UAW Local 599, one of the oldest and, at one time, the largest UAW local has made a gift of its records to the University of Michigan-Flint. Approximately 200 linear feet of material, including minutes of its executive board meetings, and membership, grievances, appeals, umpire decisions, newspapers, photographs, and other records, dating from 1937 to 2010, will be available for research at the Genesee Historical Collections Center, a unit of the university.
UM-Flint archivist Paul Gifford, who worked with the union to set up the transfer, helped move the materials from the union hall. The hall is up for sale and the union is looking for smaller quarters to relocate. It still has about 300 members.
Local 599 voted in April to give the material to UM-Flint. Recording Secretary Mike Keeler said the local decided to give the material to the university because they wanted it to stay local, and that some of the students who will be working on sorting it could be the grandchildren of Local 599 members.
"It is a unique and full record of labor at Buick," said Gifford. "It includes records of negotiations between General Motors and the UAW from immediately after the Sit-Down Strike of 1936-1937, documentation on grievance proceedings, UAW politicking over such issues as 30 and Out, cost of living adjustment, and tuition reimbursement. It is full of photographs of the Buick complex, workers' activities within the plant, during all periods."
"The materials in this collection, once organized and indexed, will be a rich resource available not only to UM-Flint faculty and students, but for labor history scholars nationally and internationally," said Library Director Bob Houbeck.
A labor professor in Japan who is writing about the UAW in Flint has already expressed an interest in reviewing the material.
The collection requires arrangement, description, and processing before all of it can be made available to the public for research, but segments of it should be available within six months.