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Blacks, Unions, & Organizing in the South, 1956-1996


Compiled by Rudolph Lewis



William L. Kircher, 1915-1989: A Biographical Sketch

By Rudolph Lewis


Born March 2, 1915, in Athens, Ohio, William "Bill" Kircher rose from the labor union ranks to hold the AFL-CIO post of Director of Organization from 1965 to 1973. A well-liked fellow, Bill Kircher's life was long and studded with many achievements.

Kircher graduated in June 1932 from Athens public schools. He then attended Ohio University and graduated in 1936 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He worked as a reporter and editor for the Athens Messenger (1935-1936) and as editor for La Peunte Valley Journal (1936-1937). From 1937 to 1941 he also served as editor for several community newspapers in the Cincinnati area. Kircher's union activity began with editorial employees on several newspapers in Ohio; he helped to bring them into the American Newspaper Guild.

In 1940 Kircher went to work for the Wright Aeronautical Plant in Evansdale. While working at this defense plant, he helped form UAW Local 647 and served from 1941‑1943 as the local's full‑time Education Director.

In 1943, Bill Kircher was appointed a UAW international representative. During the next twelve years, he served in four capacities: Education Director for Ohio‑West Virginia-Eastern Pennsylvania region (1947-1949); West Coast Director for UAW International Aircraft Department (1949-1951); and Assistant to UAW International Union Vice President Jack Livingston in Detroit (1952-1955). In 1951, Kircher served as Director of UAW

International Union's Wage Stabilization Office in Washington

For a year (1955-1956), Kircher was assistant director to Livingston, who became the first Director of Organization for the newly merged AFL-CIO. The next seven years (1956-1963) Kircher held the post of Assistant Regional Director for Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. During this period he helped to bring back into the AFL-CIO various local unions of national unions which had been expelled from AFL-CIO for unethical or corrupt practices in 1957.

From 1963 to 1965, Bill Kircher served again in the position of Assistant Director of AFL-CIO Department of Organization. In December 1965, at the age of 50, Kircher became National AFL-CIO Director of Organization, one of the then three constitutional offices in AFL-CIO.

After he served eight years as Director of Organization, in 1973, Bill Kircher left this AFL‑CIO leadership post and accepted an appointment from Ed Hanley, General President, Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union (HRE & BIU). From his Washington office, he lobbied for a change in minimum wage legislation that would cover low paid workers such as waiters, bartenders, and busboys.

After four years of service to HRE & BIU, Bill Kircher retired from full‑time work, January 1, 1979. He, however, serve as "Standby Consultant" for HRE & BIU and Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers Union. He also served as Arbitrator for  Detroit Police Officers Association in Tripartite Compulsory Arbitration matters and Consultant to the U.S. Department of  Health and Human Services HMO program.

In 1967, Kircher was appointed for a nine-year term a trustee of Ohio University. In 1975, he was appointed a trustee of the University of Cincinnati.

In 1940 Bill Kircher married Hilda B. Espel of Cincinnati. They had two children: Thomas J. Kircher, Cincinnati attorney (born 1940); and Mary Josephine Huck, housewife, teacher, and artist (born 1942). In 1980, Kircher had four grandchildren (two boys and two girls).

In November 1989, William L. Kircher died at the age of 74. A memorial service was held in the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters building in Washington for the former AFL-CIO organizing director.

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Dear Mr. Lewis, I want to express my appreciation for your accurate and thoughtful biography of my Uncle Bill.  While many scholars of the labor movement know of his work with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, his efforts on behalf of low wage hotel workers is less well-known. 

Thank you for helping to keep the memory of his work alive. Sincerely, Chris 

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And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011—A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011—The first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer who changed the conversation of American literature. In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter, asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"). Unwilling to take no for an answer, propelled by a passion for his subject, and already deep into his research, Shields wrote again and this time, to his delight, the answer came back: "O.K." For the next year—a year that ended up being Vonnegut's last—Shields had access to Vonnegut and his letters. And So It Goes is the culmination of five years of research and writing—the first-ever biography of the life of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut resonates with readers of all generations from the baby boomers who grew up with him to high-school and college students who are discovering his work for the first time. Vonnegut's concise collection of personal essays, Man Without a Country, published in 2006, spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than 300,000 copies to date. The twenty-first century has seen interest in and scholarship about Vonnegut's works grow even stronger, and this is the first book to examine in full the life of one of the most influential iconoclasts of his timeSlaughterhouse Five

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 2 February 2012




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