This page contains a collection of brief testimonies and stories from the point of view of some of the thousands of men and women who were bystanders, opponents, or participants in the strikes of the 1930s. These are their stories.




I am an educated, white male worker, living in the year 1936. I work for General Motors in, Flint Michigan and it is here that my fellow workers and I have been denied, by big corperations like GM, the rights given to us by the Wagner Act. This means that we are unfairly being denied the rights given to us and set down by constitution and our unions. I am 34 years old, and I have a wife and three young children who expect me to keep them alive during this dead economy. Many days, its hard just to put food on the table, let alone provide for other necessities such as clothing, and household items. The tension had been building and soon, I fear it may break... (Note: this entry was put in anonymously by request of the author)

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Famous Flint, Michigan sit down strike



My name is George O'Keaf, my pals at the plant call me Keaf for short. Yah, I was there at the GM plant that night, think it was December 30, 'cause lots of the boys were talkin bout going on home to see their families and such before the New Year. Ain't sure exactly how it happend 'cause one moment everyone was bout work as usual and the next they were puttin together picket lines and all. Not to say that everythin was all helter-skelter up in there, no sir, them boys Bob Travis and Roy Reuther was keepin them in line they was. As for me, well I was hearin some mighty strange things bout the plant, day or two ago and once them boys began to really bunker down and start rationing out food and all, well I knew that them authoreties would be shutting it down, they would. (Note: Mr. O'Keaf never became fully involved in the famous Flint Michigan sit down strike. He quit his job shortly after its advent, mainly due to the hostility that was directed towards him and other GM plant workers by his neighbors.)

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Workers at the Flint Michigan auto plant passing idle time while striking



It all started about a year ago. Oh, I'm Cherie by the way, Cherie Glover. Anyway, I was at the store last Tuesday and Mrs. White was in quite a mood...well I should say more so than usual. She kept going on and on to me about some strike in Michigan that her brother was telling her about. I told her I thought that it was a little strange that she was becoming so worked up about it. Here in Cleveland, OH we've had our fair share of auto plant strikes, not to mention we all heard about the strike in Detriot and the famous Hormel Packing Company strike in Austin, Minnesota, a few years back in 1933. I think she should tell her brother to get himself up and outa there soon though...they say that once the police get involved its hard to get out of that mess unscratched. Would'nt want him to get caught up in violence such as that...

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May 9, 1934: a strike in San Francisco sparks a wild fire of strikes across the country


In 36 hours my unit and I will have to make one of the hardest decisions of our lives. We are the Flint, Michigan police force, and up until now, none of us have had to use much violence on the job. This morning Chief came in and sat me down, "Grayson" he said to me, "The mayor just wired me... were taking down the Flint plant" he paused "...armed." The crazy thing is that it all happened so fast, I supposed 44 days of striking may seem like a long time to some, but when you have to consider the fact that thoses 44 days may be the last that those men may ever live...well thats like a second thats barely passed in the scheme of a lifetime. On February 3, myself and my fellow officers would be reponsible for the injury and possibly death of hundreds of men who had children, wives, brothers, and sisters just like my own. (Note: the day before the supposed armed raid on the Flint plant, workers wired in to Gov. Frank Murphy of Michigan saying "unarmed as we are, the introduction of the militia, sheriffs, or police with murderous weapons will mean a blood bath of unarmed workers. We have decided to stay in the plant." Not wanting to shed the blood of the determined workers, the raid was called off.)


The sit down strike at Flint, Michigan was a successful one. Workers were given their rights and bloodshead was avoided, however this was not always the case with these types of strikes. While they are supposedly a strictly non-violent form protest, the not so peaceful out comes of some, should serve as a warning to future generations of workers.

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Violent tactics are employed by authorities to disperse a strike in Ohio



Credit must be given to the following references:
http://www.historicalvoices.org/flint/strike.php
http://www.jiffynotes.com/a_study_guides/book_notes/adec_0001_0004_0/adec_0001_0004_0_01105.html
http://www.andrewsiam.org/images/Flint_Sit-Down_Strike_window.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.andrewsiam.org/1600.html&usg=__SQIjCoxQfZDex1oj5nmhD0wV_dA=&h=424&w=560&sz=174&hl=en&start=7&zoom=1&itbs=1&tbnid=EQOEsvNSLUxKrM:&tbnh=101&tbnw=133&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dflint%2Bsit%2Bdown%2Bstrike%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1
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