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UAW Health and Safety Department Dr. Michael Silverstein Records

Identifier: LR002681

Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence, collective bargaining contract negotiatons, meeting minutes, articles and reports on various workplace cancers and illnesses. These records also include: plant inspections; epidemiological, accident and fatality reports; NIOSH Health Hazard Determination Evaluations and other industrial hygiene studies; as well as Legislation and other material documenting health and safety conditions in the automobile, agricultural implement, and related industries.


  • 1976 - 1990


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.


Recognizing the importance of occupational health and safety early in the Union's history, the UAW established the Health and Safety Division in the Social Security Department in February of 1948. In 1949, contract provisions developed by the Health and Safety Division enabled plant examinations and investigations when requested by plant health and safety committees. The 1973 contract was the first to introduce measures designed to protect the health and safety of UAW members; and provide the designation of professional staff members who were to sit on the union-company national health and safety committees, that planned and supervised 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 continue to 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.


5 Linear Feet (5 SB)


Throughout his time at the UAW Health and Safety Department, Dr. Michael Silverstein conducted worksite inspections to assist local unions in identifying and controlling workplace chemical and physical hazards and was active in the collective bargaining efforts for safety and health improvements. Silverstein was also integral in the development of many health and safety programs, which included training for local union representatives. In addition, Dr. Silverstein conducted scientific studies and published numerous articles on his findings relating to identifying the causes of cancer in the workplace among UAW members. During his tenure Silverstein helped the union locate and fix hundreds of health hazards, including: inorganic lead, metalworking fluids, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, silica, flame retardants, organic solvents, welding fumes, coke oven emissions, and reproductive toxins.


Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.


The records of Dr. Michael Silverstein were deposited to the Walter P. Reuther Library on February 19, 2016.

Related Materials

UAW Health and Safety Department Collection Records

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Elizabeth Nicholson on March 17, 2016.
Guide to the UAW Health and Safety Department Dr. Michael Silverstein Records
Processed by Elizabeth Nicholson
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