Woodcock, Leonard


Led United Auto Workers Union 1970-77, 1st US top diplomat and ambassador to People’s Republic of China 1977-81


Autograph ID: 5157
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1911-2001) President of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and 1st US Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.

The pressures of the Great Depression led Woodcock to drop out of Detroit City College in 1933. He found work as a machine assembler in Detroit, and he and his father became involved in the union movement. Woodcock became International Vice President in 1955 and in 1970 he succeeded Walter Reuther as UAW president, after Reuther’s death in a plane crash.

Woodcock was an active participant in the civil rights movement, marching with Martin Luther King and adding his voice and political clout to the cause. He was a champion of minority and women’s rights, pushing for comprehensive non-discrimination rules and introducing the first union-wide contracted maternity leave in the US. While at the helm of the UAW, Woodcock appeared on Nixon’s “Enemies List” at #9.

In 1977, Woodcock retired from the UAW and was named by President Carter as head of the US Liaison Office in Beijing which, in the absence of full diplomatic relations, served as the de facto US Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. During this same period, he head a special delegation to Laos and Vietnam in search of POW and MIA US soldiers. After leading negotiations to establish full diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, Woodcock was appointed 1st US Ambassador to the PRC, 1st ambassador to Mainland China since 1949, serving to 1981. Though some questioned appointing a labor leader to head such a delicate diplomatic mission, Carter insisted that he needed a negotiator. A Doonesbury cartoon at the time read, “If he can take on the Big Three, he can handle the Gang of Four”. Woodcock negotiated the first trade agreement, a Most Favored Nations agreement, with China, in 1979. He later taught political science at the University of Michigan until his death.

10 x 8 SP, glossy b&w bust portrait signed with sentiment (“Best wishes”) partially in dark area of photo but clear”
Type: Photograph

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