The United Auto Workers, one of the most powerful labor unions in United States history, has made its home since 1934 in the state of Michigan. The UAW owes its stature in labor history to the economic importance of the automotive industry. Walter Reuther, UAW president from 1946 to 1970, embraced the liberal welfare state, championed a national civil rights agenda, and became the epitome of responsible unionism. He was only one of a large cadre of leaders that emerged from the UAW to shape labor politics in these crucial decades. Such leaders as Emil Mazey, R.J. Thomas, Shelton Tappes, Horace Sheffield, Robert “Buddy” Battle, Mildred Jeffrey, and Lillian Hatcher also became national figures. Like the automobile industry that they unionized, UAW stalwarts had contradictory reputations. Reuther was as reviled as he was respected and became, from the perspective of Big Business, “the most dangerous man in Detroit.” Viewed from the political Left, he was a corporate shill and virulent anti-communist. 1 In Detroit today, Reuther’s name graces a labor archive and a freeway; but in 2012, Michigan adopted a right-to-work law that would have rattled the teeth of the UAW’s avatar. Like the once solid union states of Wisconsin and Indiana, Michigan is no longer home to the union shop. 2