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Home / History / UAW’s Fist First Raised against the Man Jan 11, 1937


United AutoworkersIt was 75 years ago this January 11th that the United Auto Workers first battled General Motors and the flat shoed police of Flint, Michigan.

Trapped in the middle of the Great Depression, the autoworkers were having to make due on just 20 bucks a week, about half what they had been earning before the economic sadness started. This, they all agreed, simply would not do. So, their newly formed UAW organized a series of strikes doing what union workers would eventually become well know for, sitting down.

It was at the sit down strike at the Flint Fisher Body plant that the fisticuffs, tear gas, bullets, and thrown bolts and auto parts made history as the autoworkers tried to break through a line made up of GM security and police to reach the food and drink that their supporters had brought them. The riots were so bad that Michigan’s governor sent the National Guard to Flint that very evening, the night of January 11, 1937.

Exactly one month later, GM agreed to the first ever UAW contract giving workers a five percent raise and doing away with unremunerated overtime.


About the author: Andrew Greene


Now playing the role of grumpy old man in the foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country, Andrew has had a life-long love affair with vehicles of all sorts, from the bicycle he pedaled across the continent in 1991 to the armored personnel carriers he drove in the Army to the bamboo rafts, elephants, motorcycle taxis, ferries and buses he traveled by during the 13 years he lived and worked in South East Asia. Always eager to learn more about how the people of the world get from here to there in their day-today lives, he, a professional journalist, has been covering the vehicle industry for years.


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