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UAW Health and Safety Department Records

Identifier: LR001576

Scope and Content

The records of the UAW Health and Safety Department include correspondence, departmental publications and radio script dramatizations of incidents from department files, meeting minutes, government agency, union and company plant inspection and accident investigation reports, OSHA and Michigan Department of Labor plant citations, departmental and government research studies of workplace mortality and health and safety hazards as well as materials related to litigation and OSHA hearings that document the activities of the department and worker health and safety issues generally.

Important subjects in the collection: Automobile industry and trade--Health aspects Automobile industry and trade--Safety measures Automobile industry workers--Health and hygiene--United States Carcinogens--Safety measures Chloroform (Freon)--Toxicology Factories--United States--Safety measures Formaldehyde--Health aspects Foundry workers--United States--Health and hygiene Glass fibers--Health aspects Hazardous substances--Law and legislation--United States Hazardous substances--Safety measures--United States Human engineering (ergonomics) Industrial accidents--United States Industrial hygiene--United States Industrial safety--Law and legislation--United States Industrial safety--Standards--United States Lead--Health aspects Metal-working lubricants--Health aspects National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Occupational diseases--Mortality Occupational mortality--United States Reproductive health Safety education, Industrial Silica--Health aspects United States. Occupational Safety and Health Administration United States. Occupational Safety and Health Administration--Confined space entry standard United States. Occupational Safety and Health Administration-Lockout//tagout standard

Important correspondents: Ken Bonkowski, Barrie Brooks, Melvin Glasser, Dan McLeod, Franklin E. Mirer, Rafael Moure, Randy Rabinowitz, Frank Rapp, Michael Silverstein

Series Description: Series 1: Franklin Mirer Correspondence, 1976-1986 Series 2: Office Operations Files, 1947-2003 Series 3: Subject Files, 1960's-1991 Series 4: Local Union Files, 1946-1994


  • 1946 - 2003


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


The UAW recognized the importance of occupational health and safety early in the union's history, establishing the Health and Safety Division in the Social Security Department in February of 1948. A 1949 Administrative Letter stipulated that contract provisions developed by the Health and Safety Division required management to permit the division to make examinations and investigations when requested by plant health and safety committees. In the 1973 contract, the first one to specify in detail measures designed to protect the health and safety of UAW members, professional staff members were designated to sit on the union-company national health and safety committees which plan and supervise the development of company-wide programs.

By the 1980's, however, concerns over health and safety hazards in the workplace had grown to the point where the International Executive Board felt the need to establish an independent department. When it did so in December of 1981, the staff of the UAW Health and Safety Department was recognized as the largest group of its type employed by a North American labor union. The department's first director, Dr. Franklin Mirer, a toxicologist and industrial hygienist and assistant director of the Social Security Department, had been with the UAW since 1975.

UAW Health and Safety Department staff work in coordination with international representatives in national departments and regions and hundreds of full-time local union health and safety representatives to achieve effective health and safety collective bargaining language, to pressure legislators and government agencies to set and enforce safe standards for hazardous materials and conditions in the workplace and to institute programs for in-plant health and safety education.


67.5 Linear Feet (67 SB, 1 MB)


Subjects include: occupational safety and health in the auto industry; UAW bargaining on health and safety issues; workplace chemical hazards; reproductive health hazards; OSHA formaldehyde, lead, lockout/tagout, confined space entry standards; gray iron foundry mortality studies; General Motors Occupational Health Advisory Board; Franklin Mirer; UAW Locals 326, 412, 455, 550, 1200


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-8), Series 2 (Boxes 9-10), Series 3 (Boxes 10-29), and Series 4 (Boxes 29-68).

Folders in Series 1 are arranged chronologically. Folders in Series 2 are arranged alphabetically. Folders in Series 3 are arranged alphabetically. Folders in Series 4 are arranged numerically by local union number.


The records of the UAW Health and Safety Department were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs between 1994 and 2005 by the UAW and opened for research in July of 2005. Records from the late 1940's and early 1950's processed into the UAW Social Security Department: Industrial Health and Safety Division Collection have been incorporated into the new collection.

Related Materials

UAW Occupational Health and Safety (publication), UAW Health and Safety Department: Dr. Michael Silverstein Records, UAW Presidents' Records

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by M. Raucher on July 7, 2005.
Guide to the UAW Health and Safety Department Records
Processed by M. Raucher.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA