GM & UAW: In Their Own Words
For each individual interviewed, you will see a brief biography, an audio recording of the interview, a summary and/or outline of the interview, and a full-text transcription of the interview.
Please note: this page is a work in progress and will be complete soon!
Born in Janesville in 1908 and one of 14 children, Eugene worked for Janesville Sand and Gravel at age 13 before working 40 years at the Chevrolet plant. He participated in the 1937 sit-down strike and was one of the earliest members of the United Auto Workers and served as a trustee.
Ralph worked for Fisher Auto Body, primarily in the seat cushion area and was actively involved in the 1937 sit-down strike; discusses Henry Traxler and Mayor Lustig; He joined the Janesville Fire Department after WWII and played a key role in the Firefighters Association and details work in the fire department.
Don worked 42 years at the plant, mostly in the paint department.
He was a past president of UAW Local 95 and discusses the business operation of Local 95
and the union involvement in local politics.
Harry began at the plant in 1923 in the body drop department, worked with the GM World’s
Fair exhibit in 1933 and appears to be the first union member in the “Chevy” side of the
Lou came to Janesville in 1920 to work at the Samson Tractor Company before it became General Motors, then joined Fisher Body. An original Local 95 organizer, he served on the shop committee and as president of the joint Local 95-Local 121 union during World War II. He recalls first union meeting at Lien’s service station.
Hugo did apprentice work for the Janesville Electric Company and worked on the Samson Tractor plant. He joined the Janesville local of the IBEW union and discusses the nature of early electrical work.
James V. (Jack) Johnston
Jack held a variety of jobs with Fisher Auto Body, was an early member of the union and served as vice-president during the union’s formative years. Pinkerton men hired as company spies. Attended first union meeting at Lien Garage.
John S. Scott, Sr.
John moved to Janesville in 1948 and was employed by the Chicago and Northwestern railroad. In 1961 he became one of the first black employees for GM in Janesville. He ‘road the rails’ as a hobo in his youth during the Depression.
Mrs. Swinbank sat in on these sessions and comments on occasion. Glenn served as recording secretary of UAW Local 121 during the 1930s.
James worked briefly as a timekeeper at GM, then began work at the Parker Pen Company in 1941 making delayed-action fuses during WWII. He reveals much about the development of the Teamsters in Janesville during the 1930s.
John Wesley Van Horn
John worked as a tack spitter at Fisher for a time and was a UAW field representative. He discusses the 1937 strike and Leon Feingold as the UAW’s attorney.
Gerald H. Litney
Gerald was raised in the Fourth Ward’s heavily Irish neighborhood and worked for several local businesses before Rock River Woolen Mill in the 1920s. He served as President for the Textile Workers union.
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