PX 86-8 Wirtz (crop): W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor (1962-1969), undated

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.


Labor and the Public Interest, 1964.
The Boundless Resource: A Prospectus for an Education Work Policy, 1975.


Contemporary Authors Online.The Gale Group, 1999.