Salon | Sit-down strikes revolutionized the labor movement — could it happen again?
Matthew Rozsa writes on the a wave of labor activism, strikes, and resignations. He interviews KI Executive Director, Joe McCartin who speaks on the Flint sit-down strike.
“The activists used the tactic in Flint because they knew it was the crucial node in the GM system and they believed they had enough organization in the plants there to pull it off. Everyone was excited by FDR’s recent landslide reelection, which seemed to ratify public support of the Wagner Act [a landmark 1935 labor law] and other New Deal measures. And organizers were growing impatient with GM’s constant stalling and resistance to unionization. So they decided to force the company’s hand.”
“Without the Flint sit-down strike, it might have taken many more years to unionize General Motors and the entire industrial union movement might have failed to mature. The breakthrough boosted the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) and helped make other victories possible. Indeed, U.S. Steel decided to voluntarily recognize the CIO’s Steelworker Organizing Committee (SWOC) in hopes of avoiding the kind of disruption GM had experienced. Both GM and USS capitulated to the CIO before anyone even knew whether the [Supreme Court] would uphold the constitutionality of the NLRA (Wagner Act), which it later did on April 12, 1937. This was a testament to how [much] leverage the sit-down strike gave workers. The Flint sit-down strike was certainly the most pivotal strike of the era.”
Read the full article below.