Skip to main content

It's final. GM files for bankruptcy tomorrow morning.
I would like to take a moment to let all the UAW members know how much I appreciate the strides they  made for many of us in the work force.
As UAW fades, so does a path to U.S. prosperity

For decades, unionized manufacturing jobs have been considered the surest path to middle-class prosperity and realizing the vaunted American dream for blue-collar workers.

The United Auto Workers helped make that dream a reality.
"We created the middle class in America," said Olen Ham, one of the few surviving members of the 1937 "sit-down" strike in Flint, Michigan, which won the first union contract with General Motors Corp.

Later contracts brought paid holidays, pension benefits and health insurance, enabling blue-collar workers to buy cars and homes and to send their children to college.

The 1936-37 Flint Sit-Down Strike marked a turning point for the Labor Movement in America.

The decisive battle started Dec. 30, 1936, in Flint, Mich.

In 1936, union organizing was growing, but it was still a struggle. Corporations fought unionization with firings and fists, and violated the Wagner Act, which prohibited anti-union activities by employers, at will. Spies pretended to be militant unionists but reported on union activities back to the company. Assembly line speedups were common and wages were barely livable for the 50,000 GM employees at several plants in Flint.

“They wanted a full day’s work for a half-day’s pay. Before we had the union, I was working 12 hours per day for 57 cents per hour, straight time,” said retired sit-downer Lawrence Placer, 87. “We didn't have any benefits. The only benefits we had was to work yourself to death.”

Placer worked at Fisher Body Plant 1 where 3,000 workers struck when they found GM was about to transport stamping dies out of the plant. Removing dies was a signal that the company was taking jobs elsewhere. Across town that same day, 100 workers sat down at the smaller Plant 2 after two inspectors were fired for wearing union buttons.

Workers at numerous GM plants were affected by the Flint actions. Sit-downs sprang out at plants in Anderson, Ind., and Norwood, Ohio. Other plants that fed parts to Flint were closed. Some workers were locked out to prevent sit-downs. Supporters streamed into Flint from across the Midwest to man picket lines and other support activities. link

We owe many of our work-related benefits to the courageous GM workers in Flint, MI on Dec. 30, 1936.
Thank you!

Originally posted to yellow dog in NJ on Sun May 31, 2009 at 06:50 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site