Remembering Dottie Jones: A Trailblazer for UAW Women

Dorothy Jones, affectionately known as “Dottie,” started her union path in 1966 when she worked as chief steward at UAW Local 630.  She stepped up to the challenge when she noticed that even though the plant had majority women workers, there were more men representing them than women. She was so involved in the advancement of women in the workplace that she served on the Michigan Women’s Commission, the National Association of Commissions for Women, and she developed training programs for minority and female union members at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations.  She is most remembered by her accomplishments serving on the Michigan Task Force Against Sexual Harassment.  While on the task force, she successfully worked to have Michigan’s Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act amended to make sexual harassment an illegal act.  She was so recognized for her work that she was named one of 25 Outstanding Black Women in Michigan in 1985.  She also received the Feminist Achievement Award and the Walter Reuther Distinguished Service Award.  She attained another great achievement by becoming the first African American woman to be appointed to staff in the UAW President’s office in 1996.  She was appointed as Administrative Assistant by President Steve Yokich and remained in the position under the next President Ron Gettlefinger until her retirement in 2003. She was a trailblazer on the union path and continued her work even after her retirement, promoting diversity and fighting for positive change and social justice.

Sadly, in September of 2020 we lost Dottie Jones, one of our most beloved and impassioned union leaders.  She was known as a woman of wisdom and integrity who always offered practical advice and uplifting words to union sisters.  In 2017, she was memorialized in an oil painting by Pat Beninsca, “I added Dottie Jones to this series of 13 women because of what she has accomplished in her continuous fight for social justice and especially her work with sexual harassment legislation. How one person can tirelessly go after making things right is a legacy that needed to be in my series. My hope is that her spirit is reflected in this painting!”

Dottie Jones, 2017, Encaustic, oil paint, brass tube, marble state seal of Michigan, 1966 UAW Member pin on sheet metal, 15” x 14” x 3 ¼“ by Pat Benincasa