The General Motors Sit-Down Strike of 1937: A Study of Militant Unionism
Wilsted, Thomas P.
MetadataShow full item record
Over 700 men marched out of the General Motors plants in the victorious armies. John L. Lewis called the strike another milestone on labor's march. The strike was more than this, however. It ushered in a new era, that of industrial unionism. Unions had never been able to penetrate industries such as steel and automobiles, because the jobs required no specialization. When they had tried to organize workers who fell into the machinists' category they failed, because new men could replace the old workers since the factory occupations required little skill. The United Automobile Workers had shown that organizing along industry lines would solve this problem and that strikes could now be won in these unorgan1zed areas. The United Autoworkers also popularized a relatively new concept, the sit-down strike. It had been used before, notably in the Rubberworkers' strike of 1936. It had never been as completely successful, however, as it proved in this situation. In the next two years there were hundreds of sit-downs called all across the United states. The public outcry against the violation of private property used to win a strike soon stopped this striking method. By the time th1s had happened, however, industr1al unionism had established itself as a power on the labor front.