Today marks 80th anniversary of start of Flint Sit-Down Strike

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FLINT, MI — Today marks the beginning of the 80th anniversary of the Flint Sit-Down Strike.

The strike began Dec. 30, 1936, when about 50 men sat down on the line inside General Motors’ Fisher Body Plant 2, protesting the transfer of three inspectors who refused to quit the union.

It ended 44 days later on Feb. 11, 1937, when both sides reached an agreement that allowed the United Auto Workers union to act as the bargaining representative for hourly workers.

This is the first year there are no known strikers to talk about it.

The last known surviving Sit-Down striker, Richard Wiecorek, died earlier this year at the age of 99.

Wiecorek had worked at the company’s Fisher 1 plant on Saginaw Street for about a year when the strike began.

As the strike dragged on for more than a month, the 20-year-old Wiecorek came down with pneumonia and missed a week of the 44-day strike that ended on Feb. 11, 1937.

He worked in the auto industry for 51 years before retiring in 1986.

“I’m a union man, and that’s it,” he said in a February 2011 Flint Journal article. “With the union … you have no fear for being laid-off or fired. You felt some security. You could buy something on time.”

“I don’t see how people can work without a union,” said Wiecorek.

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