UAW Local 5 - South Bend, IN

A Brief History of AM General and UAW Local 5

AM General/UAW Local 5 drew their heritage from Studebaker and Standard Wheel and have been solving ground transportation problems for customers around the globe for over 160 years.

Studebaker was founded in South Bend, Indiana in 1852 and grew to become the largest horse-drawn wagon producer in the world and one of the largest corporations in the United States. Studebaker continued to build wagons for customers around the world until 1919. Studebaker began manufacturing automobiles in 1902 and continued to produce automobiles and truck in the U.S. through 1964, when it ceased commercial manufacturing operations and sold the assets of its general and military automation operations to Kaiser Jeep Corporation.

Standard Wheel Company was founded in 1904 in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1908, John Willys purchased the Overland Automobile Division of Standard Wheel Company and renamed it as Willys-Overland Motor Company. In 1953, Kaiser-Frazer purchased Willys-Overland Motors and changed its name to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation in 1963.  In 1964, Kaiser-Jeep Corporation moved its military and specialty vehicles manufacturing operation to South Bend, Indiana and organized the operations under the General Engine Product Division from Kaiser-Jeep Corporation and in 1971 organized the operations as a wholly owned subsidiary and renamed it AM General Corporation.

Under the AM General name, the company-built buses, postal vehicles, M151 Jeeps, M51 trucks and a 5-ton series truck.  In addition to these, AM General also produced the Hummer H1 for General Motors, the R-Class for Mercedes-Benz, and a handicap accessible vehicle called the MV-1. However, AM General is best known for designing and producing the venerable Humvee or HMMWV Light Tactical Vehicle since 1983.

UAW Local 5 started representing Studebaker workers in 1933 as AFL Local Union 18310. In 1935, after many long debates, several AFL locals finally convinced the AFL Executive Board to allow the formation of the International Union of Auto Workers.  AFL Local Union 18310 was renumbered as UAW Local 5 and in 1936, the first UAW Constitutional Convention was held in South Bend, Indiana. UAW Local 5 continued to grow and became well known as a pioneer in gaining economic increases and benefits such as a group insurance plan for its members.  In 1940, UAW local 5 became the first UAW Local to hold title to its own home.

Following the closing of Studebaker in 1965, UAW Local 5 lived on through the amalgamation of some of the sold off operations of Studebaker.  Through the remainder of the 1960’s and 1970’s, other unites joined the local, including AM General in 1971.  Today, UAW Local 5 is the oldest existing Local in the UAW.