News Fsus Wood To Examine Flint Strikes - Garrett College

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Campus News

January 11, 2023

FSU’s Wood to examine Flint strikes

Historian to serve as January JCLS presenter at Garrett College

Dr. Greg Wood will examine the United Automobile Workers’ 1930s-era strike against General Motors from a different perspective during January’s Joan Crawford Lecture Series presentation.

"Historians view the United Automobile Workers’ victory over General Motors during the Flint sit-down strikes as one of the labor movement's greatest successes," said Wood, whose JCLS presentation will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25th in the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College recital hall. "As a result of the union's gains, autoworker clout on the job increased, furthering democracy at work during the New Deal era.

"However, less well-known is how the sit-downs stoked a major conservative backlash," continued Wood, who is chair of Frostburg State University’s History Department. "Many observers recoiled from what they viewed as disruptive behavior by an ‘outside’ union and government endorsement of crimes against property."

Wood’s presentation will examine how GM nurtured this conservative opposition, including creation of back-to-work organizations like the Flint Alliance.

"While these organizations smacked of fakery, vocal cohorts of autoworkers – in Flint and elsewhere – embraced the firm’s anti-union stance," noted Wood. "At least some workers voluntarily joined loyal worker organizations, participated in pro-company demonstrations, and lobbied political leaders to oppose the UAW."

Wood said GM’s efforts ultimately forced the union to temper members' militancy and paved the way for conservative electoral victories. He will take a "deep dive" into GM’s strategies and how they impacted the post-strike environment as part of his lecture.

Garrett College’s faculty created the Joan Crawford Lecture Series in honor of the dynamic educator Joan R. Crawford.

Crawford, who died in 2010, served the College community for more than 30 years, including serving as the head of the humanities division and director of enrollment. After her retirement, Crawford was named Professor Emerita.

The Joan Crawford Lecture Series of presentations are offered free of charge, and the public and community members are invited to attend.

All presentations from the Joan Crawford Lecture Series will be available to view online through the College's Facebook page. The lectures will be live streamed and recordings will be posted shortly after the event.

For more information, contact Jenny Meslener at jennifer.meslener@garrettcollege.edu.