The United Automobile Workers, Walter Reuther, and the Vietnam War
This chapter explores the activities and attitudes of the leadership of the United Automobile Workers (UAW). Anti-Communist actions in several Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unions did eventually pave the way for the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with the CIO in 1955 with the UAW as the organization’s second-largest international union. Despite the UAW’s anti-Communist stance in the Cold War years, its leadership cadre in the 1960s and 1970s still contained many ex-radical Socialists and even an ex-Communist or two. The activities and pronouncements of the UAW, its executive board, and President Walter P. Reuther provide many interesting comparisons and contrasts with the AFL-CIO during the Vietnam War years 1964–1973. The events that occurred at the AFL-CIO convention in mid-December, 1965, indicate that Reuther was trying to take a position somewhere between the outright antiwar stance of some in the UAW while stopping short of support for all-out escalation.