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Sixth President, International United Auto Workers of America

Honorary Doctor of Laws


Citation: When the history of the labor movement is written, your name will be prominently mentioned. Rising through the ranks to become the UAW's sixth international president - the last of the "pioneer generation" - you have accomplished many firsts, struggling always to improve the quality of life of workers worldwide and never losing touch with rank and file membership. Born of working class parents, you possessed the diplomacy and conviction to become a skilled negotiator, leading contract talks which led to the early retirement program and the first U.S.-Canada wage parity agreement. Later, you helped gain contract concessions which led to restrictions on compulsory overtime, a comprehensive health and safety program, cost-of-living improvements and incremental increases in pension benefits for retirees. In carrying out your firmly held belief that workers should share in the making of decisions as well as implementation of them, you achieved an important precedent: representation of workers on Chrysler's board of Directors. One of your final history-making moves was to reunite the UAW with the AFL-CIO after a 13-year separation, strengthening the labor movement even more. Although retired as UAW president, you have maintained an active career of service with many labor, civic and governmental bodies, ranging from the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the Economic Club of Detroit and the Michigan Governor's Commission on Jobs and Economic Development to the National Urban Coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the United Way of America. As a professor of labor studies at Wayne State University and as the current Jerry Wurf fellow and lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, you also share with students your valuable experience in the labor movement. For your extraordinary achievements in the labor movement, it is with great pleasure that we confer upon you the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws. Commencement, University of Detroit, May 12, 1984.

University of Detroit

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