President of the United Auto Workers, 1977-1983
First labor union leader to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of a major motor vehicle manufacturer (Chrysler)
Douglas A. Fraser is considered by many historians to be one of the most important figures in American Labor history. Douglas Fraser was born in Glasgow, Scotland, emigrating to the United States with his parents when he was six years old. Fraser’s early views on labor and social justice were strongly influenced by his father, an avowed socialist and union activist.
Fraser lost his first two assembly line jobs for attempting to organize his fellow workers. Increasingly interested in organized labor, he joined Local 227 of the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union. In 1943, Fraser was elected Local President for the first of three terms. Spurning various offers to hold management positions within the auto industry, Fraser was appointed to the staff of the UAW President Walter P. Reuther.
After holding several high-level offices within the union, Douglas Fraser was elected President of the UAW, a job he held for two consecutive three-year terms until his mandatory retirement in 1983. Fraser’s many innovations for improving the lives of workers included restrictions of compulsory overtime, comprehensive health and safety programs and improved “30-and out” early retirement plan.