Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1916, Douglas Fraser moved to Detroit with his family when he was six years old. He went to work at the Chrysler DeSoto plant and soon joined the UAW. He was elected president of Local 227 in 1944. His astute negotiating and leadership skills led Walter Reuther to appoint Fraser his administrative assistant in 1950. Fraser served as co-director of UAW Region 1A and in 1962 became director of the union’s Chrysler Department. He was elected vice president in 1970.
Fraser served as president of the UAW from 1977 to 1983. During his term he helped engineer the historic federal loan guarantees and the subsequent financial turnaround of Chrysler Corp. He later served on the company’s board of directors.
After retiring from the UAW, Fraser began a second career as a distinguished university professor of labor studies at Wayne State University. Fraser also was a lecturer at Harvard, Notre Dame and other universities.
He died February 23, 2008 at the age of 91.
Interviewed by Tom Downs
82 minutes, April 8, 1995