DETROIT, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Douglas Fraser, who led the United Auto Workers during the industry's bleakest years, has died at a suburban Detroit hospital at the age of 91.
As head of the UAW in the 1970s and '80s, Fraser dealt with numerous industry problems ranging from global competition to soaring health care costs, The Detroit News reported Monday.
"He was one of the great labor leaders in the last half of the 20th century," said former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard who worked with Fraser while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Several labor historians and top UAW officials told the Detroit News Chrysler would not have been able to avoid bankruptcy in 1979 without Fraser's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.
Fraser worked closely with Lee Iacocca, Chrysler's chief executive at the time, to secure $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees that saved the automaker.
As part of the bailout agreement, Chrysler gave Fraser a board seat, making him the first major union chief to sit on the board of directors of a major corporation.
Fraser became a professor of labor studies at Wayne State University after retiring as president of the UAW.