Update: Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday 12/11/2012 to legislation that would allow workers the choice regarding belonging to a Union. Thank God for truth and freed and the right in our nation for everyone who wants to work to have that ability. Unions are simply a form of Communism.

Thug MI Congressman Threatens Blood and Another Battle of the Overpass. An historical incident on May 26, 1937, in which labor organizers clashed with Ford Motor Company security guards at the River Rouge Plant complex in Dearborn, Metro-Detroit, Michigan.  More on Battle of the over pass below the fold.

“There will be blood,” State Representative Douglas Geiss threatened from the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives today as the body debated legislation that would make Michigan the nation’s 24th right to work state.

“I really wish we had not gone here,” Geiss continued. “It is the leadership in this house that has led us here. The same leadership that tried to throw a bomb right on election day, leading to a member switching parties, and came in at the 11th hour with a gotcha bill. For that, I do not see solace, I do not see peace.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had previously said he had no interest in signing right to work legislation this term, but that has changed as unions have made it increasingly more difficult to govern the state. The Detroit Free Press‘ Tom Walsh explains:

Public employee unions opposed Snyder’s moves to put more teeth into emergency manager laws that would enable swifter action to rescue cities and school districts that bungled themselves into insolvency.

In Detroit, Mayor Dave Bing and a spineless City Council were stonewalled by employee unions at every turn, slow-walking needed reforms and cost-cutting while the city burned through cash at a frightening rate.

As a result, Snyder’s patient attempt to help fix Detroit via consent agreement instead of imposing an emergency manager has failed.
To top it off, Snyder found himself having to fight off Proposal 2, the ill-advised November ballot attempt to stuff a bag of goodies for organized labor into the Michigan Constitution.

Michigan has both the highest unionization and unemployment rates in the Midwest and some of the WORST unemployment.

Battle of the Overpass

The United Auto Workers had planned a leaflet campaign entitled, “Unionism, Not Fordism”, at the pedestrian overpass over Miller Road at Gate 4 of the River Rouge Plant complex. Demanding an $8 (equivalent to $129 today) six-hour day for workers, in contrast to the $6 (equivalent to $97 today) eight-hour day then in place, the campaign was planned for shift change time, with an expected 9,000 workers both entering and leaving the plant.

Ford security force response

At approximately 2 p.m., several of the leading UAW union organizers, including Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen, were asked by a Detroit News photographer, James E. (Scotty) Kilpatrick, to pose for a picture on the overpass, with the Ford sign in the background. While they were posing, men from Ford’s Service Department, an internal security force under the direction of Harry Bennett, came from behind and began to beat them.[1] The number of attackers is disputed, but may have been as many as forty.[2]

Beatings

Frankensteen had his jacket pulled over his head and was kicked and punched. Reuther described some of the treatment he received: “Seven times they raised me off the concrete and slammed me down on it. They pinned my arms . . . and I was punched and kicked and dragged by my feet to the stairway, thrown down the first flight of steps, picked up, slammed down on the platform and kicked down the second flight. On the ground they beat and kicked me some more. . . ” One union organizer, Richard Merriweather, suffered a broken back as the result of the beating he received.[1]

The security group then beat some of the beret-wearing women arriving to pass out leaflets, along with some reporters and photographers, while Dearborn police at the scene largely ignored the violence.

Aftermath

The security forces mob also attempted to destroy photographic plates, but the Detroit News photographer hid the photographic plates under the back seat of his car, and surrendered useless plates he had on his front seat. News and photos of the brutal attack made headlines in newspapers across the country.

Kilpatrick’s photographs inspired the Pulitzer Prize committee to institute a prize for photography.

Ford

In spite of the photographs, and many witnesses who had heard his men specifically seek out Frankensteen and Reuther, security director Bennett claimed — “The affair was deliberately provoked by union officials. . . . They simply wanted to trump up a charge of Ford brutality. … I know definitely no Ford service man or plant police were involved in any way in the fight.”

UAW

The incident greatly increased support for the UAW and hurt Ford’s reputation. Bennett and Ford were chastised by the National Labor Relations Board for their actions. Three years later Ford signed a contract with the UAW.

A partially fictitious account of these events appear in Upton Sinclair‘s book, The Flivver King.

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