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November 22, 2014
Local 22 History
Updated On: Jan 21, 2010
Your birth certificate (charter) says that you were born on April 3, 1945.  The certificate states simply that you were created for the “establishment and future maintenance of a local Union in Detroit, Michigan to be known as Local 22 of “Cadillac Motor Car Company”.

It’s just a few words on a yellow piece of paper signed by people that are mostly gone now.  But what a history that piece of paper could tell if the trials and tribulations that your first members went through to bring you into this world were told.

Just reflect for a moment on your past and some of the UAW leaders that have come forth from you.

The “Cadillac” workers were not new to the UAW.  They had organized in September of 1936 when West Side Local 174, “The Home Local of Walter Reuther” was formed.  Your membership helped Walther Reuther form that local and to organize it into a meaningful union force.

It was on January 9, 1937, that the 3,800 Cadillac workers staged a sit-down strike and the first picket lines were seen on Clark Street.

On January 12, 1937, the Fleetwood workers followed suit and also staged a sit-down strike, the Fisher Body Plants in Flint, Michigan had already been struck.  The first national strike against GM was in full swing.  That strike against GM became history when on February 11, 1937, GM agreed that the workers would have representation.

THE UAW HAD BEEN RECOGNIZED.

Charles Westphal was the first Unit President for Cadillac at Local 174 and was the Unit Plant Chairman when Local 22 received its charter.  On the 3rd of April 1945, separating us from Local 174, he then served Local 22 four terms as president and six terms as plant chairman.

Dave Miller was your very first President when we became Local 22.  He too had been active in Local 174 as one of its founders.  He was three terms president and three terms plant chairman.  He was also a founding member and chairman of the National Council of Senior Citizens.  He administered the last oath of office to Walter Reuther upon his reelection to his 13th consecutive term as UAW President, less than a month before he and his wife May were killed in a plane crash on May 9, 1970.

Louis Machetta  An active sit down striker, Louis served you in many capacities; among them, plant chairman and two terms president in 1949/50 and 1953/54. 

Others have also served as your president and have gone forward to serve the UAW in other capacities on the International Union Level.

They are:

Jim Wagner, Local 22 president two terms 1955/56 and 1959/60 and former Asst. Director of GM UAW.

Jesse Damesworth, Local 22 President two terms – 1960/61 and formerly Coordinator of Unemployment Insurance for all UAW.

Frank Runnels, Local 22 President six consecutive terms 1968 through 1983 and formerly Regional Director of Region 1E, UAW.

M.L. Douglas, Local 22 President two consecutive terms 1983-1989 and formerly Benefits' Representative at Solidarity House.

Ray A. Church, Local 22 President three consecutive terms 1989-1995, who went on to become an International Representative with Region 1A.

Edward T. Ptasznik, Jr., assumed the office of President when Ray Church was called to the International Union and served for 14 months until he was named Labor Liaison for United Way, a position he holds to this day.

Donald Steele, Jr. moved into the Presidency to fill the vacancy left by Ed Ptasznik's appointment. He remained in office until his assignment to the International Union.

Craig A. Nothnagel, Local 22 President for two consecutive terms, who has gone on to the PEL Department at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources.

George L. McGregor took on the role of President upon Craig's move to the CHR and has been our President for two consecutive terms.

Your membership has grown from its beginning with local 174 and only 80 organizing members.  Until 3,800 strong they struck for recognition.

Today, Local 22 represents workers, Detroit / Hamtramck but also at Livonia Engine Plant and the proud new addition to Local 22’s family, Vitec which is growing today and very active in our Local.

George McGregor is your president now, Local 22. Together he and the other officers of this Local union are striving to make you the best represented local in the entire UAW.

We have a legacy left to us by those UAW pioneers.  Let us be aware and proud of that legacy.

Bruce Arnott
Former Recording Secretary


History of UAW Local 22

 

Uaw Local 22 grew from small beginnings but inherent in those humble origins were the spirit, the drive, and the dynamics that made the UAW the economic and social force that it is today.

 In the mid 1930s, eighty workers from Cadillac and other industrial firms got together. They established the nucleus of Local 22,s originator - West Side Local 174. Its leader was the fiery and charismatic Walter P. Reuther. The headquarters for this infant Local was in a building on the corner of 35th and Michigan Avenue, in Detroit. This site would later become a historic spot because of the famous sit-down strikes.

The combined capital of the Local's founders was $4.50, which was 50 cents short of the $5.00 deposit the landlord required. The money was borrowed and the transaction was completed.

 However, the hardy pioneers of unionism at Cadillac were accustomed to overcoming greater problems than a small cash shortage. For years, at great personal sacrifice, they tried to organize a union of auto workers.

The hopes of working men and women got a boost during the summer of 1936, when the Committee for Industrial Organization ( CIO ) was formed, and the fledgling UAW was granted membership. That same year, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act ( NLRB ).

Stimulated by these developments, and with the guidance of the CIO, the UAW launched a full scale organizing campaign.

Those who had sacrificed so much over the years found the eager and enthusiastic response of the auto workers very rewarding.

Cadillac workers began organizing their plant in earnest, they also pitched in to help organize other shops. Early in 1937 came the big test, when a new era of labor relations was introduced to American society: the sit-down strike.

By January 9, 1937, General Motors workers all over the country sat down, including the 3800 strong from the Clark Street plant. Three days later, the Fleetwood plant followed suit. Along with their counterparts at the huge Fisher Body plants in Flint, the first national strike against GM was in full swing. United, they endured. They refused to walk away until the largest, most powerful corporation in the world, agreed to recognize the union.

Ultimately, on February 11, 1937, General Motors did recognize the union. Auto-worker solidarity was recognized, and they have been represented by the UAW ever since.

In 1945, as the West Side UAW Local 174's membership grew, separate charters were granted to split 174, to allow for better representation. From this severance, UAW Local 15 was formed to serve the Fleetwood plant and UAW Local 22 was forged to represent the Clark Street plant.

During the World War ll years, union and management joined together, to defeat a common enemy. They worked together and made significant contributions to the war effort.

In the years after WW ll the auto industry and unionism flourished.

By 1985, after GM's massive reorganization, the Clark Street and Fleetwood plant operations were curtailed while the remaining work shifted to the newly constructed Detroit - Hamtramck Assembly Center, Known as,  ( PoleTown ).

During its long history, UAW Local 22 represented the Connor Stamping Plant, Milford Proving Grounds, the Livonia Engine Plant, Clark Street Plant., as well as the Detroit -Hamtramck facility. It had a membership of 10,000. Today, due in part to General Motors down -sizing efforts, UAW Local 22 represents approximately 5,500 members from the Clark Street, Detroit -Hamtramck (Poletown) and Livonia Powertrain plants.

The UAW pioneers left a legacy for all of us to follow. Today's generation, and future generations, will never fully appreciate the Herculean efforts of the union's forefathers to create the United Auto Workers.

Both General Motors and the UAW agree that to survive in today's global marketplace, nothing less than a quality product must be produced. With UAW Local 22 at the forefront, this will be accomplished.


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