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The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike

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On December 30, 1936 workers at General Motors (GM) in Flint, Michigan sat down on the job. They stayed there for forty-four days on strike. They finally reached an agreement on February 11, 1937. Their union, the United Auto Workers (UAW) had finally gotten a victory. This was turning point for America. This was an amazing victory for the laborers of the American industries of the time.

This strike was an amazing victory because of the fact that strikes had been previously attempted in flint but had been broken up by the police before much of anything was accomplished. When the Wagner Act was passed, strikes were made legal. This gave the United Auto Workers the chance to do what they had been attempting to do for years. Now, the police could no longer break up their strikes. This led to a more effective strike which is why it is so remembered.

The United Auto Workers did not go outside and hold up signs like other, more typical strikes. They stayed inside the factory so that production had to cease. This caused General Motors to lose a significant amount of money! Due to this lose in money; the leaders of General Motors had to negotiate on the terms of the United Auto Workers for once. However, this was not something that any Unions across America were used to yet. It was a completely new side of negotiating for them! This provided the United Auto Workers with a little bit of fear as well as excitement.

Some of the leaders of General Motors began to send letters to the workers whom they thought would be more sympathetic to their terrible money losses. However, this did not manage to break the Union up. This strike was resolved peacefully however. Most strikes of the early 1900's in America led to a lot of unneeded violence. General Motors got the word into the workers of a rumor they were spreading. They were going to go in and get the machines used to make the cars. If this happened, then General Motors could go somewhere else to make their cars. The factory workers realized they would no longer be needed. Therefore, the United Auto Workers sent out one of their leaders to negotiate with a man of General Motors.

The two men discussed thing peacefully and things were resolved. The factory would go back to producing cars as soon as possible. The workers got some new rights and word got out of a new negotiation tactic for other strikes. The United Auto Workers got more of the rights they were looking for also. All in all, the strike helped the workers and employers come to a lovely understanding.



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