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UAW General Motors Department Records

Identifier: LR000113
Part I: Important subjects: Membership and Union Shop Drives, 1948-1950 Strikes, 1945-1946

Correspondents: W. H. Anderson; John W. Livingston; Thomas A. Johnstone; Walter Reuther; Homer Martin; Emil Mazey; Charles E. Wilson

Series Description: Series 1: General Correspondence, 1938-1945: A. Letters to Locals, 1938-1943 B. Correspondence, UAW and GM, 1938-1945

Series 2: Membership and Union Shop Drives, 1948-1950: A. Member Drive, 1948 B. Union Shop Drive, 1948 C. Union Shop and Membership Drives, 1948-1948: Progress Reports, arranged by locals D. Union Shop and Membership Drives, 1949-1950.

Series 3: Pension and Retirement Programs, 1949: Correspondence, Reports, Public Addresses, and Agreements.

Series 4: Grievances, 1943-1948

Series 5: Local Demands, 1964: Correspondence, minutes of committee meetings, proposed agreements, and general and local demands.

Series 6: Strieks and Contract Negotiations, 1939-1946

Series 7: Public Addresses, 1942-1963

Series 8: Miscellaneous Material
Part II: Part 2 of the collection contains correspondence, minutes, surveys, newspapers clippings, press statements and other material related to national and local negotiations and strikes. The collection also contains material not directly related to negotiations, including correspondence regarding local leadership disputes, committee minutes, grievance arbitration documents and pamphlets and other printed material.

Important subjects in the collection: Automobile industry and trade--Collective bargaining Automobile industry and trade--Employee attitude surveys Automobile industry and trade--Grievance arbitration Automobile industry and trade--Skilled labor Automobile industry and trade--Strikes and lockouts Automobile industry workers--United States General Motors Corporation General Motors Corporation--Fisher Body Division Trade unions--Automobile industry workers UAW Local 659

Important correspondents in the collection: George Addes Irving Bluestone Douglas Fraser Frank James E. J. Moran Leonard Woodcock

Series Description: Series IX, Grievances, 1940-1980 Series X, Local Correspondence and General Files, 1938-1984 Series XI, Negotiations


  • 1938 - 1984


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. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


161 Linear Feet (20 MB, 146 SB)


The UAW GM Department was established in 1938 to handle contract and strike negotiations, grievances, pension and retirement programs, membership and union shop drives and local demands of GM workers. Their records document these activities and include material on the Fisher Body Division and UAW Local 659 in particular.


Part I: The origin of the UAW General Motors Department can be traced to a conference of General Motors delegates representing from 15 to 50 General Motors plants. This conference was called by the International Union and convened in Detroit on June 5 and 6, 1937. The delegates elected a committee of seventeen members who were authorized to draw up a proposed contract with General Motors. This committee was the forerunner of the General Motors Department which was established circa May 1938. Its first director was William E. Dowell who held this position for one year. In the spring of 1939, Walter Reuther took charge of the Department which he directed for six years until he was elected president of the UAW in the fall of 1946. Leonard Woodcock succeeded him.
Part II: The UAW International established the General Motors Department in 1938. The GM Department’s primary purpose is to negotiate agreements between workers in General Motors plants and the corporation.


Part I: Arranged in 8 series - Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 2-5), Series 3 (Box 6), Series 4 (Boxes 7-15), Series 5 (Boxes 16-27), Series 6 (Boxes 28-29), Series 7 (Box 29), Series 8 (Box 30). Arrangement varies by series: Chronological, local number, topic.
Part II: Arranged in 3 series – Series 9 (Box 31-72), Series 10 (Box 73-135) and Series 11 (Box 136-176). Folders are computer-arranged alphabetically within each series in this finding aid, but may actually be dispersed throughout several boxes in the collection. Note carefully the box number for each folder heading.


The papers of the UAW-GM Department were deposited at the Labor History Archives circa 1962-1963.

Related Materials

UAW collections


Part II: Some photographs and bumper stickers have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection, and a large number of contracts have been transferred to the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the UAW General Motors Department Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA