January 11, 1937 – Violence erupts at GM strike in Flint

The United Automobile Workers was founded in May 1935 to focus on improving working conditions in automaker facilities. They gained a strong following and later success in organizing a sit-down strike that started at the GM Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in Flint, Michigan that started on December 30, 1936. On this day in 1937 violence erupted at the strike site as police tried to prevent the strikers from receiving a food delivery from local supporters. Dubbed the “Battle of the Running Bulls” by the auto workers, bulls a reference to the police force, both the strikers and police were reported injuries. As many as 14 auto workers were hurt by gunfire, but no fatalities were recorded. The riot resulted in the National Guard being called in, but they never advanced on the buildings. The strike lasted for more than a month and ended with GM agreeing to give the UAW bargaining rights and to begin negotiations related to improving job conditions for auto workers. This strike was followed up by a Chrysler strike, but Ford held out on signing a contract with the UAW until 1941. National Guard with machine gun overlooking Chevrolet factories number nine and number four. Flint, MichiganStriker and his fiancee (sitdown strike romance) in the Women’s Auxiliary room in Pengally Hall. Flint, MichiganYoung striker off sentry duty sleeping on assembly line of auto seats All photos by Sheldon Dick for the Farm Security Administration – Office of War information (public domain)