For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Jim Hensley comes from a large family of General Motors workers, several of whom moved to Anderson from Arkansas, along with Jim when he was 11 years old.
“I have lived in Anderson most of my life,” said Jim. “My mother, Eunice Hensley, worked at and retired from Guide Lamp. I retired from Guide Lamp after 46, almost 47 years and was pretty heavily involved in the union for about 30 of those years. When I hired in I was an apprentice, and after about six months I worked as a machine repairman, so I wasn’t in a specific plant but worked all over the place. I had two brothers, Dale and Carl Hensley, who both worked at and retired from Guide Lamp and two other brothers, Bob and Ray Hensley, who worked at and retired from Delco Remy. Two of my kids also worked at Guide, Ted Hensley and Jama Fridley.”
Jim mentioned he also had several aunts, uncles and cousins who worked for General Motors over the years.
Jim and his wife, Judy, spend their winters in Florida now but Jim has stayed actively involved in his local union since retiring. “I am chairman of the Local UAW 663 (Guide) Retirees Union, which has about 3500 to 4000 members,” said Jim. “We meet once a month at 2840 Madison Avenue in Anderson.”
“I think General Motors is coming back and I think they will be a major force as far as the other auto companies are concerned. Hopefully they’ll start developing more products here and manufacturing more products here in the United States that will start providing more jobs. I think they’re all going to come back (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) and things are going to get better.”
“Unions have a long way to go and may never be what they were before, but things will turn around and get better,” Jim said, “but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of people to get that done.”