On February 11, 1937, workers at General Motors’ Fisher #1 plant in Flint, Michigan, ended a 44-day sit-down strike. In the terms of the agreement, the company recognized the United Auto Workers (UAW) as the collective bargaining unit for all GM’s UAW members. 
 
Workers in Flint “sat down” on the job to protest low wages, no seniority rights, and retaliation for safety complaints. To force the men out of the factory, authorities turned off the heat and fired tear gas into the building. It didn’t work, and other GM factory workers began sit-down strikes of their own.
 
Following “the strike heard ‘round the world”, UAW membership jumped from 30,000 to 500,000 and wages increased up to 300 percent. Today, February 11 is honored as “White Shirt Day” by UAW members—supporting the idea that blue collar workers are just as valuable as management.
blue collar
Adjective

having to do with the working class, particularly those who wear specialized clothing to work—such as miners or mechanics.

collective bargaining
Noun
process in which wages, hours, rules, and working conditions are negotiated by a group (usually a labor union) and an employer for all the employees the group represents.
factory
Noun

one or more buildings used for the manufacture of a product.

recognize
Verb

to identify or acknowledge.

retaliation
Noun

reprisal, or an act taken in response to an injury or offense.

sit-down strike
Noun
strike in which workers refuse to leave their place of employment until a settlement is reached.
tear gas
Noun

aerosol gas that causes extreme irritation of the eyes, leading to tears and sometimes vomiting. Also called CS gas.

wage
Noun

money paid to a person for providing goods or services.

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