The Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1937 erupted because of the way GM workers were treated by their employers. The working conditions were extremely dangerous and the pay workers received, really didn’t accumulate to the hours they worked. Union Organizations found this as the perfect opportunity to step in and support the workers. The Flint Sit-Down strike is Known as the most important strike in American History. The reason why is because it helped the United Automobile Workers (UAW) become a major union. This would also lead to the Unionization of the United States automobile industry. Now i will go off into how the New Deal helped strengthen Unionization. Once Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933 he started making progress towards ending the economic crisis that the U.S. faced. You have to remember that this was during the time when America was facing its biggest hardship known as “The Great Depression.” With that being noted Roosevelt passed the National Industrial Recovery Act. This initially gave unions the right to organize and made it illegal for employers to harass workers for being a member of a union. Unions begin to strengthen tremendously during this period. This was the first time unions was given rights, yet alone any acknowledgment by the government. The National Tax act also granted workers a minimum wage of Twenty-five cents per hour, and a set minimum of hours they were allowed to work per week. This really doesn’t seem much modern day but it was a relief for the workers back then. As for Unions, the most important aspect of the Act was the freedom to organize within a union of the workers choosing. I will now go more in depth about how the Workers felt during the strike. In the Michigan History book on page 240 the Flint Sit Down strike was addressed. The workers goal during the strike was to be insubordinate and hold up the assembly line. This would keep other workers who didn’t participate in the strike from cooperating. This reaction came from them receiving unfair treatment from employers. Striking would be the reason that sprung out hatred between workers and employers.  In the Michigan history book i also found that there was a altercation between the workers and employers which resulted in 14 people being injured. This event was known as “Battle Of The Running Bulls.” The (UAW) Flint Sit-Down memorial also happened to be one of the sites i visited for the Semester project.

Martine, Richard. The New Deal, 2 Nov. 2013, Richard Martine, “National Industry Recovery Act,” Improve, Accessed November 2, 2013




  1. My dad works at GM and he is a union member! He’s actually committee man which means people come to him with their complaints or concerns and he takes it to his bosses and tries to get it fixed. Sometimes he has to defend the workers when they get in trouble which can be hard because sometimes they actually did things that are wrong and he still has to defend them. It’s crazy to think that a union isn’t something that was always around, my dad’s job would be probably completely non-existent without it.

  2. I can’t imagine working so many hours with little pay along with a dangerous environment. When I worked for GM I got to tour the plants. Some jobs can be very dangerous and back then they did not have all the safety features we have now. Roosevelt did wonders for the workers and helping them with getting the Union. Without the Union for GM it makes you wonder how things would be now with the Automotive industry.

  3. The environment and wages that were provided prior to the sit down blows my mind. The corporations, backed by the lumber barons that were making such a tremendous fortune, however it was not filtering down at all. Unions were born to make it a win-win, and when administered properly, that is exactly what it does, it protects the persons.

  4. President Roosevelt’s New Deal laid the foundation for workers to join unions and protect their rights to a fair wage and better working conditions. The Flint workers in the GM plant sit down strike in 1937 were very brave to jeopardize their jobs and even their lives to fight to join the UAW. Some public and private industries today still fight the unions as a barrier to their profitability, but unions back in the post-depression years actually saved the lives of thousands of workers and their families.

  5. President Roosevelt singed the New Deal into action in the hopes of pulling the country out of over a decade of depression. The deal forced companies to listen to unions that had representation of over half the workforce. The sit-down strike showed as to why these unions were needed and how much good they can do. However, now a days unions are criticized for their protection of workers. It is worth considering how todays workforce would change if unions were no longer allowed.

  6. The way I see it is that people should be paid what they deserve. When you’re working a lot in terrible conditions, you should get paid a fair wage. The members of these strikes understood this and did something to allow that.

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