Nate Gooden, a United Auto Workers union negotiator and 4-year member of DaimlerChrysler AG’s supervisory board, died Tuesday. He was 68.

Gooden, a union vice president since 1999 until his retirement in June, directed the UAW’s national contract negotiations with Chrysler Group in 2004.

DC Chairman Dieter Zetsche remembers Gooden as a “tough but always fair negotiator. He was an innovative partner in a very tough business, who always did his best to take care of his people,” Zetsche says in a statement.

“Our entire union mourns the passing of a dedicated trade unionist, who served our union with distinction for more than four decades,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says in a statement.

“Nate represented workers at the highest levels of corporate and political decision-making, but he always kept his focus on the needs of UAW members and their families.”

Born in 1938 in Detroit, Gooden first joined the UAW in 1964, when he was hired on the chassis assembly line at Chrysler’s Warren (MI) Truck Assembly Plant.

“Although we sometimes found ourselves on the opposite end of the bargaining table, I will miss his forthrightness and sense of humor, which were important attributes in helping us find common ground,” Chrysler President and CEO Tom LaSorda says in a statement.