(born Sept. 1, 1907, Wheeling, W.Va., U.S.—died May 9, 1970, Pellston, Mich.) U.S. labour leader. He became an apprentice tool- and diemaker at age 16. He traveled around the world in the 1930s, developing a lifelong distaste for communism after spending two years in a Soviet auto factory. He became a local union leader in Detroit, Mich., and helped organize sit-down strikes—during which he suffered brutal physical attacks—that made the United Automobile Workers (UAW) a power in the auto industry. As president of the UAW from 1946 until his death, he was an effective negotiator of wages-and-hours gains. He became president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1952 and was an architect of the AFL-CIO merger in 1955. He was second in power to George Meany at the AFL-CIO; however, their repeated clashes, partly stemming from Reuther's strong support for civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War, resulted in Reuther's leading the UAW out of the AFL-CIO in 1968 and forming a short-lived federation with the Teamsters Union. He died in a plane crash.
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