Williamson Inducted into 2005 Labor Hall of Fame
By Debra Goddard UAW Local 10

On Saturday, July 9, 2005, Billy E. Williamson was inducted into Georgia State AFL-CIO’s 2005 Labor Hall of Fame. Few deserve it more than this dedicated union brother.

Billy was born July 19, 1944 on the Porch Creek Indian Reservation near Porch, Alabama. His mother died when Billy was five years old. At the young age of six Billy was hired to work in the cotton fields of Alabama. He didn’t even realize he was being used as child labor, he only knew he had to help his father feed the family. Even as a child Billy would notice the poor working conditions and knew that his destiny was to make a difference.

At age sixteen he married and started a family. He found work in Atlanta, Georgia at Williams Parking Deck parking cars. He had to leave his family behind in Alabama.

In the spring of 1963 he was hired at the GM Assembly Plant in Doraville, Georgia. This was a Union Shop and Billy knew immediately he could utilize his drive to help working folks. Soon he became involved in politics and was labeled as “the Hell raiser from Alabama.” In 1965 he became an Alternate Committeeman and went on to become a UAW Region 8 International Servicing Representative. His career with the UAW lasted for 36 years.

1965 – 1966 UAW Local 10 Alternate Committeeman
1967 – 1971 UAW Local 10 Committeeman
1972 – 1979 UAW Local 10 Zone Committeeman
1982 – 1985 UAW Local 10 Shop Chairman
1985 – 2000 UAW Region 8 International Servicing Representative

Billy helped to organize the “Care and Share” program at the Doraville Plant in the early 80’s, which has helped thousands of needy families at Christmas. Billy was instrumental in organizing busloads of people to march on Capitol Hill in support of Labor. He fought for many issues concerning the assembly line workers at the Doraville Plant. In 1984 one of the greatest local agreements ever negotiated at Doraville was ratified under his leadership. The 1984 agreement was truly “Billy’s Baby”, says a former Shop Committeeman. We won air make-up systems, parking lot resurfaced with adequate drainage, additional parking spaces, canned drink machines, additional welding equipment, additional restrooms, telephones, one member in each foreman’s group to be taught CPR, and increase in pay for certain utility repair classifications. The 1984 local agreement truly made history. “Billy never forgot where he came from”, says Financial Secretary Kathy Fowler, even after he was appointed to the UAW Region 8 International Union staff. We would look to Billy for answers. Billy never boasted about his leadership accomplishments. You just had to know him, no matter what color, race, creed or national origin if you were a friend of labor he was truly a friend of yours.

Billy is known as a skilled negotiator. He never carried a grievance to arbitration because he was always able to negotiate a settlement. While on the UAW Region 8 staff Billy served locals in Alabama, Northern Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Billy has been a tireless union member and leader for over twenty years. His service and dedication to the down trodden has been enormous. His actions of dedication were not for financial gain but for the love of his union and the uplifting of the membership and communities which he so proudly served. Let it be said no persons’ concerns, however small, was overlooked because Billy knew if it was of concern to them, then it was his concern. This made our movement stronger, because members and communities spoke freely to him and Billy listened, says UAW Region 8 Assistant Director Donny Bevis.

Billy retired from the United Auto Workers in 2000 but he stays involved with the Local 10 Retiree Chapter. He resides in Buford, Georgia with his wife Milva. Billy likes to fish and build three wheelers. Billy is the proud Father of four boys; Billy, Jr. (deceased), Terry, Rusty, and Phillip and two girls; Rhonda and Gailyne. He has thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

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