Oral Histories

Interview of Paul Schrade

Director of the western region of the United Automobile Workers and advisor to Robert Kennedy.
UAW Workplace and Community Action
Z: Orphan Interviews pre 1999
Social Movements
Labor Movement
Biographical Note:
Director of the western region of the United Automobile Workers and advisor to Robert Kennedy.
Connors, Thomas J.
Schrade, Paul
Persons Present:
Schrade and Connors.
Place Conducted:
Schrade's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Thomas J. Connors, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., anthropology, Brown University; M.A., American civilization, Brown University.Connors prepared for the interview by reading secondary works on the UAW; William C. Aston's manuscript history of UAW Local 887; and issues of the UAW Local 887 newspaper, the Propeller; and the UAW paper, Solidarity.
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. In accordance with program policy, the editor has consistently bracketed in the current name of both the UAW and the IAM rather than indicating changes in organizational names over time.Schrade reviewed the transcript. He verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions.Teresa Barnett, principal editor, prepared the table of contents. Cline drafted the biographical summary. Steven J. Novak, senior editor, assembled the interview history. Rebecca Stone, oral history assistant, compiled the index.
15.4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family background and childhood in Saratoga Springs, New York--Employed in an army depot during World War II--Religious background--Living near a racetrack--Works for chemist Oskar Baudisch--Family's German ancestry--The family business--Majors in chemistry at Clarkson College of Technology and at Yale University--Develops interest in politics and philosophy.
Leaves school and heads for California--Works in a lumber camp and does other odd jobs--Hired as a stock clerk at North American Aviation--Promoted to expeditor--Joins Local 887 of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America-Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO)--Becomes a committeeman for the union--­Union membership at North American--Schrade's identification with the working class—Wages in the aircraft industry--Schrade begins to align himself with the Walter P. Reuther caucus within the UAW.
Saratoga Springs mineral water—Living through the Depression--Eye operations as a child--New Yorker writer Frank Sullivan--More on Schrade's early involvement with the UAW--The Reuther caucus versus the Roland J. Thomas-George P. Addes caucus--The Communist Party's failure to support the rights of workers during World War II--Opposing the Communist Party's influence in local CIO councils--Supporting Harry S Truman in the 1948 presidential election--Government opposition to unions in the postwar years and American Federation of Labor (AFL) and CIO competition--Increasing influence of the Reuther caucus within Local 887.
Edits the Local 887 newspaper, the Propeller--Setting up activities to compete with North American's "Family Day"--Dealing with North American's hard-hitting postwar management--­Fighting the company's severe discipline procedures and trying to eliminate the merit review system--The UAW and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) work out a mutual support, no-raid pact--­Factions and alliances at the 1949 UAW convention--Death of Lewis Stowe--Jack Conway-- Working to bring wages in the aircraft industry in line with those in the automobile industry.
More on negotiations to equalize wages between aircraft and automobile workers--Panel appointed by Truman rules in favor of raising aircraft workers' wages--UAW leaders involved in the negotiations.
More on the process of eliminating the automobile-aircraft wage differential--Schrade and other union leaders' increasing involvement in the Democratic Party in the early fifties--Reuther's ascension to the presidency of the CIO--The AFL-CIO merger--Appointed chair of the grievance committee at the 1953 UAW convention-- The convention upholds the UAW international executive board's expulsion of five union members on grounds of their allegiance to the Communist Party--Schrade's membership in the American Civil Liberties Union leads him to rethink the question of communists within the union--Factions in the 1953 UAW elections--John Allard's decision to run for regional director.
Negotiating the 1953 contract with North American--Decision to go on strike--The UAW international aircraft department's lack of commitment to the strike--Day-to-day management of the strike--Ensuring that there was no violence on the picket line--Animosity between strikers and scabs once the strike had been called off--Reuther withdraws his support for Regional Director Cyril V. O'Halloran--The settlement after the strike and the 1954 elections.
More on animosities and divisions after the strike--More on the 1954 elections--Report to Reuther on divisions within the union--Jack Conway is assigned to conduct the 1954 negotiations with North American--The effect of the strike on the '54 negotiations--Working with Arthur Carstens of the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations--Architects of union halls in Southern California--Minorities and women in the union--Working with Carstens and others to educate union leaders--Charles E. Bioletti is elected regional director.
Difficulties with Bioletti spur Schrade to work for Leonard F. Woodcock in UAW's national aircraft department in Detroit--The UAW pushes for guaranteed annual wages and supplemental unemployment benefits--More on the AFL-CIO merger--The AFL-CIO's support of capitalism and lack of commitment to mass organizing--The Democratic Party National Convention of 1956-- Woodcock's policy of working out pre-negotiation agreements with management without consulting the local membership--The UAW establishes a public review board to hear workers' appeals--The McClellan Committee and the Landrum-Griffin Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.
Attempt to expel Paul Siren from the UAW because of his Communist Party affillations--Schrade transfers his support from Adlai E. Stevenson to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign--Generating support for Lyndon B.Johnson as Kennedy's running mate--Events Schrade was involved in while on Reuther's staff--Kennedy's emergence as a serious presidential contender in the late fifties--Schrade leaves Reuther's staff to run for UAW regional director, Region 6--Unanimously elected at the UAWs 1962 convention.
Reuther's refusal to support staff members and friends running for UAW offices--Changes in labor-management relations at North American Aviation during Schrade's absence--Members of the UAW who opposed Schrade in his campaign for the regional directorship--Schrade's involvement in various social movements while in Detroit--UAW organizing in Region 6--The AFL-CIO's efforts to organize farmworkers in California's Central Valley--The UAW and the IAM negotiate the issue of a union shop with Douglas Aircraft Company--­Panel appointed by President John F. Kennedy offers recommendations for a settlement.
Walter P. Reuther sends Schrade to central California to make contacts with the farmworkers movement--The National Labor Relations Act and the federal government's policies toward farmworkers in the 1930s and 1940s--The division between the National Farm Workers Association and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee-­Attempt to meet Cesar Chavez--Reuther leads a farmworker rally and march in Delano, California, in 1965--The United Farm Workers Union (UFW) wins the right to represent DiGiorgio Corporation workers--The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)'s reluctance to organize farmworkers--The 1966 march on Sacramento--More on the AFL-CIO's reluctance to organize farmworkers--The farmworker demonstration at the 1966 International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) convention--Teamster (International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America) opposition to the UFW.
The 1969 UFW march from Coachella to Calexico, California--Edward F. Kennedy is persuaded to speak at the rally in Calexico--John Tunney's refusal to support the UFW boycott of grapes--­Robert F. Kennedy's commitment to minorities and civil rights--Hubert H. Humphrey's delay in opposing the war in Vietnam costs the Democrats the 1968 election--Attempt to enlist Michael S. Dukakis in support of the farmworkers--The decline of the farmworkers movement--Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown's failure to support the UFW against the Teamsters--Reasons for the decline of the farmworkers movement--Cesar Chavez's health problems after his 1968 fast.
The 1963 March on Washington--Participating in a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama--The Watts riots--Establishing the Watts Labor Community Action Committee--Need for minority communities to control their own resources--Funding the Martin Luther King Jr.-Charles R. Drew Medical Center--Ted Watkins--Testifying before the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots.
More on Ted Watkins and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee--Persuades Esteban Torres to head the East Los Angeles Labor Community Action Group--The Watts Labor Community Action Committee provides housing in Watts--The causes of civil unrest in minority communities--North American Rockwell's failure to implement an affirmative action program--The Black Panther Party and the Brown Berets--Schrade's belief in a policy of nonviolence--Reuther's commitment to social unionism--Involvement with the Free Speech Movement, the antiwar movement, and Students for a Democratic Society--The UAW stand on the Vietnam War.
Reuther's relationship with Lyndon B. Johnson--The Democratic Party denies seats to Freedom Democratic Party delegates at the 1964 Democratic Convention--Reuther's refusal to break with Johnson on the issue of the Vietnam War--Schrade publicly challenges Reuther at the 1968 Democratic Convention--Opposition to Schrade's stance on the war within his own local--Robert F. Kennedy speaks at a 1968 rally in Delano, California, after Cesar Chavez's hunger strike.
Robert Kennedy decides to run for president--Schrade's conflict with the UAW leadership over his decision to support Kennedy--Kennedy's reluctance to encourage Cesar Chavez to be on his delegation--Leonard F. Woodcock supports Schrade's position on Kennedy--Campaigning for Kennedy--Waiting for the results of the California primary at Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel--Kennedy is assassinated and Schrade is wounded in the gunfire--Ongoing investigations of the assassination and the problems with the single-gunman theory.
The 1968 Democratic Convention--The New Democratic Coalition--The UAW disaffiliates from the AFL-CIO--The Teamsters and the UAW form the Alliance for Labor Action--Reuther dies in an airplane crash--Determining Reuther's successor.
Woodcock is elected UAW president--Woodcock supports Henry Lacayo in his effort to oust Schrade from the regional directorship--Woodcock attacks Schrade's position on the Vietnam War and on workplace democracy--Power struggles between Lacayo and Jerry Whipple--Woodcock refuses to support Schrade's reelection as regional director--Schrade returns to work in the North American Aviation shop--Douglas Fraser admits to having deliberately lost the election for the UAW presidency--Victor G. Reuther and Brendan Saxon leave the UAW international executive board.
UAW executive board discussions of the Robert F. Kennedy candidacy and the Vietnam War are deleted from the minutes--Merger of Rockwell-Standard Corporation and North American Aviation contributes toward increasing aerospace industry wages and benefits--Negotiations around the closure of the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Santa Monica, California--UAW concessions after the 1967 strike against Ford Motor Company in Pico Rivera, California--Woodcock's overly conciliatory attitude toward General Motors Corporation during the 1970 negotiations and strike--Schrade's difficulties with Woodcock's general management style--Douglas Fraser's secret negotiations with General Motors in the early eighties--The automobile industry's failure to improve the quality of their product to compete with foreign automakers--The UAWs failure to press for more employee involvement in decisions--Increasing tendency for union positions to be company-paid managerial positions--Owen Bieber defeats Ray Majerus in the UAW presidential election--Woodcock attacks Schrade and Anne LeFebvre on the floor of the 1972 UAW convention.
Schrade responds to Woodcock--Opposition to Jack Conway's attempt to become a regional director--The UAW returns to the AFL-CIO--Instances in which the UAW international executive board acted unconstitutionally--Jerry Tucker and the New Directions movement--Illegal tactics used to defeat Tucker in his campaign for regional director--Teamsters for a Democratic Union--­Corruption in the Teamsters union--The media's conservative stance and failure to cover labor issues.
UAW opposition to nuclear power plants and nuclear testing--Woodcock's progressive stance on issues during his early days in office--Labor's reluctance to work with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)--Schrade works with the ACLU on behalf of workers rights.
Efforts to prohibit employers from having access to employees' medical information--Campaign against drug testing in the workplace--Taking workers rights questions to the national ACLU-- Need to organize a coalition promoting labor law reforms--ACLU politics and organization in Southern California--Danilo Dolci--Meets Dolci in Italy and discusses Dolci's current interest in education--Efforts to have a Robert F. Kennedy High School built on the Ambassador Hotel site in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles City Board of Education member Jackie Goldberg joins the battle for the Robert F. Kennedy High School--Supporting Ron Carey's campaign within the Teamsters union--Schrade's disappointments and satisfactions in the labor movement--His wife, Monica Weil, and her work with abused children.