Douglas Fraser
Doug Fraser
Douglas Fraser is one of America's great labor leaders. He has been a metal finisher, a president of the United Automobile Workers(UAW), and a distinguished university professor. He has been an American statesman and has worked with Presidents of the United States. After all of his success, Fraser still prefers to be called "Doug."

Fraser's lifelong devotion to the labor movement began in a working class neighborhood of Glasgow, Scotland where he was born on December 16, 1916. Seeking a better life, the family moved to Detroit in 1922, where Fraser grew-up during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Fraser's early career reflected his desire to be a union leader. In 1934, he dropped out of high school and obtained a position at a Dearborn machine shop. Fraser was soon fired for union organizing. In 1936, Fraser was hired as a "dingman" or metal finisher at Chrysler's Dodge Main assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. One year later, Fraser moved to the De Soto assembly plant where he embarked upon a career in the UAW. He joined UAW Local Union 227, and in 1943, he was elected to the first of three terms as its president.

Fraser joined the UAW's international staff in 1947. In 1950, his performance as a negotiator during the historic 104-day strike against Chrysler attracted the attention of legendary UAW President, Walter Reuther, who asked Fraser to become his administrative assistant.

Fraser successfully ran for the UAW Region 1A co-director in 1959, was elected to the UAW Executive Board in 1962, and to a UAW vice-presidency in 1970. His toughness and integrity at the bargaining table won the respect of his opponents and the admiration of the UAW rank-and-file.

In 1977, Fraser was elected President of the UAW by acclamation. He was hardworking, extremely popular president, who was often inside an automobile factory, on the picket line, marching in support of Civil Rights or meeting with international leaders.

Campaign poster for UAW
De Soto elections, April 1945.

Left: Doug Fraser and UAW President Walter Reuther speaking at a press conference during the Chrysler negotiations in 1967.
Right: Leonard Woodcock passing the UAW's president's gavel to newly elected president Doug Fraser, UAW 25th constitutional convention, Los Angeles.

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Exhibit Curator: Mike Smith

Revised February 2008
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