Thank you to the UAW

(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

cross-posted at the Orange Site

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!

6 comments

Skip to comment form

    • TomP on June 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I agree.  The UAW fought hard for all workers.  

Comments have been disabled.