Whenever workers go on strike, everyone hopes that a resolution can be reached quickly and peacefully. Sadly, this is not always the case to where an incident occurs that results in a person or persons get hurt. General Motors (GM) can attest to this as on January 11th, 1937, the company had already been experiencing approximately two weeks of a sit-down strike with their auto workers.
This was taking place at the Fisher Body Plant No.2 in Flint, Michigan when suddenly a riot breaks out; the cause was police officers attempt to stop those on strike from getting food deliveries coming from the outside from supporters. Police officers and Strikers were injured alike during the melee; the incident later earned the nickname the “Battle of the Running Bulls.” Michigan governor Frank Murphy would send for the National Guard to come in after the riot on January 11th. Despite requesting the National Guard to surround the plant, the governor wanted to maintain his reputation as being a friend to working men and women; he decided not to send in soldiers into the plant.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union organized the strike in an attempt to have GM, then the world’s biggest automaker, to acknowledge them as the only bargaining authority for workers at the company’s factories. The new UAW, which was established in 1935, also insisted on job security and improved working conditions for GM’s workers; besides the Fisher Body Plant No.2, employees at other GM plants located in Michigan and around the country also took to striking during late1936 to early 1937. President Franklin Roosevelt got involved with negotiations to stop the conflict while many Americans sided with the strikers.
The strike finally ended after a month with GM making an agreement to allow the UAW rights to bargain and begin negotiations on many issues that was in relation to making better job conditions for the auto workers; the strike turned out to become a huge win for the UAW. Eventually, the strike motivated employees for Chrysler to orchestrate their own strike and would ultimately win the ability to have the UAW represent them as well. The last holdout of the Three Big automakers was the Ford Company; founder Henry Ford was against unions and delayed his company from having any dealings with the UAW until finally doing so in 1941.
Though originating in the world of automotives, the UAW presently has expanded from accepting workers that were only in the auto industry and is known officially as the United Automobile, International Union, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. The UAW membership has over 500,000 members that are active as well as having more retired members in Puerto Rico, the United States and Canada.