Police and the national guard in minneapolis where an

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police and the National Guard. In Minneapolis, where an organization ofbusinessmen known as the Citizens Alliance controlled the city govern-ment, a four-month strike by truck drivers led to pitched battles in thestreets and the governor declaring martial law. San Francisco experi-enced the country’s first general strike since 1919. It began with a walk-out of dockworkers led by the fiery communist Harry Bridges. Workersdemanded recognition of the International Longshoremen’s Associationand an end to the hated “shape up” system in which they had to gatheren masse each day to wait for work assignments. The year 1934 also wit-nessed a strike of 400,000 textile workers in states from New England tothe Deep South, demanding recognition of the United Textile Workers.Many of these walkouts, including those in Toledo, Minneapolis, andSan Francisco, won at least some of the workers’ demands. But the textilestrike failed.T H ER I S EO FT H EC I OThe labor upheaval posed a challenge to the American Federation of Labor’straditional policy of organizing workers by craft—welders or machinerepairers, for example—rather than seeking to mobilize all the workers in agiven industry, such as steel manufacturing. In 1934, thirty AFL leaderscalled for the creation of unions of industrial workers. When the AFL con-vention of 1935 refused, the head of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis,led a walkout that produced a new labor organization, the Congress ofIndustrial Organizations (CIO). It set out to create unions in the main8 7 2Ch. 21The New Deal, 1932–1940T H EG R A S S R O O T SR E V O L TSigns carried by striking cotton millworkers in Lumberton, North Carolina,in 1937 illustrate how the labor movementrevived the nineteenth-century language of“wage slavery” to demand unionrecognition.
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bastions of the American economy. It aimed, said Lewis, at nothing lessthan to secure “economic freedom and industrial democracy” for Americanworkers—a fair share in the wealth produced by their labor, and a voice indetermining the conditions under which they worked.In December 1936, the United Auto Workers (UAW), a fledgling CIOunion, unveiled the sit-down, a strikingly effective tactic that the IWW hadpioneered three decades earlier. Rather than walking out of a plant, thusenabling management to bring in strikebreakers, workers halted produc-tion but remained inside. In the UAW’s first sit-down strike, 7,000 GeneralMotors workers seized control of the Fisher Body Plant in Cleveland. Sit-downs soon spread to GM plants in Flint, Michigan, the nerve center ofautomobile production. When local police tried to storm the Flint plants,workers fought them off. Democratic governor Frank Murphy, who hadbeen elected with strong support from the CIO, declared his unwillingnessto use force to dislodge the strikers. The strikers demonstrated a remark-able spirit of unity. They cleaned the plant, oiled the idle machinery, settleddisputes among themselves, prepared meals, and held concerts of labor

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