Reuther, Victor G(eorge) 1912-2004

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REUTHER, Victor G(eorge) 1912-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born January 1, 1912, in Wheeling, WV; died June 3, 2004, in Washington, DC. Union leader and author. Along with his brothers, Walter and Roy, Reuther was instrumental in founding and building the powerful United Auto Workers union. The son of a steel worker, he was raised to respect the average laborer. After attending the University of West Virginia for a year, he moved to Detroit, studying at what is now Wayne State University, where he roomed with his brother Walter. The two of them left college in 1933 to tour Europe, Russia, Japan, and India. When Reuther returned to Detroit with a much more developed appreciation for the ideals of democracy, he was hired as an assembly line worker at the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Company in 1935. When he organized a successful strike against the plant some thirty thousand new members joined the union. In 1937, Reuther moved from Detroit to Flint to organize workers at the General Motors plant, after which he helped do the same for Ford employees. With the start of World War II, Reuther worked for the U.S. government's War Manpower Commission, his task being to ensure that manufacturing plants key to the war effort did not close due to labor issues. After the war, Reuther's talent for organizing the training of laborers led to his becoming the UAW's director of education. A dramatic setback came for him, though, in 1949, when an assassin shot him in the face. Reuther lost his right eye, but remained bravely resolved to continue his union work. He became involved with the Congress of Industrial Organizations as European director in 1953 and director of international affairs in 1955. The next year, he was named director of international affairs and administrative assistant to the president, positions he held until he retired in 1972; the union awarded him the Social Justice Award for his service. Reuther wrote down his and his brothers' dramatic story in the 1976 book The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW: A Memoir.



Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2004, section 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2004, p. B7.

New York Times, June 5, 2004, p. B22.

Washington Post, June 5, 2004, p. B6.