1941- Henry Ford signs first contract with autoworkers’ union

Dec 2015
This was an important moment in history.

Henry Ford was a one time ardent opponent of Unions, but went on to find some common ground with UAW leader Walter Reuther. Ford eventually signed a deal with the UAW in 1941. Ford Motor Company and The UAW also played an important role in advancind civil rights in The USA.

Ford signs first contract with autoworkers’ union

After a long and bitter struggle on the part of Henry Ford against cooperation with organized labor unions, Ford Motor Company signs its first contract with the United Automobile Workers of America and Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO) on this day in 1941.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s allies in Congress passed the landmark National Labor Relations Act–also known as the Wagner Act, after one of its authors, Senator Robert Wagner of New York–which established workers’ rights to collective bargaining and attempted to regulate unfair practices by employers, employees and unions. By 1937, after successful sit-down strikes (during which the workers remained inside the factory so that strikebreakers were unable to enter) both General Motors and Chrysler had made deals with the fledgling UAW, and Ford was the lone holdout against the unionization of the auto industry.

During WW2 Steel and Auto workers in the USA greatly contributed to the WW2 effort. American Unions and Auto leaders such as Henry Ford also helped to pave the way for improved civil rights in the USA. Before the rise of MLK Jr Americans such as Henry Ford Employed black folks at Ford Motor Company in the 1920s and 1930s providing Americans of all backgrounds great jobs that provided comfort and a sense of dignity . Americans of all backgrounds including Black Americans played a important part in Unions such as the UAW.


African American workers at Ford Motor Company - Blog - The Henry Ford
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Dec 2015
Mr. Ford, blacks and the UAW

Labor economist Herbert Northrup said that in the ’20s and ’30s blacks came closer to job equality at Ford than at any other comparable company.

In the 1920s and ’30s, only Ford Motor Co. offered blacks a wide range of employment opportunities. No other auto companies considered blacks as capable as other workers. At Ford, blacks could work on the assembly line, in laboratories, in skilled trades, and could be promoted to foreman. Only Ford allowed blacks into apprentice programs.

James Charles Price became the first salaried black employee in the industry when Ford promoted him to purchaser of abrasives and industrial diamonds, a job at which he became regarded as one of the best in the industry.

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