On the night of December 30, the majority of employees who had been working their shift at Fisher 1 and Fisher 2 left the plants. Some left only to celebrate the New Year and returned later. Others took up picket and food-gathering activities on the outside. The lives of those who remained on the inside for the duration quickly fell into a disciplined and organized pattern. Committees for such things as cleaning up, exercise, security, entertainment, and defense were quickly assembled, and the property of the company was strictly kept from harm. This discipline and organization was maintained through the insistence of strike leaders Bob Travis and Roy Reuther, both of whom were already veterans of this new way of striking.

Evelyn Gillette says that the men didn't know whether to sit down or walk out at first.
Andrew Olay talks about men bolting from the plant when it was shut down.
Sheldon McNe remembers the first night of sitting in.
Earl Hubbard talks about life inside the plants.
Also talks about how they had to burn burlap when the company shut off the heat.
Roscoe Rich recounts the first few days of the strike- first few days of sitting down; keeping watch and keeping entertained.
Ed Erlich says he was forced to leave the plant temporarily when his youngest child got sick.
Joe Fry (Part I) tried to collect food from area merchants and farmers (Part II).
Mr. K. Gillian remembers a rumor about a goon squad coming to shoot them out.

General Motors brass and many Flint residents were horrified at the sit-down tactic employed by the strikers. They saw it as an offense to the American tradition of property rights and assigned the blame for its introduction in Flint to "outside agitators", "radicals", and "reds." The extent to which this was true is still unclear, yet it is obvious that most of the sit-downers were patriotic American citizens who were otherwise unworldly and reactionary in their views on politics and society. A good percentage of them supported Franklin Roosevelt and Frank Murphy simply because those politicians portrayed themselves as champions of the little guy, and not because of any perceived ideological slant to the Democratic platform. While several leaders of the strike, including the Reuther brothers, Bob Travis, Genora Johnson, Bud Simons, and Joe Devitt had leftist credentials, none passed out Communist or Socialist literature during the strike. Their politics, which came to light after the strike, simply helps to explain their great devotion to the strikers' cause.

Gerald Healy says it was the sit-down tactic that got everybody's attention.
Henry Kraus discusses the theory of the sit-down.
He also remembers the lack of worldliness among the population of Flint.
Frank Funk claims that the sit-down strike was a Communist weapon, pure and simple.
Leo Robinson claims that the sit-down was John L. Lewis's idea.
Floyd Root says that the sit-down tactic was wholly unconstitutional; yet it was also terribly effective.
Louis Gancsos says that the leaders of the strike were radical by necessity.
Dorothy Harbin remembers being contacted by some supervisors who wanted her to be on the lookout for "Communistic" talk.
Harry Fleischman talks at length about how he got involved in the strike as a member of the Socialist Party.
Larry Jones recounts how it took extreme optimism and faith to believe that the strike would be successful.
"Red" Mundale talks about how Fisher 2 wasn't as radical, politically, as Fisher 1.
Stanley Novak says that it was the ethnic groups within Flint who were the radicals.

For those in Flint who opposed the strike or who were unsure what to think about it, there were plenty of influences in town to move the ambivalent towards hostility, and the hostile towards violent action. The Flint Journal, whose editorial board was planted firmly in GM's pocket, carried headlines every day that either exaggerated the nature of the strike or spouted the company's biased interpretations of events. Words like "chaos", "radical", and "mob" were prevalent. Schoolchildren, including sons and daughters of strikers, were told by their teachers to write essays about why the strike was wrong. Churches, for the most part, were piously silent or cautionary on the topic of the strike, and the judges who rendered decisions on the legality of the strike were preemptively opposed to it. Judge Black, for instance, handed down an injunction against the strikers even though his holding of over $200,000 in GM stock constituted a massive conflict of interest; Judge Gadola once said from the bench that the UAW would be required to compensate GM fully for all of its lost sales during the strike.

Paul Loisell argues that the strike was really unnecessary.
Peter Schmitz says that the general public was caught by surprise when the strike occurred
Laura Hayward remembers that the Flint Journal cast everybody involved in the strike as either "Reds" or fascists.
Martin Japinga talks about his experiences as a Flint police officer at the time.
Robert Gibbs says the churches didn't help because of their emphasis on non-violence under any circumstances.
Mrs. Rollin Moon says that company goons tried to scare the wives of strikers at night.
Wife of Judge Gadola talks about having (unnecessary?) police protection at her house.
Gerald Healy talks about an aborted plan to beat up the Reuther brothers.

The two most famous events of the strike were the Battle of Bulls' Run and the takeover of Chevrolet Plant No. 4. The former occurred January 11 when city police in riot gear tried to storm the weakly-held Fisher 2 plant. The latter occurred on February 1 and was accomplished through a remarkable diversionary tactic in which the union let it "leak out" that they were going to try to take over Chevrolet Plant No. 9. Company spies did their job, and on the night of February 1 all of the company's resources were diverted to No. 9. In the meantime, workers from Chevy 6 came over to help shut down the massive No. 4 plant, encountering only token resistance. The Chevy 4 sit-downers constituted the largest group of strikers in Flint, and although they only had to occupy the plant for ten days, their actions precipitated a crisis for General Motors that ultimately forced its recognition of the union.

Robert Mamero tells the story of the Battle of Bulls' Run.
Roscoe Rich gives his version of the Battle of Bulls' Run.
Ed Erlich manned the hoses during the Battle of Bulls' Run.
Mrs. Hans Larson remembers her husband getting shot.
Larry Jones says that the takeover of Chevy 4 brought GM to its knees.
Also recounts the gassing of the men at Plant 9.
Leo Connelly describes the beginning of the strike at Chevy 4.
Alexander Reider remembers being injured in the Chevy 4 takeover.
Continues his narration of the takover- Part I, Part II, Part III.
Leo Robinson talks about his tussle with company men on the stairwell at Chevy 4.
Joseph Skunda says that the strike could have been a lot more violent.

In both of the major battles of the strike, women played a key role in the union's successes. From the beginning, a large number of non-working women refused to sit on the sidelines while the strike was going on. Instead, they formed the Women's Auxiliary, which visited the homes of sit-downers to convince their wives that the strike was worth the sacrifice they were experiencing. Later, a smaller group formed the Women's Emergency Brigade, which took the front lines on several occasions against the police and company "goons". Many of these women even enlisted their children in picket duty and ended up giving them an education they could not have received in Flint's schools. Genora (Dollinger) Johnson became the most famous of these women activists, though many dozens besides her put their lives on the line, daring GM to step over it.

Laura Hayward discusses her work at the union hall.
Larry Jones talks about the role of the "Red Berets".
Says that the involvement of women posed a dilemma for management.
Delia Parish remembers taking food to the strikers at Chevy 4, despite the warnings of guards.
She also put furniture back in the houses of families who had been evicted.

Governor Murphy and John L. Lewis in the midst of negotiations

Mass meeting of the Flint Alliance, an anti-strike group

UAW Vice President Wyndham Mortimer and Governor Frank Murphy shake hands after signing strike settlement

Bringing food the Chevy 4 under the watchful eye of the National Guard

Genora Johnson with a very young picketer

Genora Johnson, leader of the Womens Emergency Brigade

Henry Kraus, with Flint Police in riot gear

A crowd milling about on Chevrolet Avenue

National Guard arrives

Created with support from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities