Art Schwartz, president of Labor and Economic Associates and a former labor negotiator for General Motors, died Saturday.
He was 72. He died at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital in Michigan after a battle with COVID-19.
Schwartz was a skilled negotiator, said Kristin Dziczek, a friend of Schwartz and vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. He shared his knowledge of labor contracts and bargaining throughout the industry, she said.
Schwartz started his career at the University of Michigan where he taught labor relations before shifting to GM in 1985.
He was general director of the company's labor relations staff where he negotiated with the UAW, IUE-CWA and United Steelworkers of America. He was also head of labor planning and was responsible for designing and administering all of the automaker's special attrition programs.
"During his 24 years across the table from UAW members, Art demonstrated a level of fairness and problem solving on complex labor management issues," UAW President Rory Gamble and Terry Dittes, UAW vice president in charge of GM bargaining, said in statement to the Detroit Free Press. "It culminated with his role in working through the very difficult issues at play during the auto rescue in 2009."
He retired from GM in January 2010.
"The UAW was lucky to have him on the other side of the table during that period," Dziczek said.
His knowledge of labor negotiations, job skills, health care, pensions and other benefits played a regular role as a voice to journalists, most recently during the UAW's 40-day strike against GM in 2019.
Schwartz was a part-time faculty member at Wayne State University in the labor and employment relations masters program, where his students loved him, Dziczek said.
Schwartz was a member of the board of directors for Jack's Place for Autism and was a member of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.
He is survived by his wife, two children and three brothers.
His brother Dan Schwartz, in an interview with Automotive News, said Art shared a passion for helping people, devotion to his children and his love for sports, especially baseball.
His family asked that memorial contributions be made to Jack's Place for Autism or Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan.