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Dec. 14, 1936 - 80th Anniversary
Posted 12.14.16

file 20170215192159 Kelsey Hayes Sit Down Strike 1936WHAT: 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.



file 20170214190918 Building the Enginefile 20170213194403 Building the EngineIn 2017, a unique confluence of organized labor milestones will be recognized through a public awareness effort called, “Building the Engine: Auto and Labor, 1932-1937.”

With informative programs, publications and events, regional partners including the MotorCities National Heritage Area and the Michigan Labor History Society will present the story of how these events laid the foundation for organized labor in the auto industry and beyond.

To navigate labor anniversaries being commemorated as part of this effort, click on the links below.

80th anniversary, 1936 Kelsey Hayes Sit-Down Strike – Dec. 14, 2016

80th anniversary, 1936-37 Flint Sit-Down Strike and first UAW-GM contract – Dec. 30, 2016-Feb. 11, 2017

85th anniversary, 1932 Ford Hunger March – March 7, 2017

80th anniversary, 1937 Battle of the Overpass – May 26, 2017

80th anniversary, 1937 Lansing Labor Holiday – June 7, 2017

Special publications, events, educational programming and more will be presented under the identity of “Building the Engine,” including a series of blog posts featured on the MotorCities website. Other information about the program will be listed on as well as the Michigan Labor History Society website at