Sit-Down Strikes

   During the 1930s, various groups of workers adopted a new method of striking. Rather than simply withdraw their labor by walking out, they brought about the closure of factories by sitting down and occupying the plant. The first such strike occurred in 1936 among members of the United Automobile Workers union at the Fisher Body plant of General Motors (GM) in Flint, Michigan. The strike lasted 40 days, and Governor Frank Murphy mobilized the National Guard to prevent violence. GM eventually signed an agreement recognizing the union. In 1936, there were 48 sit-down strikes, and in 1937 there were more than 450 in different industries, but in 1939 in National Labor Relations Board v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corp., the Supreme Court ruled that sit-down strikes were illegal. Nonetheless, the sit-down was inspirational during the civil rights protests of the 1960s.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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