Flint Industry / GM Sit Down Strike
From 1910 through the 1980s, automobile and parts manufacturing dominated Flint industry. Like the saw and flour mills that preceded them, the factories were centered west of downtown in the Flint River valley. Industry began here in 1865 with the Begole and Fox Lumber Company on the south side of the river. Lumber mills became wagon and carriage companies, which in turn evolved into automobile companies. In 1913 the Chevrolet Motor Company took over the Begole and Fox site in the valley. Known as "Chevrolet in the hole" due to its location, by 1934 the 80-acre complex employed 14,000 workers at 31 factories on both sides of the river. Facing a downturn in production General Motors began removing unused buildings in 1995. The last one, Plant 4 was razed in 2004.
In 1936 the fledgling United Auto Workers union (UAW) was organizing workers in Flint, The heart of the General Motors Corporation (GM) labor force. On December 30 1936, workers at Chevrolet's Fisher Body Plant 2 "sat down," stopping production. They demanded union recognition and a cessation of sending work to nonunion plants. On January 11, 1937, violence erupted at Fisher 2. In what workers called the "Battle of the Running Bulls." the Flint police crossed the Chevrolet Avenue Bridge armed with tear gas and guns, while workers turn fire hoses, car door hinges, bottles, and other projectiles into weapons. Twenty-seven people were injured. The 44-day strike ended on February 11, 1937, when GM recognized the UAW as the bargaining agent for GM factory workers.