Our Activities & Programs: Ongoing Events: Battle of the Overpass - 1937

 

(Photo credit: Walter Reuther Library, Detroit)

 

May 26, 1937 - 80th Anniversary

WHAT: On May 26, 1937, union supporters which included a young Walter Reuther visited the Ford River Rouge Complex to pass out literature to workers on a shift change.

Shortly after James "Scotty" Kilpatrick started snapping photos of the union supporters on the Miller Road bridge to Gate 4, Ford Motor Co. employees, including the infamous Harry Bennett, approached the group and a brawl ensued.

It is said the melee was over in mere minutes, but the damage was done as photo evidence from Kilpatrick's camera showed bloody and beaten unionists.

The fallout from the incident, which included Ford Motor Co. being brought up for possible violations of the federal Wagner Act, eventually influenced Henry Ford to treat with the unions. Ford was the last company to enter into union contracts.

 

WHO: Leaders of the burgeoning UAW including Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen.


Related Content: 

Smithsonian.com: How the Ford Motor Co. won a battle and lost ground