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UAW Vice President's Office: Ken Bannon Records

Identifier: LR000935

Scope and Content

The papers of Ken Bannon reflect his activities as Director of the UAW Ford Department and union Vice President, and to a lesser extent his work on the IMF Automotive Council, and for various health and hospital organizations.

Series 1: Ford Negotiations, 1955-1976 Correspondence, reports, notes, newspaper clippings, and other material relating to the contract negotiations between Ford and the UAW, which were headed by Bannon as Director of the UAW Ford Department. Some of the subjects covered are pension and supplemental unemployment benefit plans, cost-of-living, production standards, and the skilled trades.

Series 2: National Ford Council and Subcouncil, 1955-1979 Minutes, reports, resolutions, and other items generated at National Ford Council, Subcouncil and other related meetings. The Council and Subcouncils coordinated organizational activities, and made recommendations on the handling of grievances and negotiations between Ford and the UAW. Among the important subjects in this series are skilled trades controversies and UAW political activities.

Series 3: National Ford Department, 1940-1975 Correspondence, reports, leaflets, and notes concerning events of special interest or importance to the UAW Ford Department. This includes the organizing drive at Ford in the early 1940's, UAW strikes at Ford plants, Ford plant closings, and unemployment compensation eligibility.

Series 4: Ford Motor Company, 1947-1976 Correspondence, press releases, speeches, charts, newspaper clippings, and other reference material relating to the structure, finances, personnel and practices of Ford Company. Some subjects covered are labor-management relations, automation, international political affairs, and the quality of work life.

Series 5: UAW Conventions and Conferences, 1962-1977, Correspondence, officers' reports, leaflets, speech notes, and other items collected at UAW conventions and conferences at which Bannon was a frequent participant and speaker. Important areas covered in this series are elections of UAW leadership, the union's educational and recreational programs, and UAW strike activities and political action.

Series 6: Speech Notes and Background Material, 1957-1979 Correspondence, reports, pamphlets, and other items used by Bannon as background material for speeches he gave at both UAW and community related events. Also included in this series are invitations to the events and texts of many of the speeches. Important subjects covered are automation, imports and exports in the automobile industry, the recession of the early 1970' s, and UAW political activities.

Series 7: Subject Reference, Files, 1944-1978 Correspondence, notes, reports, leaflets, and other material which served as a subject reference file for Bannon and the UAW Ford Department. Among the topics included in this series are automation, the skilled trades, production standards, other unions, and various left-wing organizations.

Series 8: Newspaper Clippings, 1947-1977 Newspaper clippings collected by Barman concerning some major events in the history of the UAW including the rise of Walter Reuther to the UAW Presidency, the attempted assassination of Victor and Walter Reuther, Ford recognition of the UAW, and anti-corrmunist investigations of UAW Local 600. Also included is a file of biographical material on Bannon.

Series 9: International Metalworkers' Federation, 1956-1976 Correspondence, reports, notes, newsletters, and other material collected by Bannon while he served as UAW representative and delegate to the Ford section of the IMF. As representative, Bannon attended IMF conferences and traveled extensively to foreign countries to view the automobile industry and conditions of the workers in those countries. Subjects of interest in this series include international labor solidarity, labor-management relations, and automobile production and competition in Europe and Japan.

Series 10: Hospital and Health Insurance Organizaitons, 1958-1980 Sub Series A: Community Health Association, 1958-1980 Correspondence, reports, minutes, and other material relating to the structure and functioning of the Community Health Association, a health insurance organization which provided service to many UAW members. Bannon served on the Board of Director of the CHA from 1964 until 1972. Included in this series is information on the Association's relationship with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and efforts to establish prepaid insurance plans for various workers in Detroit.

Sub Series B: Metropolitan Hospital, 1967-1980 Corresondence, financial statements, notes and other items collected or created by Bannon while he was a member of the Metropolitan Hospital Board of Directors from 1972 until 1980. This series contains information on the organization and administration of Metropolitan Hospital, and on the labor disputes between the Hospital and Local 42, OPEIU.

Sub Series C: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 1970-1980 Correspondence, reports, minutes, and newspaper clippings collected by Bannon while he was a Consumer/Labor representative on the Blue Cross/ Blue Shield Board of Directors from 1970 until 1980. This series contains information on the increasing cost of medical insurance and cost contain- ment, consumer protection in the health insurance field, and the restructuring of Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the late 1970's.


  • 1940 - 1980


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.


Ken Bannon was bom in Scranton, Pennsylvania on June 27, 1914. His family moved to Pittston, Pennsylvania in 1929, and Bannon graduated from Pittston High School with honors in 1933. While in Pittston, Bannon worked in the coal mines and was a member of the United Mine Workers. He married Alice McHale in 1935.

Bannon came to Detroit in 1936, and in November of that year, he became an employee at the River Rouge plant of the Ford Motor Company. In 1937 he joined the UAW and was active in the initial organizing drive at Ford which ended in the signing of the first UAW-Ford agreement in June 1941. Bannon served as steward, committeeman and unit bargaining committee member for UAW Local 600 in the Rouge plant until he was transferred to the Ford Highland Park plant in 1943. During World War II, Bannon was inducted into the Navy and served for 16 months from 1943 to 1945. Following an honorable discharge, he returned to the Highland Park plant and was elected chairman of UAW Local 400's bargaining committee and in 1946 he was elected president of the Local.

In 1947, Bannon was appointed UAW National Ford Director by president Walter Reuther. As Director he led all negotiations with Ford until his retirement from the UAW in 1980. In the 1960's, in addition to his work with Ford, Bannon also served as the chief negotiator with Bendix and Borg-Warner; and at various times he was the director of the Midland-Ross, Federal Mogul, Walker, McQuay-Norris, Modine, Ex-Cell-0, and Houdaille intra-corporation councils. He was named Director of the UAW Aerospace Department in 1970. Bannon was elected to the UAW International Executive Board as an at-large member in 1962 and served in that capacity until he was elected as a UAW vice president in 1970.

In addition to his numerous positions within the UAW, Bannon was a delegate to the Ford section of the International Metalworkers Federation's World Automotive Council. He served on the Board of Directors of the Community Health Association from 1964 until 1970 and was president of the CHA Board from 1970-1972, he was a member of the Metropolitan Hospital Board of Directors from 1972-1975, and was Board president from 1975 until 1980, and he was a Consumer/Labor Representative on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Board of Directors throughout the 1970's. Also, Bannon served on the Wayne County Foster Children's Committee and the Advisory Council of Oakland Community College, and he was on the Board of Directors of the Detroit United Foundation and the Boy Scouts of America.


39 Linear Feet (79 MB, 1 OS)


Subjects include: automation, Canadian Ford Workers, health & safety, health insurance, labor-management relations, pension plans, production standards, skilled trades, UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining Agreements, UAW factionalism, UAW Ford Department, IMF Automotive Council


Arranged in 10 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-31), Series 2 (Boxes 32-40), Series 3 (Boxes 40-47), Series 4 (Boxes 48-51), Series 5 (Boxes 51-54), Series 6 (Boxes 54-59), Series 7 (Boxes 59-66), Series 8 (Boxes 66-67), Series 9 (Boxes 68-69, and Series 10 (Boxes 69-79). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The papers of Ken Bannon were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1979 and 1980.

Related Materials

UAW collections


Approximately one-half linear foot of photographs relating to UAW Conventions, UAW-Ford collective bargaining teams, the strike by UAW Local 588 in 1963, and Ken Bannon and also records and tapes of UAW Collective bargaining programs have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collections. Approximately three linear feet of UAW and Ford Motor Company pamphlets, and UAW newspapers received with this collection are available in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in March 1983.
Guide to the UAW Vice President's Office: Ken Bannon Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
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