Over seventy years ago something momentous occurred in American labor history. It was a defining moment in the efforts of American working men and women to achieve basic fairness in the workplace.
That event was the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1937.
The UAW had held its first convention in 1935 and decided shortly after that the only way to achieve stability in the automobile industry was to achieve nation-wide labor agreements. The UAW further decided that the initial target should be the most powerful auto manufacturer at the time: General Motors.
In December of 1936 UAW members at the Fisher body plant in Cleveland went on strike. At around the same time, auto workers at GM’s Fisher body plant in Flint also struck. Instead of leaving the plant as most often occurs during a strike, the Flint auto workers occupied the plant.
The brave Flint workers stood fast and remained in the plant, notwithstanding court injunctions and police attacks. They remained in the plant from the end of December of 1936 until February of 1937, when GM recognized the UAW as the collective bargaining representative of the workers.
It’s out of such things as the Flint strike that history, and inspiration for millions, is made.