The Flint Sit-Down Strike Audio Presentation


What happened then was uh, Larry [inaudible] got the, sent for the troops to come in. Frank Murphy was the govenor, but Frank Murphy now, Frank Murphy was a ace high, on our side

[interviewer] That's what I heard, he was pro-labor.

Frank was not nessecary I wouldn't say uh, ace high on anybody's side, but he was [inaudible] for the poeple. And he believed in both sides, so he was to come in to... well, the orders was, from police here, Larry [inaudible], brung him in to drive us out. Well, I don't know what intentions he had, but uh... I'm pretty sure his intentions was to obey the law, see, because the law said to, the judges orders. John L. Lewis sent word... see, John L. Lewis is the man that brung this up in the first place, this sit-down bit, because we had tried everything before by going out in picket lines and like that.

It didn't work because they, we had... the police was for them and not for us, the big shots. General Motors owned this place, this town. General Motors said jump to the police force or the mayor or anybody else, they jumped and uh... but anyhow, John L. sent Murphy word; "Don't you do nothing in that plant til I get there. I'll meet you in the [inaudible] I want to talk to you."

And uh, they met, the troops was setting up their tri-pods, they had their guns all set up and everything, and so John told him, "You're not gonna drive them out. You're just gonna kill a lot of people." So, uh, John L. reminded him somewhere along the line that his old daddy had been a coal miner I guess Murphy said one time and had been in [inaudible] with John L. Lewis back in the minning days, so he reminded him there then, "What would your dad do?"

So Murphy said, "We'll compromise." He said, "I've got to uphold the law." and uh, but "We'll compromise if they'll come out of these plants peacably, troops will not allow nobody to go in and take these jobs." See, that's why we had to stay in because we was protecting our jobs, cause if we went out on the street, they just hired other people and put them in because we tried it before. So John L. was smart, he came up with this thing, see? So Murphy said, "Okay, you give orders to come out peaceably, and the troops will not let nobody go in," and he told his company and them, he said, "You get busy, saddle up here peaceably because they're gonna come out and the troops are not gonna let nobody in."

He figured that was fair on both sides, so that's what happened, then when they gave orders, of course, the guys left the plant.

Show Transcript Speaker: Leo Robinson. Interviewed by U-M Flint Labor History Project. Date of interview: 7-13-1978. Edited by Michael Van Dyke.

Copyright: ©2002 Michigan State University.