In the 1930’s, unemployment was on the rise, and so was poverty. Those who obtained jobs often had horrible working conditions. Especially those working in automotive factories. The poor working conditions, along with the horrible wages led to the Flint Sit-Down Strike in 1936. The Flint Sit-Down Strike was a pivotal turning point in America’s history that resulted in recognition of the United Automotive Workers.
The Great Depression was an ongoing event when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected into office. His plan, “The New Deal” was implemented into society to combat the poverty that struck our nation from the Great Depression. Part of his plan included the Industrial Recovery Act. This act allowed workers the right to unionize. In Flint, this act was very important to the General Motors Factory. The working conditions were horrid at this plant. Workers had a constant fear of being laid off and had to work at an incredible pace (Rubenstein p.242). In addition, any little mishap could result in the loss of their job. The plants were not worried about finding new workers, as a mass of unemployed workers willing to find work were outsider their doors. Finally, thanks to the New Deal the workers had the right to unionize. This right, combined with the horrible working conditions led to the Flint Sit-Down Strike commenced by the workers in 1936.
The Flint Sit-Down Strike consisted of 5,000 workers. These workers endured the forty plus day strike with no heat or electricity. The strikers also ignored court orders that told them to vacate the building. These strong-willed workers would not give up their ground. This event was making history and the workers helped to carry the momentum of this event. The end result of the striker’s hard work and determination was the recognition of the United Automotive Workers. Even though the workers were tired and probably scared, they were persistent. This relentlessness that the workers portrayed helped to bring huge changes to the Automotive Industry.
The Flint Sit-Down Strike in Flint had a fantastic end result. The factory leaders that acted as tyrants had finally agreed to cooperate with the workers. This was a major game changer in the automotive industry. Workers could finally be given the rights that they demanded for so long. These rights included: increased wages, a closed shop, and benefits based on seniority (Rubenstein p.243). Gone are the days when the shop owner treated his workers like they were in a dictatorship. The workers could go to their employers with concerns, without the fear of being laid off. The Flint Sit-Down Strike had brought about this change. The relations between workers and employers was finally civil, after so many years of unrest in the factories.
The Flint Sit-Down Strike was a pivotal turning point in America’s history that resulted in recognition of the United Automotive Workers. The recognition of this union started at the General Motors plant and eventually was welcomed at the plant ran by Ford. From there, the rights spread across the nation. Thus, being such an important event in the history of the United States. This strike fought for the working rights that humans now acquire. The Flint Sit-Down Strike was a defining moment in history that changed the Automotive Industry for the better.
Rubenstein, Bruce A., and Lawrence E. Ziewacz. Michigan: a History of the Great Lakes State. Wiley, 2014.