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Robert G. Howlett papers

Identifier: 00103

Scope and Contents

The Robert G. Howlett papers consist of arbitration decisions and related material from the years 1959 to 1975. Mr. Howlett is a distinguished labor lawyer and arbitrator from Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his private practice in the field of labor relations, he has served in many public agencies and has been Chairman of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission since 1963.

The arbitration decisions contained in this collection are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the company. Most of the decisions are accompanied by company and union exhibits, and transcripts of the arbitration proceedings.

Additional materials of the Howlett Papers were received May 11, 1977. These materials consist primarily of arbitration decisions and supporting materials relating to the decision. The arbitration materials have been arranged in the same manner as the original accession, i.e. alphabetical order by name of the company involved in arbitration. These decisions over the years 1963 and 1974 to 1977.

There are also materials regarding the selection of an Executive Secretary for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce (1962) in which Howlett was involved.

Finally, there are materials relating to the revision of Michigan's Workman Compensation Act, 1965.


  • Creation: 1959 - 1977

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Robert Glasgow Howlett was born on November 10, 1906 in Bay City, Michigan to parents Lewis and Anne Hurst Howlett. He attended school in Bay City through three years of high school, but graduated from Benton Harbor High in 1925. He then went to Northwestern University, graduating with a B.S. in 1929 and a J.D. from the Law School in 1932.

Howlett worked as an associate in Chicago area law firms from 1932 until 1942 when he became a partner in the firm Pruitt and Grealis (Chicago)/Pruitt, Hale & Corsen (New York). He remained there until 1947 when he went to practice law in Chattanooga, Tennessee until March 1948. He then joined a team to represent construction industries in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama. In July 1949 Howlett became a partner in the Grand Rapids, Michigan law firm of Schmidt, Howlett, Van't Hoff, Snell and Vana.

Howlett first became involved in labor relations while practicing law in New York. A case was assigned to him and in those days, one case made one an expert Representing the corporation that operated La Guardia Airport, Howlett negotiated the first collective bargaining contract between the employer corporation and the union representing the La Guardia Airport skycaps. Howlett was then transferred from representing air transport clients to shipbuilding clients. He was appointed a Industry member of Shipbuilding Commission of the National War Labor Board from January 1943-December 1945.

Howlett was actively engaged in labor relations law and labor law when he returned to Michigan in 1949. He started to arbitrate in 1953 and in July 1963 was appointed a member of the Michigan Labor Mediation Board by then Governor George Romney. He was named Chairman of the Board by Governor Romney in September 1964. The Michigan Labor Mediation Board, now called the Michigan Employment Relations Commission has jurisdiction in both the public and private sector in labor relations and mediation. Howlett resigned from the Commission on April 1, 1976 when President Gerald R. Ford appointed him as Chairman of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP).

Howlett was a visiting professor at Michigan State University in 1972 and 1975 and taught a course in Grievance Administration and Arbitration in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations. He married Barbara Withey with whom he had three children.


26.33 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Robert G. Howlett.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Robert G. Howlett Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
C. Cain, S. Levy, W. McDaid
June 1976
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US