QUESTION #2: Select any two primary source documents. What do you think of the two primary source documents? What are the specific themes or ideas in the two primary source documents that illustrate one or more significant historical trends, historical themes, or historical points that are in the Lesson lecture? Base your thoughts on your two selected primary source documents and the lesson lecture, and feel free to add any of your thoughts comparing any time within 1929-1945 to twenty-first-century America.
Below are the two selected source documents: must be 300 words
Auto Workers Strike
From The Student Outlook, v.1, n. 4 (March 1933)
ONE YEAR AGO a complacent public was shocked by the news of the Ford Riot in which four workers were killed and forty wounded. Added to this tragic method of education comes the latest Briggs' strike and the other related strikes which have all slowly and painfully had their effect in educating the public as to the true conditions in the auto industry.
The American Federation of Labor once made an effort to organize the auto workers through the Machinist's Union, but because of craft limitations in a craftless industry, the Machinist's Union did not scratch the surface of the nut it hoped to crack. Not until 1926 at their convention in Detroit did the A. F. of L. seriously consider the organization of the production workers of the industry. The hope that a militant and constructive program of unionization would grow out of the convention was shattered when the A. F. of L. strategists permitted their plans to degenerate into a plea to the "enlightened" capitalists to accept the leadership of a responsible labor group rather than be exposed to the dangers of radicals and agitators.
The complete failure of the A. F. of L.'s attempt to organize the production workers resulted in its leadership voicing the attitude that the task of unionizing the auto workers was impossible.
The challenge to organize the production workers was taken up by the Auto Workers Union, which is organized on a broad industrial basis and is founded on the principle of the class struggle. At one time the union was affiliated with the A. F. of L., but its charter was revoked over a question of jurisdiction. During the years 1919 and 1920, when the auto industry was going through a period of rapid expansion, the membership in the union grew to 45,000 and many successful strikes were staged in some of the plants.
The success of the union, however, was short-lived, for the depression of 1921 so paralyzed the auto industry that the union was broken and it declined until in 1924 the membership numbered only about 1500. As the power of the union declined, the employers became more aggressive and wage cuts, speedups, and excessive hours were thrust upon the workers. The corporations, realizing that the union might come to life at some future date, inaugurated a period of personnel management and sham industrial democracy. The Chrysler Industrial Corporation, the welfare scheme of the Chrysler Corporation, in which the workers have a voice only in the management of the baseball team typifies the extent of industrial democracy afforded by this plan.
In the face of overwhelming odds, the remnants of the Auto Workers Union, under left wing leadership kept up an unceasing struggle to unionize the auto workers into a militant, class conscious industrial organization.
After years of constant and untiring propaganda work and agitation through the departmental committees, working secretly and under great pressure, and by selling and distributing small shop papers, such as the Ford Worker and the Briggs Worker, at the gates of the plants, the Auto Workers Union finally felt that it had sufficient strength and that the time was ripe for action. It called a strike at the Briggs Waterloo Plant.
The strike, while it was consciously planned by the union was nevertheless the expression of the Briggs' workers en masse against the starvation wages, long hours and further wage cuts which have given the Briggs Corporation the reputation of being the most vicious sweat shop and hell hole in Detroit.
Threatened with a twenty percent wage cut, 600 tool and die makers of the Waterloo plant struck 100 percent strong against the Briggs industrial aristocracy.
A strategic moment had been selected for this first strike as the tools and dies for the new Ford car were about seventy-five percent complete and production could not begin on schedule without their completion.
The strike so completely paralyzed the Briggs Corporation that after three days of picketing, the company was compelled to withdraw the wage cut, recognize the union shop committees and furthermore, to reinstate the former wage rate in the other three Briggs plants where the cut had already gone into effect. The solidarity of the Briggs' workers in their successful strike caused the Hudson Motor Company to remove the signs in their factories announcing a ten percent wage cut and replacing them by notices announcing the withdrawal of the wage cut.
Instilled with confidence by the activities of the Briggs' workers, fifteen hundred men from the Motor Products Co. went out on strike against a fifteen percent wage cut levied several weeks before.
As a result the Motor Products Co. was also forced, after three days of strike activity, to rescind the wage slash, to recognize shop committees, to establish a minimum wage rate of thirty cents for women and forty cents for men on production. In many cases this meant an actual increase of fifty percent in wages.
Two successful and well-organized strikes within one week filled the workers of Detroit with a spirit of revolt against capitalist feudalism and paved the way for a rapid succession of strikes unparalleled in the history of the auto industry.
Fired with enthusiasm by the success of the strike at the Briggs' Waterloo plant, and encouraged by the splendid display of solidarity among the ranks of the employed and unemployed, 10,000 Briggs' workers from the Highland Park and Mack Avenue plants walked out on strike on January 23rd against starvation wages and the "dead time" policy. So low were the wages at Briggs that some of the woman workers claimed that their pay ranged from five cents per hour upwards, while men on production were getting from thirteen cents upward per hour. The "dead time" policy of the company was the source of much grievance as some employees were compelled to wait as long as three hours for material without compensation for "dead time," the period they had to wait.
The workers of the Waterloo and Meldrum Avenue plants soon followed the action of the other plants and pledged their solidarity and agreed among themselves to go back to work only after their rights were recognized and their grievances settled. The strikers met, endorsed the leadership of the Auto Workers Union, outlined their demands, elected their department representatives to the general strike committee and immediately began the picketing of the various plants.
Insofar as the strike paralyzed all four Briggs' plants, the strike was one hundred percent successful. The workers instead of returning to their jobs, joined the others in the fast growing picket line, despite the fact that the press carried headlines to the effect that the strike was settled and urged the strikers to return to their jobs.
As a whole the strike was most orderly except for a few instances where strikers molested scabs who were leaving the plant and sent several of them to the hospital. In one case when bodies from Briggs were being transported on trucks, a group of strikers demolished the bodies. Further shipments ceased.
All day and all night the picketers marched in front of cold winds, disregarding their empty stomachs. The sight of these thousands of hungry and poorly clothed industrial workers carrying their protest banne