Bluestone, Irving 1917-2007 (Irving Julius Bluestone)

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Bluestone, Irving 1917-2007 (Irving Julius Bluestone)


See index for CA sketch: Born January 5, 1917, in Brooklyn, NY; died of heart failure, November 17, 2007, in Brookline, MA. Labor leader, union negotiator, educator, community activist, and author. Bluestone devoted his life to the cause of the American worker. He began his career as an auto worker at a General Motors plant in New Jersey during World War II and quickly became involved in union activities at the local and regional levels. By 1955 he was the international representative to the General Motors Department of the International Union of United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, now known colloquially as the UAW. Bluestone served as the vice president of the General Motors Department from 1970 to 1980, leading strikes at plants as necessary, but preferring the role of chief negotiator of union contracts. At the pinnacle of his career he spoke for nearly half a million auto workers. Bluestone fought, not only for contracts, wages, and benefits, but also for increased employee involvement in the management decision-making process—from working conditions on the plant floor to the quality of the vehicles being assembled there. He was highly regarded for the patience that he brought with him into negotiations that were often charged with emotion. After 1980 Bluestone, who had originally intended and trained to become a teacher, joined the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he taught labor studies and industrial relations for several years. He was also extraordinarily active in the community, working for civil rights, education, housing, health care, the arts, and other initiatives that could benefit the citizens and workers of the "Motor City." He was also active at the state and national level. Bluestone coedited the book The Aging of the American Work Force: Problems, Programs, Policies (1990) and, with his son Barry, he wrote Negiating the Future: A Labor Perspective on American Business (1992).



Los Angeles Times, November 24, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, November 22, 2007, p. A27.