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Notes from:

SOLE presents: Birth of Labor Movement 10/25/05

Flint “sit-down” strike of 1936 and 1937 at GM (worlds largest corporation)

“important to starting a middle class in America”
“workers rights… chance to make a decent wage”
“demanded to be treated like human beings”
“not about money”

Women’s Emergency Brigade – Film about 40th Anniversary
Forefront of “today’s women”
Took food to the strikers
“We were the pioneers of the labor movement”
No health benefits, no unemployment, no Social Security
No safety equipment- people were not told about previous injuries
Plants thought that women would ask fewer questions and accept lower pay
Had to accept sexual harassment to keep jobs “if you were the kind of girl who didn’t mind men patting you where men shouldn’t be patting you, you were pretty well assured of a job”
One entire department was treated for venereal disease
Held over the women’s heads.
Men were treated badly
Hurt families, wives
“Flint was famous for churches and beer gardens…. The churches were for the women”
GM controlled all of Flint (judges, etc.)
Many women thought it was a bad idea to strike against the various components of the corporation (A.C. Sparkplugs. Etc.)
Company planted distrust in wives- told wives that their husbands were not at union meetings, were actually at pool halls , etc.
At first, women were asked to leave strikes to discourage press coverage of “sexual mingling”
Women’s Auxiliary founded to support husbands who were striking(Fisher 1 and Fisher 2)
Some women organized children’s picket lines
People called them “communists” but “then they were bragging about their pensions and they don’t know how they got them”
Socialist and Communist Party did assist- “without the education and the know-how that they gave us, we wouldn’t have been able to do it”
Battle fought between GM “goons” and strikers in front of Flint-Fisher Two
Women crossed the police lines and joined “in solidarity”
Founded a women’s brigade
(wore red berets)
National Guard called in – January, 1937
February 11, 1937- GM signs contract agreement- end of strike
Geraldine Blankenshipp
Father was a vice-president of the sit-down
“Ding-man”- paid slightly better
“Child of the depression”
Husband-to-be put on doors
Inhumane conditions
Would use and keep teargas
Extreme heat (120 degrees)
No overtime pay
Bribe foreman with food and other things
Father held secret meetings- family did not know they were planning strike
Talked a little bit about what she thought of unions now
Mentioned Rosa Parks

thanks to jane coaston
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