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Lewis H. Michener Papers

Identifier: LP000178
Important subjects in the Michener Collection include: Aircraft Organizing Retiree Councils UAW Local 406 UAW Local 923

Important correspondents in the collection are: George Addes John Allard Ken Bannon Charles Bioletti Richard Frankensteen Emil Mazey Dave Miller Walter P. Reuther Paul Schrade

Series Description: Series I, UAW Region 6, 1938-1944, Boxes 1-2: Correspondence, reports, memoranda, UAW International Executive Board proceedings, and transcripts relating to Michener's role in early UAW organizing on the west coast and as director of Region 6 during 1939-1941 and 1943-1944. Some of the material also concern the strike at North American Aviation in June 1941 and the consequences for Michener and other participants.

Series II, UAW Local Union 406, 1945-1959, Boxes 2-6: Correspondence, memoranda, reports, executive board meeting notes, copies of the L.U. 406 Reporter, trial board transcripts, and other materials from Michener's files as president of the local during these years. Included at the end of the series are files relating to the merger of L.U. 406 with L.U. 923 when the Ford Long Beach plant operations were moved to a new site at Pico Rivera, California, in 1959.

Series III, UAW Local Union 923, 1959-1973, Boxes 7-8: Correspondence, memoranda, bulletins, election materials, L.U. 923 newspapers, and Ford Department information.

Series IV, UAW Retiree Councils, 1956-1974, Boxes 9-11: Correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, and newsletters of the Los Angeles Area Retiree Council and the UAW International Retired Workers' Advisory Council. Michener was active in both after his retirement, until his death in 1974.

Series V, Personal Files, 1930 -1974, Boxes 12-13: Correspondence, selective service documents, article written by Michener, and files from various civic and political organizations with whom he and his wife were involved as residents of Pico Rivera, California.


  • 1938 - 1974


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.


6.5 Linear Feet (13 MB)


Lewis Michener was active as a labor organizer in California and held numerous posts as a union official in the aircraft industry, including president of the Los Angeles Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) Industrial Union Council, president of United Auto Workers (UAW) Locals 406 and 923, and UAW West Coast (Region 6) Director. Mr. Michener’s papers relate to his involvement with the UAW and the aircraft industry, and his advocacy for retirees. Important correspondents include Ken Bannon, Emil Mazey and Walter Reuther.


Lewis Michener was born in Bozeman, Montana, on December 1, 1908. After completing eighth grade he worked in the Butte mines and in a packing house, and joined the Butte Butchers Union, AFL, in 1924. He went to California in 1933 and began work at the Ford Motor Company in Richmond where he became assistant foreman in the enamel department and was involved in attempts to organize workers. By 1935 he had transferred to the Ford Long Beach plant and was active in organizing auto and aircraft workers all over southern California. In December 1936 he moved to Chrysler Corporation at Maywood, California, and joined the UAW when a local was chartered in his plant in March 1937. In 1938 Michener was elected secretary of the District Auto and Aircraft Council and president of the Los Angeles CIO Industrial Union council. He was also appointed secretary of the CIO Unemployment and Social Security Committee. Michener attended the 1939 UAW Constitutional Convention in Cleveland where he was elected West Coast (Region 6) Director and International Executive Board member. During the 1941 UAW-North American Aviation negotiations Michener appeared before the War Labor Board in Washington, D.C. with Richard Frankensteen to present the case for higher wages. When NAA workers walked out on June 5 he returned to Los Angeles and supported the rank and filers in their controversial strike. In August 1941, the UAW Convention in Buffalo disciplined Michener for his actions during the strike by disqualifying him from elective or appointive office that year. He served as Regional Director again in 1943 and 1944. After a year in the Merchant Marine, Michener returned in September 1945 to work at Ford Long Beach. He served as president and committeeman of Local Union 406 until the plant site was moved in 1959. The local merged with Local Union 923, and Michener served as its president and executive board member at various times over the next eight years. Michener married Martha Forsyth, an active unionist and member of the Utility Workers of America, in 1955. He took an early retirement from Ford, following her serious illness, in 1966. He remained active in the L.A. Area Retiree Council, of which he was president from 1960 until 1968,and as Region 6 representative to the UAW International Retired Workers' Advisory Council from 1968 until his death on March 29, 1974.


Arranged in 5 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-6) Series 3 (Boxes 7-8), Series 4 (Box 9-11) and Series 5 (Box 12-13). Folders are arranged chronologically (Series 1, 4, 5), and alphabetically (Series 2, 3).


The papers of Lewis Herbert Michener Jr. were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs by Mr. Michener in February 1966, and by Martha Michener, his wife, in March 1976. They were opened for research in July 1986.


Approximately 25 photographs, primarily of Michener and others involved in union activities, were given to the Archives Audiovisual Collection. Five cartons of books, pamphlets, agreements, and convention proceedings were placed in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in July, 1986.
Guide to the Lewis H. Michener Papers
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