Professor of Law, Emeritus
UC Los Angeles
1915 – 2007
Professor of Law Emeritus Benjamin Aaron, one of the most beloved and highly-regarded members of the UCLA School of Law family, passed away on August 25th, at the age of 91. His wife of 66 years, Eleanor Opsahl Aaron, survived him by less than fifteen weeks. The couple left their daughters, Louise Aaron Ozawa and Judith Aaron Turner, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and Benjamin’s brother Daniel Aaron.
Professor Aaron joined the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations in 1946, and in 1960 became its director, a position he held for fifteen years. During World War II, he spent four years as a staff member and executive director of the National War Labor Board, and briefly served on the labor advisory commission to the Supreme Commander, Allied Powers, in Tokyo. He served on a number of panels, boards, and commissions as appointee of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Bush (Sr.), including a statutory arbitration board to resolve the work-rules dispute on the nation's railroads and the National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress. Since 1946, Professor Aaron has served as an arbitrator of labor disputes in virtually every major industry.
An undisputed giant in the field of labor law, he authored scores of important books and articles on labor law and industrial relations, and edited various works on domestic and comparative labor law, including, Public Sector Bargaining (1988) and The Railway Labor Act at Fifty: Collective Bargaining in the Railroad and Airline Industries (1977).
Professor Aaron was twice appointed to the faculty of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and was a resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, England, a Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar, and a visiting fellow at the School of Law, Australian National University. He was president of the National Academy of Arbitrators, the Industrial Relations Research Association, and the International Society of Labor Law and Social Security; and he was a former member of the ILO Committee of the Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. In 1981, he was the recipient of the American Arbitration Association's Distinguished Service Award. In 1996, he was elected a charter emeritus member of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
Throughout his esteemed professional lifetime and career, Ben Aaron had been appointed to the faculty and served as a resident fellow at the finest universities and centers throughout the world, and we have been honored to have him with us at the UCLA School of Law since 1960.
His contributions to the field, to the Law School, to hundreds of students over the years and to all of us who had the great honor to know him personally, are part of the legacy of his lifelong commitment and passion.