The Flint Sit-Down Strike Audio Presentation

Uh, I tell you, you had to be a real dedicated, uh, a real dedicated, uh, optimist to have really believed that that was going to be a successful thing. Now without exception you might say practically everybody who worked in the plant was resentful of the treatment which the corporation meted out to them. All of them were resentful of it.

But all of them were not in favor of the union because they were still fearful of failure. And that's a perfectly natural thing. I can understand their thinking, completely. Oh we had some scoundrels who were just naturally on rim company oriented to begin with. But not many.

The vast ninety-five percent of them or more were sympathetic to the cause that the union was struggling for, but they were fearful that it would not work and they would get blackballed. This area this part of the country around here had no tradition of unionism.

I mean, your father or your grandfather he didn't have anything to do with the union. So, you had, you were never exposed to anything like that. All you were exposed to was the boss' propaganda. So um, most of the people, I would say there was a hard core of people who believed that it would succeed, twenty percent no more then that.

And I might be exaggerating the twenty percent, I don't know. No more then twenty percent. So this was what made it a slow struggle, you know. Even after the success of the sit-down. It was still a slow struggle convincing a lot of these people they should join the union. This was a voluntary thing you know. They weren't automatically bound to join the union.

You had to go out and sign them up. We didn't have a check off system until nineteen fifty. So you see we went for about fourteen years where it was a voluntary thing and you had to do your own organizing all the time and convince these fellows that it was to their advantage to pay a dollar a month. So it took us a long time before we did that.

Show Transcript Speaker: Larry Jones. Interviewed by U-M Flint Labor History Project. Date of interview: 6-9-1978. Edited by Michael Van Dyke.

Copyright: ©2002 Michigan State University.