iacocca.”

        On keeping life interesting

        He always looked forward to getting up every morning to read the New York Times because he said, “I knew there was always something that would p-ss me off and get my adrenalin going!”

        On his legacy

        As hard as it was and as much as he did during those Chrysler years with the strike and bailout – and he had many sleepless nights – he felt that was nothing compared to what was going on in the labor movement now, or to what Ron Gettelfinger had to deal with in the 2007 auto negotiations.

        On politics

        He loved politics and really looked forward to this year’s presidential election. In fact, at one of our last dinners together he made a toast and said he wanted to live at least until January 2009 to see a Democrat in the White House again.

        On dying

        Did he ever think about it? Yes. What did he think about it? He didn't want to.

        His example is one we all can follow

        Tributes


        The UAW president supports air traffic controllers in the PATCO strike.
        The UAW president supports air traffic controllers in the PATCO strike.

        Mr. Fraser devoted his life to improving the workplace by ensuring workers receive fair pay, enjoy job security and are in a safe environment. He believed everyone must be treated with dignity and respect at work, and his example is one we all can follow.

        Irvin D. Reid, president
        Wayne State University, Detroit

        He made you feel good merely by thrusting out his hand and greeting you with that beaming smile. The positive, uplifting impression he always conveyed, not only of himself, but also of the union he represented, will be with us forever.

        Theodore J. St. Antoine,
        UAW Public Review Board

        Doug was one of those labor leaders who transcends individual union boundaries.

        Leo W. Gerard, president
        United Steelworkers of America

        Doug’s work on behalf of our movement was extraordinary. He was a union builder who always had time to help not only the UAW, but the rest of us.

        Larry Cohen, president
        Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC

        Doug was a fierce advocate for workers who certainly would strongly challenge corporations whenever he thought that was appropriate. But Doug also was a strong advocate for cooperative win-win efforts between business and labor, which was and is a UAW tradition.

        Larry Horwitz, president,
        The Economic Alliance for Michigan

        He worked to better the lives of all Americans on matters of great importance: health, working conditions, jobs, education and quality of life.

        Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

        He was probably the most respected labor leader in America, and he had great political charm, as well as substantive commitment.

        Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard

        Doug Fraser was a friend and a man of integrity who dedicated his heart and soul to working people. When he retired from serving his fellow UAW members, he went on to do the most noble thing: He taught others what he learned over his lifetime of service.

        Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm

        Ford Motor Co. will always owe Doug a debt of gratitude for the courage he showed during the 1982 contract negotiations in structuring an agreement that helped preserve the U.S. auto industry during tough economic times. He will be greatly missed.

        Bill Ford, chairman
        Ford Motor Co.

        Just another day on the job, working for the people

        Retirement


        With former UAW Vice President Irving Bluestone in his classroom at Wayne State
        With former UAW Vice President Irving Bluestone in his classroom at Wayne State

        Doug’s retirement years were shaped by the same goal that had always been a driving force in his life: educating people to build a stronger union and a better society.

        “The labor movement, the whole movement, is a constant struggle. It’s a never-ending struggle. And you have to view it that way. And if you rest on your oars, then you’re going to witness the demise of the labor movement. Practically, I can’t see that happening,” he said in a National Public Radio interview in 1997.

        Doug joined the Wayne State University (WSU) faculty shortly after his retirement as UAW president in 1983. He taught masters level courses in labor and industrial relations, and undergraduate classes in labor studies.

        Although he dropped out of high school in his senior year, Doug became a self-made scholar. One of the first classes Doug taught was “The Labor Movement in the Next Decade.”

        “The people in the plants today are younger. They’re more educated. They raise more questions. They’re more demanding. They will simply not accept the working conditions of their fathers or grandfathers,” he said in a lecture at Harvard University in 1984.

        Doug’s work as a teacher and scholar earned him recognition from some of this nation’s top universities, and he received numerous honorary degrees.

        “Students loved him. Doug had a keen intellect second to none, and a wealth of experience in the labor movement and American politics, and the ability to teach from that vast experience. He was a great professor,” said Mike Smith, director of WSU’s Walter P. Reuther Library.

        In November 1997 the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs at WSU created the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues. In recent years, Doug helped the Reuther Library preserve the historical record of the UAW and the American labor union movement.

        In 2006 Doug received one of the greatest honors he could ever imagine: the Walter P. Reuther Humanitarian Award.

        The organizer becomes a beloved labor leader

        UAW presidency


        Leonard Woodcock passes the gavel to Doug at the UAW Constitutional Convention in May 1977.
        Leonard Woodcock passes the gavel to Doug at the UAW Constitutional Convention in May 1977.

        On May 18, 1977, delegates to the 25th UAW Constitutional Convention chose Doug Fraser as their next president – and the former DeSoto factory worker was off and running.

        “In his first 30 days,” reported Solidarity magazine in June 1977, “he led a delegation to press President Carter for health security legislation, testified before Congress on energy and health bills, faced reporters on ‘Meet the Press,’ and addressed several union meetings.”

        At his first press conference at Solidarity House, Doug endorsed the push by consumer advocates to build safer cars, with air bags and automatic seat belts. “I think the autoworkers,” he said, “are free to take a position on any social question.”

        Indeed. Doug led the UAW during six turbulent years, characterized by a crisis in domestic auto manufacturing, a surge in imported vehicles, high inflation, high energy prices, and the growth of a right-wing political movement which supported Big Business attacks against working families.

        Doug helped UAW members fight back by creating progressive coalitions to link the struggles of working people with related movements for social change.

        Doug led UAW members in marching for the Equal Rights Amendment, lobbied with Coretta Scott King for the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, called for a freeze on car prices, and withdrew UAW funds from banks that provided loans to South Africa, still struggling under the weight of apartheid.

        “We in the UAW don’t believe that the hard-earned dues money of our 1.5 million members should wind up being used directly or indirectly to aid a country that practices such racist, repressive and undemocratic policies,” said Doug.

        In July 1978, furious at a big business campaign to scuttle a modest program of labor law reform, Doug resigned from the Labor-Management Group, a top-level forum for union and industry leaders. In a scathing letter of resignation, Doug accused business elites of waging a “one-sided class war” against workers, the unemployed, the poor and minorities.

        Doug then took the initiative to organize the Progressive Alliance, bringing together more than 100 labor unions, environmental groups, women’s organizations and consumer groups, including the Friends of the Earth, the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and many others.

        The Alliance rallied liberals and leftists around a program of full employment, alternative energy, expanded rights for women, health and safety in the workplace, and firm protections for consumers.

        Saving Chrysler

        In 1979 UAW members and families faced a crisis that required every conceivable ounce of Doug’s skills as a bargainer, organizer and coalition-builder. Beset by years of bad management decisions, the Chrysler Corp. was on the verge of bankruptcy.

        With the lights about to go out on more than 100,000 UAW jobs – and tens of thousands more in supplier plants – the union organized a massive grassroots lobbying effort, which successfully convinced Congress to provide $1.2 billion in federal loan guarantees. The deal never cost taxpayers a penny because Chrysler paid back its loans. But Chrysler workers made real sacrifices, contributing over $1.7 billion in concessions to keep the company afloat.

        A great American company was saved, along with tens of thousands of jobs and the communities that depend on them. Ever afterward, Doug made sure everyone knew who deserved the real credit.

        “It was Chrysler workers,” he said, “who saved the Chrysler Corporation!”

        Stopping GM’s ‘Southern strategy’

        Also in 1979, the UAW was successful in stopping GM’s “Southern strategy” of shifting work to nonunion plants in the South. Workers at GM’s Oklahoma City plant voted by more than 2-to-1 in favor of becoming part of the UAW, and the union soon organized all the facilities GM had opened in Southern states.

        In 1980 Doug traveled to Japan, urging auto companies there to open plants in the United States. “If you’re going to sell cars in the United States,” he said, “you should build cars in the United States.” Japanese companies eventually followed his advice, leading to a major presence of foreign nameplate operations on U.S. soil.

        In 1981, after UAW convention delegates voted in favor of the move, Doug led the UAW back into the AFL-CIO. The reaffiliation came just in time for UAW members to participate in Solidarity Day, a giant demonstration in Washington, D.C., against Ronald Reagan’s anti-labor policies – including the firing of striking air traffic controllers – and his unfair budget cuts, which fell mostly on poor and working Americans.

        Back to bargaining

        In 1982, with GM and Ford facing financial difficulties, Doug led the UAW in an early round of auto talks. Union bargainers agreed to contract modifications, but also won limits on outsourcing and new job security agreements at GM and Ford.

        Chrysler workers, meanwhile, began the long march back to parity, closing half the gap between their wages and their counterparts at Ford and GM.

        To address the crisis in auto manufacturing, the union initiated a major push for domestic content legislation, which would have required cars built in the United States to include a fixed portion of parts made in the United States. The bill would have protected as many as 1 million U.S. manufacturing jobs.

        Doug continued the UAW’s fight against apartheid in South Africa, and also lent union support to the struggling Solidarity movement in Poland. And a short item in Solidarity magazine in May 1982 notes that the UAW had joined a successful effort to pressure Brazil’s military dictators to free an imprisoned labor leader known as Lula – Luis Inacia da Silva.

        Lula, a metalworker who is also head of the Brazilian Workers’ Party, is now the president of Brazil.

        Passing the torch

        In 1983 Doug stepped down – reluctantly – as UAW president. “Owen will have to pry the gavel from my hands,” he told Automotive News. “I just don’t want to go.”

        He wasn’t the only one. Many union members were reluctant to see a beloved union leader leave his post. But like many before him, Fraser turned his responsibilities over to a new generation of leaders, and saw UAW members continue as strong defenders of workers’ rights, and strong partners for social and political change.

        ‘I’ve made up my mind what I want to do with my life’

        Rising through the ranks


        <p>Doug was elected Local 227 president in 1943. His slate card read: "Doug Fraser Eats, Breathes and Lives Unionism."</p>

        Doug was elected Local 227 president in 1943. His slate card read: "Doug Fraser Eats, Breathes and Lives Unionism."

        From his very first days on the job, Doug knew he wanted to be a union activist.

        Unfortunately, management knew that, too. Doug was fired from his first two jobs for trying to organize a union.

        “At the second place, they broke into my toolbox and found authorization cards, so they found a way to fire me,” he recalled in an interview.

        It was at the Ever-Hot Heating Company, his second job, that Doug experienced many of the indignities workers regularly faced on the job before unions and learned the lesson, “Don't forget where you come from.”

        “The toilet was square in the center of the shop and from your waist up was plain glass. So when you go in to the toilet ... the boss could see you at all times,” Doug recalled.

        In 1936 he found a job at the Chrysler-owned McGraw Street DeSoto plant on Detroit’s west side, where his father, Samuel Douglas Fraser, worked as an electrician. The younger Fraser worked as a conveyor loader and later as a metal finisher, earning $1.15 an hour, 15 cents more than an auto assembler.

        During the March 1937 sit-down strikes at nine Chrysler plants in Detroit, both Doug Frasers sat in at Dodge Main.

        Meanwhile, young Doug’s co-workers were quickly recognizing his leadership skills, electing him as steward, chief steward and recording secretary before electing him as UAW Local 227 president at age 26 in 1943.

        Management was equally impressed with Doug’s leadership skills and offered him a supervisory position. A company official suggested that he take some time to think about the offer.

        “It’s no point,” Doug recalled in a 1983 Detroit Free Press interview. “I don’t need any time. I’ve made up my mind what I want to do with my life.”

        Having made up his mind, Doug applied all his energy and talent to building a strong local union, a strong UAW and a strong labor movement. After serving three terms as local union president, Doug was appointed in 1947 to the UAW’s International staff and assigned to the Chrysler Department.

        During the historic 104-day strike against Chrysler in 1950 that won pensions for autoworkers, Doug’s negotiating skills caught the eye of then-UAW President Walter Reuther who appointed him as his administrative assistant in 1951.

        In 1959 Doug was elected co-director of UAW Region 1A. In 1962 he was elected by the UAW Constitutional Convention as an International Executive Board member-at-large, and in 1970 UAW delegates elected Doug as a vice president of the UAW, where he headed the Chrysler Department.

        As a UAW officer, Doug stayed closely connected with the UAW’s rank and file. Whenever he conducted factory floor tours, Doug took time out to talk with workers one on one.

        Doug was popular with the members, even when the news he brought them wasn’t always good. They liked that he was straight with them, and everyone called him Doug.

        Although he never finished high school, Doug was an avid reader. As a union leader, he was known for discussing economics with corporate executives, major social issues with political officials and shop floor concerns with factory workers.

        Doug always said he tried to model himself after Reuther’s social unionism style of leadership.

        A well-known political activist, he was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate from Michigan, even before he became a UAW vice president.

        In 1973 when Coleman Young was elected as the first African-American mayor of Detroit, at a time when police-community relations were an especially challenging issue, he turned to Doug to serve as chairman of the Detroit Police Commission. To unite the city, the new mayor needed someone whose judgment and integrity were universally respected. Doug was the perfect choice.

        In 1974 Doug was named chairman of the Detroit United Way, the first labor leader ever to head up the charity’s fund drive in that city.

        For his decades of volunteer work in the community, the UAW named the Douglas A. Fraser Community Services Swift Award in his honor.