Midnight in Vehicle City
Revives the story of the most significant labor dispute in American history that helped usher in national prosperity with the rust belt as its industrial engine.
The tumultuous Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936 to 1937 symbolized the start of the United Auto Workers and set the standard for wages in every industry. This historic transformation of the economic structure in the U.S. ultimately established the golden age of the American middle class. The causes for which the strikers sat down–collective bargaining, secure retirement, better wages–enjoyed a half-century of success. But now, the middle class is diminishing in the 21st century and economic inequality is at its highest since the New Deal If we want to learn how to revive it, we need to look at how it started in the first place.
Midnight in Vehicle City is the dramatic story of how workingmen defeated a major industrial power–General Motors, the largest corporation in the world. Journalist and historian Edward McClelland brings readers into the action-packed events of the strike, such as takeovers of GM plants and violent showdowns between picketers and the police. The strikers’ victory resulted in a new kind of America, one in which every man had a right to the wealth his labor produced. McClelland revives the stories of the industrial Midwest in order to examine how the labor movement has declined as a result of changes in automation, outsourcing, and American politics. He uses the lens of Flint, Michigan, to exemplify how one city can be the birthplace of the middle class yet face its most rapid decline. Through new stories of strikers and archival research, McClelland reminds readers how shared prosperity can only be achieved through intervention and how the legacy of the Sit-Down Strike can guide our understanding of the increasing economic disparities in the U.S.