Association for Union Democracy

In Memoriam: Alan Reitman

Alan Reitman, who died in July at 91, had served for over forty years on the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union. For many years, he was ACLU Associate Director, a post he held until retirement.

One of his assignments as Associate Director was to administer the affairs of the ACLU Labor-Management Committee at a time when Clyde Summers and Herman Benson were both committee members. In 1960, elections in the Steelworkers union under David McDonald were suspect; insurgent leaders were in danger of expulsion. Reitman encouraged the committee to authorize Benson to attend the Steelworkers international convention that year and report his findings to the committee. Benson reported that he witnessed the beating of Don Rarick, insurgent standard bearer, right on the convention floor. Benson wrote that he had received credible reports of widespread election fraud and intimidation of dissidents. He proposed that the ACLU initiate a formal public program to monitor events in the union as a deterrent to the threatened campaign of retaliation against union dissidents.

Reitman circulated the report to committee members, obviously with great sympathy, but the committee decided to do nothing. From then on, the ACLU lost interest in the field of union democracy. In 1972, the Kaplan Fund awarded $25,000 to the ACLU for a union democracy project. After reconsidering, the ACLU returned the money. Reitman himself, however, became a staunch supporter of AUD. At the time of his death, he was and had been a longtime member of our $100+club.

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