University of Central Arkansas archivist Jimmy Bryant called with happy news yesterday that he’d added the papers of J. Bill Becker, the long-time head of the AFL-CIO in Arkansas, to the UCA collection.

Becker, who led the union from 1964 to 1996, died in 1997 and his family donated the papers. The papers should be open to researchers in late 2016 or 2017.


Arkansas, a right to work state with a business lobby solidly anti-union, wasn’t fertile ground for Becker. But he was a tough negotiator and won some victories at the legislature. His papers will be open late this year or early next year. It will be interesting if they reveal additional details about his disaffection for Gov. Bill Clinton, who enjoyed labor support that Becker put down to his being the lesser of evils. Becker emerged as a strong critic of Clinton the 1992 presidential race.