Walter Reuther

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Person.png Walter Reuther   Keywiki Sourcewatch WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(labor leader)
Walter Reuther.jpg
BornWalter Philip Reuther
September 1, 1907, U.S.
Wheeling, West Virginia
DiedMay 9, 1970 (Age 62)
Pellston, Michigan
Cause of death
Plane crash
SpouseMay Wolf
Member ofAFL–CIO
Victim ofassassination
Bilderberger labor leader, probably assassinated with a plane crash in 1970.

Walter Philip Reuther was an American union leader. He gave the United Automobile Workers great influence in the auto industry as well as in the Democratic Party in the middle of the 20th century. He was a socialist and supported Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

He attended the 1966 Bilderberg meeting.

Reuther was almost killed in a suspicious crash of a private plane in early 1970 and then died (along with his wife) in an almost identical crash several months later.

Michael Parenti wrote that "Reuther's demise appears as part of a truncation of liberal and radical leadership that included the deaths of four national figures: President John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Senator Robert Kennedy, and dozens of leaders in the Black Panther Party and in various community organizations."[1]


Reuther joined Ford Motor Company in 1927 and was laid off in 1932 in the wake of the Great Depression. Together with his brother Victor, he traveled to Europe, and from there to the Soviet Union, where he worked for GAZ in Gorky until 1935. He returned to the United States, found employment at General Motors and became an active union member of the United Automobile Workers (UAW). He organized several strikes and in 1947, together with Reinhold Niebuhr, John Kenneth Galbraith and others, founded the political organization Americans for Democratic Action.[2]

Under his leadership, the UAW reached the so-called "Treaty of Detroit" in 1950, which established a 20 percent wage increase over five years, a pension plan and a health insurance contribution.[3]

In 1952 he was elected chairman of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. He cofounded the AFL-CIO in 1955 with George Meany.[4]

As a strong supporter of the American civil rights movement, Reuther stood by Martin Luther King's side when he gave his legendary speech "I Have a Dream".[3]

Mighty enemies

Having narrowly escaped numerous attempts on his life during the labor struggles of the 1930’s, throughout his life, Reuther was the focus of hostile activity by big business, the FBI and Republican politicians. In addition to heading the largest labor union in the United States, Reuther was very active on behalf of a number of progressive social causes including civil rights, environmentalism, health care reform and opposition to the Vietnam War.[5]

FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover stalked Reuther for more than forty years, using undercover informants and illegal bugging equipment. Reuther was on friendly terms with several Democratic presidents who submitted his name for positions on presidential boards and commissions. In each instance, Hoover successfully blocked Reuther's appointment by secretly circulating disinformation packets to the White House and members of Congress, featuring the doctored "For a Soviet America" letter and testimony by individuals falsely accusing Walter of communist affiliations.[6]

In 1958, at a Republican fundraiser, Senator Barry Goldwater declared that "Walter Reuther and the UAW-CIO are a more dangerous menace than . . . anything Soviet Russia might do to America."[6]


Michael Parenti writes that "From the first days of the AFL-CIO merger in 1955, irreconcilable political differences existed between Reuther and AFL-CIO president George Meany, a cold-war hawk. Under Meany, the AFL-CIO entered into an unholy alliance with the CIA in order to bolster conservative, anticommunist unions in other countries. These unions, as Victor Reuther describes them, were run by people who were 'well soaked with both U.S. corporate and CIA juices. It was, in effect, an exercise in trade union colonialism.'"

In early 1968 the UAW withdrew from the AFL-CIO and joined forces with the Teamsters and two smaller unions to form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), with a membership totaling over four million. The Teamsters gave Reuther a free hand on political and social issues. With Nixon in the White House and the bombings in Indochina escalating to unprecedented levels, Reuther ran ads in the national media and appeared before congressional committees to denounce the war and call for drastic cuts in the military budget. While the AFL-CIO was proclaiming its support for Nixon's escalation of the war and his anti-ballistic missile program, the ALA was lobbying hard against both.[6]


By 1970, Reuther was seen more than ever as a threat to the dominant political agenda, earning him top place on Nixon's enemy list.[6]

The crash in which he died occurred a few days after Reuther vocally expressed his opposition to Nixon’s Vietnam strategy and the shooting of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio.[5]

This program focuses on the life, work and probable assassination of United Auto Workers Union chief Walter Reuther. The first segment consists of an interview with Dr. Michael Parenti (along with Peggy Noton), the co-author of an article about Reuther published in Covert Action Quarterly.


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/196625 March 196627 March 1966Germany
Hotel Nassauer Hof
Top of the agenda of the 15th Bilderberg in Wiesbaden, Germany, was the restructuring of NATO. Since this discussion was held, all permanent holders of the position of NATO Secretary General have attended at least one Bilderberg conference prior to their appointment.