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Woodcock, Leonard Freel

American labour leader and diplomat (b. Feb. 15, 1911, Providence, R.I.-d. Jan. 16, 2001, Ann Arbor, Mich.), served as president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) from 1970 to 1977. Woodcock dropped out of Detroit City College for financial reasons in 1933 and went to work as a machine assembler; he later joined a small union that eventually became affiliated with the UAW. Woodcock served as an international representative for the UAW from 1940 to 1946 and held a number of posts within the union before being elected its vice president in 1955. He was elevated to president in 1970 and in that year led the union through a highly publicized strike against General Motors Corp., which ended after General Motors agreed to significant wage increases and cost-of-living protection for employees. Woodcock was chosen by Pres. Jimmy Carter to serve as an envoy to China in 1977 and succeeded in negotiating the reestablishment of U.S.-Chinese diplomatic relations. Woodcock served as ambassador to China in 1979-80, after which he worked as an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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