UAW Women’s History Month Spotlight: May Reuther

    

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March is Women’s History Month. From the sit-down strikes of 1936-37 through the war years of Rosie the Riveter, from the postwar fight for jobs to today’s campaigns for pay equity and safe workplaces, women have played a key role in UAW history. Side by side, women and men are building a stronger union every day. We salute UAW women everywhere. Here’s the story of one noteworthy UAW woman:

May Reuther
From the Reuther Photo Archives at Wayne State

May Wolf was working as a teacher when she met Walter Reuther in Detroit in 1936. While Walter Reuther was trying to organize autoworkers, she was trying to organize teachers. They married soon after they met but right before the wedding Reuther was fired from his job for being a UAW member. It was then that Walter Reuther dedicated himself to organizing autoworkers full time and rented an office in Detroit that became Local 174. From the very beginning, May Reuther was an integral part of the UAW. It wasn’t just that a substantial portion of the rent and other expenses came from her salary as a school teacher in the first several months, it was that she held Local 174 together.

She put in long hours and worked sometimes until after midnight organizing workers because it was a cause she believed in. When school let out the following summer, May went on break and never returned to her teaching job. She was as committed to the labor movement as her husband and shared in his beliefs throughout their lives.

You can read about the contribution of May Reuther and many other women to the strength of the UAW in the March-April 2016 edition of Solidarity Magazine.


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