With two decades of experience in labor law, and hundreds of labor management disputes, Willard Wirtz was an ideal candidate for the post of Secretary of Labor in the Kennedy Administration. In this position, Wirtz worked largely behind the scenes, handling labor disputes and establishing a strong reputation as an able mediator. When Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg was named to the Supreme Court in 1962, Wirtz was appointed to take his place and stayed on throughout the remainder of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. Wirtz is best known for his work in ending and preventing several major strikes, especially for his role in the prolonged and controversial railroad work rules negotiations. He also supported job-retraining programs as a way to combat unemployment, and proposed several amendments such as the Manpower Development and Retraining Act. Following his career as Secretary of Labor, Wirtz practiced law in Washington D.C.
1912 March 14, Born, DeKalb, Illinois
1933 A.B., Beloit College
1933-1934 High School Teacher, Kewanee, Illinois
1936 Marries Mary Jane Quisenberry
1937-1939 Instructor, University of Iowa
1939-1952 Assistant Professor of Law, Northwestern University
1942-1943 Assistant General Counsel of Board of Economic Welfare
1943-1945 Associated with War Labor Board
1946 Chairman, National Wage Stabilization Board
1946-1954 Professor of Law, Northwestern University
1956-1961 Practiced law
1962-1969 U.S. Secretary of Labor
1970-1978 Partner, Wirtz & Gentry, Washington D.C.
1979-- Partner, Wirtz & Lapointe
2010 April 24, Died, Washington, D.C.
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