Subversive Historian – 05/26/09

The Battle of the Overpass

Back in the day on May 26th, 1937, the Battle of the Overpass took place between Union Auto Workers and “Ford Service Men.” After the UAW had organized effective sit-down strikes against Chrysler and General Motors, the union turned its sights on the notoriously anti-labor Ford Motor Company. Emboldened by the passage of the National Labor Relations Act two years prior, the UAW gained a permit to distribute leaflets at Ford’s River Rouge plant as part of their “Unionism, not Fordism,” campaign. An hour before workers on site were set for a shift change, UAW organizers Walter Reuther and Richard T. Frankensteen were among those present and posing for a newspaper photographer when they were approached and attacked by Harry H. Bennett’s “Ford Service Men.” One man suffered a broken back as a result of the thuggery and women organizers were beaten as well.

Ford and his henchmen, however, were taken to task for the incident of brutality when they were found to be in severe violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

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