On this day in labor history, the year was 1937.
That was the day “The Battle of the Running Bulls” occurred at GM’s Fisher Plant No.2 in Flint, Michigan.
It marked the turning point in the Great Flint Sit-Down Strike.
Company guards attempted to stop food deliveries to the strikers.
When confronted, the guards cleared out and the food deliveries resumed.
The guards however, reported to the local police that strikers were holding them captive.
The Flint police soon arrived, throwing tear gas into the picket lines and through plant windows.
The sit-downers responded with plant fire hoses and slingshots loaded with door hinges.
The police continued to launch tear gas at the picketers.
Then the crowd pelted police with any debris they could find.
It was at this point that the police began firing into the crowd, seriously wounding 16.
Genora Johnson of the Women’s Auxiliary speaking from the sound truck called her women to action.
She recollected in 1976, “That’s when I appealed to the women of Flint. I said, there are women down here, the mothers of children, and I beg of you to come down here and stand with your husbands, your loved ones, your brothers, your sweethearts… Then I saw the first woman struggling and I noticed when she started to break through and come down, that a cop grabbed her coat, and she just kept on coming. As soon as that happened other women broke through and… the cops didn’t want to fire into the backs of women. When the women did that, the men came naturally and that was the end of the battle.”
The Women’s Auxiliary would continue to play a vital role in the strike.