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Flint GM sit-down strike, 1936-7

On this, the seventh day of the week, let me share an observation about labor law with you. It is a piece of “common knowledge” that the sit-down strike, where laborers occupy the factory until theirĀ demands are met, was a popular tactic in the ’30s but became illegal with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948. However, my considered opinion is this: actually, sit-down strikes were illegal under the Wagner Act as well — one of the basic principles of property law is akin to the Third Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in that you just can’t be forced to house people on your property if you don’t want them there. There is one way, however, to get around this, and that is if the crimes that have been committed against the workers are so great that they legally own the factory, as it would be required to be deeded to them in damages were the matters ever to come to trial: and really, this is the story behind the famous unionization of General Motors thanks to the sit-down strike at the Fisher Auto Body plants in Flint, Michigan from December 1936 to February 1937. They just couldn’t be removed, and don’t think Midwestern “authorities” are not highly motivated with respect to such issues: however, it would have been impolitic to actually entirely seize control of the means of production.

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