W. J. “Bill” Usery’s interests in labor-management relations began when he defiantly joined the International Association of Machinists (IAM) when management strongly discouraged from organizing his workplace. He moved up through the ranks of the IAM and into the U.S. government, serving as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Relations under U.S. President Richard Nixon (1969); Director, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (1973-1976); and United States Secretary of Labor under U.S. President Gerald Ford (1976).
After his work with the federal government, he founded Bill Usery Associates, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based firm providing consulting services in all areas of employer-employee relations. In the mid-1990s, Usery's vision of labor-management cooperation found a home in the W. J. Usery, Jr., Center for the Workplace at Georgia State University, an entity with wide programmatic aims in collective bargaining, workplace productivity, and dispute resolution serving company and union leaders.
Known for his mediation skills, Usery was instrumental in settling disputes involving the Brotherhood of Airline and Railway and Airline Clerks, the United Transportation Union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, Pittston Coal Workers, and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
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