Riots; Ford Motor Co. ; Labor Union May 1937. “Battle of the Overpass”.

1937-05-27

Two Ford "Servicemen" push a person to the ground behind a chain link fence while others watch during the "Battle of the Overpass" in Dearborn, Michigan. “Walter Reuther decided that the UAW had to make a bold move to show the workers that the union was as strong and powerful as the Ford regime, an initial attempt involving flying low over the plant in a plane with a loudspeaker was ineffectual, Reuther decided to make a stand, and scheduled a massive leaflet campaign at the Rouge plant for May 26, 1937, he got a license from the city of Dearborn, opened two union halls nearby, and made two reconnaissance trips to the Miller Road Overpass at Gate 4 … an hour before shift change, just before 2 p.m., Walter Reuther, Richard T. Frankensteen, in charge of the overall Ford drive, Robert Kanter, and J.J. Kennedy, the UAW's East Side regional director arrived, the Detroit News photographer, James E. (Scotty) Kilpatrick, thought the backdrop of the Ford sign would make a great picture, and obligingly, the union men walked up the two flights of iron stairs to the overpass … facing the photographers, Reuther and his partners had their backs to the thugs that were approaching them, the newsmen's warnings were too late, they were attacked brutally: punched and kicked repeatedly … [The Dearborn Police] stood by and said the Ford men were protecting their private property, the Battle of the Overpass was a turning point, Ford won the battle but lost the war for public opinion, the NLRB castigated Ford and Bennett for their actions, in the next election the Labor candidates in Detroit won more than twice as many votes as they had ever gotten, three years later Ford signed a contract with the UAW,” from the Detroit News article: The Battle of the Overpass, by Jenny Nolan.


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