Kelsey Hayes Sit-Down Strike - 1936
Dec. 14, 1936 - 80th Anniversary
WHAT: Workers from a wheel and brake drum factory in southwest Detroit stopped all production at once on Dec. 14, 1936. Although eclipsed by events such as the 1936-1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike and the 1932 Ford Hunger March, the Kelsey-Hayes Sit Down Strike marked an important touchpoint in the history of organized labor.
WHO: Workers from the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Co., which produced wheels and brake drums mostly for Ford Motor Co., located in Southwest Detroit on McGraw near Livernois. The company was founded in 1927.
Victor and Walter Reuther targeted the company to bring their message of activism for two reasons: It had a core of staunch union activists, and it had a relatively small work force—roughly 5,000 employees. The fledgling local stood a better chance of organizing Kelsey-Hayes than the massive Ford Rouge complex.