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General Holiefield, ex-UAW VP

by David Zatz on

General Holiefield, the retired United Auto Workers union vice-president who had been in charge of Chrysler negotiations, has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61.  He had started working at Chrysler in 1973 in the Jefferson Avenue plant.

Mayor Notte and General Holiefield

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne wrote, “The entire Fiat Chrysler family is deeply saddened by the passing of General Holiefield. He was a true partner, friend and mentor to many during his 40 years of service to Chrysler and the UAW… General [his first name, not his rank] helped guide the Company through one of the most difficult periods in its history. As a result, Fiat Chrysler was able to provide a secure future for those who chose to stay and for the nearly 15,000 new UAW-represented employees that have joined the company since June 2009.

“He was a champion of the Company’s efforts to transform the culture within our manufacturing facilities, which has resulted in significant improvements for our employees and our products. When he retired in November 2013, he left Fiat Chrysler better positioned to compete in a global marketplace.”

General Holiefield, Sergio Marchionne, and others

General Holiefield (second from right) at Jefferson Avenue, 2011

Mr. Holiefield was elected to two four-year terms as a vice president by the membership. He was the lead negotiator for the UAW in 2007 and 2011, and worked with the automotive task force as the old Chrysler was liquidated and a new one was created. Mr. Holiefield’s time at Chrysler was notable for his support of the company, defending work schedules that were detested by employees and providing concessions without radically dropping current workers’ salaries and benefits. Late in life there was some scandal as he accidentally shot his wife while cleaning loaded guns (he pleaded no contest to “reckless use of firearms.”)

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