At the annual meeting of the Chrysler Corporation with this day in 1980, stockholders vote to appoint Douglas Fraser, president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), to 1 of 20 seats on Chrysler’s board of directors. The vote created Fraser the 1st union representative ever to take a seat on the board of an integral U.S. corporation.
Born in 1916 in Glasgow, Scotland, to a unionist father strongly, Fraser was delivered to the United States at age six. After dropping out of higher school, he was fired from his initial two factory jobs for wanting to organize his fellow workers. Fraser then got employment at a Chrysler-owned DeSoto plant in Detroit that has been organized by the UAW. Quickly promoted through union ranks, Fraser caught the attention of UAW president Walter Reuther. He worked as Reuther’s administrative assistant throughout the 1950s, a groundbreaking period throughout that your UAW solidified policies on retirement pensions and medical and dental hygiene because of its members. Well well-liked by Reuther, with whom he shared a equivalent philosophy of unionism as social action, Fraser joined up with the union’s executive board in 1962 and a vice president in 1970. Reuther died within an airplane crash that year, and Leonard Woodcock won a narrow vote over Fraser to show into UAW president. Fraser succeeded Woodcock in 1977.
The late 1970s have been turbulent times for the American auto market: Rising fuel costs and the popularity of fuel-effective Japanese-produced vehicles had crippled sales, and Chrysler-known because of its massive, gas-guzzling cars-faced achievable bankruptcy. In 1979-80, Fraser played an essential function in acquiring Chrysler a $1.5 billion bailout from the U.S. government, negotiating a deal that needed hourly workers at Chrysler to simply accept wage cuts of $3 each hour (to $17) and providing the business permission to shed practically 50,000 of its U.S. jobs. In a controversial move that has been viewed with trepidation from both sides of the labor-management divide, Chrysler’s leader, Lee Iacocca, nominated Fraser to the company’s executive board. The stockholders voted in Fraser on May 13, 1980-three days after U.S. Treasury Secretary G. William Miller announced the approval of the Chrysler bailout.
Chrysler’s subsequent turnaround-the company paid its government loans before schedule and posted record income of some $2.4 billion in 1984-seemed to justify Fraser’s willingness to create compromises on the labor side. Some critics, nonetheless, saw the union leader’s actions as opening the entranceway to a wave of comparable concessionary bargaining on the component of automakers that later spread to management in other industries. Fraser retired as UAW president in 1983 and left the Chrysler board the next year. He died in February 2008, at age 91.